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Finalists 2005
Congratulations to the 2005 finalists that were selected from a pool of over 250 very strong applications. Winners were announced May 17, 2005 at the Gala event in Washington, DC. See photographs from the 2005 Cable's Leaders In Learning Awards.

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General Excellence

David Bixby
Missoula, MT

David Bixby is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating a model classroom of the future, reinventing everything from the architecture (students work in "office" workstations); to curriculum delivery (now online and Web-driven); to audiovisual equipment (ceiling-mounted LCD projectors and SmartBoards for presenting content from cable television, DVD, VCR, CD-ROM; class notes, charts and diagrams; and electronic learning games, as well as books and printed materials); to parental involvement (parents can support class work from home by accessing teachers' notes and the student's portfolio via  the Web.)

Achievement test scores for Classroom of the Future fifth-graders have been consistently above average for the district and for the Northwestern US.

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Wendy Boschma
Canyon Country, CA

Wendy Boschma, a speech pathologist and special education teacher at Leona H. Cox Community Elementary School in Canyon County, is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating a therapeutic educational Kindergarten program for Autistic and severely language handicapped students. Her flexible approach targets every kind of learning (visual, kinesthetic, auditory, tactile, and verbal) and every teachable moment to stimulate language "as they walk to the bathroom, at recess, during play, as they get off the bus."

Boschma collaborates with a team of specialists to provide the best education for the students and communicates weekly with parents. Although many students enter her program without any language, Boschma says all improve significantly and develop the ability to talk with their families.

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Peggy Bryan
San Jose, CA

Peggy Bryan is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating Project ALAS, a model of professional development that offers teachers the time they need while not changing the structure of the school day or week.

The key to the project's success is the Mid-Day Block, from 11 am to 12:30 pm, when all teachers participate in formal staff training. Students, supervised by paraprofessionals, take part in fitness activities, study period, and lunch. In addition, ALAS builds in cross-grade-level peer coaching once per month for teachers and week-long mini-sabbaticals for professional development.

Over the past two years of the project, the school's state ranking has moved from one of the lowest to a mid-point, and it has jumped an average of 70 points per year on the state Academic Performance Index. In 2002-2003, the school had the highest gain of any school in the state.

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Nora Chahbazi
Flushing, MI

Nora Chahbazi is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating EBLI (Evidence Based Literacy Instruction), an effective, research-based reading strategy system that helps students aged four to adult read to their highest potential.

Spurred by her own child's struggles with learning to read and spell, Chahbazi plunged into months of research on reading. Based on what she learned, she taught her daughter to read in three hours.

Continuing to educate herself about reading, she founded Ounce of Prevention Reading Center to teach children and adults to read, which led to the development of EBLI – a format that can be used in any classroom. In an average of 10.3 hours of instruction, students made average gains of 1.56 grade levels in word identification and 2.86 grade levels in word attack, Chahbazi says. Her results can be easily replicated by teachers or other reading practitioners.

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Julie Evans
Irvine, CA

Julie Evans, chief executive officer of NetDay in Irvine, is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for igniting a new national awareness of the importance of including students in a dialogue on education technology.

By establishing an annual "Speak Up Day," Evans offered students an opportunity to share their ideas through a national online survey. Over the project's first two years, NetDay has collected views from 377,000 K-12 students from 5,000 schools on their use of technology in and out of school – the largest collection of student data on technology. Participants came from all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Department of Defense schools overseas.

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Kathie Greer
Chester, SC

Kathie Greer is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for transforming a low-performing high school with unsatisfactory ratings on the state report card to a gold award and financial incentives from the state.

Although she was responsible for a number of initiatives, Greer credits "The Last Twenty" for giving the school its edge. Referring to the last 20 minutes of the school day, the program was a result of Greer's reorganization of the school schedule and faculty to improve student performance on standardized tests. After breaking up faculty into work teams, rotating teachers offered lessons during the last 20 minutes of every day to prepare students for exit exams and for the SAT.

