Charp-en Up Those Entries

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’Tis the season to bestow our annual award for the innovative use of technology. Get your application in!

Geoffrey H. FletcherYOU OFTEN SEE various forms of the word innovate in the pages of this magazine. Last month we featured a dozen innovators who are doing interesting and exciting things with technology to help kids learn. Our attention to innovators and their innovations returns this month as it is once again time for us to begin accepting applications for the Sylvia Charp Award for District Innovation in Technology. This is the fourth year that T.H.E. Journal and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have joined forces to identify and recognize a school district that has demonstrated distinctive innovation in the effective application of technology.

The award’s namesake, Sylvia Charp, was the founding editor-in-chief of T.H.E. in 1972. She shaped the magazine from its launch until her death in 2003 as the result of injuries from an auto accident. Considering what a minimal profile education technology had in the early 1970s, it is remarkable that she and T.H.E.’s founding publisher, the late Ed Warnshuis, had the vision for a magazine dedicated to the subject. Don Knezek, ISTE’s chief executive officer, wanted to honor Sylvia for her longtime support of ISTE over the years, including her involvement in technology and education internationally. She was a consultant to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and worked with numerous countries to assist them in the use of technology in education.

All who were close to Sylvia valued her uncompromising, in-your-face attitude. As Steven Gilbert, president of the Teaching, Learning, and Technology (TLT) Group wrote in a message posted on the company’s website after Sylvia’s death: “She never tolerated any pretense, self-importance, or shallow thinking in herself or others. She was insightful, tough-minded, and good-humored....She could see through the wild and unproven claims that often accompanied glittering new instructional computing options, and she didn’t hesitate to correct those who were misleading themselves or others.”

Nowhere was this attitude better illustrated than in a visit Sylvia made to a major technology company to get a prerelease look at its latest educational offerings. According to T.H.E.’s current publisher (and the daughter of Ed Warnshuis), Wendy LaDuke, who was in the room, Sylvia was not impressed. “What makes you think you are so special?” she asked. “How will this make you different from other technology companies?” She was looking at the products as an educator, as she always did, not as a consumer, and she did not see enough there to impact education.

Certainly, Sylvia was an innovator. Anyone working to start a publication about technology and education in the early 1970s had to be one—so did anyone serving as a technology coordinator for the School District of Philadelphia in the 1960s, as Sylvia did prior to coming to T.H.E. Journal. If your district is doing innovative things with technology, send in an entry to be considered for the Sylvia Charp Award. You might join the first three winners of the award—Irving Independent School District (TX), Kiel Area School District (WI), and Niles Township High School District 219 (IL)— and receive the $1,000 prize, which you can put toward your journey to the 2007 National Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta this June. You’ll also be highlighted in our magazine and in Learning & Leading With Technology, published by ISTE. For application information, click here.

—Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial director

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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