Public School Leadership Makes Critical Gain with Announcement of 
Urban Superintendents Academy Graduates

Alexandria, Va. – May 24, 2016 – Efforts to improve the leadership in our public schools took a major step forward when the first-ever cohort of educators successfully completed the AASA-Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy.

Today’s announcement follows this past weekend’s celebration when nearly 30 participants graduated from the nearly yearlong program created to develop thought leaders who will represent the vast number of children in urban communities across the country.

“With roughly half of America’s children living in low-income households, it is critical that our nation provides solutions to ensure that each and every child receive a quality education. Our Urban Superintendents Academy is one solution,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “We congratulate the 2015-16 graduates who will represent the next generation of effective urban district leadership. The partnership between AASA and Howard University is a formidable step to bolster urban school systems.”

“The members of our inaugural cohort are to be commended for their dedication to become impactful superintendents,” said Leslie T. Fenwick, dean, Howard University School of Education. “We are grateful to partner with the nation’s premier superintendents association in an effort to provide the best possible learning experiences for those striving to become urban superintendents. There is a yawning diversity gap between our students and the school personnel serving them. Our Academy will help narrow that gap.”

Launched in 2015, the Urban Superintendents Academy prepares individuals for certification and success in urban and increasingly diverse suburban settings. The AASA-Howard University partnership is also designed to expand the pool of underrepresented superintendent groups.

Key aspects throughout the Academy included:

  • A consistent emphasis upon “problems of practice,” enabling the two participating cohorts to investigate together potential solutions for universal and site-specific problems, issues and dilemmas facing urban superintendents today.
  • Engaging coursework options at Howard University.

The Academy also offered prospective and in-service superintendents a revolutionary new approach to ensuring success in urban settings.

Six Academy participants have recently accepted administrative positions.

  • Anthony Hamlet, superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools (Pa.)
  • Jessica Huizenga, receiver, Southbridge Public Schools (Mass.)
  • Essie McKoy, executive director, Winston-Salem Forsyth County School District (N.C.)
  • Gwendolyn Page, superintendent, Southampton County Public Schools (Va.)
  • Eric J. Rosser, assistant superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools (N.Y.)
  • Andrae Townsel, principal, Southbridge Public Schools (Mass.)

For more information about the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy, visit the AASA website. For questions, contact Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director, at / 703-875-0726 or Bernadine Futrell, AASA director, awards and collaborations, at / 703-875-0717.

The 2015-16 AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy cohort is comprised of:

Cohort 1:

  • Joycelyn Hughes, Howard University
  • Walter Lundy, Howard University
  • Miriam Lynch, Howard University
  • Diane Abbie Martin, Howard University
  • Mykia Olive, Howard University

Cohort 2:

  • Rosa Cabrera, principal, Houston Independent School District (Texas)
  • Traci Davis, superintendent, Washoe County School District (Nev.)
  • Lendozia Edwards, campus dean, Strayer University (Ga.)
  • Christine Fowler-Mack, chief portfolio officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School (Ohio)
  • Eric Gallien, deputy superintendent, Racine Unified School District (Wis.)
  • Anthony Hamlet, Area superintendent, Palm Beach County School District (Fla.)
  • Lisa M. Hathaway, account general manager, Pearson (Md.)
  • Jessica Huizenga, assistant superintendent, Cambridge Public School District (Mass.)
  • Martha James-Hassan, commissioner, Baltimore City Public School District (Md.)
  • Essie McKoy, principal, Winston-Salem Forsyth County School District (N.C.)
  • Michael Merriman, teacher, Garland Independent School District (Texas)
  • Gwendolyn Page, superintendent, East Jasper School District (Miss.)
  • Thomas Parker, superintendent, Ecorse Public School District (Mich.)
  • Joseph Prisinzano, assistant to the superintendent, Jericho Union Free School District (N.Y.)
  • Eric J. Rosser, assistant superintendent, Buffalo Public Schools (N.Y.)
  • Rose Skepple, assistant professor, Eastern Kentucky University (Ky.)
  • Anthony W. Smith, superintendent, Clayton County Public Schools (Ga.)
  • Inger H. Swimpson, director, Human Resources and Development, Montgomery County Public Schools (Md.)
  • Rod K. Thompson, superintendent, Shakopee School District 720 (Minn.)
  • Andrae L. Townsel, vice principal, Washington D.C. Public Schools (D.C.)
  • Milton Walters, assistant superintendent, Youngstown City School District (Ohio)
  • Douglas J. Ward, principal, Fulton Leadership Academy (Ga.)
  • Sherrod D. Willaford, principal, Fulton County Schools (Ga.)
  • Jonathan Woods, chief leadership and operations officer, Provost Academy (Ga.)


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit


Bloomz Secures $2.3 Million in Capital Investment 

The new funding will go towards further innovation on its app and to expand its user base, which already includes teachers and parents in more than 10,000 schools

(Seattle, WA) May 24, 2016 — The fast growing PreK-8 community and messaging app Bloomz announced today that it has secured $2.3 million in capital investment. Investors in this round include 8VC, ff Venture Capital, Founder’s Co-op, CorrelationVC, Wisemont Capital, Acequia Capital and individuals such as Chris Liddell and Charlie Songhurst.