Those last few minutes incorporated best practices in multiple areas, including exercise, reading, learning styles, lighting, team building, sound instruction, brain research, and nutrition. The first-attempt exit scores were the highest ever (from 58.1% to 71.9%) and the school saw a 72-point increase in average SAT scores.

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Linda Kennedy
White Oak, TX

Linda Kennedy is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for her work in creating and sustaining the White Oak Learning Development Lab, which helps analyze and address students' individual learning needs and builds their capacity to understand, to process, and to remember information.

The Lab works to expand learning readiness, skills, and visual and auditory memory, and offers visual testing and therapy. Kennedy credits the Lab for ever-increasing scores on TAKS tests, and for a reduction in Special Education referrals and the number of discipline referrals to the principal. "The work we do in this lab has helped all teachers find better ways to teach children," said Kennedy. "Finding the correct for our students' needs, pulling them together, helping find ways to fund each, and assisting children to develop in all areas of their education is what I do today. I wouldn't trade places with anyone."

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Scott McLeod
Minneapolis, MN

Scott McLeod is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for his work creating the School Technology Leadership Initiative, which prepares principals, superintendents, and other leaders to facilitate technology integration and implementation in K-12 schools.

The Initiative was founded on the premise that administrative leadership is the single most important factor affecting schools' successful integration of technology. It has become the leading national voice for administrators' technology needs and the premier technology leadership preparation program in the country, working to address the nationwide shortage of administrators who can implement technology in schools and districts.

"Teachers, students, and technology support staff routinely decry the lack of effective technology leadership in their schools," said McLeod. "Parent, community, and corporate partners wish that schools better utilized digital technologies to facilitate student learning and external communication."

McLeod helped create STLI to address a "pervasive lack of technological understanding by district- and building-level leaders" and sees it as desperately needed resource to help schools realize the full potential of information and communication technologies for student and organizational success.

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Calvin Pearce
Chicago, IL

Calvin Pearce is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating Time Dollar Tutoring, which teaches older students how to tutor their younger peers, earning "time dollars" toward an Internet-ready computer.

Time Dollar Tutoring targets schools with a 90% free lunch program and high poverty rate. Student participants develop a love for learning, a greater sense of self-esteem, improved attendance, and aspire to become teachers among other lofty goals.

In its eight-year existence, Time Dollar Tutoring has placed 5,075 computers in disadvantaged homes and helped students average a year's growth in math and reading scores. In addition, 450 tons of computer waste has been redirected out of landfills by recycling and upgrading them for the program. Pearce's program has shipped computers to Trinidad and Ghana, set up computer reading labs in several schools, and run computer-training labs that help teenagers enter the job market. The United Kingdom, Japan, and The Chicago Bulls have all started using the Time Dollar Tutoring program.

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Judy Reeves
Bay Minette, AL

Nancy Reeves is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating The Environmental Academy, which involves students in environmental science courses while working with professionals in the field to create wildlife habitat and exploring career possibilities.

"Most of my students had no expectation of college or a professional career," said Reeves. "The Academy grew out of the conviction that if I could interest them in post-secondary education by exposing them to interesting careers, I could widen their expectations." 

The courses are academically rigorous and hands-on. They include aqua-science, greenhouses, and community service projects. Students are creating an 18-acre green space on campus, working with environmental agencies. They're also restoring a six-acre wetland by eradicating exotic species and replanting native trees.

There is a ten-acre teaching forest, with four sections: cultural, for research and planting of trees important to Native Americans; aesthetic, for year-round color and natural dye plants; history, where students choose famous historic American trees; and a science section, where science and special ed students plant food trees and shrubs for wildlife. Students are registering for more science classes, have better attendance than their peers, and vandalism and disciplinary problems are nonexistent.

