Celebrating Innovation

Group Photo of 2017 Celebrating Innovation Award Winners

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.


2016-2017 Recipients

Elizabeth Atwood, a Special Education teacher at Cedar Chapel Special School, adopted the First Author curriculum for her students with complex instructional needs. Through modeling and shared writing, she taught her students to share their ideas with others through daily lessons that focused on vital communication skills while teaching the writing process of composing, revising and sharing written work.

Jennifer Beach, a Media Specialist at Pocomoke Middle School, implemented a makerspace within the school’s library with the intention of bringing STEM activities to life for every student. The makerspace houses materials and equipment for students to simply make things. Students have used their time in the makerspace to explore 3D printing, computer coding, Sphere-O robotics and the massive Warrior Wall – a 6.5 foot square Lego wall.

Brian Cook, a sixth-grade ELA teacher also at Pocomoke Middle School, created a lesson in which his scholars collaborated with students from schools in California and Iowa to analyze young adult literature with a focus on character change, point of view and theme. Students utilized Flip Grid, a video discussion platform designed for the classroom, to collaborate with their cross-country counterparts.

Ryan Cowder, Assistant Principal at Stephen Decatur High School, implemented Family ID at the high school to streamline processing athletic paperwork. Family ID is an online registration tool that the high school is using for parents to electronically fill out and submit a student’s athletic packet. By implementing Family ID, both parents and coaches are saved valuable time, and coaches have access to critical information should a student athlete in their care require emergency services.

Regina Dashiell and the 8th Grade Math Team at Pocomoke Middle School encouraged students to become independent, autonomous learners by implementing menu math in the eighth-grade math classes. Classes now begin with a warm-up, followed by a lesson, and then the students proceed to choose which math activities to work on from a weekly prescribed menu. Choices in the activities vary and may include fluency, written response questions, vocabulary games, online practice and geometry review.

Jessica Fry and the 2nd Grade Team at Buckingham Elementary School implemented its third annual Invention Convention, a culminating showcase of projects from the students following their completion of an interdisciplinary unit in which they studied biographies of famous inventors. At the Invention Convention, students presented either a research project on a famous invention or inventor of their choice, or students designed their own, or improved upon an existing invention of their choice.

Tom Hamill, Curriculum Resource Teacher at Worcester Technical High School, created and implemented a data dashboard for teachers and administration to examine and improve programs, and ultimately boost student achievement. The dashboard provides longitudinal enrollment and demographic trends in their respective programs, an visual read-out of current parent contacts, and comparisons of various demographic and performance indicators related to other programs.

Julia Hill, mathematics teacher at Worcester Technical High School, implemented the app Remind as a means to send one-way communications with her students outside of the classroom. As Julia uses the flipped classroom model, she used the app to send to students links to instructional videos she created as well as reminders about upcoming assignments. With upgrades in the app, she piloted the use of two-way communication with one class for students that had questions outside of class time.

Trevor Hill and Sandy Friedman at Stephen Decatur Middle School worked together to make an upcoming geography lesson on Africa for seventh graders more immersive. In doing so, Trevor connected the students in Ms. Friedman’s class with Shadrach, a friend of his living in the western African country Burkina Faso. The class was able to speak to Shadrach through Skype, and using the skype connection, Shadrach took the students on a tour of his day to day surroundings while sharing with them details about life in the country.

Angelique Hunter and the 6th Grade Team at Snow Hill Middle School implemented Summit Basecamp. The three main components of Summit Learning are personalized learning time, mentoring and project-based learning time. The Summit personalized learning platform outlines all content and projects that must be completed for every subject area for the entire sixth grade school year. This provides students with a “playlist” to enable them to progress at their own level, while ensuring that all students are meeting all of the standards for the grade level.

Michael Levy, Criminal Justice and Forensic Science teacher at Worcester Technical High School, partnered with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Department and numerous other CTE programs to conduct a forensic science ballistics lab range day. During this lesson, students studied the concepts of bullet trajectory and terminal ballistics by studying rounds fired into ballistic gelatin and pre-prepared objects having different ballistic integrity.

Tracy Lewis, a first-year HVAC/R instructor at Worcester Technical High School, began to use Kahoot!, a platform to create and administer online formative assessments, which engage students in a game environment. Tracy found that his students were not enjoying terminology review, and found that using Kahoot! got his students excited to learn and also provided him with valuable feedback on each student’s progress.

Aarti Sangwan, an AP Physics instructor at Worcester Technical High School, enlisted her students to create robust review materials and an accompanying presentation. Each 15-20 minute review was led by a students, who retaught the unit, provided their peers with a one-page study guide and shared problem solving strategies for that unit. This structure enabled the class to do a comprehensive review of the curriculum in just one week.

Richard Stephens, welding and computer integrated manufacturing instructor at Worcester Technical High School, created a capstone experience for his students completing the welding program. This capstone required students to participating in the SkillsUSA welding sculpture project. By adopting the SkillsUSA project, students’ abilities to design and produce a sculpture of the prescribed design were assessed along with their verbal responses related to all aspects of their end product.

Brittany Tignor, Media Specialist at Snow Hill Middle School, implemented a flexible school library schedule to provide a more fully integrated library program that would benefit both students and teachers. Instead of scheduling fixed classes for the fourth and fifth grades, she would collaborate with classroom teachers and come in to their Social Studies classes. In addition to providing more robust services for students, the flexible schedule enabled Brittany to collaboratively plan with the fourth and fifth grade teachers for more rich lessons.

Valerija Zienty, Pre-Engineering instructor at Worcester Technical High School, implemented a learning management system in her classroom to encourage online classroom discussion. Each student was required to select a recently published article around a topic selected at the beginning of the semester, summarize the article in a discussion post, and write a reflection piece. Then a classroom discussion would be opened that would allow for a healthy debate online, in which Valerija, as the instructor monitors.