About iEducate Delaware: The “iStory”
As a state, Delaware has received a great deal of recognition and honors for our work on education. Yet all too often, the individuals who take the risks and make the work happen don’t get the recognition they deserve for their courage and creativity.
As part of our work at the Rodel Foundation, our staff is fortunate to have many opportunities to engage with these, a broad range of stakeholders who are working “on the ground.” We have been consistently impressed with the dedication and innovation they have displayed; indeed, they are the very embodiment of heroes—tireless individuals that work not for gratitude or compensation, but because they truly believe that our kids deserve an excellent education.
So in 2011 we started discussing how we could help to recognize and support these champions of education. We were inspired to name the project iEducate Delaware in early 2012 and formally launched soon after.
None of us imagined the response we received. Thousands of Delawareans visited the website, nominating those who inspired them, voting on their favorites, and sharing stories with one another. In the end, five individuals were selected by the community to consist of the first group of iEducate Delaware Honorees, each receiving a $2,000 investment to support their work.
And that brings us to today—listening to and meeting folks all across the state who are having an amazing impact on our students. There is nothing more important than the education of our children, and everyone has a part they can and need to play. iEducate Delaware is our way of sharing the stories of those who do, in the hopes of inspiring more to join in the work.
The “iStory” isn’t done; the most exciting parts are yet to come. We can’t wait to write the next chapter with you!
About iEducate Delaware
- What is the purpose of iEducate Delaware?
Leaders across the country have recognized Delaware as a leader in education reform and innovation. Yet when it comes to the individuals who are actually doing the tough work both inside and outside the classroom, there don’t seem to be enough opportunities to recognize their efforts. We want to tell their stories and honor and support these individuals, with the hope that it will also inspire others to find their own ways to have an impact. For more on this project, check out a blog post by one of our staff members, and read more on our blog.
- Where does the name come from?
iEducate Delaware is a community-owned initiative—after all, everyone plays a part in educating our youth. We wanted a name that gave credit to all the individuals – parents, community members, policymakers, teachers, and other leaders – that make a huge difference in our education system. So we held a contest and asked for ideas on what to name the project. The winning title was submitted by Sara Brosious, a wife, mom, and teacher. Read how she came up with the name in her own words.
- What if I don’t live in Delaware?
iEducate Delaware is aimed at honoring and supporting education champions in Delaware, so only nominees who live or work in Delaware are eligible. That being said, if you don’t live or work in Delaware, you can still participate in other ways, whether it’s submitting nominations, voting on projects, or being part of the discussions. We want folks in other states to be inspired by what’s happening in Delaware – and we want to learn from them too.
- Is iEducate Delaware just a contest?
We are very intentional when we call iEducate Delaware a “project.” The initial stage of the project is a nomination phase to honor individuals and their contributions to Delaware education, but the long-term goal is to inspire and encourage renewed and expanded innovation. We have big plans for future years, so make sure to sign-up for updates, and check back often!
- What is the timeline?
Nominations will be accepted through June 30. Finalists will be announced in mid-August, followed by public voting in August and September. Honorees will be announced in late September and recognized at the October 9 Vision 2015 conference.
- What are your criteria? What are you looking for?
We are looking for individuals who represent the ideals of iEducate Delaware:
- They are innovative & creative in their approach to education
- They are collaborative & open to working with others, demonstrating a commitment to sharing ideas
- They are inspirational & visionary, their story serving to inspire others to join the cause
- They have been effective in promoting student achievement and success (especially but not limited to under-served populations)
If you need inspiration, check out last year’s finalists and honorees.
- Can I nominate myself?
Absolutely! Nominations will be anonymous and confidential, so if you don’t want folks to know you nominated yourself, fear not (although we feel there’s no shame in doing great work and sharing it with others). Many of last year’s finalists and honorees nominated themselves.
- Are nominations only for classroom teachers?
We believe that everyone plays a part in educating our children. We have nothing but the highest respect for teachers who have chosen this as their very profession, and we also want to honor the folks who support the teachers’ hard work, whether it is by volunteering in the schools, starting a community-center based after school program, or organizing parents to be more involved in their schools. Anyone who supports our students and educates them is eligible for this award.
- Can groups be nominated?