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Karen Schoenfeld
LaCrosse, WI

Karen Schoenfeld is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for initiating the Wisconsin Chapter of the Veterans History Project, teaming at-risk high school students with adult community volunteers to interview veterans from WWII, Korea, Desert Storm, and Vietnam.

To help students make connections with their community and become civic-minded adults, Schoenfeld got involved with the Library of Congress's oral history project. Students tape interviews, file them with the Library and with the local public library archives, and give them to the veterans and their families. Students also deliver oral reports, keep journals, and take part in group discussions.

"This activity has had a profound impact upon my youth, many of whom had never spoken with a veteran before and, sadly, many of whom had previously expressed animosity towards our democratic society," said Schoenfeld. Other schools heard of the project and have also gotten involved, and the National Court Reporters Association has now volunteered to transcribe all oral histories for the Library of Congress.

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Mary Catherine Swanson
San Diego, CA

Mary Catherine Swanson is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for creating Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a school-wide program that prepares the least served students for college eligibility and success by raising rigorous standards and providing support.

Since 1980, Swanson's system has been improving school-wide standardized test scores, encouraging challenging course selection, and increasing the number of students accepted to college. The program places students in honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate courses, then provides them the support tools to succeed. Since 1990, more than 30,000 AVID students have graduated from high school and gone on to college. Nearly 95% of AVID students enroll in college.

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Brigitte Tennis
Redmond, WA

Brigitte Tennis is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for founding Stella Schola Middle School, centered around chronologically based historical themes spanning from Pangaea and Early Man through World War II.

The curriculum is thoroughly integrated and supported with classic literature and hands-on projects. Students stay with the same teacher and classmates for most of their day, so subject matter can be integrated easily, and they can choose music or fitness at the larger junior high for one period a day.

Created by Tennis, the curriculum aligns with standards and novel elements such as the Starry Night Sleepover, where students experience a planetarium show by the Boeing Museum of Flight and cultural stories of the constellations. They learn Latin and Spanish, learn about Roman architecture and engineering by building bridges out of toothpicks, and construct a 300-foot working aqueduct in two hours. The Stella Schola students outscored state students by 35% in reading, 38% in writing, 41% in math, and by 15% in listening. On last year's Science WASL, they scored 87%, compared with 39% for the state.

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Vuong Thuy
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Vuong Thuy is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for his leadership of the Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School, one of the first charter schools in Pennsylvania.

With a focus on discipline, high expectations, and innovation, Thuy has graduated 100% of the school's seniors each year, with nearly all going on to high education. Most students, from some of the most deprived neighborhoods in Philadelphia, receive financial aid.

All students must take more than the state and district-required number of reading, writing, and computer literacy courses, and the Academy is raising money to equip all students with hand-held computers, a component of the school's emphasis on information-technology literacy. Technology also keeps Academy staff and parents in constant communication through email and Edline websites.

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Phillipa Wynter-Stuart
Rochester, NY

Phillipa Wynter-Stuart is being recognized in the General Excellence award category for coordinating and supervising The Boys & Girls Club/School 29 A Partnership for Learning After School program, which enhances the values and social skills of students while strengthening their education and life skills.

The program offers educational tutoring and extracurricular learning opportunities to students who are deficient in their studies as well as those who want to stay on course. A partnership with Time Warner Cable prompted implementation of the Time to Read literacy program, which complements other reading initiatives. Teachers report that participating students have shown tremendous educational growth and an increase in positive behavior.

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Frankie Bracero 
San Juan, PR

Frankie Bracero is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for
working with Adelphia and university students to create youth- and family-centered daily cable television programming targeted to the community at large and to high school students in particular.

Students from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon create the programs, aimed at offsetting negative images of youth by showcasing successful, bright students in their teens and early twenties. The shows are created to help young people learn, manage stress, resolve conflicts, grow emotionally, and strengthen families.

It is also geared toward improving teaching practices in Island schools by offering new technology resources and access to diverse learning experiences. The project provides schools with free multimedia resources and has resulted in increased community involvement and financial support form local foundations and corporations committed to promoting educational achievement.

