Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards
Visit Cable in the Classroom
Homepage for Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards Criteria Frequently Asked Questions for Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards Event Press Coverage of Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards Finalists and Winners
Cable in the Classroom > Cable's Leaders In Learning Awards > Winners 2008  
Winners 2008
Congratulations to the winners of the 2008 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards! Selected from 44 finalists from around the country, this year’s winners will be honored at a Gala and awards ceremony at the Library of Congress on June 18, 2008 in Washington, DC. During their visit to Washington, D.C., they will learn from fellow awardees, attend cable network tours and screenings, and meet with members of Congress and cable and education leaders. In addition to the trip to Washington, D.C., honorees receive a $3,000 cash prize from Cable in the Classroom.

View 2009 Winners | View 2009 Finalists | View 2008 Finalists | View 2007 Winners | View 2007 Finalists | View 2006 Winners | View 2006 Finalists | View 2005 Winners | View 2005 Finalists


Campus Instructional Technologist
Clear Creek Elementary School
Fort Hood, Texas
Cable System: Time Warner Cable

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

Donna BowndsDonna Bownds served three years in the U.S. Army before becoming a teacher. Last year, when her Clear Creek Elementary school had the opportunity to collaborate with Time Warner Cable and host History'sTM new event program, "Take a Veteran to School Day," Bownds seized the opportunity to get involved.

On Nov. 9, 2007, local veterans visited Clear Creek Elementary to share stories about their service and to discuss their military experience and current jobs with the students. The day's events were kicked off with a presentation of an enlisted soldier who had witnessed the capture of Saddam Hussein. The soldier spoke to students about the importance of education to their lives and of the contributions veterans have made to the country. Students also heard presentations from members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Women Army Corps Veterans Association and veterans stationed on or near the post. Other "Take a Veteran to School Day" activities at Clear Creek included a picnic and a presentation from author and former Superintendent of West Point Lt. Gen. Dave R. Palmer (USA Ret.). He spoke of the history behind Veterans Day and the meaning of the word, "freedom." In an effort to capture the events of the day, Bownds recorded numerous presentations and published them online as podcasts with the help of equipment and staff from Time Warner Cable.

The goals of the program were to strengthen ties in the community, bring history to life in the classroom and recognize the contributions of America's veterans. For the students of Clear Creek, it was a poignant experience, given that the school is located on the Fort Hood Army post and that 99 percent of the students are dependents of military personnel.

"This partnership allowed us to provide an engaging experience for students that involved parents and the community. Many parents in attendance, some of whom had just returned from Iraq, expressed their concern about America's support for the U.S.'s continued presence there and stated that they were happy to come home and feel supported."

Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications
New York, N.Y.
Cable System: Cablevision

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

Don CerroneCablevision's "Triple Play for Education" program brought students from Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communication into the streets of the Bronx to document the famed borough's history. Leading the class project was Director of Visual Studies and teacher Don Cerrone, who with the help of the Independent Film Channel (IFC), assisted students in producing a documentary titled "Recapturing Glory."

With the opportunity to create a film, Cerrone and his students started with basic questions such as, "Who lived in this Bronx neighborhood 60 years ago when the school first opened? What was this school like and what kind of education did those students have?" Using "Cablevision's Power to Learn" technology, which included high speed Internet connections, video equipment and community involvement, students were able to discover and document events and local figures to make the history of their neighborhood and school come alive. When it came to piecing together a film, Cerrone utilized talent at IFC to help guide students through the production process. The effort also included field trips to News 12 studios, Rainbow Media's Networking Center and a backstage tour of a taping of Cablevision's award-winning academic quiz show "The Challenge."

Today, their film, "Recapturing Glory" is posted on IFC's Web site and available on Cablevision's On Demand service. The production's success led to its inclusion in the school's core curriculum. Cablevision is again partnering with students from Jonathan Levin High School, this time for a documentary following Bronx high school students as they prepare for and compete in "The Challenge."

