Nominations for the annual eSchool News K-12 Hero Awards are open through September 1, 2023, and this year, we’re giving you a look at some of the entries that came in by our early-bird deadline.
The 2023 K-12 Hero Awards program is dedicated to recognizing the country’s best examples of K-12 success using innovative education technologies.
Companies are encouraged to nominate the schools and districts using their products and services–this offers a chance to share success stories and impart valuable lessons learned with the education community. Education professionals across K-12 departments are eligible for nomination, including IT, curriculum, instruction, and administration.
Let’s take a look at some of the 2023 K-12 Hero Awards nominees:
Cumberland County Public Schools, nominated by EPS School Specialty
Jhone M. Ebert, nominated by Discovery Education
Tamiko Hatcher, nominated by Edmentum
Dr. Jesus Jara, nominated by Edmentum
Johnston County Public Schools, nominated by Savvas Learning Company
Tom Lamont, nominated by Tech Ed Concepts, Inc.
Rod Ruth, nominated by Edmentum
Aaron Schwartz, nominated by IPVideo
Nominee: Cumberland County Public Schools
Nominated by: EPS School Specialty
For Cumberland County Public Schools, the strategic use of Structured Literacy made all the difference for both students and teachers in addressing disrupted learning due to the pandemic. “These last two years have been rough,” said Catherine LeCleir-Salas, Instructional Specialist for K–5 exceptional students. She credits the use of EPS School Specialty’s S.P.I.R.E. reading intervention program for their success in maintaining a stable, high-quality reading program in spite of profound disruptions. LeCleir-Salas also gave high marks to S.P.I.R.E.’s flexible professional learning program. “We have used both in-person and virtual professional development for S.P.I.R.E. and found the trainers to be very knowledgeable and supportive,” she said. Cumberland County had 85 percent to 90 percent teacher participation in using S.P.I.R.E. reading intervention program.
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Nominee: Jhone M. Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction, State of Nevada Department of Education
Nominated by: Discovery Education
The shift to distance education precipitated by the COVID pandemic highlighted challenges including access to technology, professional learning for educators, and high-quality instructional materials. To meet this challenge, Jhone Ebert, Nevada State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in the summer of 2020 announced the launch of the Nevada Digital Learning Collaborative (DLC). An innovative initiative designed to bridge the digital divide across Nevada, the Digital Learning Collaborative seeks to ensure all students and educators have access to rigorous, standards-aligned curriculum, such as that provided by NVDOE partner Discovery Education, to support instruction in both face-to-face, online, and blended environments. While initially created to meet the challenges of teaching in the COVID era, the DLC has become an integral part of teaching and learning in Nevada in the post-COVID world. Through its best-in-class digital resources and powerful professional learning opportunities, the DLC is future-proofing the state’s classrooms as it is connecting the education students are receiving in the classroom to the world beyond the school yard.
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Nominee: Mr. Tamiko Hatcher, Director of Special Programs, Akron Public Schools, Ohio
Nominated by: Edmentum
Mr. Tamiko Hatcher, a dedicated educator and the director of Special Programs at Akron Public Schools in Ohio, displays visionary leadership and steadfast commitment to implementing innovative education technologies to transform the educational experience for the students in his district. Mr. Hatcher’s commitment to providing equitable opportunities for all students, including those with diverse needs, led him to offer services that cater to both traditional and online learning environments, recognizing that some students require different support structures for academic success. Under Mr. Hatcher’s guidance, Akron Public Schools partnered with Edmentum to integrate cutting-edge learning technologies, harnessing their full potential to enhance learning outcomes. “Our entire partnership has really helped our district to continue to thrive. Our online school and EdOptions Academy, Edmentum Services, has really provided us with the flexibility to meet the needs of families as soon as they arrive. We’ve had families who just needed some layer of support or to continue to access their education, and the online environment provided immediate response to that,” shared Mr. Hatcher. With EdOptions Academy, over 18,000 students are given the option to access their education through a virtual environment, allowing the district to continue to thrive in the face of unique challenges. The implementation also helped address challenges with certifications and staffing for their early college high school and STEM high school–when they no longer had a university partner providing physical education credits, Edmentum filled that gap with highly-qualified, state-certified teachers and award-winning curriculum.
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Nominee: Dr. Jesus Jara, Superintendent, Clark County School District
Nominated by: Edmentum
Dr. Jesus Jara is a passionate educator who serves as Superintendent of Clark County School District (CCSD), the 5th-largest school district in the nation, educating more than 300,000 students–64 percent of the student population in Nevada. Since assuming the role of superintendent in 2018, Dr. Jara has been on a mission to move the district from pockets of excellence to an excellent school system where every student can thrive. It was clear to Dr. Jara that, post-pandemic, his students were struggling. Dr. Jara collaborated with Edmentum to introduce a program focused on accelerating learning in core subject areas, specifically to improve math and reading scores. Elementary and high school students from across the district were part of the initial program. During the 2022-2023 school year, CCSD implemented a research study on Exact Path with more than 20,000 students spanning kindergarten through grade 10 to assess and improve math and reading scores. Students who used Exact Path showed a statistically significant impact on math achievement across all grade levels studied. In kindergarten through grade 2, students who completed at least eight skills exceeded math growth norms by 3 points, a 30 percent improvement over expected growth on NWEA MAP assessments. In grades 3-5, students completing at least 16 skills had the biggest improvement overall, growing 8.7 NWEA MAP points on average. Finally, across ninth and tenth graders, those who completed at least 16 skills increased 5.4 NWEA MAP points on average.