The new capital will go towards further innovation on Bloomz and to expand the user base of the award-winning app, which is already being used by teachers and parents in more than 10,000 schools.

“Bloomz is uniquely positioned to engage today’s young parents in the same way those parents are used to engaging with their personal and professional worlds on Facebook or LinkedIn. It will become the central point for everything around their children for parents,” said Jake Medwell of 8VC (founded by Joe Lonsdale). “It is a must-have app for every community that engages parents with kids in the pre-K–8 grades.”

John Frankel, partner at ff Venture Capital, said that his company was impressed by the strong engagement metrics and continued growth of Bloomz, adding, “Within its first year of launch, Bloomz captured the imagination of both teachers and parents. We look forward to fueling further growth to help Bloomz become the dominant force in parent engagement.”

Rudy Gadre of Founder’s Co-op, who was also the first General Counsel at Facebook, jumped on the Bloomz opportunity very early on and the group made a follow-on investment in this round. “Bloomz is addressing a need in a space that is ripe for disruption, thanks to the new generation of mobile and social savvy parents entering the school system.”

The app’s rich set of tools include real-time updates, photo-sharing, event and volunteer coordination, parent-teacher conference signups, among other community-building tools to engage today’s mobile and social parents. Bloomz is the only comprehensive app positioned to connect not only parents and educators, but also PTAs, church groups, Girl/Boy Scouts, and daycares. Bloomz recently won EdTech Digest 2016 Best New Product award and is featured by Apple’s AppStore as “Perfect for Every Classroom”.

“We are thrilled to have the backing of these renowned investors to make the Bloomz vision of connecting parents to teachers, and to the world around their children, a reality,” said Chaks Appalabattula, the CEO of Bloomz. “With rave reviews, strong word-of-mouth and more than 95% of the teachers surveyed ‘loving’ the app, it is clear we built an app that is intuitive, easy-to-use, and powerful in connecting pre-K–8 communities. Our team is looking forward to seeing Bloomz in the hands of every teacher and parent.”

About Bloomz

Bloomz is the free mobile and web app that connects educators with parents in a secure, social, private environment. In Bloomz, parents feel more connected than they ever have to their children’s world, and teachers have more time than ever before, because they have everything they need in one simple-to-use tool. Learn more at



Award-Winning Learning Management System from itslearning to be Used in Miami-Dade County Public Schools Pilot Program


10 middle and high schools are using the system’s digital curriculum management and delivery tools to support and optimize personalized learning


Boston, MA – May 24, 2016 — The nation’s fourth largest public school district,Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS), is running a semester-long pilot program utilizing the itslearning learning management system (LMS) to select, deliver and manage the instructional components for secondary level social science courses in 10 schools. Designed specifically for the K-12 sector, itslearning is a cloud-based LMS that enables teachers to engage today’s “digitally wired” students anytime, anywhere and on any device. The MDCPS pilot will run through May, after which teacher feedback and input will be solicited.


In 2014 Miami-Dade Public Schools launched the “Digital Convergence” initiative, a program to provide wireless access in all its schools and put digital learning devices such as laptops and tablets in the hands of all students. According to Brazofsky, the itslearning pilot is a great opportunity for teachers to maximize the potential of the initiative through the use of an LMS.


“Because the itslearning platform consolidates and automates the curriculum management process, teachers participating in the pilot are able to infuse digital tools and content into their lessons,” said Brazofsky. “Thus far the teachers report that the system has helped facilitate communication, collaboration and interaction between them and students. They also say that by using digital tools they’re so familiar with, students are far more engaged in their learning.”


“The streaming videos is a favorite for me and the students. I don’t have to spend time searching online for proper educational videos because the itslearning system has already vetted them and matched them to our standards. I simply add a link to the video on the assignment and students can watch it from home,” said Jaela Vazquez, a world history and geography teacher at Coral Reef Senior High School. “The Bulletin Board is another incredible tool. I write out agenda on it and attach all the PowerPoints and handouts for students who were absent, or for students to reference later when they’re studying.”


Teachers participating in the pilot receive personalized professional development and training from itslearning, including formal face-to-face biweekly digital meetings, and on-demand tutorials that support digital and blended learning via the itslearning platform.


The high schools selected to participate in the pilot are: Coral Gables, Coral Reef, Miami Southridge and Miami Southwest. The middle schools include: Ponce de Leon, Country Club, Herbert Ammons, and Jorge Mas Canosa. One school, Miami Arts Studio @ Zelda Glazer Middle School serves students in grades 6-12.


About itslearning

Designed for teachers and how they want to teach, itslearning is a cloud-based learning platform used by millions of teachers, students, administration staff and parents around the world. It can be found at all levels of education, from primary schools to universities, helping teachers make education more inspiring and valuable for today’s students. Established in 1999, itslearning is headquartered in Bergen, Norway, and has offices in multiple locations around the world. For more information, visit



Edgenuity Introduces New Suite of Career and Elective Courses to Enhance Student Learning Experiences


Wider Course Offerings Drive Overall Student Engagement


Scottsdale, AZ – May 23, 2016 – Edgenuity, a leading provider of online and blended learning solutions, today announced a new suite of career and elective courses that help keep students motivated and excited about learning. Available as part of Edgenuity’s Instructional Services, students can take greater control of their learning experience by pursuing their unique areas of interest – from archeology to social media.


