CFF Announces 2017 Class of Awardees

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On May 24, 2017, the Classroom of the Future Foundation (CFF) will hold its 14th annual Innovation in Education Awards at SeaWorld. This event brings together more than 500 educators and business leaders to highlight champions of educational innovation in the community, as well as exceptional students pursuing careers in STEM education.

At the event, CFF highlights specific school programs with “Innovation Awards,” a very special recognition that honors classrooms that are getting students excited about learning and increasing student achievement. Classrooms apply for Innovation Awards through an online application process. On February 24th, an application review panel consisting of leaders in the business and education community met to select winners in the following award categories:

  • inspire Award: This award illustrates the unique attributes of the program that get kids excited about learning. This award specifically focuses on the program characteristics responsible for increasing student interest and enhancing student learning.
  • innovate Award: This award showcases the creative innovations of the programs that facilitate enhanced learning. This award specifically focuses on the uniqueness of the “program actions” that increase student interest and drive achievement.
  • achieve Award: This award demonstrates the tangible program results that drive student learning. It specifically focuses on the “program evidence” that directly correlates to positive student outcomes.
  • impact Award: This award is a best-of-show award given to the one program that best embodies all three CFF goals – to inspire, innovate and achieve.

In addition to the Innovation Awards, CFF recognizes a group of educators with “Special Awards” for the extraordinary impact that they each have made on the learning environment in San Diego County.

The following classroom programs and individuals exemplify the mission of CFF and are truly making a difference in the lives of students. Join us in honoring them today.

Congratulations to our 2017 class of award winners!


2017 Innovation Awards


inspire Award: Hydroponic Greenhouse Program, Feaster Charter Middle School, Chula Vista Elementary School District

This program provides students with the opportunity to learn how to grow, manage, and market produce hydroponically. Students learn about STEM through agriculture by connecting the scientific and engineering concepts of hydroponics to core academic curriculum. The program inspires students to start their own businesses by promoting entrepreneurial skills through a cross curricular experience. You can watch a short video about the program here


inspire Award Honorable Mention: Innovation Station Program, Chula Vista Elementary School District

The Innovation Station is a makerspace lab created by the Chula Vista Public Library and Chula Vista Elementary School District. During a one-day field trip experience, students explore the world of work by learning about their personal strengths, interests, and values. This program allows students to make meaningful connections to careers that they are interested in, particularly in STEM fields. You can watch a short video about the program here


innovate Award: Quadcopter Challenge Program, Sweetwater Union High School District

This STEM program for students utilized two new technologies, unmanned airborne systems (quadcopters or drones) and 3D printers. Students participated in the first “challenge” of its kind in the state of California, designing and constructing quadcopters to compete against other high schools in Sweetwater Union High School District. This program helped students to discover emerging technologies and learn critical electrical and engineering concepts, as well as aircraft safety and regulations. You can watch a short video about the program here


achieve Award: Next Generation Science Core Leadership Team (CLT) Program, Vista Unified School District

The Core Leadership Team (CLT) is a professional development program that empowers every teacher to successfully implement the California Next Generation Science Standards. The program leverages a collaborative model focused on lesson study to build teacher leaders at school sites throughout the district. By increasing teacher efficacy district-wide, all students are provided with a quality science education with sufficient knowledge and skills to solve real world problems related to science and engineering.


impact Award: The Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA), Vista Unified School District

The Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA) is a true story of school transformation. Three years ago, Washington Middle School became VIDA: a school dedicated to a cross-curricular and integrated learning approach that focuses on igniting the creative genius of all students. Students at VIDA utilize the design thinking process, which is embedded into every class, as a way to enhance their learning by solving real world problems. As a result of the school’s innovative approach, teachers are empowered and more students are succeeding today than ever before. You can watch a short video about the program here


2017 Special Awards


Visionary & Outstanding Leadership Award: National University 

National University, which is among the largest private, nonprofit universities in California, was founded to serve the needs of working adults in 1971 through a unique one-class-per-month format available online and at campus locations. With more than 150,000 alumni nationwide, the University is dedicated to making lifelong learning opportunities accessible, challenging, and relevant to a diverse population of students. Four schools and two colleges offer more than 100 graduate and undergraduate degrees and 23 teacher credentials. Among them is the Sanford College of Education, which is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), and is among the top ten largest schools of education in the country. Over the past 20-plus years, more than 100 National University alumni throughout the state of California have been recognized as Teachers of the Year at the local, state, and national level. The University is also leading the national expansion of three programs inspired by the vision of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford to address critical needs in the education and nonprofit sectors. Sanford Harmony and Sanford Inspire provide innovative resources for the PreK-12 education sector and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy offers educational programs to help nonprofits become more effective at fundraising and donor relationships. The University’s programs are offered at locations throughout California and across the nation, and are also available online. National University is headquartered in La Jolla, California. www.nu.edu


Innovative Superintendent Award: Dr. Justin Cunningham, Bonsall USD

With a thirty-eight year career in elementary through university levels as a teacher, coach, administrator, and adjunct professor. Dr. Cunningham was the Chair of the Writing Committee for the 1993 Health Framework for California Public Schools. In 1999 the California Department of Education identified him as a Distinguished Educator for his work in improving student learning in low performing schools. He also received the Small School District Association’s 2013 Charlie Binderup Award for Outstanding Superintendent of the Year. Raised in San Diego County’s public and parochial schools, Dr. Cunningham is a graduate of San Diego State University, Cal State University Bakersfield, and United States International University, where his doctoral work focused on the application of brain research to classroom practice. Dr. Cunningham is sought as a speaker in the areas of brain research, technology and learning, school improvement, and strategic planning. He currently serves as Superintendent of the Bonsall Unified School District.


