Department of Ed Seeks Teacher Nominations for Cybersecurity Awards

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking nominations for its annual Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award, one for elementary educators and another for secondary. Nominations are due Jan. 31, 2021. The goal is to honor teachers who do an amazing job in the cybersecurity education they deliver. Cybersecurity doesn't have to be the sole subject they teach, and nominations can come from parents, students, fellow educators, community members or the teachers themselves.

Recipients will receive acknowledgement by the President of the United States and the U.S. Secretary of Education along with public recognition as a leader in the field of cybersecurity education and professional development opportunities, including attendance at events in which policymakers are focused on improving cybersecurity education.

Last year's recipients from among 43 nominations were Donna Woods from Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, CA, and Kara Four Bear, principal at New Town Middle School in New Town, ND.

Woods has guided development of career and technical education programs at her school, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, which included dual enrollment with Moreno Valley College, internships and apprenticeships along with classroom instruction. During her five years of involvement with the district's Cyber Academic Pathway, 97 percent of students have achieved industry certifications and have since gone on to careers as network analysts, systems engineers and IT network specialists, among other IT roles. She has also led award-winning CyberPatriot teams in competitions that challenge students to secure networks and taken students to the state legislature to conduct cybersecurity presentations.

Four Bear spearheaded the adoption of North Dakota cybersecurity education initiatives that teach digital literacy and safety skills to students of all ages. Under her guidance, teachers at New Town MS have helped students make connections to cybersecurity in the classroom and learn about cybersecurity career paths. She has also expanded opportunities for students to explore cybersecurity and STEM participation in college programs.

"School transformations are completely possible for all rural schools within North Dakota and beyond, thanks to partners with purpose in evolving education to include cybersecurity and the computer sciences," said Four Bear in a statement at the time of her award. "Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world and we are doing our part to create pipelines of creativity and innovation to inspire youth to consider these career pathways."

Details of the award are available in a document on the Education Department website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.