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George Campbell 
Lubbock, TX

George Campbell is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for creating the CBI WorkNet, a half-hour monthly, student-produced television show teaching students with disabilities the basics of TV production, directing, acting, and editing.

Part of a specialized alternative class serving four large public high schools in the Lubbock Independent School District, CBI WorkNet is the nation's only television program produced by students with disabilities. With Cox Communications as the corporate sponsor, the show helps educate the community and schools about the abilities and challenges facing all young Texans with disabilities, in addition to offering its producers real-world working experience that will serve them after high school.

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Kandy Claybaugh 
Colorado Springs, CO

Kandy Claybaugh is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for being the force behind the Digital School at the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, an online school designed for about 100 high school students annually who have dropped out or need to recover credits.

The school provides them an opportunity to earn a diploma without the constraints of a traditional school year or five-days-a-week schedule. Students study one course at a time at the Citadel Mall on the one-room school model, with a licensed teacher who acts as a facilitator.

Teachers are able to meet the individual needs of each student, and credit for the course is transferred back to the student's home high school. Students select the day and time they would like to reserve a computer and a teacher to assist them as they progress through their course work. During the 2003-2004 academic year, 75 students who attended the school earned a diploma, and the graduation rate of Colorado Springs School District Eleven rose 3.8%.

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Terrence Clark
Bethpage, NY

Terrence Clark is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category, for creating the Bethpage Academy of Technology, a high school curriculum providing students an opportunity to earn advanced diplomas in information technology or new media.

Clark wanted students to be involved in the area's shift to a technology-based economy, and now the district offers courses including: Cisco Networking Academy, Java Programming, Advanced Placement Computer Science, Multimedia Design, Web Design (required in Grade 8), Advanced Web Design, Computer Graphics, Digital Photography, Computer Architecture, Computer Assisted Design and a Digital World class for all freshmen.

Clark has arranged partnerships with local corporations for extended learning opportunities, instituted a Summer Computer Camp.  Clark has done all this while finding places to save money for the district on the administrative side, sharing network resources and Internet access among schools.

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Cheryl Davis 
Orinda, CA

Cheryl Davis is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for developing lessons, activities, and other Internet-based civic education materials for teachers to use during the 2004 election cycle, contributing to a greater engagement in the political process by young people.

Using C-SPAN's video resources, and building on her C-SPAN fellowship, Davis helped develop lessons that could be accessed by teachers nationwide to help students understand the political process and learn about current events. Teachers had images, text, sound, and video to use, including archived footage of national political conventions, speeches, announcements of vice presidential candidates, complete candidate debates, and memorable campaign moments.

The lessons were featured on the National Council for Social Studies site, the International Society for Technology in Education site, Cable in the Classroom and other educational directories.

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Deborah Fallon 
North Massapequa, NY

Deborah Fallon is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category, for inspiring students and teachers to use technology and develop media literacy skills to enhance learning. From videoconferencing, to Kid Pix projects, to HyperStudio multimedia presentations, every technological tool is part of Fallon's repertoire.

For another project, facilitated by Fallon and her fourth grade colleagues, students planned and drafted blueprints of functional inventions, created them, wrote instructions for replicating the inventions, created ads to market them, and published multimedia presentations detailing the projects.

Ultimately, Fallon aims to develop "a community of learners who welcome and appreciate the endless value of our ever-changing technology."

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Joseph Gillespie 
Aston, PA

Joseph Gillespie is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for
for his work in creating a Teachers Academy that provides select high school students the opportunity to earn college credits while still enrolled in high school and to be introduced to the career of teaching.

With an acute teacher shortage looming, Gillespie found a way for his college, Neumann, to become partners with Cardinal Dougherty High School to help interest high school students in teaching and to give them the option of finishing college early, largely through videoconferencing via cable connections.

