The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) Program Announces 16 Finalists for $25,000 Award

By Jenny Burns, Community Coordinator for the Allen Distinguished Educators Program
December 11, 2015

From engineering prosthetic limbs, to student-run businesses, to out-of-the-box computer science curricula, and more, Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) award applicants thoughtfully showcased an array of diverse and innovative strategies for teaching engineering, computer science, and entrepreneurship. Now expanding to a second cohort of distinguished educators, the $25,000 ADE Award recognizes and rewards innovative K-12 teachers who help students master these disciplines through hands-on, experiential, and project-based learning. The program was developed by Paul G. Allen based on his belief that innovation is a key driver in improving learning opportunities for young people.

“It was inspiring to see so many exceptional teachers from across the country. It was very difficult to narrow the field to the 16 finalists - a true testament to the innovation that is already being applied by creative and dedicated teachers.” said Jerry Nguyen, Allen Awardee Program Officer.


These exceptional educators scored the highest among reviewers and most closely matched the ADE Award review criteria.

Congratulations to the 16 finalists for the $25,000 ADE Award:
  • Shana Bowen -  2nd grade teacher from Bellevue, WA
  • Dawn DuPriest and Tracey Winey -  6th--8th grade teachers from Fort Collins, CO
  • Ashley Greenway - 1st grade teacher from Rome, GA
  • Trenton Hall - 9th-12th grade teacher from Bernham, TX
  • Rich Lehrer - 6th-8th grade teacher from Manchester, MA
  • Brandon Lee - K-5th grade teacher from San Diego, CA
  • Matt Meyers - 9th-12th grade teacher from Greenwich, CT
  • Alyson Nelson - 10th-12th grade teacher from Redmond, WA
  • Nicholas Nohner and Chris Bartlo - 9th-12th grade teachers from Portland, OR
  • Lindsey Own, Lina Rose, and Colin Monaghan – K-8th grade teachers from Shoreline, WA
  • Rob Rambach and Patrick Dempsey – 8th grade teachers from Saint Louis, MO
  • Sharon Weems – K-5th grade teacher from Columbus, MS
  • Beth White, Courtney Bryant, and Reginald O’Neill – K-5th, and 9th-11th grade teachers from Atlanta, GA
  • Taylor Williams – 7th grade teacher from Seattle, WA
  • Jodie Woodruff – 9th-12th grade teachers from Providence, RI
  • Melissa Wrenchey, Mike Town, and Kate Allender – 9th-11th grade teachers from Redmond, WA


The four-person ADE program team, along with 11 external experts from partner organizations reviewed 81 outstanding applications from teachers across the nation. Applications by teachers and teaching teams came from 31 states and represented all grades from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Number-of-Allen Distinguished Educators_Applicants-by-State_new.PNG
While most applicants teach in traditional public schools,  many excellent applications came from teachers in charter schools and independent schools.

“It’s important that the ADE program demonstrate that all students regardless of their circumstances can learn new skills through innovative classroom projects, and these teachers are proving just that,” said Dave Ferrero, Senior Program Officer in Education at Vulcan Inc. 

In addition to different types of schools, the ADE applications came from communities across urban, suburban, and rural areas as well as diverse economic populations. 

School-Type-Demographics_Allen Distinguished Educators Applications.PNG

Computer science and engineering were the most popular subject areas among applicants, but all three program areas were represented among applicants. Some of the applications came from schools that combined two or three into an integrated program. 

The application review process took nearly four weeks to complete with each application receiving no fewer than five reviews. 


The ADE program team has contacted all finalists and is scheduling site visits to meet the teachers and their students, and observe them in action. After the site visits are complete, the team will recommend up to seven to be named Allen Distinguished Educators. The finalists will be revealed at an award ceremony at SXSWedu on March 8th, 2016.


Inspire. Enable. Empower. The Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) Program engages teachers in greater innovation around computer science, engineering and/or entrepreneurship. The work of ADE-recognized teachers can lead to new opportunities in classrooms across the nation. A Paul G. Allen initiative, the program includes: a $25,000 award, do-it-yourself project guides, grants for DIY projects, microdocumentaries and video roadmaps for implementing an ADE Program.

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Comments (3)
Jenny Burns
1/6/2016 9:03:26 AM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Thanks for sharing Andrea! We are honored to work with such exceptional educators from around the country like yourself :)

Andrea DeGette
1/5/2016 7:04:44 AM

Teacher from Hillsborough, NC
I can't wait to see more from this amazing organization! It was an honor just to apply!

Jenny Burns
12/22/2015 3:16:44 PM

Allen Distinguished Educators Moderator
Congrats to the 16 finalists!

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