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Cable in the Classroom > Cable's Leaders In Learning Awards > Winners 2009  
Winners 2008
Congratulations to the winners of the 2009 Cable's Leaders in Learning Awards! Selected from 47 finalists from around the country, this year’s winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on June 10, 2009 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.

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Founder and Chair
Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe)
Arlington, Virginia
Cable System: Comcast

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"There are many ways to continue to incorporate technology into the classroom: talk with other teachers at school and at state education conventions. Visit with a school's technology teacher, the school district's technology office, and check out what classes, in-service or professional instruction might be offered. Visit stores that sell digital products and talk with friends and neighbors who "know technology.""

Jacalyn Leavitt's commitment to education began as an elementary school teacher and continued through her tenure as First Lady of Utah, where improving the health and literacy rates of children were trademarks of her public service. In 2005, when her husband, Governor Mike Leavitt, was asked to join the President's Cabinet and the family moved to Washington D.C., Leavitt founded the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe). iKeepSafe is a broad partnership of governors, first spouses, attorneys general and law enforcement, public health, education and industry leaders dedicated to helping children learn the safe and healthy use of technology and the Internet.

iKeepSafe's important partnership with Comcast has helped facilitate an array of programs, including a three-state Initiative (Michigan, Washington, Virginia) to develop a multi-faceted children's Internet safety campaign. In each state, iKeepSafe and Comcast worked with the state attorney general to focus their specific content priorities. iKeepSafe and Comcast have also developed various public health campaigns and created programming on cyber-bullying and other Internet issues for Comcast's award-winning "Student Voices" show.

Comcast is also sponsoring the development and production of iKeepSafe's widely popular Faux Paw the Techno Cat Internet Safety series of children's books, animated DVDs, and educator curriculum that teaches basic principles and skills of Internet safety to children. All products and initiatives work towards iKeepSafe's shared goal: helping kids and teens become responsible, ethical and resilient cyber citizens.

Leavitt holds a degree in secondary education with an elementary endorsement from Utah State University. She was a 27-year PTA member.

Thornton Academy
Saco, Maine
Cable System: Time Warner Cable

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"The learner of today will have to become a multifaceted and multitasking worker of tomorrow, using ever evolving technologies for communication, creativity, problem solving, information gathering, synthesis of ideas and processes, along with delivering professional conduct. It is important that all our students have learning opportunities that will prepare them to make positive decisions for society as a whole."

When Ray Lund's teaching career began, he taught the traditional arts such as drawing, painting and pottery. In 1987, he introduced a course called "videography" with the reasoning that this was the new art medium for skill development. Thirty-seven years later, he now teaches a new media class in a space called the 4-D Arena, a studio designed specifically for time-based arts.

As a result of a long-time partnership with Time Warner Cable, the studio (modeled after Time Warner's own studios), was not only able to be built, but students are able to completely run their own television station, Thornton Academy Television (TATV). They have developed long-running shows and have made their TV station an important thread in the community.

Lund has expanded his work at Thornton Academy to include new media workshops and programs for the entire community. He has received a Disney American Teacher Award for Outstanding National Visual Arts Educator, Technology Teacher of the Year and Art Teacher of the Year. He is currently working towards an MFA in Computer Arts/New Media from the Academy of Art University.

District Administrator
Dubuque Community Schools
Dubuque, Iowa
Cable System: Mediacom

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"Cable television, coupled with the Internet, provide the foundation for the "Classroom of the Future." It's a classroom without walls or desks. It is a virtual learning space in which the participants not only view interesting people, places and content, but share their own experiences and educational resources."

What started as an idea for a summer camp to teach elementary students about gardening turned into a reality television show that follows the fortunes, successes and mishaps experienced by students trying to grow their own food. District Administrator, Gary Olsen, created The Garden Organic, a cable television show developed in partnerships with Mediacom Cable, Hy-Vee Foods, Steve's Ace Home & Garden Center and the Iowa State University Extension Office. The show combines science, math, culture and the history of food along with basic food how-to's: growing, harvesting, preparing and preserving. Students are taped as they set out on their challenge to grow an organic garden with no artificial or non-organic pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. The series, now in its fourth year, is cablecast on Dubuque Community Schools' own full-time 24/7 cable channel provided by Mediacom Cable.

