We Are Inspiring, Enabling, and Empowering Innovation in Education

By Dave Ferrero, Senior Program Officer in Education at Vulcan Inc.
October 30, 2015

On any given day in a classroom of an Allen Distinguished Educator (ADE) you are likely to observe students solving real problems in their communities, using new technologies like 3D printers or laser cutters, and designing their own projects based on their personal interests.

“I wish my class looked like that!” is a common phrase we hear from teachers, students and parents alike — and we agree. We believe that innovation is a key driver of improved learning opportunities for young people. Through the ADE program we are recognizing the work of innovative teachers of computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship, and packaging their projects in ways that inspire, enable and empower educators across the nation to adopt their practices.

The program includes:
  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Guides to implement ADE designed classroom projects
  • Grants to field-test the DIY Guides and share results
  • Microdocumentaries highlighting the innovative work of exceptional teachers
  • Video "roadmaps" to overcoming common barriers to innovative teaching and learning
  • A network of like-minded educators committed to collaborating and sharing ideas
  • A $25,000 award for cutting-edge innovative teachers


To develop future generations of innovative thinkers, we are harnessing the power of exceptional teachers who “break the mold” of traditional schooling and elevating their voice to share their ideas more broadly. By sharing Microdocumentaries featuring meaningful stories of the impact our ADEs are having in their classrooms, we hope to inspire administrators, parents and teachers to take action in the development of new classroom models.

It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up the first time you see a kid discover they’re passionate about something, said Glenn Corey, High School Teacher at Novato High School, CA and Allen Distinguished Educator.

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We recognize the small but growing subset of teachers who want to employ 21st century learning strategies with their students and are hungry for ideas and guidance. Teachers want and deserve meaningful recognition and networking opportunities with like-minded educators as they break through barriers to create change. That’s why we are cultivating a community of innovative educators through the ADE Program who are seeking collaboration and opportunities and we are enabling them to discuss projects and share learning. Members of the ADE community are invited to join-in on online discussions relating to innovative teaching projects and also share their ideas and feedback about what is working for them.

We believed, here at Riverpoint Academy, that if we were going to truly to interdisciplinary work, we needed to radically collaborate, said Regan Drew, Teacher at Riverpoint Academy, WA, and Allen Distinguished Educator.

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An idea is just an idea until people are empowered to take action and make that idea a reality. That’s why we are providing educator resources to empower teachers to implement innovative practices and projects in their classrooms. Beginning on November 3, we are launching a host of free content for educators on our website including DIY Project Guides, interactive video tutorials, video “roadmaps” from the inaugural cohort of ADEs and collaborative discussion forums. Additionally, for a limited time, we are also offering grants up to $1,000 for early adopters to implement DIY Projects with their students and offer feedback and strategies for adopting these projects into different classroom contexts.

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We focus on creative strategies for teaching entrepreneurship, engineering and computer science curriculum because these subjects are fundamental to developing the skills and dispositions today’s youth need to succeed. Visit AllenDistinguishedEducators.org to learn more about our work and to get involved.

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