Symantec Congratulates 2014's Most Innovative Teachers
June 11, 2014

In my role as Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for Symantec, I have the privilege of driving the global implementation of Symantec’s community investment strategy and seeing first hand how organizations like Teach For America—our longest-standing philanthropic partner—are helping to inspire leaders, encourage creativity and collaboration, and make a meaningful impact for children and families in communities across the country.

Today’s students will become our next generation of leaders and innovators. As both a parent and a passionate technology professional, I deeply understand the role that education plays in the lives of children, and am honored to congratulate the winners of the 12th annual Symantec Innovation in Teaching Awards. These awards recognize outstanding Teach For America teachers who demonstrate original thinking and teamwork while increasing student achievement. Please join me in congratulating:

Alissa Changala and Sarah Batizy—Reading scores jump from 12% to 70%

In October 2013, only 12 percent of the ninth-graders at Alissa and Sarah’s high school were on-track or advanced in their state’s reading standards. Six months later, 70 percent achieved that goal. These two innovators developed personalized, rigorous, and engaging online lessons that students move through at their own pace.

Angria Sceusi—Technology skills to succeed in college and beyond

Angira developed and implemented a computer-based geometry curriculum complete with online practice, assessments, and research. Since starting the curriculum, Angira’s students have outperformed every other geometry class on campus by five to 30 points on every assessment.

Emma Ellman-Golan—Using Instagram to raise students’ grades

With little technology in her classroom, Emma decided to take advantage of her student’s smartphones by creating an Instagram account to facilitate learning around the clock. She posts photos of things she does in her everyday life that connect to science, as well as deadline reminders and student work. The account has helped show her students that science exists outside of their textbooks.

Hardy Farrow—Early entrepreneurs: Student businesses/non-profits

Hardy created the Let's Innovate through Education (LITE) program to empower students to develop their own businesses or nonprofits. Participation in the program helped Hardy’s students grow from five percent proficient to 75 percent proficient in government in a matter of nine weeks.

Liz Chen, Dale Hammer, and Grayson Cooper—A summer of STEM learning

Liz, Dale, and Grayson established the Northampton Summer STEM Program, a four-week summer program that challenges students to think critically, work as a team, and embrace a growth mindset. Students completed project-based courses in math and science and an introductory computer science course, and developed websites for small businesses.

Symantec is providing each of these five educators a $2,500 cash prize, with $1,500 allocated to help them scale their classroom innovations to impact even more students in future school years. The winners also receive a free trip to the TFA Alumni Educators Conference in July where they can hone their skills, take part in professional development sessions, and collaborate with other educational leaders to advance the mission of TFA.

While there are five winners, this award is designed to create a ripple effect and inspire others by allowing educators around the world to access the winners’ videos, lesson plans, and other course resources, and apply them within their own classrooms.

Inspiring education and a new generation of STEM leaders

Since 1997 Symantec has partnered with Teach For America to empower teachers and positively impact the academic trajectories for millions of children. Education is one of Symantec’s core philanthropic focus areas and receives approximately 50 percent of our philanthropic dollars.

In addition to supporting teacher innovation, Symantec has been a strong advocate for Teach For America’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiative, and has helped TFA to recruit more of our nation’s emerging leaders in the STEM fields to education, specifically women, as well as those from diverse and low-income backgrounds.

The Department of Commerce acknowledges that STEM field careers are some of the best-paying and have the greatest potential for job growth in the early 21st century. By supporting organizations like TFA and its STEM Initiative, it is our hope that every child will have access to an excellent education that will prepare them for success in college and throughout their careers.

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

Cecily Joseph is the Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Symantec, a global technology leader that helps consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world. For more information, visit Symantec’s Corporate Responsibility in Action Blog.

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