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 County Superintendent, Schools Honored for Innovation in Education

​​Honoring education leaders, schools and programs that use dynamic educational technology and practices to prepare San Diego County students to thrive in a competitive workforce, the Classroom of the Future Foundation​ is hosting its 13th Annual Innovation in Education Awards on May 25.

Among the awardees is San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Randolph E. Ward, recipient of the Visionary & Outstanding Leadership Award. Ward’s decade in San Diego has been marked by a technological transformation in San Diego County schools. Under Ward’s guidance, teachers have been provided not only the tools, but also the training they need to more fully en​​gage ​​​students through technology. Ward has also ensured thousands of children across the county are able to take advantage of high-speed internet at home for “24-7” learning. 

“Dr. Ward’s digital literacy initiatives are preparing students for success in the real world,” said James Wright, the newly appointed CEO at Classroom of the Future Foundation. “Along with leading the overall technological advancement of San Diego County schools, he has also provided access to technology for many students in need. The foundation wants to honor that kind of exploration and assistance.”

Classroom of the Future Foundation works hand-in-hand with educators like Ward to connect students to programs that prepare them for the workforce. 

“Each year, the foundation recognizes classroom leaders and programs that expand student learning through contemporary teaching techniques,” said Wright. “The awardees this year are prime examples of how schools can use innovative learning practices to create pathways to success in a 21st Century workforce.”

Education programs to be honored at the 13th Annual Innovation in Education Awards event, which is sponsored by G Force Global Technologies and other companies, and will be held at the University of San Diego, include:

  • Health Science High & Middle College in San Diego will receive the Impact Award for its Health Pathways Program. The four-year-old program is a comprehensive career development model that integrates an on-site health care internship into coursework. Students aspiring for a career in health can not only prepare for industry certification, but also enter wage-earning jobs during their education. In partnership with Sharp HealthCare, the program provides more than 500 internships, through which students accumulate more than 50,000 hours of experience annually.
  • Orange Glen High School in Escondido will receive the Inspire Award for the integration of technology into teaching methods for intellectually disabled students. The students use Chromebooks and iPads for daily innovative, fun and experimental projects. Through engaging multimedia, intellectually disabled students learn how to send emails, seek community resources and apply for volunteer jobs. Students takes an active role in their learning process to maximize ability and enrich their quality of life.
  • Montgomery Middle School in San Diego will receive the Innovate Award for its Makerspace Lab. The school’s 20th century woodshop was recently gutted and turned into a 21st century engineering lab. From electronic circuits to 3-D printers, students have the opportunity to create inventions that solve a problem or satisfy a need. The design thinking process allows students to feel empowered for their creativity and recognize their ability to create real-world solutions.
  • Hilltop Middle School in Chula Vista will receive the Achieve Award for its Foreign Language and Global Studies program. With a dedicated team of students, teachers and parents, FLAGS creates rigorous interdisciplinary projects to encourage collaborative problem solving and foster global perspectives. Students engage in mock trials, Socratic seminars, blogging and digital media creation to become effective communicators and critical thinkers. A strong component of FLAGS is the interdisciplinary approach to instruction. Educators work collaboratively to teach interconnected content, such as baseball statistics in math, Jackie Robinson in history, and experiments between wood and aluminum bats in science.


Along with Ward, individual education leader honorees include:

  • Innovative Superintendent Award recipient Dr. Jeffrey Felix, who holds a doctorate in education, has been superintendent of the Coronado Unified School District since 2008. His groundbreaking research on edublogging was the first in-depth study on the use of blogging as an instructional practice.
  • Innovative Principal Award recipient Laura Smith is the principal of Casita Center, a STEM magnet school in Vista. Principal Smith’s incorporation of technology in the classroom results in strong standardized test scores, a feat that’s impressive because more than 60 percent of the school’s students are low-income and more than 40 percent are English language learners. (Award sponsor: Curriculum Associates)
  • Innovative Educator Award recipient Laura Spencer is the director of educational technology at Lakeside Union School District. Spencer oversees the implementation of technology-integrated instructional programs in the classroom. As a teacher, her project LemonLink provided high-speed Internet connectivity and access to quality digital resources for all middle school students. (Award sponsor: Peterson Hill Marketing)
  • The Innovative Technology Award recipient Tom Nusser is a science teacher at Innovation Middle School in San Diego. Nusser has taught science for 18 years and strives to share his passion for engineering and robotics through a rigorous science curriculum. His students learn in a one-on-one, iPad teaching environment and participate in blended, inquiry-based STEM projects school-wide. (Award sponsor: SDCUE)
  • A second Innovative Technology Award recipient is Jo-Ann Fox, an elementary school teacher in the Escondido Union School District. Fox is a co-planner for EdCamp San Diego, which provides free professional development for educators across Southern California. In addition, Jo-Ann shares the effectiveness of technology, STEAM learning and design thinking implementation in the classroom at education conferences countywide. (Award sponsor: SDCUE)

At the Innovation in Education Awards, leaders will also present $28,000 in scholarships provided by the USS Midway Museum and the Jack in the Box Foundation to 14 students participating in the AVID program and pursuing a STEM degree. AVID, founded in San Diego in 1980, is the country’s most successful college prep program.

For more information or to attend the event, call 858/292-3685 or visit classroomofthefuture.org.​