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Odyssey Innovation Grant Winners Selected

CompassLearning has selected four winners for its Odyssey Innovation grants.

According to information released by the company, "The grant program is designed to celebrate outstanding examples of educational excellence through the innovative use of CompassLearning Odyssey in elementary and secondary schools in the U.S."

CompassLearning Odyssey provides online standards-aligned curricula with interactive self-paced activities for preK-12 students.

Winners in three categories, closing the achievement gap, innovative teaching practices, and increasing student achievement, will each receive $3,000. Runners-up will receive $1,000, while honorable mentions earned $250.

Pamela Stahlak of Zamorano Fine Arts Academy in San Diego, CA and Jason Byrd, the principal of Cliffside Elementary School in Rutherfordton, NC, were both selected as winners for closing the achievement gap.

Stahlak, whose fourth-graders were underperforming, used prizes to motivate her students to work together on Odyssey activities. Last year they completed more than 20,000 activities and improved their scores on the Northwest Evaluation Association's Measures of Academic Progress assessments

Cliffside Elementary used Odyssey with a group of economically disadvantaged students whose scores on state assessments were preventing the school from meeting annual yearly progress. Within 18 months, Cliffside met AYP and is now tied for the highest performing school in the Rutherford County School District.

The runners-up in the category were Nawal Nader-French from St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont, CO and Gen Phillips and Joe Kwisz of Anderson Preparatory Academy in Anderson, IN.

Joseph Hill, principal at General Mitchell Elementary School in West Allis, WI, won in the category of innovative teaching practices.

General Mitchell Elementary creates individualized intervention plans for all students using MAP data, and then uses Odyssey to provide customized learning paths based on those plans. Average student MAP scores in math and reading increased 20 percent between last fall and winter.

Runners-up in the category were:

Sheri Fillipi and Toni Ray Christensen of Lewis and Clark Elementary School in South Sioux City, NE won in the category of Increasing Student Achievement.

Lewis and Clark Elementary uses MAP data to target instruction for students in small groups or as individuals. Over eight weeks, English language learning second-graders improved their scores between nine and 25 points. Runners-up in the category were:

Honorable mentions in all categories were:

Grant Program Chairperson Sally Reis said,  "These exceptional grant recipients provide skilled, differentiated instruction to close the achievement gap while they save precious time and increase learning to improve student outcomes."

More information is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].