The show is very popular in the Dubuque community. Enthusiastic visitors come to the garden to observe production, parents help to encourage their kids during taping and garden hobbyists e-mail questions and suggested topics they think The Garden Organic should cover.

Olsen received the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Award of Excellence for a documentary he made after 9/11 and a Beacon Award for the school's cooking program, Kids in the Kitchen. That program also won Best Series from the Association of Cable Communicators in 2007.


Foothill High School
Bakersfield, California
Cable System: Bright House Networks

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Tony Alteparmakian"Cable networks have a wealth of interesting, high-quality programs that engage students and help them develop their own questions by gaining their attention and interest. Utilizing cable programming helps teachers and students in a multitude of ways. Collaboration with other teachers, parents and students can create a dynamic curriculum that includes web-based content such as online videos via YouTube or other websites."

During Tony Alteparmakian's early years in the classroom, dry erase markers, a whiteboard and some scientific calculators marked the extent to which he intertwined technology into his lesson plans. Approximately three years ago, during his seventh year as a classroom teacher, he purchased a tablet computer to use in place of the whiteboard. In the beginning, his text-filled slideshows served as a detriment, rather than a benefit. Students still seemed disengaged from the content. It was only after his encounter with a picture of his school's parabolic-shaped gymnasium that he realized the impact picture and video could have on the students. This, along with his desire to give students access to information outside of the classroom, prompted him to devise a way to make notes available to students at any time.

The result is Alteparmakian's innovative method of documenting classroom lectures. He uses audio and visual devices that record his pen strokes and speech as a video. He then adds class notes, pictures and videos from cable programming and uploads all of it to YouTube for students to access at their convenience. Additionally, he created message boards on his website and quickly realized that many students who normally wouldn't participate in classroom discussions were posting and responding to comments on the web.

Alteparmakian recently won a 2009 Best Buy National Teacher Award. He is a member of the California Teacher's Association (CTA), National Education and Association (NEA) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Founder and President
The Ghetto Film School
Bronx, New York
Cable System: Cablevision

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Joe Hall"The GFS Fellows Program employs a highly effective learning model in which the film and media literacy taught in the classroom is also experienced first-hand by every student participant as they write, shoot, edit, and screen their own narrative stories. By emphasizing clarity, originality, and production value in all student work, GFS drives students to invest a great deal of energy, thought and determination in their creative work. The results can be measured both in their films and in their long-term success: students who complete the Fellows Program have a 100% high school graduation rate, and in 2007, 80% of our Fellows enrolled in college."

After attending Columbia University's graduate school, where he earned a master's degree in public administration and social work, Joe Hall worked for a settlement house and a community development organization in the South Bronx. In 1999, Hall entered the University of Southern California to pursue filmmaking, in order to expand the reach of his community development work. While there, he realized that the expense and elite nature of traditional filmmaking shut many out of even considering creative storytelling as a career, especially the kind of talented young people he knew in The Bronx.

Hall founded The Ghetto Film School (GFS) in the summer of 2000, to connect local students to the film and media industries - providing them with the technology, resources, relationships and training they need to make outstanding film, video and multimedia projects. Currently, more than 400 students have participated in GFS programs and workshops, coming from all areas of New York City to the South Bronx training facilities for hands-on production and cinema studies courses. In September 2009 The Cinema School, developed by GFS over the last several years, will open as the nation's first film high school.

Hall is the recipient of several awards, including the 2005 Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture (alongside Wynton Marsalis and Poet Laureate Billy Collins), and his work has been featured in a range of media including The New York Times, Huffington Post, NPR, PBS, and the BBC. Currently he is finishing a documentary for the Sundance Channel and working on a book about the GFS educational model and history.

Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School
South Burlington, Vermont
Cable System: Comcast

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Jay Hoffman"Do not wait until you master the technology before you incorporate it into into the classroom! Find a tech savvy student and let them run. Have them teach you as you try to navigate in this wild technology race. The more stakeholders you include in your plan, the greater your odds of long-lasting success will be."

With a Bachelor's degree in Technology Education and an Advanced degree in Public School Administration, Jay Hoffman recognized the need to incorporate the arts and technology across curricula at Tuttle Middle School. So he and the school's music teacher teamed up and secured grant money they used to create a news broadcast studio, equip every classroom with televisions, and upgrade the school's cable infrastructure. Not long after, in February 2003, the South Burlington Network News (SBNN) debuted on their local school Network.

Since then, the program has continued to grow and experience great success. Each year, a group of students apply and 12 are selected to participate in SBNN. The team works extensively with other students in the school as well as community members to produce, edit and broadcast their stories. Most recently the SBNN News team collaborated with to help in their efforts to prevent teens from being victimized by sexual predators through informative broadcasts. In March, the Korean Government Education Film Crew traveled to South Burlington to produce a documentary on SBNN's work with

SBNN has become a staple in the community. Students are sought after conference speakers and have keynoted at such places as The New England League of Middle Schools, Vermont School Board Association Conference and the Vermont Superintendent Conference. They've been featured in Leadership Magazine and placed 1st in the eSchoolnews Middle School Video Competition in 2008. Most recently they placed 3rd and 4th In C-SPAN's National 2009 StudentCam video competition. Hoffman has been twice named the Vermont Technology Education Association Teacher of the Year.

Filmmakers and Teachers
Effingham High School
Effingham, Illinois
Cable System: Mediacom

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"Students instinctively move toward technology in their pursuit of knowledge. Technology has now permeated every aspect of student life outside school, and the judicious use of technology in the classroom not only connects students to learning in ways they understand, it also assists them in the management of technology. Through the use of technology, students can learn to evaluate information, use technology in appropriate and effective ways and develop the critical thinking skills that will help them make the best possible use of technology."

Craig Lindvahl and Joe Fatheree wanted to celebrate the work and dedication of students in multimedia classes at Effingham and Teutopolis high schools. Students produced not only high-quality films, but also learned to work together and collaborate, offering advice and input to each other on a wide range of technical and creative matters. In 2003, the filmmakers and teachers created the AHA Film Festival. From a crowd of 150 the first year, the festival has grown into an event that sells out a 1,500 theater in Effingham and includes seminars hosted by industry professionals from Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis. Members of the multimedia class work the entire school year to plan and prepare for the festival and all proceeds fund much of the expense of the class and provide operating capital for the next year's festival.

In addition to the annual film fest, Effingham and Teutopolis multimedia students have been invited to attend prestigious film festivals such as the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, created short films featured in the Chicago International Children's Film Festival and collaborated with students in South Central Los Angeles to produce a film showcased at a United Nations conference in Paris.

Craig Lindvahl is the recipient of 12 Mid-America Emmy awards for producing, writing, camera work and composing. He received the Milken National Educator Award and was also awarded the Studs Terkel Award for contributions to the humanities.

In February, Joe Fatheree received the NEA's National Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2007, he was named the Illinois Teacher of the Year. As a filmmaker, he is the recipient of and three Mid-America Emmy award for producing and writing.

Founding Principal
Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Regional Academy
Jefferson Parish and New Orleans Region, Louisiana
Cable System: Cox Communications

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"Engage students with real world projects and applications. Give them the freedom and choice in how they demonstrate their knowledge by letting the students lead the way with the technology. Do not force them to "power down" when they come to school, instead teach them the way they learn best by using 21st Century tools. Teach students to work collaboratively, convey their thoughts in writing using websites, blogs and other Web 2.0 tools, and have them present their work to members of the community."

Believing students, especially those from high-poverty families, need more than just participative learning opportunities, Kristy Philippi helped found the STEM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Regional Academy in 2004 with the hope to provide students with 21st Century skills as well as college and workforce preparation. She invited career professionals, parents and community members to participate in the academy and be available to the students by creating plans that engage and encourage students to achieve daily success.

