American School Board Journal April 2017 : Page 24

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The Innovation Factor

Kathleen Vail

The 2017 Magna award winners discover new and different ways to help their students and community

Creativity cannot be mandated. However, school leaders can foster it among their administrators and employees. When conditions are right—when leaders are open to new ideas and allow for failure—good things happen for students.

For more than 20 years, the Magna Awards have been recognizing innovative school district programs supported by board governance. This year’s Grand Prize-winning districts are providing opportunities for their most vulnerable students, cultivating a culture of kindness, respect, and achievement districtwide, and removing barriers to achievement for students with disadvantages, with the support of their school leaders.

Each year, one district from each of the three student enrollment categories—under 5,000, 5,000 to 20,000, and 20,000 and higher—earns the Magna Grand Prize. In addition, five award winners and five honorable mention districts are chosen for each category. These districts and their school boards will be honored by the editors of ASBJ and Magna program sponsor Sodexo at NSBA’s annual conference in March in Denver.

SHOP@USC

Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania

IT BEGAN WITH MIDDLE-SCHOOLERS making and selling greeting cards. That kernel of an idea started Upper St. Clair School District Deputy Superintendent Sharon Suritsky thinking. A former special education teacher, she was searching for a way to fund a high-tech makerspace at the district’s high school, as well as a way to help students with severe disabilities.

“We started just really crazy brainstorming about how could we raise money to fund this innovation hub,” she says, “but also at the same time take advantage of all the equipment and really try to do something really innovative for our students with special needs.”

For this suburban district 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, the result is SHOP@USC (Showing How Opportunity Pays at Upper St. Clair). It’s a student-run business that features a real-world approach to teaching high school students with disabilities. In the program, students at Upper St. Clair High School design, create, and produce greeting cards, T-shirts, key chains, signs and banners, and other school spirit items.

About 17 students with disabilities— ages 14 to 21—attend the class. General education students also take the class as an elective. Together, the students work to create and sell the items.

“We have a long history of doing inclusion in this district,” says Suritsky. “You know, we’re very familiar with how to combine students with and without disabilities, but this was a really unique attempt at doing it in a very different way.”

Community connections were pivotal to paying for the program. Private grants and in-kind gifts from the community were used to procure the equipment, which included a wide-format printer, a vinyl cutter, a digital printing press, a laminator, and a direct-to-garment printer. Some equipment went to the high school’s Fab Lab; the rest is used for SHOP.

Some parents returned their children to the high school from out-of-district placements, demonstrating trust in the program and saving the district transportation and tuition costs.

“Our students with significant disabilities had great potential to contribute to our school and our community in a very unique way,” says Superintendent Patrick O’Toole. “And taking risks and being creative has always been a hallmark of our staff, and it’s also in our mission that we have a staff that’s committed to new programs and new ideas.”

Upper St. Clair is a high-performing district that ranks consistently as one of the top Pennsylvania districts if not the U.S. Newsweek in 2016 named the high school 113th in the nation. But the leaders and the staff are not resting on their laurels, and they credit a district culture that allows for creativity and innovation.

Building this culture takes trust, says school board member and past NSBA president Barbara Bolas. “One thing that we have always worked for is to be trustworthy in our role as board members, and in our personal relationships and with all of our interactions with our staff members,” she says. “If a staff member makes mistakes or fails, it’s all right.”

The most tangible results of the program may be the shirts and cards, but at its heart are the relationships that develop between the students. Many of the friendships formed during the class carry over into the school day and even after school.

“I don’t think any of us quite envisioned just how kind of magical this program is,” says Suritsky.

Grand Prize Winner
under 5,000 enrollment

CONTACT

Deputy Superintendent
Sharon Suritsky

ssuritsky@uscsd.k12.pa.us
www.uscsd.k12.pa.us

You, I, We Inspire

Piscataway Township Schools, Piscataway, New Jersey

MEMBERS OF THE PISTACAWAY

Township School Board wanted to find out more about education issues that were affecting their district. There was no time in their board meetings, so they started a monthly book club.

“We studied texts that were relative to our mission,” says board President William Irwin. “We set an example that there is always more to learn, that intellectual curiosity was good.”

Among the books read were: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, The Pedagogy of Confidence by Yvette Jackson, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

These books and their ideas were pertinent to Piscataway’s schools and community. About 36 percent of families are disadvantaged. Demographically, the district is 17 percent white, 30 percent black, 33 percent Asian, and 18 percent Hispanic. More than 40 languages are spoken among the students and their families—with many Asian and Hispanic students requiring English learner services.

In the 2013-14 school year, the district found that minorities were not represented in Advanced Placement and honors classes and were not doing well on standardized tests. These students also represented a disproportionate share of disciplinary actions.

The board was interested in the idea that intelligence can be altered, that it’s OK to make mistakes, says Superintendent Teresa Rafferty. “In all of those books, they key to developing and motivating kids to inspire and believe in them. They always come back to a particular teacher knowing kids by name, knowing their home background. Social and emotional has to be a part of academics. We have to convince kids they can overcome the baggage of the experiences in their young lives.”

This book club sparked discussions among board members that were the basis for “You, I, We Inspire.” Schools were encouraged to start character education programs that would help build a culture of acceptance and inclusion. Teachers were given more team-building time by cutting faculty meetings. “We’ve asked our teachers to lean on each other,” says Rafferty. “They can’t be the best unless we provide an environment where they can take risks.”

The Piscataway Education Foundation got involved by creating “Inspire” grants for teachers who demonstrated new or innovative instruction.

“The board made it clear we wanted the culture of inspiration and left it up to each school to best pursue the goal,” Rafferty says. “They were free to try new things, and not everything will work. They have our support in both successes and failures, and failures pave the way to success.”

Martin Luther King Intermediate School Principal Alex Gray brought in high-schoolers who had attended the intermediate school to be role models for his students. The older students speak at quarterly academic ceremonies.

“It’s an inspiration to see current high school students on their way to college who sat in their seats,” says Gray.

Grand Prize Winner
5,000 to 20,000 enrollment

CONTACT

Public Information Office
Judy Palermo

jpalermo@pway.org.
www.piscatawayschools.org

Mobile Family-Community Resource Center

Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Washington

VANCOUVER'S FAMILY-COMMUNITY Resource Centers (FCRCs) came out of a 2008 school board strategic planning process. These centers, located in 18 high-poverty schools, are staffed by full-time coordinators. These coordinators connect students and their families with much-needed housing resources, utility assistance, transportation, in-school dental care, in-school mental and behavioral health care, in-school fresh food pantries and weekend food backpacks, and clothing, shoes, hygiene, and cleaning items.

