NAESP and VINCI Education Recognize Principals for Innovations in Technology and Early Education

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Five principals received the Digital Leader of Early Learning Award.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), in partnership with VINCI Education, has announced the 2016 winners of the Digital Leader of Early Learning Award, which honors principals who show leadership in educational technology and pre-K-grade 3 learning.

The five principals receiving the award are John Beeck of Loess Hills Specialty School in Sioux City, Iowa; Jessica Cabeen of Woodson Kindergarten Center in Austin, Minnesota; Wanny Hersey of Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, California; Kimberly Hill of Leila G. Davis Elementary School in Clearwater, Florida; and Carrie McWilliams of Paul Cuffee School in Providence, Rhode Island.

“We are thrilled to honor these principals who have embraced innovative educational technology practices that support the early learner,” said NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly. “When technology is used effectively, it can be a powerful tool that helps boost learning and development for our youngest students, and we hope other schools can learn from these examples.”

This award is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, a scholar, inventor, and innovator who embodied the type of renaissance thinking that educators hope to help their students attain. NAESP’s sponsoring partner for the award, VINCI Education, is a global company providing educational services to families and schools in early childhood education programming. “We are so impressed by the leadership of these winning principals and are very proud partner with NAESP to promote the proper use of technology,” said Dan Yang, founder and CEO of VINCI Education.

NAESP’s publication, Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice, outlines how principals can provide welcoming, collaborative learning environments that support personalized learning, including the effective use of technology.

Each of the award recipients submitted a short YouTube video and essays highlighting their projects:

  •     John Beeck: Loess Hills Specialty School teaches programming and coding as part of its curriculum. For instance, in a math class, students learn skills such as repeated reasoning, coding, number sense and other mathematical practices with regularity.
  •     Jessica Cabeen: Woodson Kindergarten Center offers a blog and other digital resources on kindergarten readiness and literacy for families. Six classes also use Skype to participate in weekly music sessions with the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.
  •     Wanny Hersey: Bullis Charter School integrates technology into every aspect of the learning process, at every learning level. In one example, first graders study Biomimicry and use the Design-Thinking process to find solutions to a driving question. The school has won national awards for its innovations and integration of the Design-Thinking process with the Common Core State Standards in its MakerSpace and Fablab programs.
  •     Kimberly Hill: At Davis Elementary, teachers use innovative apps and resources to integrate technology into daily learning. Kindergarteners publish their creative writing using Pic Collage, Book Creator and Tellagami, and the school uses digital learning journals allow students to document and share their learning with their teacher and family.
  •     Carrie McWilliams: Paul Cuffee School serves as a model for early-elementary teachers in Rhode Island to observe and learn strategies such as Blended Learning and more substantial collaboration with colleagues. The school also uses digital portfolios to enhance students’ home-to-school connections.

NAESP and VINCI Education will feature these winners in publications and on social media, and they will be recognized at NAESP’s Best Practices for Better Schools Annual Conference, to be held July 6-8 at National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.


About NAESP:
Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) serves elementary and middle school principals in the United States, Canada, and overseas. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning through policy development, advocacy, and resources for effective instructional leadership. NAESP seeks to advance the principalship and address issues in pre-K-3 alignment, principal preparation and evaluation, and building the capacity of new principals. For more information about NAESP, please visit

About VINCI:
VINCI Education, the company behind the VINCI School, VINCI Academy and Club VINCI, has pioneered the creation of a new category of fun learning tools with the goal to engage, empower and educate young children. By using a scaffolding teaching method designed by developmental psychologists and education experts, VINCI’s products and solutions deliver play-based learning programs for the home and the classrooms. It currently offers early childhood education services through its owned and licensed schools and learning centers in US, Canada and other countries around the world. VINCI Curriculum won CODIE 2014 as the Best Game-based Curriculum, CES 2013 Innovation Award Honoree and a number of other educational awards. Its founder, Dr. Dan Yang, was honored with an American Business Award in 2014.

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