More than 100 students have participated in the program; 83 have graduated; and 25 are still enrolled. Each graduate has gone on to an institution of higher education and has transferred between six and twelve credits to their college or university. In addition, this past fall, teachers at the high school who had not attained teacher certification can take part in college methods courses via videoconferencing to enhance their skills.

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Janet Koehler 
Cincinnati, OH

Janet Koehler is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for creating the "History in the Making" project, which heightens global awareness and involvement for special needs students at Aiken. Using Nick News, A&E's Biography series, Cable in the Classroom, library resources, and MTV's "Choose or Lose," Koehler's students moved through the presidential selection process.

They researched famous leaders, attended leadership workshops led by players from the Cincinnati Bengals, then learned about the individual candidates. They made scrapbooks and posters, held a class debate, and worked to get out the vote. On Election Day, the class held a mock election and eagerly watched for their candidates' results on television that night. Post-election, the class has continued demonstrating their leadership skills through community involvement, from adopting a soldier serving in Afghanistan to knitting baby hats for newborns at the homeless shelter.

This project, said Koehler, has "allowed students who have significant learning problems both mentally and behaviorally, to experience success through understanding what it means to be a leader, taking on leadership roles, and contributing to their communities." As a result, she has seen "improved attitudes, improved grades, and a willingness to be kinder and more supportive of others. They realize that regardless of their own circumstances that they have something to offer their community and the world."

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Darryl LaGace 
Lemon Grove, CA

Darryl LaGace is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for creating business and government partnerships to connect all schools and the city via microwave, laser, and fiber-optic technologies, making the school district the communication hub for the entire community. Unique to this system, called "LemonLINK," is the use of a microwave tower, located at the district office.

Each school and city facility (City Hall, Fire Department, Public Works, Recreation Department, Community Center, Teen Center, and Senior Center) has its own microwave, laser, and/or fiber-optic link and can access the programs needed from workstations from anywhere on the WAN. Every family now has equitable access to information technology, just as families in more affluent areas do.

The latest development is "OnetoOne @ Home" and School" wireless tablet program, which moved students from sharing a computer at a table to using a tablet at school and at home every evening. Preliminary results of the 1:1 initiative show a marked increase in student utilization with access to network resources increasing 148% over similar classes without the tablet technology.

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Bob Lincoln 
Shakopee, MN

Bob Lincoln is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for helping elementary school students create a live daily news show for other students, all of diverse backgrounds.

The Sun Path News Team is a before-school technology class geared toward developing sixth-graders' technology and presentation skills. In addition to beginning every school day with its five-minute news broadcast, the show will be aired on community access cable television. Of the school's 420 students, 193 have signed up to participate.

"It's a great way to communicate to the Shakopee Community while building young students' interest in broadcast and public speaking," said Lincoln.

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Rebecca Painter 
Bowling Green, KY

Rebecca Painter is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for transforming education for adjudicated, at-risk students through Cable in the Classroom and other innovative approaches to learning. Residents of the youth detention facility have benefited enormously from Painter's efforts, including a hurricane unit that wove in the Weather Channel and real-life examples viewed on cable.

She has convinced the language arts instructor to weave in the hurricane materials with "Isaac's Storm" by Erik Larson, providing historical perspective through an investigation of the devastating Galveston storm. Students will explore careers in climatology and meteorology and addressed Kentucky Learning Goals and Academic Expectations.

Because residents are not allowed field trips or vocational experiences such as technical school, Painter opted for a facility-wide implementation of Cable in the Classroom, with everyone responsible for taping programs. During the winter, students exit the facility only when they go to court, so exposure to nature through television programming offers a welcome foray into the virtual outdoors.

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Nancy Pope 
Columbia, SC

Nancy Pope is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for introducing students to the arts through "Off the Wall and Onto the Stage" (OTW), a cross-curricular educational program centered around the work of artist Jonathan Green. The OTW project aims to inspire all South Carolinians "to embrace the beauty that a blending of cultures provides" and to "better understand the social and cultural issues that are often difficult to address directly."