When the district and the community revisited the strategic plan in 2014, the idea came up to expand the FCRCs for the other 18 schools in the district, which still had pockets of poverty and students who needed services.

The Mobile FCRC came out these discussions, says Tamara Shoup, director of family engagement and Family-Community Resource Centers. The district purchased a Dodge Ram ProMaster and hired a full-time coordinator, Nicole Loran-Graham.

The van is equipped with racks for clothing and bins for supplies and food. Its brightly colored exterior features the program’s logo and the phone number. Loran-Graham is in contact with the principals, counselors, and staff of the schools she serves. She provides the same services as the FCRC coordinators at the high-poverty schools.

Loren-Graham also serves as a central point for the coordinators, holding pop-up stores for donated clothing and supplies and hauling donated produce to monthly fresh fruits and vegetable pantries at the FCRC schools. She has also become a point person for community charities, foundations, and faith-based groups who want to donate time, supplies, and food.

The goal of the school-based and mobile FCRCs is to eliminate barriers for students so they can concentrate on school. Homelessness, hunger, lack of medical and mental health services—these can a¬ffect children’s ability to learn.

“Teachers call principals and tell them a student showed up wearing only one shoe,” says Shoup. “They find out the family is living in their car. You can’t solve that problem by yourself as a classroom teacher. They connect with mobile and do triage.”

Giving schools a point person for children and families to connect to needed services is an important part of the program. “We can’t have our teachers dealing with hunger issues, mobility issues, clothing issues,” says school board President Dale Rice. “If they are dealing with that, they are not dealing with educating.”

Mobility and a shortage of affordable housing is an issue in Vancouver that affects children and their schools. The district tracks mobility as a performance indicator, says Superintendent Stephen Webb. In the schools with the highest percentage of free and reduced price lunches, the district found that with the wraparound support for families and students, mobility decreased by 12 percent.

“We know if students start and finish in our schools, they are more likely to be on-time graduates,” says Webb. “This effort is about creating stability for students, recognizing a whole systems response to the things children have to cope with when families are affected by unemployment, criminal behavior, and other problems.”

Helping students without helping their families does nothing to stabilize and build community in school neighborhoods. “Culture trumps strategy every time,” says Webb. “When there is that kind of constant churn, it’s difficult for a classroom to get the cultural context of a safe and supportive learning environment. Before the FCRCs, the principals and teachers were crisis managers. That gets in the way of focused instruction that helps eliminate achievement gaps.” Graduation rates have risen from 64 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2016, and the achievement gap is narrowing as well. Embracing the Community Schools philosophy has brought results for Vancouver.

“People say, why are schools in this business? I would say, if not us, then who? We are held accountable regardless of the context students are raised in, standards-based approach, and that is not shifting,” says Webb. “If decades of research demonstrated the correlational link between poverty and achievement, why wouldn’t we tend to the environmental context? If we can close the opportunity gaps, we can close achievement gaps.”

Grand Prize Winner
over 20,000 enrollment

CONTACT

Director of Family Engagement and Family-Community Resource Centers
Tamara Shoup

tamara.shoup@vansd.org
http://vansd.org

In Recognition of Excellence Dinner

East Williston Union Free School District, Old Westbury, New York

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Most high schools hold awards events for their graduating seniors. If the awards are based on grades, two or three top students often dominate, especially in smaller districts. Worthwhile students are left out, creating a “recognition gap.” The In Recognition of Excellence Dinner addresses this gap. The event honors students who have worked hard, helped others, and made the school community a better place.

Each year the 10 or so students who are nominated are recognized during the Academic Awards Ceremony. They select a teacher, staff member, or coach who had the greatest impact on their lives. These teachers are then invited along with the students to an intimate dinner held in their honor.

At the dinner, the principal speaks about each student. The students get their turn by speaking about the teachers or staff members and their influence, revealing the personal connection established between the students and the faculty members.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The impetus for creating an award for students who would not normally receive academic recognition came from a school board member. The school board believes in celebrating more than just the typical academic achievement of students. A core part of the district mission states the need to “nurture the best in each child morally, intellectually, socially, artistically, emotionally and physically.” Board members attend the event and recognize the important role it plays in celebrating district wide values.

RESULTS

These days, districts, schools, faculty, and students are often measured by metrics such as examination scores, graduation rates, and number of AP Scholars. Although these measures are useful, they fail to capture the full essence of student learning and growth. Furthermore, when high scores become the primary metric for recognition, successful students are often omitted because their success is not quite at the same high level of a few of the top students. This program allows the district to define and celebrate its values. It is one of the most anticipated end-of-year events. Faculty members are excited when they receive an invitation. Board members, district and building administrators, and families of the 10 selected students are all witness to the powerful student-faculty connections celebrated through the words of the selected students. The evening serves as a reminder of what is most important about the district: the connections created and nurtured among students and faculty.

CONTACT

Principal
Sean Feeney

feeneys@ewsdonline.org
www.ewsdonline.org

Connecting Generations: Teen Teachers for All Learners

Swan Valley School District, Saginaw, Michigan

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Swan Valley School District believes that, if school truly serves the community, it has to forge partnerships that extend beyond bricks and mortar. Business members come to the district for solutions. Interestingly, a local funeral home approached the district for help with aging residents who have experienced personal loss.

The district set up a program at the high school for senior citizens to learn how to use a smart-phone, and how to set up and communicate through email, Facebook, Skype—even texting. Throughout the day, the seniors meet with high school mentors who do everything from setting up computers, tablets, and phones, to teaching their partners how to use them. Because many senior citizens can’t drive, twice a week a group of students goes to their homes. After the teen mentors provide instruction on how to use devices, they teach the residents how to set up Netflix accounts, play games, and even how to do online banking. Friendships and bonds have been formed that surpass traditional generational relationships.

In another phase of the cross-generational program, teens teach and mentor preschool students with literacy and creative lessons each week of the school year. Also, through the Cadet Teaching program, high school students are assigned classrooms to work with younger children. They earn both high school and college credit for the accredited program.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The school board approved the implementation of all cross-generational programs, and members are visible throughout each of them. It encourages staff and students to engage in problem solving that provides opportunities for authentic learning. Members participate in the solutions, not only by “showing up,” but by actively taking part in lessons the students teach, as well as by sharing their skills and talents with students. They have invited high school students to serve on the board at regular meetings. They serve as mentors to teens, and are committed to maintaining critical pieces of students’ educational plans.

RESULTS

High school dropout research indicates that students are more likely to stay in school if they are involved in service learning, and if they feel connected to the school community. The cross-generational programs provide an avenue to connect students for success.

Students learn about character, integrity, service, and putting the needs of others before their own. Literacy lessons transform into life lessons; scheduled mentoring hours blend into unlikely friendships. Mentors become learners, and teachers become students. Students learn by doing, by teaching, and by listening.