Since its inception, Taylor Academy, a public magnet school for grades 6-12, has grown into an important part of the Jefferson Parish community. Philippi has led implementations of one-to-one mobile computing; total project-based learning curricula and 21st Century skills criteria (content, critical thinking, collaboration, effective communication, tech literacy). As one of nine New Technology Foundation (NTF) schools in 2004, Taylor Academy has become a model of success, and there are now more than 40 New Tech Schools in nine states.

Philippi empowers teachers to challenge traditional expectations and rules to push education with projects that improve the community. Taylor Academy staff engages the student body using content from traditional and online media sources including wikis, podcasts and blogs. Taylor has a strong relationship with Cox Communications and benefits from them providing educational programming, professional development opportunities, advertising and connections with local businesses.

Taylor Academy was the recipient of NTF School of Excellence Award in 2007 and Philippi was honored with local, regional and state awards for leadership in innovative education practices in 2006, 2007 and 2008.


Assistant Professor
University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Tucson, Arizona
Cable System: Cox Communications

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"Everyone needs media literacy skills with which they can thoughtfully and safely navigate the millions of media messages coming to us every day, especially the many mixed messages about health topics."

Dr. Lynda Bergsma's media literacy work began in 1991 with a 3-year, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Substance Abuse and Media (SAM) Project. She learned about media literacy education as a promising drug abuse prevention strategy, and quickly realized that it was what she had been looking for to enhance the effectiveness of her health promotion efforts. Seventeen years later, now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and founder and director of the Media Wise Initiative, she continues to provide media literacy education as a health promotion strategy for children, youth and families. Her work includes planning and implementing programs, developing curricula, providing training and consulting services, and conducting research on the impact of our media culture on public health, health-promoting media literacy education and media literacy as an essential component of health literacy in a digital age.

In addition to her academic duties, Dr. Bergsma has been Principal Investigator on several health-promoting media literacy education projects, including her recent Media Wise Families pilot research project to explore the efficacy of a family media literacy education program focused on preventing tobacco and alcohol use/abuse. A nationally recognized author and speaker, she is a founding board member and immediate past president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (formerly the Alliance for a Media Literate America). She has a BHSC in nutrition, a Masters Degree in health education and a PhD in higher education and sociology from the University of Arizona.

In 2008 Dr. Bergsma received a National Association for Media Literacy Education Appreciation Award, and in 2006 the Andrew W. Nichols Award for distinguished rural and border health service from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health.

Founder and Executive Director
Just Think Foundation
San Francisco, California
Cable System: Comcast

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Elana Rosen"The importance of media in teaching and learning is paramount. Knowledge is increasingly the most valuable commodity in the world, and rich, relevant media will be the most powerful way to ensure that young people have profound experiences as they become active participants in their life-long learning environments."

A self-described "hope-aholic," Elana Yonah Rosen co-founded Just Think, a nonprofit media literacy education organization, in 1995 to bring to all young people from diverse communities the essential skills for healthy, responsible, independent lives in the 21st century. She's used media as the cornerstone of these efforts by teaching critical thinking skills and creative productions tools so students can understand and analyze media messages of all types. With these skills, young people produce their own media messages about issues that concern them, such as First Amendment rights, body image/nutrition, global warming, immigration, depression and suicide. In addition, they take on community leadership opportunities, and most importantly, improve their lives.

Just Think has become one of the few organizations in the country delivering on-the-ground programs and curriculum while performing rigorous academic studies in the media literacy education field. Rosen has been instrumental in Just Think, reaching over 7,500 students, teachers, parents and others through direct programs, more than 35,000 individuals through screenings, exhibits, fairs, and other community events, and an additional 4 million lives through unique media touches.

Rosen's belief that the core principles of media literacy education should be scaled was the impetus behind a merger of Just Think with One Economy Corporation, a growing global nonprofit organization that uses innovative approaches improving quality of life through access to quality media information to low-income people. With this merger, Rosen is integrating 21st century skills and knowledge into the U.S. and internationally based Digitial Connectors curricula, and launching the Public Internet Channel, a new online network for public purpose (


The Honorable Olympia J. Snowe
United States Senator

With her election in 1994, Olympia J. Snowe became only the second woman Senator in history to represent Maine. In November 2006, she was re-elected to a third six-year term in the United States Senate with 74 percent of the vote.