We recognize that often, a single person isn’t solely responsible for something great – nor would they want to take all the credit. We will certainly entertain nominations for pairs or groups of individuals that are working together toward something amazing. For these nominations, please designate a point person for our communications.
- Can I nominate more than one person?
We want to share the stories of education in Delaware, so the more stories the better. Nominate as many people as you want, and then get your friends to nominate some others!
- Are nominations anonymous?
On the nomination form, you can choose whether you’d like to keep your nomination anonymous. As we move into the project’s interactive phase where stories are shared, we might ask you if you’d like to be known as the nominator and if you have any additional insight or information to share about the nominee, but we’ll leave it up to you.
- Can past winners be nominated?
Honorees and finalists from past years will generally not be selected again; we’d like to recognize as broad a range of individuals as possible. Feel free to submit their names, however, especially if their story has evolved since when they were recognized.
- Can I still nominate someone past the deadline?
We generally will not accept a nomination past the deadline, but contact us and we’ll see what we can do. There are also other ways to share a story–check out our pinterest page to see stories we’ve collected across the state, and send us your own “pins.”
- Can I send you additional information about my project/nomination?
Yes you can! Contact us and share anything at all you think might be helpful, especially pictures and videos.
- I’ve been nominated. Now what? First of all, congratulations! We’re excited to learn more about you and your story. Soon you will receive an application that you can fill out so we can have a more complete picture of who you are. This will help our panel select the finalists. Contact us if you haven’t received your application by the end of June.
- How will finalists be chosen?
A panel will review the applications using a rubric based on the nomination criteria we outlined (also above). They will collectively form a consensus on which applicants and projects best represented the aims of the iEducate Delaware initiative. An effort will be made to be as broadly representative as possible with the selected finalists. We will reach out if any additional information is necessary to fill in holes and answer questions.
- What if I’m not a finalist?
First, you should be proud to be nominated. Virtually every application we receive tells a great story about an important educator positively impacting students. Keep up the great work, and we’ll be looking for other ways to share your stories.Second, participate! Education needs to be more collaborative and cooperative–that’s one of the very reasons for the iEducate Delaware initiative. Vote for your favorite finalists, spread the word, and come back in the fall as we open up new ways to interact with others across the state (and country) who are also committed to our students. And finally, come back next year and share all the new great things you’ve done. With luck iEducate Delaware will be something that’s done for years to come!
- When does voting start?
Voting will start on August 19th.
- When does voting end?
Voting ends on September 8th.
- Who chooses the honorees?
Starting August 19, visitors to the site will be able to vote for their favorite nominee and project. We want iEducate Delaware to be a community-driven initiative, so the voting results will heavily influence the selection of winners. An external advisory group will choose the honorees based on voting results, taking into consideration finalists’ proposals for the use of grant funds.
- Who will be on the external advisory group?
The external advisory group will consist of 5 members who are broadly representative of the range of education stakeholders in our state. In 2012, they were:
- Lois Hobbs – A Sussex resident and former teacher, principal, and superintendent who has been endlessly praised for her excellent work in education, Lois brings the perspective of a seasoned administrator.
- Terri Hodges – A Kent resident and board member of the Delaware State PTA with strong connections to parent groups across the state, Terri brings the perspective of a highly engaged parent.
- Maria Matos – A New Castle resident, lifelong activist, and current executive director of the Latin American Community Center, Maria brings the perspective of a community leader.
- Fred Sears – A New Castle resident, president & CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation, and lifelong supporter of Delaware education, Fred brings the perspective of a business leader.
- Kathleen Thomas – A Kent resident and 2005 State Teacher of the Year who is heavily involved across the state in representing and supporting the teaching profession, Kathleen brings the perspective of an excellent teacher.
- How many winners will there be?
We wish we could recognize an indefinite number of individuals! Unfortunately, we must put some limits in place. Last year there were 5 honorees. This year we hope to similarly recognize 3 to 5 amazing people and stories.
- When will winners be announced?
Winners will be announced at the middle of September, and formally recognized at the Vision 2015 Conference on October 9.
- How much is the award, and what can the money be used for?
Honorees will receive $2,000, which will be used to support an organization or initiative that is related to the core of what the honoree is being recognized for. Ideally, these funds would help support expansion or replication of the great work being done. We will work with the honorees to determine the scope, and share plans (and results) when available.For more info, check out our blog to read about last year’s projects.