Meet the 2022 K-12 Hero Awards winners!

Winners of the eSchool News K-12 Hero Awards showcase the exceptional efforts of schools and districts across the U.S.

Calcasieu Parish School Board Chief Technology Officer Kim Leblanc has developed a system for providing the type of technology in classrooms that one would only expect at affluent schools. Under Kim’s leaderhsip, Calcasieu Parish conducted a thorough needs assessment before purchasing more than $4.1 million in technology and technology professional development with federal funds under Title I and Title IV to implement the technology within the existing curriculum. The investment included 400 3D printers and the professional development necessary to advance STEAM education, most of which came at no cost to the district. It also is developing a STEM bus with fun technological gadgets to enhance student learning.

Calcasieu Parish’s Training Tech Center, led by Kim, was already instrumental in introducing new technology to its classrooms, including robotics and a computing device for each student and teacher. Armed with a philosophy to “make it happen in the classroom,” Calcasieu Parish and Kim are committed to preparing students for STEAM careers, illustrated by its investments in student design competitions, summer tech camps and the STEM bus. The students are already utilizing the 3D printers in classrooms to solve real-world challenges and develop 3D designing skills within projects.

Daniel Olivas, Network Analyst, Austin Independent School District, nominated by Identity Automation

The pandemic has accelerated the transition to remote and hybrid learning, and it made school districts the number one target for cyberattacks. As the fifth largest school district in Texas, Austin Independent School District was no exception. Guided by the motto “AISD Anywhere,” the district used the pandemic as an opportunity to provide over 100,000 students, teachers, staff, parents, and other users with secure access to classroom tools from any Wi-Fi network.

As Network Analyst at Austin ISD, Daniel Olivas led the implementation of an identity-centric zero trust security strategy that ensured this access was not only user-friendly, but secure. Unlike traditional, perimeter-focused approaches to security, Austin ISD’s zero-trust approach assumes all network traffic is untrusted until an identity has been verified–a critical step to securing a digital ecosystem that can be accessed from anywhere.

To tie Austin ISD’s digital ecosystem together and orient it around digital identities, Olivas leveraged the district’s long-time Identity and Access Management (IAM) platform, RapidIdentity, to grant individuals access to needed applications, while connecting data from those applications back to the correct digital identity. Acting as the new perimeter of Austin ISD’s digital environment, RapidIdentity has helped Austin ISD bolster security and become a leader in K-12 authentication and zero trust.

In the coming weeks, Hero Awards nominations will be highlighted on Winners and finalists will be featured on the site throughout Fall 2022, and on the eSchool News podcast Innovations in Education, hosted by Hogan.

The winners and all program finalists will also be published in a custom K-12 Hero Awards ebook at the program’s conclusion, which will be available for download.

eSN K-12 Hero Awards Program nominee: Spotlight on Green Bay Area Public School District
eSN K-12 Hero Awards Program nominee: Spotlight on FLVS

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