Allen Distinguished Educators Are Redefining Excellence and Reinventing the Classroom

By Dave Ferrero, Senior Program Officer, Education at Vulcan Inc.
March 1, 2016

In contrast to most teacher awards, the Allen Distinguished Educators program seeks teachers who are redefining excellence and reinventing the classroom while helping students learn engineering, computer science or entrepreneurship. These are teachers who are unafraid to let a seven-year-old operate a chop saw or challenge a team of high schoolers to launch their own business enterprise, teachers who dare to inspire their students to make their mark on the world now by designing low-cost electrical lighting for children in developing countries or developing custom prosthetics for patients in need.

These are likewise teachers who know that one of the great spurs to creativity is play, the ones whose students you can find in the parking lot constructing a Rube Goldberg machine, or in the school’s maker space puzzling over how to marry poetry and 3-D printing. And, quite likely, they are the ones who lobbied for, raised the money for, and built that maker space. Allen Distinguished Educators are people who believe in the power of teachers to innovate “from below,” who reach out to likeminded educators to share and “steal” each others’ ideas, help each other solve problems, and collaborate for the benefit of students. They know how to work with leaders and colleagues in their own buildings to create engaging “21st century” learning opportunities for students, and who have the courage and confidence to push the boundaries of the possible.

These are the teachers we celebrate, the ones whose stories we tell, and whose ideas and experiences we share in the hope that others will be inspired by their example.  

About The Allen Distinguished Educators Program

A Paul G. Allen initiative, the Allen Distinguished Educators (ADE) program engages teachers in greater innovation around computer science, engineering and/or entrepreneurship. The work for ADE-recognized teachers can lead to new opportunities in classrooms across the nation. 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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