2014 Leaders of the Year Announced by Tech & Learning Magazine

SAN BRUNO, CA (May 13, 2014) – Tech & Learning magazine named four educators as winners in its 27th annual Leader of the Year program. These visionaries exemplified extraordinary education technology leadership, often working within budgetary restrictions and limited resources. Among the winners are two superintendents, a director of innovation and digital learning, and a computer instructor. All four exemplified outstanding leadership that did more than just put tools into the hands of teachers and students, but shifted the school culture so all stakeholders embraced the meaningful use of technology in their schools.

“This year’s slate of candidates was the most impressive I can remember,” said Kevin Hogan, editorial director of Tech & Learning Media Group. “When it came down to selecting the ultimate winners, we found these these educators all shared common traits in leadership, whether it was in the classroom or in front of the school board. They have an ability to both inspire their communities and take action to ensure their visions become reality.”

Thanks to a sponsorship from Aruba Networks, all four winners will receive a trip to ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, where they will be honored at a gala celebration.

“To ensure students receive the best possible education and remain competitive in today’s world, they need the benefits from a blend of traditional education with new technologies,” said Kezia Gollapudi, product marketing for Aruba Networks. “The winners of the 27th annual Tech & Learning magazine Leader of Year program are progressive innovators that demonstrated creative ways to implement technology into daily curriculum. The results are models for other school districts to help educators advance learning for years to come.”

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2014 Tech & Learning Leader of the Year Program:

Debra Jackson, Superintendent, Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery (NY) Central School District: As superintendent of Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Central School District for the last six years, Jackson has made sure that her teachers, administrators, families, and students had the support to come up with new ideas and try them out. “For me, the whole idea of moving forward is allowing people to take risks, be creative, and then make decisions about what works,” she says. “I like to bring in all voices, including students. In the past three years we’ve seen a huge shift, and it’s incredibly exciting. This award validates the creative efforts of our educators. They took a risk by shifting from the conventional to the visionary.”

Lisa Gonzales, Superintendent, Portola Valley (CA) School District: As superintendent of Portola Valley School District since August 2013, Gonzales has already introduced social media to promote school programs and staff, developed a district app to improve home-school communication, and models how to use technology by creating her own eblasts on everything from board meeting highlights to STEM program updates. “I share this award this with my district’s staff, my fellow tech leaders in ACSA and TICAL, and school leaders who model, lead, and advocate for technology as a tool for learning, communicating and operating. From infrastructure to funding, teaching to learning, there is much work to do to effectively and purposefully utilize tech to support students, staff, and parents.”

Carl Hooker, Director of Innovation and Digital Learning, Eanes (TX) Independent School District (ISD): In the last six months, Carl Hooker delivered the keynote presentation for Tech & Learning‘s Atlanta Tech Forum, organized a youth film festival, wrote several blogs about the digital zombification of our society, planned the third iPadpalooza, helped overturn a state decision to ban tablets from state testing, and taught an iTunesU course called “Digital Parenting 101” with community parents. And did we mention he did all of this while working his “day job” as director of innovation and digital learning at Eanes ISD? “I’ve been a fan for many years of the work Tech & Learning does with their magazine and Tech Forum events throughout the country. As a fan, it’s an honor to be recognized as one of this year’s Leaders of the Year. I take this honor as extra motivation to continue to strive for improvements for all learners, not only in my district, but across the country.”

Txe Kolstad, Computer Instructor, Templeton Elementary School, Templeton, CA: Although she’s only been on the job for only one year, Txe Kolstad took Templeton’s computer program from a basic room setup to one in which every student has a meaningful and purposeful experience. She knows all 585 of her PreK, kindergarten, 1st-, and 2nd-grade students by name and creates a differentiated technology experience for each child that’s based on their interests, skill level, and personality. “More than anything, it’s the students who deserve this award. They’re the ones who rose to the occasion and learned many things that adults don’t know or things adults think are too hard for early elementary students to learn. I hope it will encourage other districts and schools to introduce students to computer skills at an earlier age.”

Look for detailed profiles in the June 2014 Leadership Issue of Tech & Learning magazine.