The Digital Learning Collaborative announces annual award winners

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The Digital Learning Collaborative announces annual award recipients at the Digital Learning Annual Conference

Digital Learning Collaborative

The Digital Learning Collaborative (DLC) is thrilled to announce our 2023 awards program winners, recognizing a few of the incredible leaders, schools, and organizations that are improving student opportunities and outcomes.

According to Dr. Allison Powell, DLC COO, “we were delighted by the many amazing nominations from innovative online learning leaders and organizations across the country.” The winners are being recognized at the closing ceremony of the Digital Learning Annual Conference (DLAC), on Wednesday February 15th, in Austin and online.

Award recipients are:

Individual Excellence in Digital Learning Award – Holly Brzycki, CAOLA

Holly Brzycki is an educator and change agent who embodies the spirit of selfless sharing,
support, and collegiality across the digital learning field. Holly has supervised the Capital Area
Online Learning Association (CAOLA) since 2009. In her tenure, the program grew into the
largest online learning consortium in the state of Pennsylvania serving 140 schools from 11
different Intermediate Units. In this role, she has been a trailblazer and advocate for online
learning options for students across Pennsylvania and has become a national leader in the field
advocating for all students by networking with colleagues from other virtual schools,
consortiums, and digital learning vendors. In these conversations, she offers her expertise,
lessons learned, and other insight to help programs succeed. Holly is not afraid to speak up for
what is best for students above all else and exemplifies student advocacy.

DLC Research Impact Award – Dr. April Fleetwood, Florida Virtual School and FlexPoint Education Cloud

Practitioners have known that among the student populations served by online courses are students who are hospitalized or homebound due to accident or illness, but this is not a well-studied population. In partnership with faculty in pediatric medicine from the University of Florida, Dr. Fleetwood and her colleagues, Dr. Erik Black and Lindsay Thompson, University of Florida, and Dr. Richard Ferdig, Kent State University, compared thousands of courses taken by students with a homebound or hospitalized designation to a group of more than five million course enrollments. This comparison demonstrated that grades were equivalent although the homebound/hospitalized students were more likely to withdraw before getting a grade. Their research not only shows that online learning can work for these students in great need, but also suggested viable steps for working with this vulnerable population.

DLC Unsung Super Star Award (Individual) – Jon Fila, District 287

We are recognizing Jon for his focus on student inclusivity, and in particular his work to make sure that LGBTQ+ students are heard, recognized, and feel welcome in his school and district. His school website includes this statement: “We proactively serve those who have experienced trauma and neglect from traditional systems and peers. When we serve our marginalized populations, we send a powerful message and allow all students to thrive.” Jon does all this quietly but also pushes to make a broader impact across his district and his state. He somehow manages to do incredible work while still remaining unsung and underappreciated, but once you get to know him, you realize that behind the quiet voice and midwestern aversion to the spotlight, is a guy doing incredible work.

Unsung Super Star Award (School/District) – Virtual Arkansas DYS Campus

Virtual Arkansas is a State Virtual School serving schools throughout Arkansas to provide supplemental online courses, teachers, and services to augment local education opportunities. In 2017, Virtual Arkansas entered into a partnership with the Arkansas Division of Youth Services to produce an innovative learning model to provide high-quality teachers and education opportunities for adjudicated youth located in several facilities around the state. As a result of this partnership, the DYS students have been recognized for outstanding growth on the Arkansas state assessment and many have successfully transitioned back to their schools, careers, and society. The Virtual Arkansas teachers and the local DYS education coaches work as a team to successfully serve the educational needs of these students. About this program and the teachers in it, VA wrote “Our students know exactly who their teacher is, when the teacher is available, what the expectations are and that their teachers have a heart for them.” This is exactly the type of “relationships before rigor” approach that benefits these students the most.

Spirit of DLAC Award – Dr. Galey Colosimo, Utah Private School Association

Dr. Colosimo is the president of the Utah Private School Association and the principal of Juan Diego Catholic High School outside Salt Lake City, in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain range. That means Dr. Colosimo starts his day looking at mountains and spends his days moving them. Galey impressed everyone at ASU Prep with his steadfast commitment to equity and his generous spirit of collegiality while working with them to expand digital learning opportunities for his students. When any PD is offered at his school, he invites every single private school in the state to come—parochial and secular, near and far—so that they may also participate. After his school’s teachers were trained in blended learning pedagogy, he sent them out across the state to all the private schools who wanted to learn more about how to get digital learning started but didn’t have the personnel, funds, or time to make it happen on their own. Expanding access to all types of learning for all students is his passion and it’s so clear in the way he makes it his personal mission to make sure every school—not just his own—has what they need. He mentored other school leaders through detailed EANS funding applications and helped them understand the blended learning opportunities for their schools that it could bring. It’s no exaggeration to say that thousands of students across the state have had digital courses due to his efforts to provide the necessary learning for their teachers and leaders in order to make it happen. This work that he undertakes is largely thankless—and certainly there is no raise coming his way for increasing digital learning access to students all over the state.

Spirit of DLAC Award – Mickey Revenaugh, Connections Academy

Mickey Revenaugh has shaped the field of K-12 online learning as much as any other individual, as a co-founder of Connections Academy, early and long-time board member of iNACOL, and tireless advocate for students everywhere, among many other roles. When she co-founded Connections Academy in 2001, online learning was new and very early stage. The concept of a fully online school—delivering all of a student’s education remotely—was largely unknown and misunderstood. Along with other pioneers in the field, Mickey vigorously told the stories of the students being served, to state education boards, legislatures, media, and just about anyone who would listen. Her advocacy transcends her work with Connections as she has been a supporter of all types of digital learning, from online courses to blended and hybrid schools.

More information on the awardees will be posted to the Digital Learning Collaborative website in the coming weeks.
We thank all the awardees for their contributions to helping students reach their full potential!

About the DLC

The Digital Learning Collaborative is a membership group made up of the educators, providers, and supporters seeking to improve education for all schools and students through research, information-sharing, and collaborative activities. The DLC runs the Digital Learning Annual Conference. The DLC is organized by the Evergreen Education Group. Members include school districts, state agencies, online schools, state virtual schools, NGOs, and companies.

About the Evergreen Education Group

Evergreen has been the leading advisory and consulting firm in K-12 online, hybrid, and blended learning for 21 years. We advise companies, NGOs, and government agencies on a variety of digital learning issues, publish reports and blog regularly as part of the Digital Learning Collaborative, and coordinate the Digital Learning Annual Conference.

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Lauren Vashaw-Mass
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