Before her election to the Senate, Olympia Snowe represented Maine’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for sixteen years. Senator Snowe is only the fourth woman in history to be elected to both houses of Congress and the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress. When first elected to Congress in 1978, at the age of 31, Olympia Snowe was the youngest Republican woman, and the first Greek-American woman, ever elected to Congress. She has won more federal elections in Maine than any other person since World War II.

In 2001, Senator Snowe became the first Republican woman ever to secure a full-term seat on the Senate Finance Committee, and only the third woman in history to join the panel. With jurisdiction over two thirds of the entire federal budget, the Committee is considered one of the most powerful in Congress because its members author tax, trade, health care, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security related legislation. As former Chair, and now Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Snowe is working on behalf of entrepreneurs nationwide. In addition, Senator Snowe is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where she is former Chair and now Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Coast Guard. She also sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Focusing her attention on efforts to build bipartisan consensus on key issues that matter to Maine and America, Senator Snowe’s dedicated work in the U.S. Senate has garnered her nationwide recognition as a leading policymaker in Washington. In 2005, she was named the 54th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine and in 2006 Time Magazine named her one of the top ten U.S. Senators, "Because of her centrist views and eagerness to get beyond partisan point scoring, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe is in the center of every policy debate in Washington."

Senator Snowe has worked extensively on important issues, such as budget and fiscal responsibility; national security; women’s issues; health care; welfare reform; oceans and fisheries issues; and campaign finance reform. She is an advocate for improving education in Maine and around the country and has worked at length on issues including student financial aid, co-authoring the e-rate program – which the publication Technology and Learning ranked fourth in a list of Top 25 Innovations and Initiatives that have helped shape education technology over the past generation – and bringing broadband to our nation’s schools.

The Honorable James E. Clyburn
United States House Majority Whip

The Honorable James E. Clyburn "Education is the great equalizer. As a former public school teacher I’ve seen first-hand the exponential benefits of investment in education—to the students, their communities and the country. Education is the key to continued prosperity in America."

On November 16th, 2006, the House Democratic Caucus unanimously elected Congressman James E. Clyburn of South Carolina Majority Whip, a position he continues to hold in the 111th Congress. Jim Clyburn is the first South Carolinian and the second African American to ascend to the third ranking position in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It took a long road and 66 years for him to reach this position. He was elected president of his NAACP youth chapter when he was 12 years old. He was a student leader at South Carolina State College and was active in the civil rights movement. He participated in many marches and demonstrations and was chosen as the star witness in a 1960 Orangeburg civil disobedience case defended by the legendary Matthew Perry. That case developed from the arrest of 388 college students — two of whom were Jim and Emily England of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, whom he met during that incarceration. He was later jailed during a 1961 march on the South Carolina State Capitol that resulted in the landmark breach of the peace case Edwards v. South Carolina.

In 1992, Jim Clyburn became the first black South Carolinian elected to Congress since 1897. He was sworn in as a Member of the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District in January 1993. Clyburn became an appropriator and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman in 1999. Four years later, he became Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, then Chairman in 2006. He has been praised as an "unashamed advocate of his constituents" by Columbia’s The State, and called the "Carolina Kingmaker" by the National Journal.

Majority Whip Clyburn has actively advocated for better educational opportunities for all of our nation’s children. Although most history books cite Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas as the litigation that ended school segregation, a little-known case from Clarendon County, South Carolina actually spearheaded the civil rights movement. In the 1954 Briggs v. Elliott unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court put segregationists on the defensive and the law on the side of those who wanted to make the guarantee of equal treatment in the Fourteenth Amendment a reality. Clyburn authored Uncommon Courage: The Story of Briggs V. Elliott, South Carolina’s Unsung Civil Rights Battle to tell this story.