In cooperation with Time Warner Cable, Pope created the cross-curricular component comprised of music, dance, theater, and visual arts and adapted it to a Teacher's Guide, compliant with all state and national standards for all school levels.

A highlight is the ballet performance under the direction of William Starret, which brings Green's paintings alive. "We are eager to share our experience with others to serve the greater purpose of spreading the good news of OTW that art is important; art can speak; art can heal old wounds and given the belief that life often does imitate art, art can help to promote social change," said Pope.

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Julie York 
South Portland, ME

Julie York is being recognized in the Pushing the Envelope award category for developing a student voting project, complete with student-created 30-second radio ads, public service announcements, power point presentations, brochures, posters, websites, video interviews, written interviews, and a school-wide mock election.

Aligned with Maine Learning Results, the project helped students gain a better understanding of civic responsibility and to share that understanding with their families, who were invited into classroom activities. Parents commented that they felt the project helped them open communication with their children about voting and democracy. York has a long waiting list to get into her classes.

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Media Literacy


Frank Baker
Columbia, SC

Frank Baker is being recognized in the Media Literacy award category for expanding the nation's knowledge base on media literacy, including creation of the Media Literacy Clearinghouse, a website of resources for educators.

Baker has also assembled and disseminated a vast collection of information about media literacy and has published a study of media literacy content in the teaching standards for all 50 states, which helped educators justify the need for more professional development and resources to help teach the subject.

Because he believes media literacy is the "most important life skill of the 21st Century," Baker is a presence wherever it is the topic: at conferences, on listservs, in training workshops for teachers, in curriculum conferences, and on the Web.

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Jessica Brown
St. Louis, MO

Jessica Brown is being recognized in the Media Literacy award category for uniting a wide array of regional groups to enhance formal and informal education efforts, all around media literacy.

Brown has also been especially effective in using multiple forums to build public, private and volunteer sector support for media literacy and media literacy education. She worked with The Cooperating School Districts of Greater St. Louis to host a community-wide meeting using media literacy as a handle to help strengthen ties between K-12 and higher education; establish a civic enterprise for media literacy education and information; establish a center for collaborations and projects in the public, private, and volunteer communities to sustain a media literate community.

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Rob Coppo
Escondido, CA

Rob Coppo is being recognized in the Media Literacy award category for creating Patriot Productions, a digital media production program at Orange Glen High School. Students learn how to make sense of media messages and to develop their creative and technical skills in digital media production by writing and directing their own films and television programs.

Pioneered in 1998, later adopted by all three Escondido Union High Schools, the teaching materials are now being adapted for use in schools around the country. The program includes courses, a closed-circuit TV channel, a video yearbook, and an annual film festival. In addition, Patriot Productions has produced videos for community organizations.

By learning how to construct their own media, says Cappo, students learn firsthand how "media producers use the language of film and TV to manipulate their audience, making them more likely to seek out media that enriches their lives."

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Barbara Jeweler
Silver Spring, MD

Barbara Jeweler is being recognized in the Media Literacy award category creating an award-winning media production program that allows students of varied skill, ability, and motivation to succeed. Many students who struggle in traditional classrooms find a sense of self-worth and motivation as they record, document, edit, and broadcast school activities in a daily news program and other video projects.

The course of study, which moves through the high school years, offers students the opportunity to work in a "total digital environment" while gaining experience in studio and field production, media literacy, and ethical journalism. The program has built a sense of community inside and outside of the school and has produced exemplary work garnering recognition from professional competitions, such as the Telly, Videographer, CINE, Communicator, and National Television Academy awards. Jeweler was named Maryland's Montgomery County Teacher of the Year in 2003.

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Chris Sperry
Ithaca, NY

Chris Sperry is being recognized in the Media Literacy award category for designing, developing, and disseminating multimedia educational materials to help educators integrate media literacy throughout the curriculum. 