Service has become a way of life for Swan Valley students. Each year the local Community Foundation Youth Award recognizes one student in the entire county who has been dedicated to the service of others. In five of the last seven years, the award was presented to a Swan Valley student.

Some of the students will stop in before school and say, “I couldn’t wait to get to school today because . . .” the reasons would be because they got to work with the little children, or because it was their day to meet with the senior citizens, or even because they wanted to try out something new in technology.

CONTACT

High School Library Media Specialist
Kay Wejrowski

kwejrow@swanvalley.k12.mi.us
www.swanvalleyschools.com

CREST

Teton County School District 1, Jackson, Wyoming

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The school board is committed to providing high-quality professional development for teachers throughout the school year. The board recognizes, however, that a traditional approach of holding professional development for teachers during the school day creates challenges for parents. Many parents do not have the flexibility or cannot afford to miss a day’s work to stay home with their children while the district conducts professional development. To address this challenge, the district created CREST (Community + Recreation = Enrich Student’s Time). It is a joint venture with more than 20 community organizations to provide students with a wide variety of experiential learning activities during the three no-school Fridays that have been set aside for professional development. This program is offered at no cost to families, and it provides transportation and meals to ensure all families are able to participate.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

CREST began with a commitment from the school board and the superintendent to partner with community organizations to make this program a reality. School leaders were dedicated to ensuring that students had an opportunity to be in a safe, supervised, and educationally enriched environment while at the same time providing professional development to staff. The board supported the application for grants to fund the program. Eventually, the district received over $100,000 in grant funds as well as additional in-kind donations from the community.

RESULTS

Over 500 kindergarten through eighth-grade students enrolled in a full day of engaging, project-based learning opportunities during teacher work days. These activities included building Popsicle stick bridges, participating in acting and dance lessons, and pressing fresh apple juice. Many students were exposed to experiences that would not have been possible for them without this innovative program. By working with community partners, the district was able to meet the needs of teachers, students, and families by providing appropriate supervision and educational services on no-school professional development days.

CONTACT

Director of School Improvement
Pier Trudelle

ptrudelle@tcsd.org
www.tcsd.org

Juntos: Together for a Better Education

Tillamook School District 9, Tillamook, Oregon

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

About a quarter of Tillamook School District 9 students are Latino. The district has worked diligently to serve Latino students, but found that they were still showing an achievement gap when compared to the rest of the student population particularly around language arts, math, and graduation. Also, the district was having difficulty connecting with parents as their students moved into junior high and high school.

Juntos, a program of Oregon State University’s Open Campus, was proposed as a way to address these disconnects with Latino families. Juntos includes both students and their families in six weeks of workshops around success in high school and preparation for college. Both dinner and child care are provided during these sessions to lessen any barriers to participation. After the initial six weeks, it continues with student clubs, family nights, and college visits. It offers GED preparation classes in Spanish at the local community college, holds cultural celebrations as a group, and plans continuing family nights around topics such as financial aid, immigration, and basic computer skills.

Juntos began by inviting parents into the high school, where the district provided space to hold the sessions. This provided parents possibly their first chance to go into the school and see the classrooms, lockers, cafeteria, and more. Faculty, staff, administrators and school board members attend sessions, meeting the families and answering questions.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The school board made it a priority to increase outreach and connection to the Latino community. It recognized that achievement and graduation gaps existed, and focused on ways to address them. Board members attended informal community meetings to start the conversation. In 2013, the first session of the Juntos program took place. Board members attended sessions and the first graduation. They continue to attend sessions and promote the program in the community. Last year, as a result of invitations from board members, many families from the Latino community attended a school board meeting. The district provided translators so that all those in attendance would understand.

RESULTS

The district has seen improved graduation rates for Latino students since the inception of Juntos, with a 100 percent graduation rate for Juntos students. In addition, over 85 percent of the students have gone on to college, many with scholarships from the district or their college of choice.

Twenty Juntos parents have enrolled in Spanish GED preparation classes at the community college, which is a result of their commitment to their own education after becoming part of Juntos.

Now in its third year, Juntos has served over 100 people. Families want to participate so that they can help their children complete high school and go on to college.

CONTACT

Executive Assistant
Gail Levesque

gaill@tillamook.k12.or.us
www.tillamook.k12.or.us

Owl Time

Windsor C-1 School District, Imperial, Missouri

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Windsor High School, with an enrollment of 1,000 students, provides many varied academic, athletic, and social opportunities. All of these offerings are made with the intent to broaden a student’s world experience and prepare them for life after high school. Very little time is afforded to young adults that is at their discretion. High school students are booked from the time they wake up until the end of the day. Self-directed time is squeezed out.

But where do you find time in an already limited and parceled schedule? The school day consisted of seven periods, with 50-minute classes and an extend fifth period to accommodate a three-shift lunch. Using time before or after school was not feasible or practical. Restructuring the school day was determined as the way to create more student-directed time. It was important to maintain the high-quality programming offered at Windsor, so courses would not be compromised or added, such as an advisory class, to already jammed student schedules. Instead, the three-shift lunch was changed to a single 58 minute self-directed, centrally located, time commitment. Class duration was minimally affected, going from 50 to 47 minutes in length. What now was available was time.

Students were told when they could eat, use the restroom, work on assignments, and socialize. Cafeteria rushes occurred early on in the program, since students had not flexed their ability to defer lunch for other options such as using the open computer labs, visiting the library, or seeking academic support. As more lunch seating was accommodated and academic and enrichment options were made known, the student body began to deprogram the institutionalized schedule and embrace their choices.

Students not making strong choices in time management, and consequently earning Ds or Fs on their reports, are given mandatory tutoring or Quiet Time to foster those stronger study skills and increase their learning. With the time flexibility built into Owl Time, the program is able to evolve with the student body needs.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

Owl Time was initiated by the building principal, now assistant superintendent, who proposed the idea to the faculty, planned and piloted an Owl Time-like scenario, then approached the school board on full implementation. Three years into the program, the high school has had three different principals. The change in leadership has many implications. The school board extended professional trust in the building leadership and teacher capacity to change a traditional school schedule based on the understanding that the program was to better serve the students. The board has a commitment to student-centered decisions and support, and the teachers and administrators are a trusted team to carry out new ideas that will be adjusted to address the differing needs of the student-centered program.

RESULTS

Discipline referrals have dropped by 15 percent since Owl Time was implemented as a year-long effort, which included an addition of 65 students to the school population (2014-15). Tardies also have been directly addressed through Owl Time; students who accrue at least four tardies must eat in a separate room throughout the entire hour-long lunch. Owl Time has become an immediate answer when a student needs academic support, access to technology, or time to explore interpersonal relationships around common interests. The front-end results are directly related to the extensive planning, trials, feedback, reflections, and ongoing adjustments made to a 58-minute “loose-tight” structured lunch.