"The project sparked my students' imaginations and widened their previous understanding of the world around them. It opened them up to an understanding of the environment in which they live and generated in them an interest in capturing history on film for current and future generations."

Art and Music Teachers
Bethune Academy
Haines City, Fla.
Cable System: Bright House Networks

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

Four years ago, Raedell Coogler and Jessica Fredricks were introduced to a cousin of their principal, Sharon Knowles, who founded an orphanage in Kokstad, South Africa. After hearing stories of these children, often parentless, hungry and victims of AIDS, Coogler and Fredricks embarked on a series of projects to raise money to help feed and educate these orphans.

Several of their projects employed resources from Bright House Networks as their jumping off point. Their first project, "Jumping for Jazz," was designed to raise awareness of the African American experience through the study of African American musicians and artists. Students viewed biographies produced by History™ on Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and an A&E feature on B.B. King.

To raise money for the Kokstad orphanage, Coogler and Fredricks implemented an arts immersion experience for their students, guiding them to create jazz portraits to be auctioned off to the public. Other fundraising projects have included a school-wide aluminum can drive and the refashioning of old baritone ukuleles into works of art that were also auctioned off. In total, Coogler, Fredricks and their students have raised more than $5,000 for the children of the Kokstad orphanage while also enhancing their community's awareness of the circumstances of others.

"Our students are learning not only history and geography - they are learning how to be good citizens and stewards of their resources. Now they realize that one of the most important things we can do in our lives is help others who are less fortunate than we are."

Web Developer
Mesa County Valley School District
Grand Junction, Colo.
Cable System: Bresnan Communications

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

As a web developer for the Mesa County Valley School District, Jenann Wakefield found that parents were looking for a way to communicate easily with teachers and review information on the progress of their children in school. So Wakefield went to work, talking with teachers and parents so as to understand the types of information needed. The result is "Parent Bridge," a simple and secure web application that includes data from the district's various systems to provide a portal that parents, students, school administrators and teachers can access online.

Understanding that not every student household is equipped with a computer and Internet access, Wakefield partnered with Bresnan Communications and a local grocery store chain to provide computer kiosks with high-speed Internet in grocery stores. The kiosks allow parents to log on to the system remotely to review their children's information, including district, school and teacher messages, grades, assignment scores, transcript information, standardized test scores, lunch purchases, attendance records and verify that the school has up-to-date emergency and contact information. Parents can easily send messages to their children's teachers.

A survey of parents found the program a success. Results showed that 89 percent of parent respondents think they know more about what is happening in school, 87 percent are able to communicate more easily with teachers, 89 percent think their children are more aware of their own progress and 67 percent see improvement in their child's grades. Teachers also responded positively, with 94 percent surveyed saying they thought the program increased communication with parents.

The program was launched at two schools in 2003. After its success, it was subsequently launched at secondary schools. Parents were delighted with the program and they requested it be implemented in elementary schools as well. Today, Parent Bridge is in 34 of the school system's 41 schools. During the 2006 school year, the system received 1.1 million logins.

"The partnership helped the district give parents access to a resource to help their children achieve. District staff now feel that they can use this tool to reach parents without previous limitations, and can continue to build upon the connection this technology has helped create among parents, students and the schools."


Artistic Director
Louisville Leopard Percussionists
Louisville, Ky.
Cable System: Insight Communications

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

In 1993, Diane Downs was digging through a storage closet in her school when she came across some old percussion instruments. That discovery of a trove of instruments 15 years ago has evolved into what is known today as the "Louisville Leopard Percussionists," a music education and community-building program that seeks to educate 7- to-12-year-olds.

With participants from diverse backgrounds, Downs has created a program that helps children develop music appreciation, performance skills and proficiency on a variety of percussion instruments. Students also learn to improvise, compose, teach and care for instruments. The result is children gain skills and experiences that help build creativity and confidence while they also learn personal discipline, cooperation and leadership.