“With a greater variety of career and elective courses we can personalize the learning experience even further, supporting every student’s unique needs and interests while keeping them engaged in school,” said Edgenuity CEO Sari Factor. “It’s more important than ever to prepare today’s students for career and lifelong success. Through this type of instruction, students can take the first step towards their futures at a pace and style that works best for them.”


These courses give students access to subjects not available in many traditional high school settings. Students of Edgenuity schools and districts can now access a full suite of courses including:


  • Archaeology: Explore the relationship of material items to culture and what we can learn about past societies from these items.
  • Culinary Arts: Hone cooking skills and get the opportunity to explore careers in the culinary industry.
  • Forensic Science: Follow evidence trails and examine how various elements of the crime scene are analyzed and processed.
  • Personal & Family Finance: Learn more about topics such as taxation, financial institutions, credit, and money management.
  • Public Speaking: Learn what makes a truly successful speech and put that knowledge to practical use.
  • Social Media: Learn the ins and outs of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, which can be essential the age of digital communication.
  • World Religions: Trace the major developments in these religions and explore their relationships with social institutions and culture.


About Edgenuity

Edgenuity is a leading provider of online curriculum and services with implementations in 8 of the top 10 school districts in the U.S.  Our rigorous, standards-aligned digital content is fully flexible for use in any online or blended learning model to support a personalized learning environment, from NCAA-approved virtual courses to honors and Advanced Placement offerings to test preparation, credit recovery, and intervention.  Edgenuity’s Blended Learning Services, Instructional Services and Professional Development offerings, as well as supplemental programs such as Edgenuity MyPath, help students, educators and districts achieve success in their online learning programs.  For more information, visit


New White Paper from West’s Education group

Outlines Best Practices for School and Student Data Privacy


Trusted provider of SchoolMessenger communications solutions to host complimentary privacy webinar


SCOTTS VALLEY, Calif., May 24, 2016 — West Corporation, a leading provider of technology-enabled communication services, today announced a white paper addressing school and student data privacy. “School and Student Data Privacy: Nine Considerations for Community Engagement” provides an overview of school data privacy best practices with a focus on technology, family involvement and communication.


Authored by West’s Education group Vice President of Government Affairs Mark Schneiderman, the white paper references nine best practices for school and student data privacy from developing a governance and accountability framework, to staff and student education.


Prior to joining West, Schneiderman served as the senior director of education policy at the Software & Information Industry Association for 15 years. He helped develop the Student Privacy Pledge signed by West’s SchoolMessenger and other school service providers.


“Data-enabled technology use in schools has increased exponentially over the past decade, helping inform teacher instruction and enterprise decisions and making student privacy and data security more important than ever,” Schneiderman said. “Maintaining student confidentiality requires a comprehensive set of school data policies and practices. It is crucial that everyone in the school community—educators, parents and students—understands the importance of data security and privacy.”


West’s Education group will host a webinar for school and district leaders addressing school and student data privacy Thursday, June 9, at 11 a.m. Pacific /2 p.m. Eastern. Schneiderman will lead the webinar and will be joined by Linnette Attai, an expert on privacy compliance and best practices as president of PlayWell, LLC and project director for the Consortium for School Network’s (CoSN) Privacy Initiative.


All webinar attendees will receive the “School and Student Data Privacy: Nine Considerations for Community Engagement” white paper, and it will be available for download on the SchoolMessenger website following the webinar.


To register for the webinar, visit .


The white paper and webinar are not intended to and do not provide legal advice. School leaders should consult legal counsel to best understand their district’s risks and options under the law.


About West’s Education Group

West’s Education group, part of West Corporation, is the trusted provider of SchoolMessenger solutions. Thousands of schools and other educational institutions in all 50 U.S. states and Canada depend on SchoolMessenger products and services. From notifications and websites to custom mobile apps and social media, school leaders have relied on the SchoolMessenger platform since 1999 to engage with their communities in multiple languages and on any device. To learn more about SchoolMessenger products, visit or call 888.527.5225.


The combined business, IO Education, will deliver innovative data solutions to grow student achievement, operations efficiency and educator effectiveness for K-12 school districts

ATLANTA, GA. – May 24, 2016 – Longleaf Solutions and CaseNEX, announced today the rebranding of the combined business as IO Education. In support of the new brand, IO Education unveiled a new logo and website at and announced an integrated product portfolio.

The mission of the new company is to empower educators through data to improve educational outcomes for students.

“Our new name, IO Education, is simply a reflection of what this organization has been doing for a long time –  improving educational outcomes. While the name has changed, our commitment to educators and their students remains as strong as ever. We believe that each student deserves the best education that is personalized to them,” said Michael Williamson, CEO of IO Education and previous founder and CEO of Longleaf Solutions.
You can view the full release online here. Please contact me if you have any questions about IO Education.