CONTACT

Assistant Principal
Rachel Montgomery

rmontgomery@windsor.k12.mo.us
www.windsor.k12.mo.us

Project ZAM (Zoo and Me)

Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Missouri

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In response to a decrease in state funding for early childhood education, the district sought out different revenue sources to help pay for the school readiness needs of children and their families. Project ZAM was funded through a private grant and district money. Preschoolers and their parents attend one Saturday morning session a month at the district. The children learn about different zoo animals through a partnership with the Kansas City Zoo. Parents receive materials and guidance on how to work with their children at home on various kindergarten readiness skills. The program culminates in a visit to the zoo, including rides and a family lunch.

Some of the children had never experienced going to the zoo, much less seeing animals in a small group setting and learning about their characteristics. All themes were carried out with not only the zoo but with take-home literacy books, crafts, and practice that continued the learning experience. Snacks also were themed-based each monthly Saturday.

Project ZAM allowed participating children to be identified for services with a free health screening, and in some instances for assistance for further free medical services. Screenings were conducted by district staff, including Parents as Teacher educators, Title 1 teachers, evaluation specialists, RNs, social workers, regular classroom teachers, and counselors, which allowed for a more intensive screening process.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The Blue Springs Board of Education understands the value of early childhood education and has challenged district staff to find ways to identify and serve the youngest learners. The board established goals that included finding ways to assist at-risk families with educational experiences. Board support of this program has included attending Project ZAM events, assisting with projects, and promoting the initiative in the community. Board members approved the funding to match the Jelly Family Endowment grant. These funds over two years provided staff for screenings, facilities for events, and transportation for families. The board held its summer meeting at the Kansas City Zoo and participated in a hands-on experience in addition to talking with the zoo curator about the partnerships with the district.

RESULTS

More than 90 young children increased their knowledge, skills, and awareness. They participated in structured and unstructured activities that address the developmental needs of preschoolers. Students worked to improve language development, literacy, numbers and counting, social and emotional development, and physical development.

Each child underwent a free developmental screening to determine if there were any deficits. Once the screening was completed, a parent intake was conducted and a member of the district team gave caregivers specific information about their child. As a result, 12 percent of children were referred for further testing and services. These children were given the resources to assist them in their development.

CONTACT

Deputy Superintendent
Annette Seago

aseago@bssd.net
www.bssd.net

Kids on the Move

Hazelwood School District, Florissant, Missouri

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In support of the school district’s No.1 goal of increasing student achievement, the school board sought a way to recognize students who excelled in the classroom, in extracurricular activities, and in the community. The Kids on the Move monthly program recognizes student achievement through nominations submitted by teachers, coaches, troop leaders, administrators, parents, and community leaders. This format provides an opportunity to recognize more student achievement.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

At the beginning of the school year, all school board members sign up for a given month to represent the school board by traveling around to the designated schools for that particular month. The board member serves as the host of that month’s Kids on the Move program. They recognize between 20 and 30 students, covering eight to 10 schools across the district per month. The recognition program is filmed by the communications department, then added to the school district’s website, posted on social media, and aired on the district’s cable channel. In addition, a letter and a copy of the DVD is mailed to the parents/guardians of the children who were recognized.

RESULTS

In October 2016, the school board recorded its record-breaking 100th episode of the Kids on the Move program. Within a nine-year period, the board has recognized thousands of students.

CONTACT

Director of Communications
Kimberly McKenzie

kmckenzie@hazelwoodschools.org
www.hazelwoodschooldistrict.org

New Horizons

Hilliard City Schools, Columbus, Ohio

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The 625 students at Hilliard Horizon Elementary School come from 15 different countries and speak 16 different languages. They come from a community where half of the families live in poverty. Teachers noticed that students were lacking experiences outside of the school walls, and developed New Horizons in partnership with community organizations. This after-school program, offered at no charge to students, is based on youth development activities.

Students can choose from 100 different enrichment courses ranging from computer coding, cake decoration, cooking, robotics Legos, creativity, cricket, and oceanography. A beforeschool program called Power Hour helps students who need academic help on specific skills through small group instruction. A community organization provides a teacher to hold classes for parents after school to teach conversational English. The teacher also gives parents tips on parent-teacher conferences and navigating the computer system to access grades.

Parents run nearly 25 percent of the programming offered at the school. Before this program started, parents felt as if they did not have the expertise to lead a group of students. However, because of parent engagement programs, the parents have shared their careers and job passions with the Hilliard Horizon Community.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The school board has supported New Horizons from the beginning of the Straight A grant application throughout the implementation in this second year of programming. The board has visited both the before- and after-school programs. The board has highlighted New Horizons at meetings and in front of community members many times. It has worked with several media outlets as well to publish information and news stories about this program.

RESULTS

Math scores rose, on average, 300 points due to the programs offered. Reading levels increased, on average, by three levels during the school year. The biggest difference is that the students feel like they have a place where they belong. They are safe and secure at school, where people care about them and want them to succeed. Of the 35 teachers who work at Hilliard Horizon, 97 percent work in the before- or after-school program. In addition, 100 percent of the staff support the work in the out-of-school programming.

CONTACT

Director of Communication
Stacie Raterman

Stacie_Raterman@hboe.org
www.hilliardschools.org

Tot SPOT

Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kansas

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Topeka Public Schools (TPS) has experienced an 11 percent increase in families who are living on a low income, to the current 76.68 percent. The district provides preschool intervention services, but many families weren’t taking advantage of it.

The program involved the repurposing of a van which was scheduled to be retired as a service van in 2016-17. With authorization from the school board, several employees at the TPS service center enthusiastically contributed to transform a simple, “retired” van into a child-friendly, primary-colored, polka-dotted, mobile therapy unit. This repurposing kept the van in use as a therapy delivery venue for speech/language, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and early childhood services. Tot SPOT relieved the parents, overcoming transportation and attendance issues created by low socioeconomic circumstances. At this time, the TPS speech/language department is serving 449 preschoolers at 78 sites. Tot SPOT is able to deliver services to students as their parents watch and participate in the mobile therapy room. Absenteeism is decreased, and a relationship is fostered between the parent and the professional staff.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The school board monitors key components to ensure opportunities to foster relationships among staff, students, families, and the community. In addition, it encourages creative minds to analyze need, appraise resources, and devise viable solutions. This attentiveness to need and affirmation of employee ideas is reflected by their enthusiastic support for this “out-of-thebox” service. The members of the board have attentively kept their collective “finger on the pulse,” monitoring these components to ensure opportunities for continued personal relationships between staff and students, their families, and the community while meeting their ever-growing needs.