Working with Cyndy Scheibe for eight years, Sperry has created Project Look Sharp, a unique approach inspired by teachers' needs and ideas. "Teachers desperately want engaging media materials that they can use to teach core content and engage students in complex critical thinking," said Sperry. "Few teachers have the time to find the right materials, to get them in a usable form, to research the appropriate background information, and to put everything together in time for the next class. PLS has taken on this challenge."

Arranged as curriculum kits, the materials cover such topics as "Media Construction of War: A Critical Reading of History," which includes comparisons of Newsweek covers from the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, among other activities. The kits are distributed nationally and are being used by hundreds of teachers.

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Deborah Wasylik
Orlando, FL

Deborah Wasylik is being recognized in the Media Literacy award category for her innovative approach to science teaching. Thanks to modern media and the use of technology, Wasylik collaborates with John Travolta, The Orlando Sentinel, The Discover Channel, Dr. John Snow of London, and others on an Environmental Science unit.

Students begin by time traveling back to London in 1854, when a population clump was dying at an alarming rate. Using genuine historical data collected at the time of the outbreak by Dr. Snow, students take part in a lab to determine the source of the disease. The amateur epidemiologists fast-forward to Woburn, MA 1979 to learn about Ann Anderson, a woman who suspects that a well contaminated from a toxic dump was the cause of her son's leukemia. They compare historical with modern cases, research articles and fictionalized versions, and come to conclusions.

In other lessons, they build miniature marine ecosystems in the lab and simulate an oil spill. This investigative, hands-on approach runs throughout the course, and Wasylik observes that the information "really seeped in an infiltrated the students' minds more effectively and we had so much fun getting drenched with knowledge!"

