Each year, VSTE recognizes exemplary educators through several different awards. We are proud to announce this year’s recipients who will be recognized at the Annual Educational Technology Conference.
The Outstanding Teacher and Leaders awards are given by the Virginia Society for Technology in Education to educational leaders who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in implementing technology to improve education.
The VSTE Outstanding Leader for 2017 is Tim Taylor, Instructional Technology Supervisor of Shenandoah County Public Schools. Rebecca Coffman, an ITRT from Shenandoah County who submitted the nomination, describes Tim as a teacher, coach, and mentor. Tim’s approachability, positive attitude and support strengthens teachers’ and students’ confidence in their abilities and empowers them to experiment, implement and succeed even if that includes success by learning from failure. Tim empowers teachers by giving them opportunities to contribute their ideas and put them into practice, while also offering guidance when needed.. His ability to form relationships and communicate with all members of the educational community gives him a unique perspective of what is essential for continual growth.
A few of Tim’s initiatives include:
- Advocacy of new technology initiatives such as robotics, STEM, 1:1
- District GAFE accounts for K-12
- District trips with teachers to Google Sulmmit, VSTE, ISTE, BrainStorm
- Creating and teaching technology courses with our local colleges
- Tech Tips with Tim monthly instructional videos
The VSTE Outstanding Teacher for 2017 is Nichole Thomas, an Instructional Facilitator for Technology at Liberty Elementary School in Loudoun County. Nichole’s knowledge, collaborative nature and innovative ideas have transformed Liberty into a leader in technology application. More importantly, Nichole has empowered students to become the designers and creators of significant content and develop competencies for their digital world. For this work and due to Nichole, Liberty Elementary was recognize as a STEM Excellence Award finalist this year at FETC (Future Education Technology Conference).
Nichole works tirelessly to align grade-level lessons and project-based learning (PBL) units to the Virginia SOLs and equip students with digital competencies that they will use today and in their future. Under Nichole’s leadership, our teachers routinely integrate technology, such as 3D printing, virtual field trips, coding, augmented reality and more in instruction and cross-curricula PBL and STEM lessons. More importantly, Nichole’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious in our school. Students and teachers love to see Mrs. Thomas in their classrooms or co-teaching a lesson in the Smart Lab. Nichole creates and co-teaches in this innovative learning environment, the Smart Lab, with each instructional staff member. Nichole is an incredibly innovative teacher and leader at our school.
The Innovative Educator of the Year for 2017 is Josh Ajima, an Instructional Facilitator for Technology at Dominion High School in Loudoun County. This award is given by VSTE to highlight and recognize innovative educational practices—especially those that champion the smart integration of technology. Josh has brought technology rich hands-on learning to his school through making and technology enriched classrooms. The major focus of his work is to scale up the integration of Maker Education in every classroom and content area. In the 2016-2017 school year, he led a major push to bring over $100,000 in technology to his school. He led the team that won the US Department of Education’s CTE Makeover Challenge which transformed a traditional CTE classroom into a school makerspace. (http://www.ctemakeoverchallenge.com/dominion-high-school/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHluQediaIQ) To increase the reach of maker tools into the classroom, he designed mobile makerspace carts that allow multiple-classes to use real-world tools to solve authentic challenging problems. To increase classroom access to technology for digital design, media creation and digital publishing in his school, he helped plan and fundraise for an influx of over 200 new devices to create technology rich classrooms. These devices have empowered teachers in multiple content areas to help fulfill the school mission of empowering vulnerable students.