RESULTS

Tot SPOT has had only 40 school days of activity by which to measure success. The first goal accomplished was to create an effective, family-friendly, affordable mobile therapy unit to meet our needs and to provide a model for other districts that are facing the same challenges with onsite services to preschoolers, limited budgets, and inefficient time use due to speech/language pathology vacancies. TPS is able to deliver services in the neighborhoods without breaching the FERPA rights of the students by naming the Tot SPOT with an acronym.

CONTACT

Communications Specialist
Megan Ackerman

mackerman@tps501.org
www.topekapublicschools.net

Beyond Textbooks

Vail Unified School District, Vail, Arizona

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Beyond Textbooks (BT) is a comprehensive program of curriculum development, instructional improvement, student assessment, and intervention. It starts with standards: what students must learn. Next, a team of teachers and administrators “unwraps” documents to define what “good enough” looks like when students need to demonstrate an understanding of any particular state standard. From there, the team develops curriculum calendars for when the different standards will be taught and for how long. Then teachers are given liberty to figure out what specific materials and resources are needed for instruction. A wiki serves as a digital version of the curriculum as it is developed by instructors and content specialists. Other key elements include common formative assessments to check students’ mastery of the standards and an opportunity to reteach or enrich as part of daily interventions based on data collected from formative and quarterly benchmark assessments.

BT has completely changed the way the district does business. First, it digitized curriculum, making changes much more efficient. Long gone are the days of a curriculum change coming from the district office in the form of papers that had to replace old ones in every curriculum binder for every grade level at every school in a district. Each site once had a person in charge of all those curriculum binders who collected and updated them every year. When new standards come out, teachers and administrators are no longer stuck in a conference room spending days preparing for the upcoming year by stuffing the mountain of binders. Educators link in to BT. All have access to every “binder,” which is updated in real time. BT allows teachers to do the things that really matter: differentiated instruction, reteaching ideas, and building connections with students and parents.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

Board members were involved in BT from the initial meetings in 2008. They provided full backing. They outlined specific goals on how to digitize the curriculum. One such goal was to have all core subjects up and running online in one year. They raised funds to get technology in every classroom in the district. Once the program was launched, the board continued to support it with goals attached to performance pay. When the board stood behind BT, the program grew and found solid roots. When Vail was approached about sharing its new digital instructional playbook, the board strongly encouraged it. Vail was making academic strides it had never seen, and the board wanted to help others. The board continues to present the program around the nation.

RESULTS

Vail went from being average in 2000, to being ranked as the top-performing district in the state of Arizona for the first two years the ranking system was in place. As the state rankings continued, districts continued to rise. At one point, three of the top five districts in the state were using BT. And, as BT has branched out beyond the state borders, similar results have been experienced. As such, since 2010, the BT staff has provided over 1,765 trainings across Arizona and beyond.

CONTACT

Chief Executive Officer
Kevin Carney

carneyk@vailschooldistrict.org
www.vailschooldistrict.org

Business After School

Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, Clarksville, Tennessee

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Business After School was modeled after the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours, where members network to make connections. Business After School invites the same audience to learn more about the school system by networking with school district faculty and administrators, while learning about instruction and curriculum initiatives directly from the students. This deeper understanding of what and how students are learning, along with the new relationships between internal and external leaders, helps to improve public support of student achievement.

At the inception of the program, the community knew very little about the system’s focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Using a networking platform with which local leaders were familiar made for a great opportunity to feature the STEM program. The event was at a high school, and included not only math and science students from that secondary level, but also expanded to include several elementary schools and one middle school in that feeder group.

The event was so successful that another event was held the following January to feature the system’s new high school college and career academies. Not only did the chamber leadership attend, but its staff helped to promote the event through its newsletter and website. As a result, business leaders, elected officials, local judges, and community members attended the event.

The program is a collaboration between the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Board, district leadership, Clarksville-Montgomery County Education Foundation, and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

This community outreach event is strongly supported by the school board. Board members attend the Business After School events to speak about various school system initiatives and network with business and industry leaders. Board members also assist in the communication and recruitment of business and industry leaders to attend Business After School.

RESULTS

For the 2016-17 school year, the events included a STEM-focused Business After School in the first semester, visiting a different group of schools, and a high school college and career academies showcase in the second semester. Moving the venue to different schools has helped target businesses from different parts of the community, and has built pride in the schools and growth in the high school the academies. The showcase has increased academies’ enrollment exponentially, from 366 when the academies opened to an enrollment of 1,643 today. Business After School has proved successful in increasing the number of Partners in Education for the district’s 39 schools. When one business leader attended, she was so inspired that she decided to begin a teaching career, and was later hired by the district.

This opportunity for leaders in the community to network with school leadership, and experience what students are learning, has increased community involvement with the school system. Business After School increases business and industry’s understanding and support of the school system and helps them make a connection between their work and the education of their future workforce. Because of this program, businesses have come forward to volunteer to host STEM externships for more than 500 teachers, a way for teachers to experience how STEM is used in industry and business so that they can help students make connections between their standards and real-world careers. This program can be easily replicated by districts across the country to help them engage more stakeholders in support of public education.

CONTACT

Community Relations Director
Anthony Johnson

anthony.johnson@cmcss.net
www.cmcss.net

The Charles Drew Horticulture Program

Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit, Michigan

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Charles Drew Transistion Center is a postsecondary vocational center for students who are moderately and severely cognitively impaired, visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically impaired, and students with autism. The Transition Center creates a continuum of services to ensure that young adults aged 18-26 have access to an age-appropriate learning environment. The Horticulture Program was created for the dual purpose of providing hands-on vocational horticulture skills for special-needs adults leading to possible employment opportunities while providing much-needed access to fresh, locally grown produce for school families, thereby helping, by the increased consumption of fresh food in the home, to help alleviate the inner-city issues of childhood obesity and early-onset diabetes.

The Drew Horticulture Program is currently managed by a student team of 80, rotating through a typical high school hourly schedule, while another 400 students are actively ready to assist when needed. The 53-member teaching staff are all on board, with many providing assistance in the areas of planting, harvesting, educational lessons, and more.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The School Board of the Detroit Public Schools Community School District, was elected in January of 2017, where it regained authority over district issues after many years of being under the authority of Emergency Financial Managers.

District leaders, in cooperation with then Detroit Public School’s Office of Nutrition, identified the Transition Center as the site of this new and innovative program. Drew was identified based upon the goal of having a work study site for special needs students, and in having the acreage on campus to allow for a 26’ x 96’ hoophouse in which to grow food items for the school cafeteria. Funding was in part provided through the federal lunch program, which allowed for the establishment and maintenance of school garden programs.

