Recognizing extraordinary, tech-savvy school leaders
Digital Principal award winners are honored for integrating digital media in their efforts to improve instruction, student achievement, and their own leadership.
2016 Digital Principal Award Winners
Gahanna Lincoln High School
Bobby Dodd is the principal of Gahanna Lincoln High School in Gahanna, OH. Connectivity underpins all of Dodd’s success, and he models connectivity with active participation in his virtual professional learning network and blogging on Principal’s Blog. A recognized advocate for digital and blended learning to expand learning opportunities, Dodd created the Digital Learning Academy at Gahanna Lincoln, resulting in significantly higher achievement, especially among students who were not successful in a traditional school setting. Prior to moving to Gahanna, Dodd launched a 1:1 iPad program at New Lexington High School, which contributed to a spike in both the number of tests taken and the number of earned college credits on AP tests at the remote school in rural Ohio. Whether in a rural or urban environment, Dodd stresses technology as a means for students to lead their own learning. “I want kids and teachers to try things, to take chances. Sometimes you are going to fail, but we’ll learn lessons from it,” Dodd says. “That will help our kids discover that mastery is about a lot more than grades.”
Northfield Community Middle School
Glenn Robbins is the principal of Northfield Community Middle School in Northfield, NJ, where technology is a ubiquitous element of a larger culture of innovative, student-centered learning focused on the mantra “Becoming Life Ready.” He set out first to renew the school’s broadband infrastructure and create a BYOD program, supplemented by Chromebooks. The school’s hallways have been converted to “Idea Streets,” an innovative learning initiative modeled on a similar program at Stanford University. The school’s Digital Shop thrives on design thinking and projects to better the lives of others, like designing 3D-printed prosthetic hands for children and creating video games from children’s books. Students also control their own learning pace on Northfield’s gamified learning management system that allows students to control their own pace and level of learning during the course and year. “Learning is a much more robust activity when students engage in real-world activities that serve a purpose,” Robbins says. “We firmly believe that by empowering students and staff to utilize technology each day, we are preparing them for their future, not ours.”
Winston Sakurai is the upper school principal at Hanalani Schools in Mililani, HI. Sakurai first witnessed the power of technology to transform learning in the early 1990s as a producer and host of Distance Learning Technology television shows for the Hawaii State Department of Education. When he became the principal at Hanalani in 2008, he launched a Schools of the Future initiative in which students harness technology to tackle real-world challenges. This modernization plan spawned an online science fair where students collaborate on projects that are judged virtually by science experts around the globe. Genius Hour is also being launched to help personalize students’ learning experience. Under Sakurai’s leadership, Hanalani’s robotics team has brought home the Hawaii “Botball” Tournament championship six years running and won the International Botball Tournament in back-to-back years. “Using digital tools, along with the teaching of six critical skills-collaborative leadership, communication, critical thinking, creativity, cultural competence, and digital citizenship-inspires our students to be leaders on a local, national, and global stage,” Sakurai says. “We want our students to be equipped for any challenge, including occupations that have not even been created yet.”