Innovative Principal Award: Maria Kehoe, Rios Elementary School, Cajon Valley USD

Maria Kehoe is the Principal of Rios Elementary Computer Science Magnet School, the first computer science magnet school in the United States (2014).  Under Maria’s leadership, Rios Elementary teachers and students have been on an amazing journey to transition their school into a model school for the 22nd Century.  Maria and her teachers made a commitment to learn new skills in computer science and to teach all students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, specific computer science skills and concepts. Maria Kehoe has served the Cajon Valley Union School District in a variety of roles for over 20 years.  Although she has contributed in a many many ways throughout her career; co-creating, designing, and opening Rios Computer Science Magnet School, USA’s first… is by far the exclamation mark on a wonderful career. Maria worked alongside two strategic district partners, Code to the Future and Educators Cooperative, in the early stages of development.  They continue to be an important partner in the success of our programs.  More importantly, Maria has opened the doors for others to come, visit and replicate her efforts.  Maria has inspired other schools and districts nationwide to provide computer science education for all students. Maria Kehoe led these efforts to provide Rios students to thrive in the current and ever-changing global job market, but now thousands of children nationwide are benefiting from her work.


Innovative Educator Award: Dan Stoneman, Chief Innovation Officer, San Diego Unified School District

Dan Stoneman is a serial entrepreneur and educator with roots in both Phoenix and San Diego. The first two technology consulting startups Dan built were exclusively his own, he then started an artificial intelligence company with partners, and helped to lead two other startups directly after initial venture funding, with one ending in a company sale and the other in an initial public offering. Dan’s life’s work and personal passions lie deeply in the power of technology to transform the student experience. His Ph.D. dissertation is to be complete and published by year end—its focus is on the efficacy of Educational Technology (EdTech) in extending, accelerating, and transforming the student experience.  In his current work as Chief Innovation Officer at San Diego Unified School District, Dan has started a successful Division of Online Learning, built Innovation Centers at three high schools to facilitate a very successful high-touch blended learning model, and started a one-to-one take-home computer program for 16,000 students in its first year.


Career Pathways Educator of the Year Award: Principal Keith Nuthall, Del Lago Academy – Campus of Applied Science, Escondido Union High School District

Keith Nuthall is currently the proud principal of Del Lago Academy – Campus of Applied Science. Hired to lead the development of Escondido’s newest high school in July 2011, Keith worked with the Escondido community and local health and biotechnology industry leaders to establish the school’s mission and core beliefs. Prior to coming to Del Lago, Keith was the principal at Del Dios Middle School and served as the Director of Assessment for the San Diego County Office of Education.  Earlier in his career, he directed national, state, and local educational initiatives in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS), National School Boards Association, and U.S. Department of Education.  He also served for 12 years as a high school science teacher. In his free time, Keith enjoys racing small sailboats, riding road bikes, and casting elk hair caddis flies in knee-deep streams.


SDCUE Innovative TOSA of the Year: Heather Love-Fleck, Oceanside USD

Heather Love-Fleck is an EdTech TOSA for Oceanside Unified School District. In addition to supporting staff with technology, she also facilitates a STEM lab at Stuart Mesa Elementary school. Heather believes it is important to create a classroom environment where students can be problem finders, risk-takers, and creators. She encourages students to wonder, question, collaborate, fail, and reflect on everything they do. Heather has been teaching for 10 years, working with students in grades K-8. She shares her innovative classroom ideas with colleagues by presenting at district-level professional learning opportunities, as well as larger conferences, such as the National CUE and SDCUE Tech Fair. Heather shares her EdTech ideas and classroom lessons on her blog www.mrsfleck.com/blog and on Twitter @mrslovefleck.


SDCUE Innovative Teacher of the Year: Allison Slattery, Bonsall USD

Allison Slattery is a 4th grade Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics teacher at Bonsall West Elementary School in Oceanside.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the University of San Diego and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from National University.  She enjoys attending local EdCamps and CUE sponsored conferences including Rock Star Teacher Camps in the summer.  Allison has taught in the Bonsall Unified School District for 20 years. She is a 2017 San Diego County Teacher of the Year Finalist and the 2009 Greater San Diego Mathematics Council Upper Elementary Teacher of the Year.  She is also a 2009 alumni of the Mickelson Exxonmobil Teachers Academy for Math and Science.  Allison was a First Lego League Robotics Coach from 2011 to 2015.  She is a Common Sense Media Digital Citizenship trainer, a member of the State Network of Educators, a Google Certified Educator, and a Technology Lead for her school site.  She frequently delivers professional development to both her site staff and at the district level. Allison feels fortunate to have access to both iPads and Chromebooks in her classroom.  Students utilize these tools daily to learn both individually and collaboratively.  The Google Classroom platform allows her students to work in a blended learning environment.  Students use iPads for various multimedia presentations.  Allison loves introducing new projects and technology to her students.  She feels that learning to be creative with technology and becoming proficient problem solvers are skills that prepare students for the future.  Students in her class study the importance of having a growth mindset and are empowered to make personal choices in their learning paths.  Allison appreciates the PLN of inspirational educators that she works with across San Diego County.


Honor our 2017 Class of Awardees today by sponsoring the Innovation in Education Awards or buying tickets. We look forward to seeing you on May 24th at SeaWorld!

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