Celebrating Innovation

Click here to download the 2016-2017 Celebrating Innovation Application Packet

Worcester County Public Schools is leading innovation with excellence. In that spirit, the school system is continuing its recognition program for which all employees can apply! The program "Celebrating Innovation" seeks to recognize any school system employee who implements innovative practices and/or processes which lead to evidence-based improvement. Please access the application below, which defines innovation for the purpose of this program and provides applicants with application requirements. The application is designed to be easy, but please be aware that some changes have been made to this year's application.

Program FAQs

What does innovation mean?

Innovation exists when a new practice or process is implemented and it results in evidence-based improvement.

What is Meant by New?

A practice or process is new when it has not been previously implemented by its facilitator (applicant) and when it is not considered standard, customary, common, or expected in Worcester County Public Schools or at your school.

Can you be more specific about results?

The school system encourages creative ideas around practices and processes. When a creative idea leads to a new practice or process that results in measurable growth (evidence-based improvement), that practice or process qualifies for consideration in the Celebrating Innovation Recognition Program. In other words, innovation is more than just a great idea; it is a great idea that yields positive outcomes.


2015-2016 Recipients

Amy Bradford, Cedar Chapel Special School In order for students to actively participate and communicate throughout their school day, Ms. Bradford identified a need for CCSS students to have access to common words necessary for effective communication. To do so, Ms. Bradford created and provided to all teachers and staff core and fringe vocabulary boards to facilitate students’ receptive, expressive and pragmatic language. Students are now imitating the use of the vocabulary appropriately, and some students are now independently using the boards to communicate.

Jack Cleveland, Snow Hill High School In an effort to provide students with experiences that would help them rethink the process and possibilities of studying literature in the 21st century, Mr. Cleveland developed a unit to enable students to build a foundation for subsequent literary study. In this unit, students completed a WebQuest to research historical information related to the text, created an original video that encapsulated their research. The student-centered unit concluded with students creating a second video that demonstrated their understanding.

Brian Cook, Pocomoke Middle School Wanting to expose his sixth grade class to digital collaboration tools typically used in the workplace, Dr. Cook partnered with an educator in Frederick County. The collaboration resulted in the creation of a lesson utilizing distance learning techniques in which students created two-voice poetry with a partner across the state. Students worked with their partners by using online document collaboration and Google Hangout for discussion. The lesson culminated with students presenting their poetry in tandem to both classes using Google Hangout.

Phillip Cropper, Worcester Technical High School Identifying a need for a demonstration classroom in which his culinary arts students could observe and then perform culinary techniques, Mr. Cropper secured funding to redesign an underutilized space adjacent to the culinary arts kitchen. Outfitting the space with student and teacher work spaces complete with necessary culinary equipment, Mr. Cropper retrofitted document cameras to set-up the teacher station as a demo space for students to view intricate knife cuts and other techniques through the SMART board and installed television.

Julia Hill, Worcester Technical High School After reading extensive research on the topic of how classroom design affects student learning, Ms. Hill redesigned her mathematics classroom environment to better suit the needs of her students. Bringing in a variety of seating and tables through donations and her own investment, Ms. Hill’s “learning studio” classroom design has created an environment that students found appealing and met their educational needs.

Brittany Hulme-Tignor, Snow Hill Middle School Ms. Tignor designed and implemented the first Makerspace in Worcester County at Snow Hill Middle School. Makerspace is a student-driven community space that houses materials and equipment for students to simply make things. Through Makerspace, students have explored 3D Printing, Circuitry, LEGO construction challenges, video game design, crochet and more.

Brenda Hommel, Stephen Decatur High School To challenge her Algebra II students, Ms. Hommel coined, “Lights, Camera, Algebra!” This practice required each student to apply their knowledge of the standards of mathematical practices through the creation of interactive boards through their mathematics techbook. In doing so, students either created original content and/or curated resources pertaining to the authentic, real world problems that demonstrated the regularity of the mathematical relationships of the unit.

Scott Hunter, Worcester Technical High School To create real-world learning experiences for his marine and environmental science students, Mr. Hunter utilized the retention ponds at Worcester Technical High School for studies about life in a pond and influential environmental factors. Through a partnership with NOAA, students are utilizing paddleboats outfitted with SONAR and GoPro underwater cameras coupled with an OpenROV submersible to learn bathymetric studies, or sea-floor mapping.

