Wow …. who would of thought… NCGE Award Winner

I would have never guessed that I would be selected to as a National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) Distinguished Teacher award recipient my second year back in the classroom if ever. If you have read my previous posts going back to the classroom after a 10 year hiatus has been one heck of a ride.

In the last two years, I have met such wonderful people in the geography education world that have helped me along the way. I now have a small network of local AP Human Geography teachers that I meet up with to not only commiserate with but also to share and plan. I am part of an amazing organization, who feeds me need to learn. The South Carolina Geographic Alliance (SCGA) has helped me develop a geographer’s perspective on the world. Dr. Jerry Mitchell and Dr. Larianne Collins have given me opportunities to be a leader within the SCGA  and supported me as I have grown back in to a teacher. To them, I say, “Thank you for all that you have done to support me. I wouldn’t be the geography teacher I am without you!” My community at my school is strong and I love my fellow social studies nerds!

I realize this is starting to sound like an acceptance speech so I will stop but below is the press release from the NCGE and you can also check out the other winners in the link below.


Celebrating the nation’s best geography educators of 2017 WASHINGTON D.C.– For over a 100 years the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) has worked to enhance the status and quality of geography teaching and learning at all levels of instruction. Through its awards program, NCGE recognizes excellence in geography teaching, mentoring, research, instructional design, and service. “Each year we are impressed by the level of innovation, quality, and creativity of all our award nominees,” said Mr. Zachary R. Dulli, Chief Executive Officer, National Council for Geographic Education. “Understanding our world is critical to a high-quality education, and these award winners represent the best of the best in providing that to our students.” Recipients will receive their awards at a special ceremony held during the 2017 National Conference on Geography Education, July 27-July 30 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Recognizes excellence in geography teaching at the primary and secondary levels

ANDREW DOJACK, William Monroe Middle School, Stanardsville, VA

BRIAN DAVIS, Central Middle School, Bartlesville, OK

JULIE STAVITSKI, Jack Jouett Middle School, Charlottesville, VA

KYLE TREDINNICK, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, NE

MARYANN SANSONETTI-WOOD, Spring Valley High School, Columbia, SC

LEAANN WYRICK, Broken Bow Public Schools, Broken Bow, OK

ROBIN MANNING, Jack C. Hays High School, Buda, TX

ROSA CLARA SALAZAR, United High School, Laredo, TX

ABOUT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION: The National Council for Geographic (NCGE) Education is a nonprofit membership organization that works to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of geography teaching and learning. NCGE provides a global forum for educators of all levels to exchange ideas and engage in professional learning opportunities to improve their geography teaching practice. We provide the organizational structure needed to advance research in geography education. We publish journals, the National Geography Standards, and a variety of materials for diffusing research and best practices on geography education. We recognize exceptional educators and supporters in geography education. We lead and support a variety of educational and creative programs to support our members and advance global literacy. Learn more at

I {heart} the Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit

The last two days have been a culmination of almost a year of planning. The team I work on hosted the 3rd annual Richland Two’s SC Midlands Summit with over 600 participants from 9 states and 31 school districts. What an amazing experience! The summit was filled with over 130 sessions and 3 amazing keynotes from Steve Dembo, Leslie Fisher, and Catlin Tucker.

Planning this Summit is a LOT of work but every year, after it is over, and I am so tired all I can do is smile. Why do I smile? Because every ounce of the work is worth it to see how excited teachers are about learning and integrating. These are the same teachers that one week ago were exhausted from a long school year. Being on the planning committee allows me to share my passion for technology and it warms my heart to see so many so excited.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of those who attended. You reminded me of the reason I do what I do every day.

Richland School District Two is honored with the ISTE Sylvia Charp award.

I cannot believe it! My day started with the official press release from ISTE stating our district, Richland School District Two, will be honored with the 2014 ISTE Sylvia Charp Award for “leveraging the power of 1:1 learning.” Wow! Congratulations to everyone in Richland School District Two!
Award Winners Will Be Recognized at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, June 28-July 1
WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 6, 2014 – Today the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) announced its 2014 award winners. Each year ISTE recognizes individuals who are transforming learning, teaching and leading in the digital age. The winners will be honored at ISTE 2014, one of the biggest, most comprehensive ed tech events, to be held June 28-July 1 at the Georgia World Conference Center in Atlanta.
South Carolina’s Richland School District Two is the winner of the 2014 Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation in Technology. Presented by ISTE andT.H.E. Journal, in honor of the magazine’s founding editor, this award recognizes a school system for exhibiting effectiveness and innovation in the application of technology. Richland School District Two is honored for bringing innovative practices to its classrooms, through both a 1:1 and BYOD programs that are being implemented with a focus on ensuring that the proper policies and procedures to support learning are in place. Technology integration coordinator Donna Teuber and the Technology Integration team will attend ISTE 2104 to accept the award on the district’s behalf.
What is the Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation in Technology?
Presented by T.H.E. Journal and ISTE, this award recognizes a school system larger than one individual school (school district, school board, secretariat of education, education organization) that exhibits effectiveness and innovation in the application of technology.
Honoring Dr. Sylvia Charp, the founding editor of T.H.E. Journal, and her groundbreaking contributions and extended service to the education technology community, this award has two focuses:
  • Widespread implementation: The winner will ensure equitable and appropriate technology use for all students in the system, aimed at improving learner outcomes and increasing learning opportunities.
  • Innovation: Progress in education, as in all endeavors of our society, depends on new ideas.

