The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) will honor outstanding recipients of the Pennsylvania Education Innovation Awards at a special awards dinner on Oct. 18 as part of the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference at the Hershey Lodge & Convention Center. The award, started this year, recognizes innovative leadership in public school board governance, administration and teaching and is sponsored by CM Regent and CM Cares.
This year's honorees include:
- Innovative School Board Award: Derry Township School Board, Dauphin County
- Innovative School Leader Award: Rob Caroselli, Fox Chase Elementary School, School District of Philadelphia
- Innovative Teacher Award: Kristen Albright, library media specialist, gifted support teacher and technology coach, Penns Valley Elementary and Intermediate School, Penns Valley Area School District, Centre County
“We are proud to sponsor the Public Education Innovation Awards,” said Rich Poirier, president and CEO of Church Mutual Insurance Company. “CM Regent and CM Cares, the Church Mutual Insurance Company foundation, believe strongly in the mission of our public schools, and we are excited to be part of highlighting innovation of school leaders.”
“Public schools are doing great things, and the people who lead them are creative and dedicated to the mission of serving all children,” said PSBA CEO Nathan Mains. “The Pennsylvania Education Innovation Awards are one way we can salute these individuals and encourage more imagination among others.”
The Derry Township Board of School Directors embraces the concept of on-going, systemic professional learning and has served as a model for its school community. It provides two days of local district orientation for newly elected school directors, participates in various training opportunities from PSBA and holds three professional development workshops for its members. Its commitment to training translates to support for similar efforts for teachers and administrators and funding of instructional coaches. This focus has begun to positively impact student achievement and building/district culture and climate, according to Derry Township Superintendent Joseph McFarland.
In 2014, Principal Rob Caroselli embarked on a journey that would lead his school to the forefront of educational innovation. After participating in a “Farm Week” event at Fox Chase Farm where students and staff were introduced to the fundamentals of operating a modern agribusiness, Caroselli was inspired by the level of student engagement through the hands-on, standards-based instruction.
Based on the success, Caroselli invigorated the school's academic programs across all disciplines. Working with Fox Chase Farm, he and his team developed a comprehensive project-based learning program focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math (STEAM). On any given day, you will now see Fox Chase students learning actively at the farm, through hands-on biology lessons involving the farm’s animals and crops or through activities such as testing soil quality, measuring the area and amount of seed needed for a new garden, classifying of leaves, or writing poetry inspired by the farm’s beautiful scenery.
Caroselli also was awarded a grant for the school to equip a state-of-the-art piano studio to enhance teaching of the Arts in the school.
The innovation underway at Fox Chase has been a positive development within the School District of Philadelphia. To date, the school’s program has received praise from the local news media, from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, and a special recognition by the White House.
Penns Valley library media specialist, gifted support teacher and technology coach Kristen Albright encourages teachers and administrators to take risks that will benefit students, such as using technology resources in new ways to drive instruction through assessment. She was instrumental in developing the instructional component of the Penns Valley Area School Districts 1:1 iPad initiative. Because of her dedication to training teachers how to effectively use technology in their classrooms, the district has become a model for other schools wishing to implement 1:1 initiatives.
One specific project that has had great impact on students and faculty is the Squishy Circuits project. Albright secured grant funding giving students access to equipment that they used to design their own creatures that would light up using batteries and wires. The project enhanced the existing fourth-grade curriculum through inquiry-based lessons using the materials. Students gained a deeper understanding of circuits and electricity, as proven by two years of pre- and post-tests.
Albright also has been a presenter at the reBUild Educator Symposium in Ghana, Africa. While in Ghana, she communicated with her students via an online journal. Prior to the trip, Albright taught her students about the country and they made videos on what they learned that were shared with the students at a Ghana Day event.
This year she created a small-scale pizza sauce business with her gifted support students. The students grew all the necessary ingredients using hydroponics taught by a local expert. As part of the project, students created a website, business cards, a TV commercial and posters.
The Pennsylvania Education Innovation Awards were presented at the Excellence in Public Education Leadership and Awards Dinner on Oct. 18 at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center and presented by CM Regent Insurance Company and CM Cares, the Church Mutual Insurance Company Foundation.
Each award includes a financial award. Innovative School Board Award recipient receives $5,000 donated to their public school education foundation. The Innovative School Leader and Teacher Award recipients each receive $1,000.
CM Regent is a leading commercial property and liability insurance company dedicated to serving public and private schools, colleges and universities.
CM Cares was established in 2016 to support charitable, educational and religious causes that advance the human condition.
PSBA is a nonprofit statewide association of public school boards, pledged to the highest ideals of local lay leadership for the public schools of the commonwealth. Founded in 1895, PSBA was the first school boards association established in the United States.
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