Sep 16 2015

Calif. District Wins $50K in New Tech in School Collaboration Challenge

Napa County school officials assembled a digital early learning initiative to help turn the tide.

The Napa County Office of Education proved that with teamwork, anything is possible.

For its efforts in collaborating with tech for the good of students, the district took the $50,000 grand prize in CDW•G's Collaboration Nation contest. The challenge was designed to highlight shining examples of collaboration and innovative educational technology projects from around the country.

To promote their entry in the contest, Napa County school officials assembled a 90-second video, which lays out their digital early learning initiative.

Four years ago, schools in the district had a problem: Half of the students entering kindergarten were two years behind others, facing a 30-million word gap. The district wanted to invest in digital curriculum through tablets, but it came up short on the infrastructure and professional development necessary for a technology initiative of that scale.

To overcome those hurdles, the Napa County of Education and its five school districts, with support from teachers and IT staff, participated in a public–private partnership with NapaLearns to develop a network across the county.

"We went from a small 17-student pilot in one district to over 23 preschool classes and every primary class in the county,” said Barbara Nemko, Napa County superintendent of schools. “We also brought together our curriculum departments, so all our teachers could get the same professional development on how to teach digital early learning."

"Four years later, we are seeing so many more second- and third-graders performing at grade level — that’s the beauty of collaboration.”

For submitting the top entry in the Collaboration Nation contest, the district will receive $50,000 in products and services from CDW•G partners, including HP, Lenovo and Meraki.

Geoff Fletcher, education industry expert; Luann Hughes, director of technology for the Temple Independent School District; Therese Mageau, editorial director of eSchool News; and Eric Patnoudes, K–12 specialist with CDW•G served as judges of the entries.

“The entries we received surpassed expectations. Schools across the country are collaborating to implement successful educational technology projects that elevate the classroom experience,” Patnoudes said in a news release. “We are proud to recognize Napa County for embodying this mission and thank all the other schools and districts that are taking on new technology initiatives to help their students grow and learn in new ways.”

All the Collaboration Nation submissions can be reviewed online at eSchool News.