The Leader in Excellence Award is our way of recognizing individuals who have leveraged Skyward technologies and best practices to make a tangible impact in their schools and communities. We believe that educational technologies should always be focused on results over features, and we congratulate this year's recipients for their ongoing, impactful leadership.
Without further ado, here are our individual winners, presented in alphabetical order:
Director of Technology
Pacelli Catholic Schools, Wisconsin
For the past eight years, Jeff Bushman has taught at Pacelli Catholic High School while guiding the advancement of technology to support learning in the classroom. He has led the writing of the district’s technology plan, developed numerous professional development trainings, and implemented Pacelli’s teacher technology coach program. Through Bushman’s leadership and vision, Pacelli has continued to grow as a student-centered, technology-based school.
The district has worked directly with Skyward to develop its computer science curriculum. Last year, Bushman helped coordinate a site visit to Skyward’s corporate office where Pacelli students participated in a scrum team (programming) activity. As a result of that experience, the district implemented its first computer science-engineering course with 17 students currently enrolled. In the coming academic years, he will facilitate a hybrid AP computer science course to prepare students for post-secondary computer science fields.
Bushman has also supported Pacelli’s student response team, whose goal is to make sure every student receives the educational support they need. Through its use of Skyward, the district tracks students’ ongoing progress and is able to document and communicate interventions with various stakeholders involved in students’ paths to success.
Bushman has also worked on several committees geared toward increasing business relationships with the district. Through his relationship with a locally-based national insurance company, Sentry Insurance, he has led the continued support of Pacelli’s 1:1 technology initiative.
“Mr. Bushman is an incredible asset to our school system,” said Larry Theiss, principal at Pacelli Catholic High School. “He has given so much of his time and talent to the students of Pacelli Catholic Schools. Mr. Bushman has helped us to learn how to use Skyward and all our technology to provide the best learning environment possible. We are truly blessed to have him as an employee.”
Support Services Manager
Jordan School District, Utah
Michael Heaps has played the role of facilitator and manager since Jordan School District’s first day of implementing Skyward’s student and financial systems. He has held positions on various committees over the years. His biggest success, however, has not come from his roles on these committees, but rather from the personal approach he takes to help every administrator, principal, secretary, teacher, and employee achieve their goals and be successful using the Skyward system.
Heaps is fearless in his approach for using Skyward to tackle any problem, suggestion, or need that arises. He thinks creatively and has been very successful in manipulating fields in the program to achieve his goals. He has suggested changes and enhancements to the system, which have been implemented and proven successful within Jordan School District and others across the nation. Heaps is also successful in his efforts to integrate Skyward with other systems such as eFunds, Follet and Edulog.
Heaps leads a team of 12 staff members and has taught all of them to be as fearless in the system as he is himself. He has molded his staff to be thinkers, problem solvers, analyzers, and experts in the Skyward system. Heaps has developed great relationships and a respect for the people as well as the product. His ability to analyze problems and implement solutions has made district staff more successful in using Skyward.
“His expertise, knowledge and fearless approach to his job has not only helped Jordan School District succeed, but also other school districts within the state of Utah,” said Michelle Smolik, support services supervisor at Jordan School District. “I honestly believe that he can make Skyward work for just about any need or situation, and he has been a dedicated champion of the product.”
Data Services Manager
School District of La Crosse, Wisconsin
Sonja Hoskins serves as the direct leader for the data services needs of the School District of La Crosse. While she is responsible for student data, she also provides leadership and guidance for every component of Skyward that the district has in place. Hoskins also works very closely with Skyward leadership to identify how the district’s internal systems are impacted by what Skyward can provide. She consults with every district department and provides support to ensure their use of Skyward is efficient and accurate.
Hoskins is currently co-leading the design and implementation of MyDistrict360, and also educates building administrators about data verification and validation practices. She is involved in new district initiatives and shares how Skyward’s data system can support those initiatives and be used to provide the data and efficiencies needed.
Hoskins has served her community and her children's schools with data systems support. She has also served on statewide Department of Public Instruction advisory councils in data systems and support. Hoskins provides leadership to the Skyward User Group by attending regional meetings and sharing feedback.
“Sonja is a 'quiet leader' who really does not internalize the impact she has in her daily work in the school system and in the state,” said Vicki Lyons, director of technology services at School District of La Crosse.
Leader in Excellence recipients will be recognized at iCon, the premier event for the Skyward community. This year's conference will be held March 9-11 at the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, FL.
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