Sunday, June 16, 2013

Innovative Educators named Bammy Awards finalists!

The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences announced the finalists for the second annual Bammy Awards which recognizes the contributions of educators across 23 categories. Finalists include teachers, principals, superintendents, school nurses, education advocates, researchers, early childhood specialists, education journalists, education school professors, school board members, education bloggers, parents and other members of the broad education community. School librarians and school technologists are new to the list this year. 
Nominees were submitted from across the nation. Five finalists were selected in each category. I am thrilled to share that many of the nominees from "The Innovative Educator" here (for their work with student-centered learning) and here (for use of social media in education) made the cut. 

Here are the innovative educators from around the nation who made the cut, listed in alphabetical order.
Deven Black - School Librarian
Deven makes a difference in many ways. For his students, he made a difference by taking over a library that had become moribund, out of date, anachronistic, completely disorganized and with no technology. In two years he turned it into a much more modern, way more up-to-date, fully automated functioning library that circulates 200 books a week. He also is always on a quest to support students in learning in ways aligned to their interests, strengths and talents as he wrote about in this great lesson that he implemented

For his colleagues at his school, Deven has led the development of a more technology-capable staff through one-to-one training of tech-phobic or reluctant teachers. On a larger scale, Deven has served on the review committee to help implement the new social media guidelines for NYC DOE employees.

Chris Casal - School Technology Support
Chris Casal is making a difference by facilitating communication with all school community stakeholders to establish a fully connected and transparent digital learning environment designed to build and strengthen relationships.

Parent’s can’t always come to school to meet with teachers, the administration can’t always observe every great lesson or activity. Chris helps to keep them in the know with the PS 10 social media platforms. This helps the school connect with parents & community members on a wide variety of digital platforms with a consistent message. There is the PS 10 Facebook page where he posts status updates with fliers about fundraisers, changes in schedules, links to news articles about the school or relevant NYC school information. He also manages the school’s Twitter account (@PS10Brooklyn) and hashtags #ps10bk & #ps10sw. This helps streamline the publishing of general information & student work, helping to create a very transparent learning environment. The transparency of Twitter and the school hastags allows parents and staff members alike to have a front row seat to the great things happening in school. Parents can follow teachers and get a regular glimpse into the classroom settings, even when they are unable to be there. The administration can more easily be aware of great instructional moments, even if they can’t be there first hand by keeping up with school hashtags and teacher handles. During Superstorm Sandy these social media outlets provided a lifeline for the school to keep all stakeholders up-to-date and supported.

Whether it is child, teacher, parent, or community Chris Casal works to ensure all members of the school community are supported in becoming active, engaged, and involved members of the digital world in which they live.
School Board - Lisa Cooley
Lisa Cooley brings real education change to the school board table. Her position on progressive education and opposition to high-stakes testing and standardization bring the wider world of school transformation to a rural New England school district. She brings her ideas on meaningful student learning to every aspect of school board activity, from the budget, to curriculum decisions, to student expulsion hearings.

Her goals are to bring students’ interests, passions, enjoyments and curiosities to their everyday work at school are why she should receive this recognition.
Sara Cottone - Parent Leader
Sara Cottone understands that in today’s struggling economy there are many more working parents. It is very hard for them to make the time to be at the school, but even a little time is so worth the effort so Cottone has come up with innovative approaches that not only support her school community, but have also become a model for the largest school district in American, New York City. The innovative practices Cottone incorporates to reach working parents are now used as a model and example for other parent coordinators across the city who are looking new ways to connect and coordinate with their school community. Cottone teaches us that even if parents can’t be at school, there are ways to keep them connected. Some of the ways she does this include creating online spaces where they can not only get information, such as the Parent Coordinator website (, but also a space for them to interact, a Parent Coordinator Facebook page
Secondary School Principal - Chris Lehmann
Chris Lehmann not only talks the talk. He gets right in their and walks the walk...and in some cases, like when he does races with students, he'll run the run to keep up with his kids.

The best way to explain why Chris should be recognized is to share some of the talking that Chris walks in his own words:
  • "If you dare kids to do real stuff that matters, you better be prepared to get out of the way."
  • “Technology should be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”
  • "I want kids to be "thoughtful, wise, passionate and kind."
  • "Schools can be places of great passion where students learn what it means to be scholar-activists, fully invested in authentic work that matters to them today, not someday."
When Chris is not talking the talk and walking the walk, he is writing about it. His blog ( is a continual source of inspiration to educators, parents, and students around the globe.

Kris Nielsen - Middle School Teacher of the Year
There are innovative educators in thousands of classrooms all across America. Having served as a middle grades educator and instructional leader for six years in New Mexico, Oregon, and North Carolina, Kris L. Nielsen is one of them.  Nielsen became frustrated as he watched political policies put in place that are strangling the drive and desire for educators to be the innovative class leaders they grew to be. As a result Nielsen was compelled to write Children of the Core written with parents in mind, and with students as the inspiration. Nielsen says, “We--parents, students, and teachers--were promised a revolutionary new system that would narrow the achievement gaps in reading and math, create environments for deeper and critical thinking, and prepare our students for life, career, and college.  What we’re finding is that none of this is true.  It’s all totally opposite.”
Me! Education Commenter / Blogger
I was excited to recently learn that I too was nominated for an award.  Exciting!!!

Here’s what the nomination said:
Lisa Nielsen thinks in very liberated and liberating ways about education. She pushes the envelope in the area of reinventing what schooling means, what the objectives should be and how do it. Outspoken and courageous, she has taken many bold and controversial positions based on her belief that educators and education must be reinvented to be relevant in a brave new, technology-driven world.

Lisa is a strong collaborator and works with many groups to help move education reform forward. It's hard not to be impressed by the extent to which Lisa will go to push others forward, to empower and support the people she believes are on the right track. Her passion, energy and bias for action puts her in the league of proactive bloggers/commentators who go beyond writing and speaking about education reform to actually organizing and acting to advance the reforms she believes are critical to the field of education. Thoughtful, way out of the box thinker, more than and idea person...a "doer."

The results of the votes cast by the Council of Peers were computer-tallied, entered into finalists’ ballots and are sent to the Academy’s Board of Governors, who will vote to determine who will receive the Bammy Award for 2013 in each of the categories. The full list of finalists in all categories can be viewed at here.

Modeled on the broad scope of the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys, the Bammy Awards are created in response to the relentless national criticism of America’s public schools. The negative perception of public education has led to a decrease in public confidence, calls for reductions in financial support and intense scrutiny of educators, while all that is right in American education is largely ignored.

About the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences
The Academy is comprised of over 212 prominent education leaders. Charter members of the Academy include a profoundly eclectic cadre of persons involved in education, including Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University; Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education; Dr. Timothy Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics; Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Dr. Mark Ginsberg, former head of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and currently dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University; Jay Mathews, veteran education columnist at the Washington Post; Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, Gail Connnely, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, JoAnne Bartoleti, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals,; Donna Mazyck, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses; and Rosemarie T. Truglio, Ph.D., vice-president of research and education for Sesame Workshop.
This year’s event is made possible by support from Gojo/Purell, School Health, Responsive Classroom, PBS Learning Media, TCPN, Excelligence Learning Corporation, Gryphon House, Kaplan Early Learning, GameDesk, Redleaf Press, Choose2Matter, WriteSteps, Learning ZoneXpress, ChildCare Education Institute, New Tech Network, ECE PolicyWorks, Teachers College Press and Gesell Institute of Child Development.
To learn more about the Bammy Awards, go to Send emails to, or call 818-539-5971.

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