Members of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools serve as examples of how forward-thinking leadership can transform learning. Since we launched the League in 2011, we’ve been proud to recognize over 70 school districts and their superintendents as they work to solve the challenges facing today’s K-12 schools through innovative strategies.
Today, we’re thrilled to congratulate Matt Akin, Superintendent of Piedmont City School District, and Steve Webb and Tom Hagley, Superintendent and Chief of Staff of Vancouver Public Schools, for being named to Education Week’s list of “Leaders to Learn From” in 2016. Both districts are founding members of the League, and have long demonstrated their commitment to improve achievement and access for students.
As the superintendent in Piedmont, a rural district in northeast Alabama, Akin and his team have worked hard to provide all students with an education that prepares them for the modern global economy. Through its mPower Piedmont initiative, which began in 2009, students receive a laptop with school and home Internet access. The district also offers virtual classes in subjects like computer science and Mandarin Chinese, in the absence of local certified educators.
Learning does not end in Piedmont during the traditional confines of a class schedule; through the Piedmont Summer Virtual Academy, high school and middle school students earn high school credits in the summer with online classes, made possible by universal home access. Additionally, Akin is a vocal proponent of competency-based learning, empowering students to work at their own pace and progress based on their mastery of skills and standards.
In Vancouver, Wash., the district’s dynamic leadership team uses innovative learning environments to achieve meaningful results for its students to successfully graduate their students and prepare them for college and career. Webb and Hagley have been champions of communications and storytelling at Vancouver Public Schools (VPS), and dedicate resources to effectively engage community members in strategic planning and other district initiatives. They lead a network of 16 VPS Family-Community Resource Centers and one mobile FCRC, leveraging public and private partnerships to help remove barriers of learning in schools for disadvantaged students.
The district is also a national leader in creating the role of teacher-librarians, who have helped usher in the digital transformation (WeLearn 1:1) throughout the district. Webb and Hagley are thought leaders with bold ideas and proven success in overall student achievement measures like graduation rates, college matriculation, and enrollment in Advanced Placement classes, and higher improvement measures among minority and poverty-affected students.
The communities of Piedmont and Vancouver have benefited greatly from these leaders, and League members have learned from their committed and engaged membership. Congratulations again to these educators! We are grateful for your leadership.