RESULTS

All goals of providing food for families have been met or are in progress, and are achieving the impact anticipated. More and more people, students included, are being impacted by consuming more produce, and hopefully continuing this practice at home. In the school year 2015-16, the comprehensive horticulture, including hoophouse and production, produced just under 18,000 pounds of produce for the school lunch program at Drew, and for the lunch programs at over 20 other Detroit Public Schools Community District schools. This production has saved the district over $200,000 in actual food product purchases. In 2016-17, the program is on pace to match this output and possibly beat projections.

CONTACT

Special Education Teacher/Horticulture Program Instructor
Michael Craig

michael.craig@detroitk12.org
www.detroitk12.org

Rethinking Discipline

Henrico County Public Schools, Henrico, Virginia

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

With the guidance of the school board and the superintendent, the 50,000-student school division has overhauled its Code of Student Conduct. The Code, however, is just one piece of a new approach to discipline across Henrico County Public Schools (HCPS)— one that emphasizes student supports and interventions to better accomplish the division’s educational goals. Suspension rates for African-American students as a group were considerably higher than those of their white classmates. The district needed to ensure that discipline was being applied fairly and consistently across the division. It also needed more proactive supports and interventions.

The new approach needed to encompass a shift from an older policy of zero tolerance to an approach allowing administrators more flexibility to take into consideration students’ behavioral history and other circumstances. The goal is to help students learn to meet the school division’s behavioral expectations.

The Code of Student Conduct is the guiding document for behavioral expectations. Students, parents, and guardians sign the Code annually, signifying that they have read and understand it. HCPS began a two-year conversation with the community about improving the document. This involved public input sessions in each of Henrico County’s five magisterial districts, hosted by various board members and HCPS staff members. The Student Support and Disciplinary Review Office, along with the Department of Instructional Support, played central roles in creating the document’s details. As feedback emerged, the two teams worked to revise the document as directed by the board.

The revised Code that emerged for the 2015-16 school year categorizes violations more thoroughly, and then prescribes a range of disciplinary or intervention options. Administrators still have flexibility, but wide-scale disparities in policy and practice are less likely. The approach is designed to minimize cultural and implicit bias and offer more divisionwide consistency.

The other big change to the Code is an emphasis on student supports and interventions. Previously, the Disciplinary Review Hearing Office— which changed its name to the Student Support and Disciplinary Review Office in 2014—functioned as a hearing office with a reactive approach to discipline.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The HCPS School Board has been instrumental in guiding and supporting the new philosophy of student behavior. Remaking the Code of Student Conduct required consistent leadership over several years. Board members attended public input sessions throughout the county to solicit stakeholder feedback. They then worked with HCPS staff members to continually revise the proposed Code as they processed community feedback. From the start of the process, the board has worked to solicit recommendations for behavioral supports and interventions from staff members, and to find funding for those proposals.

RESULTS

HCPS is seeing some encouraging signs when data are compared with the years before more supports began to be added. Between the 2009-10 and 2014-15 school years, out-of-school suspensions for African-American students dropped 42 percent. A 2015 UCLA report cited HCPS as a national leader in reducing suspension rates.

Disciplinary statistics from the first year of the new Code’s adoption offer some encouragement.

CONTACT

Director of Communications and Public Relations
Andy Jenks

ajenks@henrico.k12.va.us
http://henricoschools.us

War on Absenteeism–Graduation Enhancement Technicians

Manatee County Public Schools, Bradenton, Florida

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The spring of 2015 found Manatee County Public Schools analyzing data in an effort to improve outcomes for students. School officials noticed that students in Title I schools were accruing significantly more absences than those in non-Title I schools. As related research ensued, they were confronted with some troubling national statistics: Low-income students are four times more likely to be chronically absent than others—often for reasons beyond their control, such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation, and a lack of access to health care. And, by sixth grade, chronic absences become a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school. Having an excellent command of the needs based on the data, the superintendent and school board decided to focus efforts and resources on reducing absenteeism as a way to close the achievement gap.

In a direct and concerted effort to address absenteeism, the district developed a job description for Graduation Enhancement Technicians, better known as GETs, and hired a GET for every Title I school (25 in total). The primary responsibility of the GETs is to establish and maintain effective working relationships with families, students, school staff, and community agencies in an effort to remove any and all barriers to school attendance. This includes contacting families every time a student is absent; conducting effective home visit; partnering with schoolbased social workers, guidance counselors, and other school-based personnel; and connecting families with health services and community resources for food, clothing and housing. Recognizing that many of these responsibilities typically fall under the auspices of a school social worker, the district funded an additional half-day of social worker allocation for each Title I school.

GETs also implement the Check and Connect Mentoring Program at each of their schools. Check and Connect is a comprehensive intervention designed to enhance student engagement through relationship building, problem solving, and capacity building.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The school board of Manatee County Public Schools stated in the district’s strategic plan that it would address achievement gaps for all students. However, it was the board’s willingness to support a nontraditional approach to closing the achievement gap that demonstrated leadership. More specifically, the board approved the job description and the hiring of the 25 GETs. Board members were also instrumental in the grant approval process that helped secure the necessary funds to make this program a reality.

Also, the board approved the creation of an Absenteeism Task Force. The goal of the Absenteeism Task Force is for personnel from across the district to come together to analyze all school district policies and procedures related to attendance, absenteeism, and truancy.

RESULTS

Success can be measured in two ways. The first is in the reduction of chronic absenteeism and the second is in the increase in average daily attendance. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school. The district reduced chronic absenteeism at Title I elementary schools by 55 percent and by 36 percent at Title I secondary schools. The district had an overall reduction of chronic absenteeism in Title I schools of 50 percent. The GETs also improved average daily attendance by .28 percent in Title I elementary schools, 1.83 percent in Title I middle schools, and 2.12 percent in the Title I high school.

CONTACT

Director of Federal Programs and Grants
Elena Garcia

garcia3e@manateeschools.net
www.manateeschools.net

School of Innovation

Springdale School District, Springdale, Arkansas

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Springdale School Board had the vision to ensure the district is serving all students in the district from various backgrounds. This program allows students a flexible experience, with a focus on the development of executive skills. It allows students who do not speak the same language and do not have the same income levels to come together and learn to work as a team. The outcome has provided increased learning options and achievement for students. This program was a risk for the school board as all members had to be willing to allow the vision to come to fruition. Their belief in ensuring learning for all students allowed the model to come forward. They are leaders in education.

