Skyward Communications Team Recognizing Success Tweet 2015 Leaders in Excellence (District) The Leader in Excellence Award is our way of recognizing districts 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 serving as model examples of that philosophy. Without further ado, here are our inaugural district winners, presented in alphabetical order: The mission of Deerfield Public Schools District 109 is to provide educational experiences of the highest quality that engage, inspire and empower each student to excel and contribute in a changing world. North of Chicago, Illinois, District 109 saw a need to increase communication between parents and its schools. Enlisting Skyward Student Management Suite to achieve this goal, District 109 has improved student outcomes by increasing parent connection to their child’s academic progress, and increasing student ownership of their own learning and achievement. Through Skylert, an automated notification system that provides emergency alerts, attendance notifications and other messages via phone call, e-mail and/or text message, District 109 also has boosted parent and community understanding and support. When District 109 launched Skyward Family Access, it allowed parents of middle school students a direct and ongoing connection to their student’s academic progress through Gradebook. At any time, parents can receive a real-time snapshot of grades and missing assignments, and easily access teacher contact information in one click. The increased understanding of a child's daily academic experience has allowed parents to fully partner with educators and staff to support student learning. “We opened Skyward Student Access after students saw their parents could access Gradebook but they could not, and we appreciated the students’ desire for knowledge and ownership,” said Cathy Kedjidjian, coordinator of communications and community relations at District 109. “The middle school students have been excited to use the tool to organize their work and track their own progress.” District 109 is a high achieving district due, in large part, to the strong support of education by parents and the community. Through Skyward, which allows a commitment to transparency, the district strengthens connections and enhances relationships with stakeholders. Along with the Leader in Excellence award from Skyward, District 109 has received the Association of State Business Officers International Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting and meritorious budget award from the Association of School Business Officials International. Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD), a K-12 public school system in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, is making bold changes in the way educators teach and students learn. In the third year of its 10-year strategic plan, the district is transforming its culture to provide the educational foundation that today’s 21st Century learners need to be successful in high school and beyond. One factor that helps the district achieve its strategic plan is Skyward’s Student Management Suite and its online scheduling capabilities. With more than 13,000 students, GCISD gives the control over creating class schedules directly to the students. Not only are students becoming more independent and responsible, the online scheduling prepares them for postsecondary thinking. The impact of Skyward is far reaching. On the first day of school, GCISD students were in class instead of in the hallways, waiting to see a counselor for a schedule change. With accurate and appropriate schedules, counselors were more readily available to students, and able to personally meet with every freshman to have conversations about guidance and their transition into high school. “Through the scheduling capabilities in Skyward, we were able to empower students to choose their own courses instead of letting the system auto schedule,” said Emberly Spillman, director of counseling and guidance at GCISD. “Not only have we taught students skills that will help them after high school, we have also allowed them to be more in control of their schedule.” GCISD has 11 National Blue Ribbon schools, including Heritage Elementary School, which earned the honor under the “No Child Left Behind” initiative. Both high schools have earned places on U.S. News and Newsweek’s Best High Schools lists, and four elementary schools were named to the 2011 National Center for Education Achievement's Higher Performing Schools List. Skyward is happy to honor Grapevine-Colleyville ISD as a District Leader in Excellence. Leader in Excellence recipients will be recognized at iCon, the premier event for Skyward users, hosted on March 11-13, 2015 at the TradeWinds Island Resorts in St. Pete Beach, FL.