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists appear in and around the city and nationally, performing jazz, Latin, pop and original compositions. The children rotate playing a full range of percussion instruments, including marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, drum sets, congas, bongos, and timbales. The group has recorded six CDs. The Louisville Leopard Percussionists were also the subject of the HBO Family documentary, "Music in Me: Leopards Take Manhattan." Downs is responsible for all aspects of the program, including selecting, arranging and teaching music; conducting rehearsals; arranging and directing public performances; and selecting guest workshop leaders.

"I've been doing this for over 15 years and it's still just so exciting. Children have an incredible power and magic to them. If you believe in them, and expect them to do it, they probably will. When given the opportunity, they will absolutely amaze you."

Curriculum Resource Consultant
Monroe County Intermediate School District
Monroe, Mich.
Cable System: Charter Communications

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

High school students in Monroe County, Michigan, soon will be able to view an operating room during surgery. Younger students have already visited battlefields from the Civil War and the War of 1812 from the confines of their classrooms, due, in part, to Chuck Estep and his innovative use of "virtual fields trips" (VFTs). Estep developed the series of VFTs with the goal of connecting students to the rich history of their community with the involvement of local organizations and businesses.

To develop VFTs, Estep and his colleagues work with local historians to create programs and lesson plans that fit into their state curricula. One notable VFT focused on the War of 1812 and the Battle of the River Raisin. With assistance from the Monroe County Historical Museum, the program offered two sessions three times a day over 12 days to students across the county. To date, more than 70 classes and nearly 2,300 students have been virtually transported to battle sites for a lesson in the region's history. The program was first introduced to students through a movie trailer, using film footage and music designed to get the students' attention. Classroom kits were also provided to each participating class containing clothing and various artifacts that students could try on and experience first hand. The VFT used animated presentations and short video vignettes to illustrate and add context to how the battle unfolded along with a dynamic and knowledgeable presenter who interacted with each of the students in their classrooms while sharing artifacts from the period.

"This project focused on the current needs of students using our local history as a teachable moment. The VFT and materials were professionally delivered through our excellent technology. It has opened the doors of opportunity for expansion of VFTs into the classroom through projects with local museums, businesses, and arts organizations."

District Administrator
Okaloosa County School District
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Cable System: Cox Communications

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

Dr. Cheryl SealsBelieving in the value of a supportive educational climate for student success, Cheryl Seals began thinking about how parents, teachers, the school district and the community could communicate and work together to foster positive educational outcomes for all students. With that goal in mind, Seals, now an administrator with the Okaloosa County School District in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., created the "Academic Excellence Society" (AES), to help address the minority student achievement gap. Through AES, members of the school district, local churches, parents and civic leaders collaborate to foster a program for educational excellence in Okaloosa County.

Since its inception, AES has made a difference. It hosted an educational summit on narrowing the achievement gap that brought together community leaders, parents and the school district to collaborate on a strategic plan. This led to the creation of a local "Summer Bridge" program. Last year, this academic program, designed to prepare students for honors and advanced placement coursework, served 30 middle school students. AES also partnered with Cox Communications, Striving for Perfection Ministries and Okaloosa School District's Office of Community Affairs to launch a mentor telethon. Since the telethon, 323 mentors have been recruited to work with at-risk students.

Seals' program has helped strengthen professional development for teachers in the school district. Through AES, teachers have learned how to analyze and interpret minority student data in order to identify effective strategies to encourage academic achievement.

"AES recognizes the importance of the role of parents and the community in the life of our students. We strive to foster a positive relationship between the parent, school, student and community."

Sunshine High School
Newbern, Ala.
Cable System: Charter Communications

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

RaSheda WorkmanBorn and raised in a remote region of Alabama known as the "Black Belt," RaSheda Workman has developed a solid reputation as a passionate advocate for rural and underserved communities. Equipped with a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in health studies, Workman has used her academic training to improve health care, develop leadership skills in youth and educate the public about disparate conditions in underserved communities throughout Alabama.