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Nominee: Johnston County Public Schools
Nominated by: Savvas Learning Company
While recent statistics from NAEP (The Nation’s Report Card) show significant declines in math scores across the country, Johnston County Public Schools in North Carolina has defied that trend. Data released at the end of the 2021-22 school year showed the district increased math scores by double digits in grades 3-8, outperforming pre-COVID levels. These gains led the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to single out Johnston County as the most improved school district in the state. Johnston County Public Schools increased its districtwide math scores to above state averages by implementing a year-over-year plan for high-quality mathematics instruction, which included the adoption of Savvas Learning Company’s enVision® series for grades K-12, an evidence-based, classroom-tested core math curriculum delivered on the Savvas Realize learning management system platform. After months of research and a successful pilot, the district chose enVision because of its rigor, digital learning components, and engaging lessons. After one year of using enVision, Johnston County saw real growth. From 2021 to 2022, it gained 16 percentage points in math proficiency for grades 3-8, and 9 percentage points for grades 9-12, outperforming statewide averages of a 10-point gain in grades 3-8 and an 8-point gain in grades 9-12.
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Nominee: Tom Lamont, Educator, Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School
Nominated by: Tech Ed Concepts, Inc.
Tom Lamont is the Painting and Design Technology instructor at one of the top 25 high schools in the U.S., Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School (BVT), in Upton, Massachusetts. Mr. Lamont offers his vocational high school students a unique hands-on opportunity to learn about the design industry and to prepare for jobs in the workforce. He integrates today’s high-tech training into a visually-engaging curriculum using a variety of techniques and creative tools. “We have an opportunity to do some amazing things every day at BVT,” said Mr. Lamont. “Through our co-op program, we have placed students in full-time jobs within our trade area. Our students serve our district communities through their work on Eagle Scout projects, Gold Awards, sign production for churches and nonprofit organizations, as well as continuing to support our veteran groups with painting and sign projects.” Mr. Lamont’s program has earned him the Massachusetts Vocation Association (MVA) New Teacher Award in 2020 and many other industry recognitions. The Painting and Design Technology program at BVT uses Roland TrueVIS printer/cutters purchased from Tech Ed Concepts, Inc. (TEC) in Concord, NH. According to Mr. Lamont: “Rolands are the best – you can’t beat the quality,” he said. “The TrueVIS has amazing speed and accuracy, and the print/cut feature streamlines our workflow.” TEC is the Roland DGA Academic Representative in New England and is recognized for superior service, support, and training.
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Nominee: Mr. Rod Ruth, Principal, Clover High School, Clover School District
Nominated by: Edmentum
With a wealth of experience spanning over 22 years in the field of education, Mr. Rod Ruth, an outstanding educator and principal of Clover High School in South Carolina, consistently demonstrates unwavering commitment to student achievement and has left a lasting impact on the students and the community of Clover. Mr. Ruth’s leadership has been instrumental in positioning Clover High School as a standout institution. Under his guidance, Clover High School has embraced personalized learning and innovative solutions to cater to the diverse needs of the students. By leveraging Edmentum programs, Mr. Ruth has provided flexible options that have transformed the educational experience. Students at Clover High School can access initial credit, credit recovery, and condensed credit programs, enabling them to receive tailored instruction and excel academically. Mr. Ruth’s commitment to student success is evident in the impressive graduation rate of 96 percent–the highest in the school’s history. Through his collaborative approach and effective utilization of Edmentum’s resources, Mr. Ruth has empowered students to reach their full potential. His dedication to excellence and steady support have created a culture of achievement and growth at Clover High School.
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Nominee: Aaron Schwartz, Associate Principal, North Scott High School
Nominated by: IPVideo
In his role, Aaron Schwartz is always looking out for the students at North Scott High School and investigating solutions to keep a safe and secure learning environment. From active shooter drills to security solutions, he is looked upon by the district to find solutions to keep students safe. In the 21-22 school year, the district has received over 20 EMS calls for students who were suffering at various levels including seizures. The suspicion was this was related to vaping in the high school restrooms. Determined to identify and prevent the problem Aaron found a solution in the HALO Smart Sensor from IPVideo Corporation. Since installation, the HALO devices served as a deterrent to vaping in the restrooms and no further EMS calls took place. Aaron’s efforts identified a problem, found a solution to protect his students, and provided for a safer learning environment.
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