THE BOARD’S INVOLVEMENT

The Springdale School Board has been in complete support of the program, from allowing a competency-based model to be formed in the district to investing $30 million dollars in building a one-of-a-kind learning lab.

RESULTS

Students have exceeded learning expectations in the classroom and out of the classroom. The district has been impressed with the students’ ability to be community leaders.

CONTACT

Associate Superintendent
Megan Slocum

mslocum@sdale.org
www.sdale.org

HONORABLE MENTIONS

UNDER 5,000 ENROLLMENT

Bellefonte READS

Bellefonte Area School District Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

The literacy events operate on three levels and work in collaboration with community groups and local businesses. These groups come together with district employees and students to choose a theme and select a common book. Events begin with a book distribution evening. Every family gets a free book. The second event focuses on book chats with groups of families and students. The third event involves literacy activities at the schools. Ranging from games, to strategy sessions, to read alouds, to media comparisons, to access to a local book mobile, the community interacts in building its literacy skills. Parents gain a wide variety of tools and entry points to both assist their children and increase their own skill levels in a welcoming environment.

Contact Superintendent Michelle Saylor at msaylor@basd.net.
www.basd.net

Universal Preschool

Coffeyville Public Schools USD 445 Coffeyville, Kansas

The Coffeyville Coalition for Early Education 501c3 was formed to sustain and continue to improve early childhood efforts. The district was able to allow donors an opportunity to be involved in ways that were previously unavailable. In order to expand the district’s Early Learning Center to full-day, high-quality preschool, it started a public/private partnership to fund the project. With the expansion, more children moved into full-day spots and the center could serve a greater number of children in general because of the added classroom space. The creation of the coalition opened up more opportunity for community members to be involved in this program. Through this collaboration, the center was able to raise over $2.1 million to fully fund a four-classroom addition to the building and a remodel of the existing facility.

Contact Principal Amanda Cavaness at cavanessa@cvilleschools.com.
www.usd445.org

Blue Devil Rhythm and Blues Band

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District Maplewood, Missouri

Over several decades, the student population steadily to declined, causing enrollment in music classes to decline as well. The school board recognized the need to restore student interest, increase student achievement, and reconnect with the community. The district created and developed in the fine arts curriculum the Blue Devils Rhythm and Blues Band, a modernized, nontraditional, and cutting-edge music and dance ensemble to replace the larger concert band, wind ensemble, and marching band. The curriculum provides students with exposure to real-life experiences in the contemporary commercial music industry. Students work alongside professional musicians and dancers, music producers, video directors, and recording engineers. The band has become a featured highlight at school functions and community engagements, and is one of the most popular and sought-after organizations in the district. The ensemble is in constant demand to perform at public and private events throughout the St. Louis area.

Contact Director of Communications Brian Adkisson at brian.adkisson@mrhschools.net.
www.mrhschools.net

Cultural Change

Three Lakes School District Three Lakes, Wisconsin

The district’s goal was to work toward eliminating discipline issues and increasing achievement levels for all students. In collaboration with UW-Madison, the administrative team reviewed studies on student engagement and began to understand that there was a problem rooted in the lack of student engagement. Cultural Change focused on relevance, rigor, and relationships. The district implemented a developmental guidance model that focused not only on career exploration, but also on the requisite educational planning. This model required students to complete research on the areas of their interest and report back to their class on the educational requirements, costs, and job opportunities in their selected fields by the end of eighth grade. This model became a living document that enabled students to develop an academic plan for high school and make the appropriate changes as their interests matured throughout their high school experience.

Contact Superintendent George Karling at gkarling@threelakessd.k12.wi.us.
http://threelakessd.k12.wi.us

VVISD Promotes Culture of Literacy

Valley View Independent School District Pharr, Texas

Due to the large influx of recent immigrants in the community, a major obstacle facing Valley students is the lack of academic English, which has been identified as a primary reason that may prevent a number of students from completing their education. In reviewing academic performance results, the district determined the greatest area of need was in the area of English Language Arts. The board and superintendent challenged staff to not only promote reading but to instill a desire to read in all students. In order to ensure that all students acquire the reading skills necessary to maximize content-area learning, the district established annual district competitions which promote reading and encourage students to read inside and outside the classroom.

Contact Assistant Superintendent Monica Luna at mmluna@vviewisd.net.
www.vviewisd.net

5,000 TO 2,000 ENROLLMENT

Defining College and Career Readiness through the Work Ethic Diploma

Hamblen County Department of Education Morristown, Tennessee

County employers told the district that soft skills (attendance, tardiness, discipline, the ability to work in a team, and substance abuse) hinder graduates in securing initial employment. The Work Ethic Diploma is awarded to students who meet the academic accrual of credits to graduate with a regular diploma and who meet additional and voluntary standards. The program focuses on the senior year and measures standards in 14 categories, requiring students to earn 20 points to earn this distinction. Currently, 26 advanced manufacturers that use robotics offer guaranteed interviews to holders of the diploma if the applicant meets the other criteria of the job posting.

Contact Program Manager Brenda Dean at deanb@hcboe.net.
www.hcboe.net

Hunger Free MISD

Midway Independent School District Woodway, Texas

Hunger Free MISD started after district staff noticed some students were not getting enough to eat over the weekends. The district gathers monetary and food donations and sends home Hunger Packs to students in need for the weekend. An empty classroom at the high school campus functions as a food pantry and the hub to overall operations. Students organize the room to resemble a grocery store and pack the Hunger Packs. Over the past four years, the district has distributed more than 15,000 Hunger Packs to students in need. Each school building Hunger Free MISD Liaison makes certain the correct students receive their bag of food for the weekend.

Contact Math Instructional Specialist Kayla Brown at kayla.brown@midwayisd.org.
www.midwayisd.org

Raytown Quality Care Clinic and School Wellness Center

Raytown Consolidated School District #2 Raytown, Missouri

The Wellness Center Clinic provides medical care and medication for no cost or a low cost to employees on the district’s health insurance plan. Additionally, The Fitness Center may be used by all employees and their families, which includes specific fitness courses and personal training for free. The district has saved a significant amount of money through reduced claims cost for health insurance, workers compensation, and occupational health. Nearly 2,100 individuals have signed up to use the fitness center and have access to free classes and personal training. The district has experienced a 79 percent reduction in a worker compensation expenses resulting in a reduction in worker compensation insurance premium of over $300,000.

Contact Superintendent Allan Markley at allan.markley@raytownschools.org.
www.raytownschools.org

Kindergarten Acceleration Program

West Shore School District New Cumberland, Pennsylvania

The Kindergarten Acceleration Program provided extended learning opportunities for those elementary students most at risk, based on assessments taken, without needing to create additional classroom space necessary to provide full day kindergarten to all students. No students in Title I schools are forced to travel to a different school to participate in the Kindergarten Acceleration Program. The program has been partially funded from donations by corporate sponsors donating funds through a local nonprofit foundation.