In 2007, Workman created "Eyes Wide Open" as an avenue for middle and high school students to become engaged as change agents for the community. Integrating health policy and demographic studies with the core curriculum, Workman has helped students gain insight on the underlying causes of poverty and measures that can be used to improve quality of life. Students in the program study local demographic trends associated with chronic health conditions, economic indices and education attainment levels to design advocacy campaigns and outline volunteer activities that fulfill unmet needs in the community.

To date, students have organized a new campus community service organization to provide resources to local nursing home facilities and assist local nonprofits. They also have conceptualized a framework to implement a student-driven institute that focuses on addressing poverty in the community.

"The conditions of poverty will only improve when the people most affected are equipped with the necessary tools to make change. Students now are more concerned about improving conditions and have undertaken several projects to promote change within their communities."


Appalachian State University
Boone, N.C.
Cable System: Charter Communications

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

For the past 35 years, Dr. David Considine, a professor at Appalachian State University, has been helping to shape the field of media literacy. Considine started his career as an English, history and media studies teacher in Melbourne, Australia. After completing a bachelor's degree in media education, he relocated to the United States, where he received a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin for his dissertation on adolescent sexuality and mass media.

Since 1980, Considine has been writing articles promoting media literacy that have appeared in "The English Journal," "Language Arts," "The Social Studies," "Educational Technology," "School Library Journal," the "Journal of Popular Film and Television" and the "American Behavioral Scientist." Considine is also the author of "Visual Messages," which has been described as the first comprehensive media literacy textbook in the country. In 1999, Appalachian State University approved and implemented the first graduate degree program in the United States for media literacy, which Considine designed.

During his remarkable career, Considine has served as a member of the board of directors for the National Telemedia Council and as a media literacy consultant for the Office of National Drug Control Policy for two administrations and also for McDougal Littell's Media Focus and its 2007 Media Smart curriculum.

Considine has conducted media literacy programs for parents, teachers, students, administrators, clergy and citizens in 38 states and four countries. This year, he will host "Media, Diversity and Democracy," a staff development program open to educators across the country interested in media literacy.

"My writings, workshops and graduate program provide a case study and vision of media literacy as a critical component of education. I remain committed to media literacy as a vital tool for citizenship."


San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District
Mount Hermon, Calif.
Cable System: Comcast

Video  |  Podcast  |  Press Articles

Wanting to reach beyond traditional methods for teaching complex algebra concepts and equations, high school math teacher Dan Meyer turned to his camcorder for help. What his camera documented has not only helped him explain algebra in a new way to students struggling to understand such concepts, it has introduced Meyer to a world-wide community of educators collaborating on and disseminating innovative teaching techniques via high-speed Internet connections.

Last year, Meyer spent three weeks working with students to help them understand a single algebra equation. From this experience, Meyer came to the conclusion that using video as a teaching tool was the answer. So he produced ten short videos that were coupled with his lesson plan. When presented to the students during class, Meyer was shocked at the speed with which they were able to learn the once foreign algebraic equation.

While Meyer was surprised by how quickly his students were now able to grasp the algebra problem, he was stunned at the response he received after posting the video and lesson plan on his blog, which at the time was averaging 30 visitors a day. In just two weeks, the videos and lesson plans were downloaded more than 6,000 times by Internet users from all over the world, a feat that would have been impossible years ago on dial-up connections.

"Online lesson planning sites came into existence during the dial-up dark ages, permitting uploads no larger than a few megabytes and nothing more complicated than a Word document or a PDF file.. Broadband Internet has succeeded in completely redefining teacher mentorship, communication and learning in the 21st century.


Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives

Congressman John D. Dingell represents Michigan's 15th Congressional District and is the Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, one of five 'exclusive' committees in the U.S. House. He is also the longest serving current Member of the House and second longest serving Member in our nation's history.

Over the last five decades, Dingell has written some of the best known laws protecting our health, our environment and our communications services, as well as the rights of workers and consumers. One notable example is the 1990 Clean Air Act which is credited with cleaning up the air we breathe, while preserving American competitiveness. He fought for the passage of revolutionary legislation such as the Endangered Species Act, as well as laws that address America's most pressing needs like the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Few legislators can demonstrate a record of fighting government waste and corporate corruption like Chairman Dingell. A leader in the effort to toughen corporate accountability both before and after the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals, Dingell has also taken the lead in exposing government waste and abuses of tax dollars, including the investigation of no-bid defense contracts in Iraq.