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Richard Alarcon
California State Senator
Van Nuys, CA
State Senator Richard Alarcon is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for developing the Young Senators program, a yearlong leadership training program for high school students from the San Fernando Valley.
Students receive advocacy training, learn the legislative process, and focus on issues having an impact in their communities. They perform community service; network with community leaders, business owners, and other students; and take part in a mock session in the state Senate Chamber to present and discuss bills on which Senator Alarcon is working.
In its five-year existence, the program has trained more than 300 students, who have provided over 7500 hours of community service to nonprofit organizations throughout the Los Angeles area. All of them want to return to their communities after college.
Rose Espinoza
Council Member, City of La Habra
La Habra, CA
Rose Espinoza is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for creating a free neighborhood after-school tutoring program – "Rosie's Garage" – to help children succeed academically and stay out of gangs. After surveying the community, Espinoza discovered that "most of the kids joining gangs were struggling in school, and their parents couldn't help because most of them didn't speak English." Paying a stipend to students with high GPAs to help with tutoring, Espinoza's program has expanded to four sites, providing assistance to over 200 children in grades K-12. 
Program evaluations after 1997 have revealed that students tutored at Rosie's Garage increased their ability in writing by an average 2.1 grade levels and 2.9 grade levels in math. The program has received national recognition from CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and the President's Point of Light Volunteer Award.
Nancy Grasmick
Maryland State Superintendent of Schools
Baltimore, Maryland
Dr. Nancy Grasmick is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for her near 15-year record of improving education in the state of Maryland. Long before national mandates, Grasmick embraced higher standards and accountability measures, always putting the needs of all children first.
The longest serving appointed state school superintendent, Dr. Grasmick has used her leadership to earn the state high marks for its system of assessing, reporting, and holding schools responsible for improving achievement. Maryland's verbal and math SAT scores continue to rise, and the state has had more success than any other in increasing students' participation in the rigorous Advanced Placement testing program and coursework.
Kurt Kelly
Member, Marion County School Board
Ocala, FL
Kurt Kelly is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for working tirelessly as the driving force behind the Marion County School Board's successful 2004 campaign passing a ½ cent sales tax to build new schools – an initiative that had been soundly defeated before. He met with each County Commissioner, invited citizen input, held more than 30 public events in three months to meet with residents and business leaders for the ballot initiative.
His message was that everyone passing through Marion County to buy soft drinks or gas would be helping to support school construction, not only citizens who owned taxable property. The measure passed by 10,000 votes.
Lloyd Levine
Member, California State Assembly
Van Nuys, CA
Lloyd Levine is being recognized in the Policymaker award category, for supporting 25 student members of the San Fernando Valley High School Advisory Commission, giving them a way to get involved in politics and learn about the legislative process. The Commission tackles political issues and community projects.
In 2004, the students created legislation to address a widespread problem: healthy eating habits. They drafted a bill about posting nutritional information for all foods sold on school campuses, and Levine submitted it in the State Assembly. He allowed the commissioners to staff the bill themselves, arguing its merits to school administrators and students and addressing the opposition. He flew them to Sacramento to argue the bill in front of the Assembly Education Committee and to lobby legislators. The bill passed out of the committee, but failed in Appropriations because of budget concerns.
Because of their commitment and success, Time Warner Cable enlisted Levine and the commissioners to help out on its "Get Out the Vote" campaign.
Laura Miller 
Mayor, City of Dallas
Dallas, TX
Mayor Laura Miller is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for enlisting the business community and donating countless hours of personal time to educate Dallas youth about the importance of literacy and fitness.
Through her Mayor's Summer Reading Program; the city's first-ever get-fit summer run – "The Mayor's 5K Fun Run!"; and an annual Back-to-School Fair providing school supplies, free immunizations, check-ups, and health education to under-privileged youth, Mayor Miller has helped more than 250,000 young people to learn the joy of reading and staying fit. All activities have been free to participants, and each was successfully completed with no impact on the city's financial obligations.
Elizabeth Reilinger
Chair, Boston School Committee
Boston, MA
Dr. Elizabeth Reilinger is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for her leadership in enacting district-wide reforms to improve student achievement and raise standards for academic excellence for all students in the Boston Public Schools.
By putting a strategic plan in place and engaging the entire community, Dr. Reilinger's approach has yielded considerable academic gains for Boston students. The percentage passing MCAS has more than doubled, and more than 85% of last year's graduating class passes. The rate of improvement of Boston students well surpasses that of other districts in the state, and for the past five years, Boston's students' performance on the SATs has outpaced that of students across the country.
National recognition has followed: Boston has for three years been a finalist for the prestigious Broad Foundation award for Urban Education and the School Committee has earned an award for urban school board excellence from CUBE, the Council of Urban Boards of Education in 2004.
Secretary of State for Kansas
Topeka, KS
Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for increasing voter turnout, especially among 18- to 24-year-olds. His leadership was instrumental in creating Kids Voting Kansas, a grassroots, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Kansas youth about the rights, responsibilities, and mechanics of participating in American democracy.
Thanks to his tireless efforts, Kids Voting Kansas has been embraced by schools and communities, with 55 communities now participating state-wide. Average voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds nationwide is only 15%; in areas of Kansas where Kids Voting has been implemented for 10 years or more, an average 65% of that age group turn out to vote. Beginning in kindergarten, students learn how to research the candidates, listen to debates, and become responsible citizens through Kids Voting Kansas.
Under Thornburgh's direction, the program has become the largest of its kind in the nation.
Jerry Weast
Superintendent, Montgomery County Public Schools
Rockville, MD
Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools Dr. Jerry Weast is being recognized in the Policymaker award category for his groundbreaking work as Superintendent of one of the nation's largest and most diverse school districts.
Dr. Weast worked with Comcast to provide free technological training for thousands of teachers in incorporating video and broadband resources into the classroom to make lesson plans more creative and interactive.
In addition, Weast has implemented a program aimed at increasing test scores for children most at risk for poor academic performance, including pre-school reading programs, full-day kindergarten, and extended learning programs after school. The results of national tests taken in Spring 2003 by second graders showed dramatic improvement, with performances at or above the national median in key subjects such as reading and math.