Contact Board Secretary Ryan Argot at rargot@wssd.k12.pa.us.
wssd.k12.pa.us

Peyton/Widefield Vocational Education Campus

Widefield School District 3 Colorado Springs, Colorado

A rural and a suburban school district, located nearly 30 miles apart, came together to form a partnership that will not only help the state’s workforce, but provide a solution to the current school funding crisis in Colorado. Peyton School District 23 began offering state-of- the-art woodworking manufacturing classes, which attracted the attention of the Widefield superintendent. At first, Widefield students drove to Peyton to participate, then the district provided transportation and Wi-Fi so students could do classwork during the commute. The two districts entered into a partnership through the Peyton/Widefield Vocational Education Campus, which is housed in a 46,000-square-foot building located south of the Colorado Springs Airport.

Contact Director of Communication Samantha Briggs at briggss@wsd3.org.
http://wsd3.org

OVER 20,000 ENROLLMENT

Dyslexia Awareness, Evaluation and Certified Academic Language Therapists

Austin Independent School District Austin, Texas

Austin ISD was prompted to create this program when the Board of Trustees recognized that current methods for screening and evaluating students with dyslexia and then teaching them how to read were inadequate. District leaders budgeted funds to send teachers from every elementary school through a two-year certification program to teach Academic Language Therapy, which is a systematic, multi-sensory, phonics-based approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling. To implement the program, Certified Academic Language Therapists work with small groups of students (fewer than five at a time) for 45 minutes to one hour daily, usually for about two to three years depending upon the severity of the learning disability.

Contact Executive Director of the Office of Innovation and Development

Michelle Wallis at michelle.wallis@austinisd.org.
www.austinisd.org

GOAL: Guys/Girls Operating As Leaders

Denton Independent School District Denton, Texas

Hoping to address the alarming dropout rate among Hispanic students, the school board mandated through its goal-setting process, that a solution be devised. The response was a teacher/ volunteer initiative called the GOAL (Guys Operating as Leaders). Middle school Latino males were the focus of early intervention. Using the popularity of soccer, the district allowed students to have access to the sport at NO cost, in exchange for attending regularly scheduled meetings, tutorials and practices. Designated teachers volunteered to monitor grades and behavior more closely for students to maintain their participation.

Contact Teacher Chris Ice at cice@dentonisd.org. www.dentonisd.org

Constituent Services: One-Stop Solution for Families and the Community

Fresno Unified School District Fresno, California

The Board of Education realized a Constituent Services Office (CSO) was necessary to ensure that the district followed a clearly defined and public process in responding to concerns and requests for information from parents, students, the public, and staff. As the fourth-largest district in California with nearly 73,000 students and 10,000 employees at more than 100 schools and sites, the district receives diverse and numerous requests every day. The board was concerned problems were not being addressed in a timely manner. The CSO provides resources and problem solving for the families, public, and staff, often defusing misunderstandings before they develop into conflicts.

Contact Executive Director Teresa Plascencia at teresa.plascencia@fresnounified.org.
www.fresnounified.org

TLC Program

Peoria Unified School District Glendale, Arizona

The Technology Life Careers (TLC) program, in all 33 K-8 elementary schools, utilizes the award-winning Total Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program Model with a delivery system, including rigorous classroom instruction by talented instructors; hands-on laboratory instruction for every unit; work-based learning through daily video announcements for the school; integration of core, technology, employability, and career exploration standards; partnerships with CTE high school teachers, business and industry partners, community volunteers and postsecondary education partners; and leadership development through CTE organizations like FBLA, SkillsUSA, and HOSA.

Contact Public Relations Director Danielle Airey at pusdpr@pusd11.org.
www.peoriaunified.org

Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Program

Richland School District Two Columbia, South Carolina

A district that had long been viewed as predominantly white and affluent has slowly shifted to an urban-suburban majority-black district. Although the student demographics changed, the teacher workforce remained primarily white, with only 29 percent comprising African-American teachers and 1 percent Hispanic teachers. Creating a comprehensive diversity plan became one of nine priority focus areas for the district. Recognizing that diversity stretches beyond race, class, gender, sexual orientation, geography, ability and disability, the school board charged the superintendent with forming a Diversity Task Force. The task force recommended to the school board the hiring of a chief diversity and multicultural inclusion officer.

Contact Chief Communications O fficer Libby Roof at lroof@richland2.org.
www.richland2.org

Congratulations to the 2017 Magna Award Winners

We salute these school districts for their innovations.

Our recognition of this year’s winners continues our tradition, in partnership with American School Board Journal, of rewarding those who demonstrate innovative thinking. We proudly recognize the school districts that have taken bold steps to advance student learning.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER—CATEGORY 1
Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania

GRAND PRIZE WINNER—CATEGORY 2
Piscataway Township Schools, Piscataway, New Jersey

GRAND PRIZE WINNER—CATEGORY 3
Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Washington

WINNERS—CATEGORY 1
East Williston Union Free School District, Old Westbury, New York
Swan Valley School District, Saginaw, Michigan
Teton County School District 1, Jackson, Wyoming
Tillamook School District 9, Tillamook, Oregon
Windsor C-1 School District, Imperial, Missouri

WINNERS—CATEGORY 2
Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Missouri
Hazelwood School District, Florissant, Missouri
Hilliard City Schools, Columbus, Ohio Topeka Public Schools,
Topeka, Kansas Vail Unified School District, Vail, Arizona

WINNERS—CATEGORY 3
Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, Clarksville, Tennessee Detroit
Public Schools Community District, Detroit, Michigan Henrico County Public Schools,
Henrico, Virginia Manatee County Public Schools, Bradenton, Florida
Springdale School District, Springdale, Arkansas

Magna 2017 Honorable Mentions

Category 1
Bellefonte Area School District, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Coffeyville Public Schools USD 445, Coffeyville, Kansas
Maplewood Richmond Heights School District,
Maplewood, Missouri Three Lakes School District,
Three Lakes, Wisconsin Valley View Independent School District, Pharr, Texas

Category 2
Hamblen County Department of Education, Morristown, Tennessee
Midway Independent School District, Woodway, Texas
Raytown Consolidated School District #2, Raytown, Missouri
West Shore School District, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
Widefield School District 3, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Category 3
Austin Independent School District, Austin, Texas.
Denton Independent School District, Denton, Texas
Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, California
Peoria Unified School District, Glendale, Arizona
Richland School District Two, Columbia, South Carolina

Read the full article at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/The+Innovation+Factor/2730948/389679/article.html.

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