As the Chairman of the Committee with jurisdiction over interstate and foreign telecommunications and the Internet, Dingell has helped to shape the laws and regulations that govern the communications marketplace, playing a key role on important legislation like the 1992 Cable Act and the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

December 13, 2005 marked Dingell's 50th anniversary in the US House. Only one other House Member has served as long - Jamie Whitten (MS) - from 1941 to 1995. "The evolution of the Internet and the growth of broadband have changed nearly every facet of our lives from e-commerce to education to healthcare, our entire world has been revolutionized by the development and deployment of high speed Internet service. In coming years, we will need to continue to ensure that our Nation's telecommunications policy fosters competition, encourages the development of new services and continues to benefit consumers."

Federal Communications Commission

Deborah Taylor Tate Deborah Taylor Tate was nominated to the Federal Communications Commission by President George W. Bush in November 2005, unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate in December 2005, and sworn in as FCC Commissioner in January 2006. She was re-nominated by President Bush for another 5 year term in June 2007. Among her many responsibilities, Commissioner Tate serves as Chair of the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service (Universal Service Joint Board) and has represented the FCC internationally at events like the World Radio Conference in Geneva and the 2007 Global Forum in Venice.

Commissioner Tate is a leading voice on issues affecting families and children and has been at the forefront of the movement to ensure that advances in communications technologies benefit all Americans.

Consistently recognized by Tennessee Business as one of Tennessee's "Most Powerful People," Commissioner Tate has been the recipient of numerous local and state professional and nonprofit honors as well as the International Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award. She is the founder and former president of Renewal House, a recovery residence for women addicted to crack cocaine and their children. Commissioner Tate is currently chair of the board of directors of Centerstone, Tennessee's largest, and the nation's ninth largest, behavioral healthcare organization. Her board service has included leadership positions on the boards of the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Family and Children's Services, and Junior League of Nashville, and she is an Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church. She and her husband, William H. Tate, a Nashville attorney, have three college age children.

"The Internet and broadband have brought the world to our children. With a click of a mouse, they have access to information about almost anything, and in almost any format. I, like many parents across the country, never really thought past the beneficial opportunities the Internet offers. Today, however, I realize that this technology also presents challenges and dangers. We must ensure that children are provided access to the wealth of educational opportunities provided by the Internet while also protecting their physical safety and healthy mental development."

Minority Leader Pro Tempore
Florida Senate

Frederica WilsonKnowing that one of the best ways to fight poverty and crime in her community was to connect youth with mentors, Dr. Frederica S. Wilson established the "5000 Role Models of Excellence Project" in 1993 while she was a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board. The project serves as a dropout prevention program for minority students. While Wilson is now a Florida state senator, her program continues to thrive and offer at-risk students alternatives to dropping out of school.

Wilson founded the program as a direct response to an ongoing crisis in the lives of many young males who were dropping out of school and turning to a life of crime. The goal of the program is to install the values of mainstream America, while respecting the existing values of the individual. To do this, the program operates with three general assumptions: there are positive and successful models in the community to emulate; there are positive alternatives to self-destructive behaviors and societal pitfalls; and everyone must assume responsibility for preparing children to effectively deal with the challenges and struggles that confront today's youth.

The success of Wilson's program can be seen today in its implementation at 89 schools, including 23 elementary schools, 33 middle schools and 33 high schools in Miami-Dade County. Serving more than 6,700 students, the program provides participants mentors to help guide them in life and their education. As a tireless advocate for the program, Wilson is now working to expand it throughout the state of Florida.

"In these difficult economic times, many youth are challenged to stay on the right path, away from drugs and in school. We need to help assume responsibility for the at-risk youngsters in our community, who often do not have parents or positive role models in their lives. We believe the entire community must be involved in the process of changing the direction of our youth."