2019 Leader in Excellence Winners Alexis Bushman by Alexis Bushman Alexis Bushman Marketing Communications Manager Read time: Skyward’s Leader in Excellence award recognizes pioneers, trendsetters, and forward thinkers. The individuals and district receiving this award inspire us by using Skyward to strengthen their teams, simplify operations, and improve learning outcomes. We are proud to present our 2019 individual winners, listed in alphabetical order, followed by our district winner… 🥁 Tim Howard School Data Specialist/Programmer Calhoun ISD, Michigan Data expert Tim Howard received not just one, or even two, but three nominations for the Leader in Excellence award. Tim’s deep knowledge of Skyward and aptitude for numbers have helped Calhoun ISD make data-driven decisions and stay on top of state reporting. Each month, he hosts a Skyward meeting for the county’s lead users to discuss changes and learn new tips and best practices. A SkyBuild master, Tim uses this tool to expedite the district’s data imports and exports. To help Calhoun ISD prepare for Michigan’s Pupil Accounting Collections, he created numerous data mining reports, then used SkyCoder to customize each database to decrease the potential for data entry errors. Tim’s coworkers are grateful for his guidance and confident he will always have an answer or find a solution. According to his peers, Tim fully exemplifies “grace under fire.” Tim is the vice president of the Michigan Skyward user group. He has presented at the conference seven years, led sessions at iCon four years, and was also a guest speaker at the Wisconsin user group. He is on the Michigan Data Hub leadership team and has provided training and documentation for districts across the state who are setting up their Skyward data hub. Tim worked with the staff at Skyward to help develop integration points between Skyward, Illuminate Special Ed, and Illuminate DNA. Tim is so familiar with data migration and SkyCoder that even the staff at Skyward call on him as a resource and sounding board from time to time. “Tim is recognized throughout the State of Michigan as a skilled programmer and data specialist that is willing to share information and ideas to help districts, especially with data migration issues… It's rare to find a data specialist/programmer with as much personality, wit, and endless supply of dad jokes as Tim has.” –Ryan Miller, academic data specialist at Portage Public Schools in Michigan Dr. Chad Jones, Ed.D Director of Digital Learning Lamar Consolidated ISD, Texas Dr. Chad Jones led Lamar Consolidated ISD, a district with over 33,000 students and 40 campuses, through their implementation of Skyward. Determined to make the process as simple as possible for everyone, Chad and his team created hundreds of video-based resources so their staff could access training anytime, anywhere, and learn at their own pace. Thanks in large part to Chad’s leadership, the Lamar CISD implementation is renowned across the state of Texas as a model of efficiency. Chad has helped his district’s administrators, leaders, and teachers use technology to dive deeper into tracking student progress. He also made standard processes faster and less costly by going paperless. Chad spearheaded the “Paperless First Day,” an initiative that involved all 2,100 teachers taking attendance digitally through Skyward on the first day of school. In addition, Chad led the transition to paperless for several forms (beginning-of-year and new student registration), which resulted in less data entry hours for all the campuses. Chad has also taken his Skyward knowledge and expertise and expanded it to the greater Texas education community. He created training materials to help over 2,500 instructional personnel across Texas onboard Skyward and learn to use it more effectively. He frequently shares his knowledge at the annual Texas Skyward User Group (TSUG) and is the man behind the annual Lamar CISD Teaching Through Technology (T3) Conference, a technology meet-up where educators from Lamar and neighboring districts share ideas on how to use technology to best meet the needs of 21st century learners. “From training videos, to handouts, to the creation of a Skyward phone support hotline during the opening days of each school year, Chad has helped empower an entire district to effectively utilize Skyward for all student management aspects.” –Linda Tayler, administrator for student accounting at Lamar Consolidated ISD Georgia Omer Curriculum/Skyward TSA Alpine School District, Utah Just three short years ago, no one at Alpine School District would have dreamed that 56 of the district’s 58 elementary schools would be using standards-based grading. Much of the credit for this quick and successful transition goes to Georgia Omer. Georgia not only painted the vision of what standards-based grading could bring, but also learned Skyward’s standards-based gradebook inside and out and has been the go-to person guiding the transition. Each year in the district’s Skyward update trainings, Georgia helps Alpine’s teachers dive deeper into the Skyward gradebook. Georgia learned the office and Educator Access sides of Skyward as well, which has provided a more complete view of the process. During slow periods, she can often be found at one of the district’s 84 schools, sharing her SBG knowledge and unparalleled enthusiasm with administrators, secretaries, and staff. Georgia even teamed up with Skyward to help improve the standards-based gradebook, offering the valued perspective of a teacher. Georgia has also played an important role for Alpine’s implementation of Skyward and helped shape the way decisions are made at the district. In addition, she was a key force in Alpine elementary schools’ summer master scheduling and class rostering through Skyward. Georgia has presented at iCon and at Utah’s user group conferences. She was also recognized as a Teacher of the Year. “Everyone in the district knows Georgia… [She] has tremendous respect with her 4,000 peer teachers [and] is asked constantly for recommendations by district administration with regards to integrating curriculum in Skyward.” –Paul Lewis, director of data services at Alpine School District Streator Elementary District #44 Illinois Streator Elementary District #44 improved their financial health by using Skyward to become more efficient and cost-effective, while also empowering their staff. This change resulted in the district moving from the Financial Watch list to the Financial Review list. Thanks to the automation they’ve achieved through Skyward, the district has saved on staff costs and is able to allocate those funds for other improvements. Paper time-off requests and pay stubs are a thing of the past. Payroll now takes half the time, and dozens of time-off requests can be approved on a mobile device in a single tap. Streator 44 went from using a large amount of paper to barely any, which has resulted in a substantial savings in paper costs. In addition, staff at Streator 44 can now use Employee Access to view and change their own personal information, which is not only convenient for them, but also saves time for those in the front office. Easy access to this information has greatly reduced the need for employees to come into the office to make updates and has improved the accuracy of information stored in the system. While these changes are impressive, Streator 44 isn’t done yet. They are currently in the process of implementing online registration, which will also save them a significant amount of time. “At this point we are saving roughly four hours per pay period on stuffing paychecks. By saving me so much time, I’ve been able to continue focusing on new solutions we can add to make our district’s day-to-day processes easier and more efficient.” –Holly Cashmer, HR specialist at Streator Elementary District #44 Congratulations to these outstanding leaders who will be recognized at this year's iCon, an international conference for Skyward users. Alexis Bushman Marketing Communications Manager Share this story: Want tips, tricks, and feature updates delivered to your inbox once a month? Sign up here!