Batter up! Coaching in the big leagues… (in schools about technology integration)

This year has been a year of self learning, book studies, and professional development about coaching in education. Let me give you a little back story on why. One aspect of my day job is to support middle school Technology and Learning Coaches. Our coaches are going through a transition with the implementation of 1:1 mobile computing for all students 3rd-12th grade. One of the transitions is even a title change from Instructional Technology Specialist  (ITS) to Technology and Learning Coach (TLC). We removed the I.T. from there title and included T.L.C. Yes, we intentionally added the tender loving care to the name. We wanted to associate caring and coaching with the position to help teachers transition teaching and learning to a “21st Century” classroom. Our first step this year was to conduct professional development for the TLCs about “What is an adult learner?”  Throughout the year, we learned about topics like: how to work with adults, presenting, verbal cues while presenting, time management, collaborating with others, and others.

So back to the coaching…. Next year, we hope to implement a professional development plan to coach our coaches on how to work on technology integration lesson development with teachers. This brings us to the self learning, book studies, and professional development. We have looked at a number of different options in coaching including Coaching Matters by Killon, Harrison, Bryan, and Clifton; The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar; and Peer Coaching with Les Foltos. Each of these resources bring in different perspectives and things I appreciate about coaching.

coaching-matters   art   peercoachin

Coaching Matters: Gives you a step by step approach on how to begin and implement a coaching program.

The Art of Coaching: Looks at transformational coaching. The idea of looking at systemic changes to improve teaching and learning. I LOVE this form of coaching because it forces the coach to look at situations through different lenses. Allowing the coach to dissect situations with the Ladder of Inference. I feel The Art of Coaching is something an advanced coach can use to improve their skills.

Peer Coaching: Is a form of coaching that helps teachers connect with teachers. It showcases a highly collaborative atmosphere to help work with teachers to infuse technology in to the curriculum. Peer Coaching is the only form of coaching that we investigated that looks specifically at technology integration.

All of the programs offer great options. There are common threads throughout all programs: Communication, relationship building, trust, and inquiry. Being a coach means being the person who can listen, who cares, who helps with out judging or always being the expert, and asking the right questions to develop deeper meaning and understanding. This also means not deciding what your teachers can’t do before they try. Have you ever heard or said something like: “Oh, I can’t teach my teachers how to use (insert tool/instructional method here) because they can’t do that.”  I have been guilty of this and I am trying to rewrite this to “Who is up for the challenge of trying (insert tool/instructional method here)?

I was a technology coach about 10 years ago through an Enhancing Education Through Education grant. Coaching skills were vital for me to help teachers reach their next and highest goals. It allowed me to form friendships and collaboration that has lasted a decade. It has also be a great joy to see how far some of those teachers have come. When I hear of how they are sharing or presenting at conferences, its like one of my students graduating. Do you have to be a coach to utilize communication, relationship building, trust, and inquiry? No, but the coaching plays an important role in helping teachers move forward in reaching their goals.

Leading from the Center

Over the last week and a half, I have been thinking about all of the changes in my life over the last 6 months. Specifically, the changes in my professional life have made me a little reflective.

Change #1
I am no longer in public education. Its been a month since I left my position as a technology education specialist. The transition to Education Consultant for The WH PLATTS Company has been relatively smooth. I am learning the ways of the business world and the differences being out in the “real world.” (As opposed to the world of being a state employee) One thing I realized is that “I fit” in this position and I am on the verge of creating some great things. My new “family” tells me the sky is the limit and if I can make it happen, I can do it….which leads me to #2.

Change#2 – HUGE moment in my professional career
At this years SC EdTech I was honored to receive the SCAET/ISTE Making It Happen Technology Leadership Award. I was nominated by one person but a panel of my peers across the state chose me to receive this award. There are moments throughout the last 10 years that I have thought, “Why do I do this?” or even “is this what I am supposed to be doing?” The answer to the questions are: I am doing this to help everyone around me make a difference in a child’s life and yes, it is what I was supposed to be doing.

October 15, 2009 was a day that my peers said thank you by choosing me for this award. I have to admit, when I found out I was chosen, I thought, why me? What makes me so special? I am just me and I still feel that way but throughout the conference many people made me feel special for all of the times that I helped them out, shared a resource, brought people together to share experiences, or just listened.

I have never seen myself as a leader. I am just the girl who plays entirely too much on her computer and shares what she finds. I hope to NEVER utter the words, “Don’t they know who I am?!?” Who I am doesn’t matter, what matters is was I able to help further your understanding or skills. So I want to thank all of you in SC and in my PLN who helped me reach this point in my journey.

All of this has made me think about Seth Godin’s Tribes. One quote from the book that resonates in me is “Leadership is a choice. It is the choice to NOT DO NOTHING (p59).” By that definition, we can all be leaders in South Carolina and beyond to further technology integration in to our schools. If we choose to do nothing or not “make a ruckus (p19)”, we are hurting our students. We aren’t preparing them for the world they will live in.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. SHARE with one another! Join learning networks… explore options for your own learning… I would not know half of what I know if it had not been for all of you who shared or asked questions that challenged my knowledge. So I challenge everyone who reads this, share something you do with technology with a colleague this week, show someone something new, or try something new.  If you are bold enough to cause ruckus, why not challenge the internet filter or the evaluation committee’s decision if it didn’t turn out the way you wanted. Make a conscious choice to NOT DO NOTHING.

Remember, its not about the awards or celebrity. Its about the students. Let’s Make it Happen for them.