eSchool Media is pleased to announce the three winners of the eSchool News K-12 Hero Awards: Dr. Ann Hughes, Director of Student Intervention for Sanger ISD in Texas; Kim Leblanc, Chief Technology Officer for Calcasieu Parish School Board in Louisiana; and Daniel Olivas, Network Analyst at Austin Independent School District in Texas.
Winners were chosen for their commitment to education during and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, their creativity and innovation in helping all students continue learning while ensuring students felt safe, empowered, and engaged.
The K-12 Hero Awards Program, sponsored this year by JAR Systems and SAP Concur, recognizes the dedicated efforts of education professionals across K-12 departments, including IT, curriculum, instruction and administration.
Nominations were judged by a panel of education experts, including Laura Ascione, eSchool News editorial director, Kevin Hogan, eSchool News editor-at-large, and Eileen Belastock, CETL, Belastock Consulting.
Here’s a look at each winner:
Dr. Ann Hughes, Director of Student Intervention, Sanger ISD, nominated by Ripple Effects
Ann’s students struggle with myriad challenges, including issues such as depression, hyperactivity disorders, and anger. Troubled students frequently come to Linda Tutt from other districts in the state as a last resort. In short, Ann’s program is the last hope to get these kids on the right track.
Ann has limited resources, both from a funding and personnel perspective. However, she meets those challenges holistically and creatively. She stops students each day to engage in meaningful conversations about their lives. She taps into programs like Ripple Effects for Teens, which has modules that address a wide range of issues including mental health, personal trauma, and academic challenges. Ann has designated individual rooms throughout campus dedicated to giving students space to regroup. There’s a Movement Room to work off excess energy and a Chill Out Room for relaxation. Music, yoga, and dance are other key elements she incorporates to reach her students.
To fill the gaps in funding and personnel resources, Ann has spearheaded community partnerships with local churches and charities, which provide counseling support not available at school. These collaborations have resulted in students honing their agriculture skills at community gardens and learning how to run a business via a nonprofit grocery store.
Kim Leblanc, Chief Technology Officer, Calcasieu Parish School Board, nominated by Bluum
Conventional wisdom would say that economically-disadvantaged schools across the country would need to think twice before making a major investment in technology. However, not all districts in that predicament have a technology director like Kim Leblanc. Calcasieu Parish School Board serves 29,500 students across 60 schools. It is a 100 percent CEP district, which means that every student is eligible for free lunch based on the economic poverty data submitted to the federal government.