Patricia Korpacz, Snow Hill Middle School Identifying a need to adapt her teaching style to appeal to all types of learners, Ms. Korpacz implemented game-based learning in her classroom, in which she redesigned a series of classic board games, like hopscotch, Twister and Candy Land, to infuse the academic content of the standards students were learning. She also built differentiation and scaffolds into each game in order to ensure each student’s educational needs were met.

Michele Kosin, Snow Hill High School To encourage student interest in pursuing post-secondary education in the fields of Engineering Technology or Engineering, Ms. Kosin piloted a national curriculum in Technology Education, which she co-authored, at Snow Hill High School. Through grant funding, Ms. Kosin’s curriculum enabled students to construct underwater ROVs and VEX robots, learn how to design in REVIT, perform soil sampling, explore the patent process for new product development and more.

Mary Lankford, Cedar Chapel Special School To augment existing work experiences for students, Ms. Lankford created a classroom business project to educate her students to be entrepreneurs. Working collaboratively with WTHS’ Early Childhood Education program, students created a card making business, complete with business literacy education including cost analysis, appropriate work skills and marketing. Students produced 200 holiday cards, netting a profit of $100.00.

Michael Levy, Worcester Technical High School To further the forensic science crime scene practices for his students, Mr. Levy partnered with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension Service to conduct a three-day DNA fingerprinting lab study project. In addition to completing the DNA electrophoresis process in the lab using samples provided by UMES, students completed a court defendable forensic analysis summary that described evidence packaging, documentation and the chain of custody for the samples.

Richard Stephens, Worcester Technical High School In an effort to boost student membership in SkillsUSA and to increase the number of students competing at the state level, Mr. Stephens developed and organized an annual local SkillsUSA championship. Since the inaugural local championship, both membership and the number of state-level student competitors has grown by 75% and 35% respectively.

Stephanie Taylor, Pocomoke Elementary School As PES launched its Great Digital Escape in an effort to expand digital literacy among all students, Ms. Taylor identified the need to involve parents in support of this initiative. To enhance parent outreach and establish awareness of the need for extended, safe internet access within a student’s home, parents were invited to participate alongside their child in a series of digital adventures. Over 83 families participated in the new initiative, and the school received positive feedback from those who participated.

Beverly Watson, Pocomoke Elementary School Identifying a need for students at PES to become responsible digital citizens, Ms. Watson curated a series of four web-based virtual adventure opportunities called the Great Digital Escape. These opportunities enabled students and their families to familiarize themselves with the responsible use of digital learning tools through a series of virtual field trips, digital scavenger hunts, and career exploration.

Stephen Whitaker, Pocomoke High School With scheduling restrictions limiting the number of opportunities students at Pocomoke High School have to participate in Creative Writing, Mr. Whitaker secured a grant through the Worcester County Arts Council to offer students two Creative Writing Workshops. The implementation of the workshop structure allowed the PHS Writing Team to meet its identified curriculum needs within the confines of the block scheduling.

Bill Williams, Pocomoke High School Taking a cue from athletic practices, Mr. Williams utilized iPads and the Technique application to record marching band practice for playback and review. During marching band class, student rehearsals would be filmed, and then projected for the class – complete with slow motion and notations – to identify improvements and strengths prior to competition. The use of this practice enabled the band to score an average of six points higher in the competition categories of marching and general effect.

Patricia Wright, Cedar Chapel Special School To address the specific needs of a student with no functional communication skills which resulted in frequent behavioral problems, Ms. Wright implemented the use of a Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) communication book. Use of the PODD book coupled with Aided Language Input (ALI) resulted in a reduction of the student’s behavioral incidents until the student’s behavioral plan was removed from his IEP altogether and the student’s ability to work independently for short periods of time and participate in group settings.

Valerija Zienty, Worcester Technical High School Knowing that her Pre-Engineering students needed to not only understand energy, literacy and public policy, Ms. Zienty designed and held a debate for her students to research and defend specific views on a particular energy source. The debate, moderated by Senator Jim Mathias and Board of Education member Bill Gordy, required students to be able to support any opinions with scientific evidence. Following the debate, the student team selected as the winners visited the Maryland State House and the Governor’s Mansion and had lunch with Sen. Mathias. All students were asked to advocate their positions on energy policy to a chosen U.S. policymaker.