Napa County wins $50K collaboration prize for vocabulary gap solution

Inaugural winner of Collaboration Nation program focuses on innovation, student success

collaboration-nationThe Napa County Office of Education has emerged as the grand prize winner of CDW-G’s Collaboration Nation, a program recognizing school districts’ commitment and dedication to student success, collaboration, and innovative use of education technology to empower learning.

The district will receive $50,000 in products and services from CDW-G partners such as HP, Lenovo and Meraki.

In Napa County, more than 50 percent of all kindergartners come to school having been exposed to 30 million fewer words than their peers, putting them two years behind developmentally. The Napa County Office of Education, all five districts in the county and the public-private partner Napa Learns decided to take a new approach to get students up to speed. Their mission was to use tablets to give every preschool student the skills needed to be successful in reading.

“We brought together the IT departments and developed a plan for a wide area network across the county. We went from a small 17-student pilot in one district to more than 23 preschool classes and every primary class in the county,” said Barbra Nemko, Napa County superintendent of schools. “We also brought together our curriculum departments, so all teachers could get the same professional development. Four years later, we are seeing so many more second and third graders performing at grade level – that’s the beauty of collaboration.”

The awards program, in partnership with eSchool News, also encouraged schools and districts to be a part of the Collaboration Nation community on Facebook by sharing videos of collaboration successes.

In April, May and June, the school or district video with the most shares on Facebook won a $15,000 prize in products from Collaboration Nation partners.

Up until the deadline, entries for Collaboration Nation awards program poured in from across the country. Districts and schools took students on interactive virtual adventures, kept pupils engaged on snow days, empowered students to build a 3D printed prosthetic hand and embraced technology by letting the students become the teachers.

A panel of four judges reviewed all entries for the grand prize:
• Geoff Fletcher, education industry expert: Fletcher is an education veteran and expert, having served in myriad roles including deputy executive director for SETDA, editorial director with two education publications, associate commissioner at the Texas Education Agency, assistant professor at Miami University (Ohio) and secondary school teacher
• Luann Hughes, director of technology, Temple Independent School District: Hughes has been in public schools since 1979. She served as director of technology for Temple Independent School District for the past 14 years, and is also the current TCEA director for Area 12
• Therese Mageau, editorial director, eSchool News: Mageau has been in the education marketplace for more than 25 years, developing a strong understanding of the ways technology impacts education
• Eric Patnoudes, K-12 specialist, CDW-G: Patnoudes, a Microsoft Expert Educator, former teacher and instructional technologist, works with curriculum and technology departments to make sure that common goals are identified and pursued responsibly, cohesively and strategically

“The entries we received surpassed expectations. Schools across the country are collaborating to implement successful educational technology projects that elevate the classroom experience,” Patnoudes said. “We are proud to recognize Napa County for embodying this mission and thank all the other schools and districts that are taking on new technology initiatives to help their students grow and learn in new ways.”

Check out all of the submissions and remember to like the Facebook page for ongoing program details. Next year’s program will roll out soon.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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