eSchool News Announces Winners for First Annual Distinguished Innovator Awards Program


eSchool News Announces Winners for First Annual Distinguished Innovator Awards Program

The competition recognizes innovative practices in school districts across the U.S.

ROCKVILLE, MD (January 15, 2019) — eSchool News, which covers education technology and helps K-12 decision makers transform North America’s schools, is proud to announce our three winners for the Distinguished Innovator Awards, a program that recognizes educators, leaders, schools, and districts using creative and/or groundbreaking strategies to improve education in every classroom and for every student.

Winners in each of three categories will receive editorial profiles on, and will participate in an exclusive eSchool News webinar in early 2019 to share their innovative practices with educators across the nation.

Our expert judging panel included:

Richard Culatta, ISTE CEO
Kecia Ray, Leader and Facilitator of K20 Connect
Thomas C. Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools

The winners in each category are as follows:

Educator Winner: Dieuwertje J. Kast, STEM Programs Manager for the USC Joint Educational Project, CA

Kast creates and manages STEM programs, provides professional development and mentorship, supports integrated STEM education throughout California, and provides technology access to thousands of students. She is also an informal science educator who caters to the needs of formal classroom educators. Through her efforts, she has provided STEM instruction to more than 23,000 underrepresented minority students, 500 educators, 20 school principals, and countless members of the community. Kast “has contributed significantly to the technological literacy and awareness of my students,” says nominating educator Roee Fung, “preparing them to become global and digital citizens in their communities and more broadly.”

School Winner: Strayer Middle School, Quakertown, PA

At Strayer, innovation is key in helping students prepare for the demands of future careers and positive community engagement. School leaders and educators want the school to be a place where students can address real challenges, discuss different perspectives, show their creativity, and learn from one another. One of the many unique features in the school is its Innovation Center. It’s a place for students to create, but goes beyond a makerspace in that it includes digital components in addition to makerspace tools. Strayer educators want students to be a driving force in the decisions made for the program. As advice to other educators looking to implement innovative practices, Jennifer Bubser, Strayer’s principal, says “Seek out every opportunity out there to network and learn from others! Have fun and talk about what you’re doing when you’re out in the community.

District Winner: Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) in Vancouver, WA

District leaders and educators in Vancouver strongly believe in an equitable education for all students, and, to that end, they support initiatives and programs that foster a culture of innovation and responsible risk-taking. Some of the district’s top initiatives include the Hour of Creation, a program for future-ready administrators, a digital advisory and integration process, and a coding in special education program. Another area VPS excels in is transparency and ubiquitous leadership. Says Zachery Desjarlais, director of instructional technology: “When building teams that work on and lead various initiatives, VPS always aims to be cross-departmental and bring in building personnel in order to build a system of trust and ownership.”
“We were thrilled with the phenomenal entries we received and can’t wait to share the winners’ stories,” says Ellen Ullman, editorial director of eSchool News. “We loved learning about all of the innovative projects and hope our readers will be inspired by their peers who are creating the innovative teaching and learning realities of tomorrow.”
About eSchool News

eSchool News provides the latest news, resources, and reports on the applications of technology to improve learning and assists K-12 educators in forming collaborative alliances and providing a valuable resource bank for the exchange of information, ideas and best practices. It is part of eSchool Media, a digital marketing and custom content service platform that serves the advertising and marketing needs of companies and organizations that want to influence, and do business with, education decision-makers.

Press Contacts:

Laura Ascione

Ellen Ullman

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