2020 TELL Award Winner
Congratulations to Josh Culwell-Block, winner of the 2020 Transforming Education through Leadership & Learning Award for Outstanding Innovative Leadership, presented by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center.
"Recipients of this heralded award have demonstrated an outstanding, innovative or strategic approach to technology integration in their schools and district," said Kathy Conley, Executive Director of LHRIC. "It is our honor to recognize Josh's outstanding creativity, achievement, and technology skills."
Josh was named the District's Director of Technology, Innovation & Mathematics in 2018 and one of his first orders of business was to lead the charge in formulating the Technology Department Vision Statement as well as Digital Learning Goals to keep the District on the leading edge of technology and innovation.
For his first initiative, Josh wanted to ensure that all students had access to the digital tools they need for learning. This led him to shift to a 1:1 environment and today, all students in the Chappaqua Central School District have access to a digital learning device.
As Josh was improving student access to devices, he was also improving the infrastructure that supports mobile online learning. Some of these critical improvements including upgrading the WiFi access and bandwidth of our schools, implementing a printing and badging system to help move the District to become paperless, and expanding the District's learning management system to include students in grades 5-12.
Innovative Instructional Spaces
In addition to learning devices and infrastructure, over the past two years, Josh has overseen the construction of several new innovative learning spaces throughout our school district. Each of our schools has a brand new and developmentally appropriate MakerSpace or STEAM Center. These spaces were built to mirror the Chappaqua Design Process so that students moving through the process (brainstorming, production and reflection) understand where they are in the process, understand why they are there, and have the resources they need for each phase of production. Students in these spaces learn both physical and virtual production skills through a hands-on approach while simultaneously building their problem-solving and collaboration skills.
His integration of STEAM and instructional technology has laid the groundwork for teachers to leverage creativity and self-expression as an integral part of the Chappaqua learning experience. Throughout the District, and across the grade levels, students are creating books, crafting music, producing podcasts, filming and editing traditional and stop-motion videos, designing 2D and 3D inventions and artwork, and integrating all manner of media for both self-expression and application of their learning across all disciplines.
Leading the charge in safety and security, Josh has spearheaded the work regarding digital citizenship. With parent evenings, faculty meetings, and administrator education sessions, Josh has been educating the community and all constituents about internet safety, phishing scams, digital responsibility, and cybersecurity. In addition, he has worked hard to ensure that all student data and privacy are at the highest, most stringent level of compliance.
"Josh's leadership in technology has positively impacted the teaching and learning within and beyond our school community in so many ways," said Dr. Ackerman, Superintendent of Schools. "His commitment to innovation, student-centered instruction, and active problem-based learning has spearheaded the shift in our District away from traditional, teacher-centered classrooms toward a more personalized, active, and engaged student experience."