How to Lead: Meet the Five DILA Administrator Winners

How to Lead: Meet the Five DILA Administrator Winners

By &
Mary Jo Madda

Being an administrator is a tough job, but administrators make all the difference when it comes to leading schools and districts towards innovation and change. The administrator winners of our 2014 Digital Innovation in Learning Awards are inspiring examples of change managers, showing what it means to both lead and learn at the same time.

DILA administrator winners exemplify five important practices for leading transformational change in schools:

1. Aileen Owens shows how the best administrators are willing to take risks, think radically, and learn from what’s working--and what’s not. Over the last four years, Aileen has led the implementation of a computational thinking program that starts in kindergarten and builds at each grade level through high school. Students use Scratch to move from block-based code in Kindergarten to text-based code in 7th grade, programming Legos and arduino boards, and eventually developing their own apps. The comprehensive program empowers students to be designers and creators from their first day in school and throughout their educational experience.

Watch Owens’s winning video for the Administrator Trailblazer award:

2. Oliver Sicat demonstrates the importance of being willing to share openly with other schools, and of collaboration between public schools and charters to collectively share knowledge and experience. Oliver runs the charter management organization Ednovate and Hybrid High School, and last year welcomed over 200 visitors and organizations from 50 countries through his school’s doors. Oliver is committed to sharing both successes and learning experiences, writing openly and publicly about the challenges of effectively managing a technology-rich school environment and empowering teachers to be change leaders.

Check out Sicat’s winning video for the Open Door Policy award:

3. Donna Teuber endeavors to empower the teachers and other administrators on her campus, giving them a lead role in driving professional development at Richland School District Two in Columbia, South Carolina through an educator-driven innovation incubator called “R2 Innovates”. With design thinking as the foundation, Teuber facilitates sessions where teams of Richland teachers and administrators ideate, prototype, and agree on solutions to problems they experience in the classroom--and then spread those successful solutions across the district.

Check out Teuber’s winning video for the Power to the People award:

4. S. Dallas Dance makes a point of setting an example of how to use technology in meaningful ways and leading Baltimore County Public Schools along a 5-year strategic “digital environments” plan. For example, Dr. Dance leads the S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) initiative and reinforces this focus through his personal Twitter account, as well as with BCPS outreach on Facebook,, a blog, RSS feeds and more. When visiting all 173 schools, programs and centers each school year, he is rarely seen without at least one device, pushing the importance of technology as a useful communication tool.

Watch Dance’s winning video for the Walk the Walk award:

5. Barbara Nemko understands the importance of engaging school families and offering them opportunities to learn and experience technology. She leads the Napa County Office of Education in California towards this goal, with a NCOE Parent Workshop series developed for families to learn about resources and how to reinforce student learning at home. Partnerships with Footsteps2Brilliance and NapaLearns provide families with access to rent-to-purchase devices, and tracking of student literacy progress.

Watch Nemko’s winning video for the We Are Family award:

Thank you to these administrators for all of the great work they do. And if you’d like to chat with them in person, catch them at the Nov. 21 Digital Innovation in Learning Awards gala. Get your ticket today!

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