Aperture Education Partners with SkillForce on a New Character-Building Program in the United Kingdom


The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment, which uses Aperture’s Evo Social/Emotional system, will evaluate the program’s effectiveness


Charlotte N.C. (June 1, 2017) — Aperture Education, a social enterprise focused on social-emotional learning skills, has partnered with the education charity SkillForce to provide data for a new program to build social-emotional skills in students throughout the United Kingdom.


The SkillForce Prince William Award is a character-building program in the UK for children ages 6 to 14. After a successful pilot this year in 37 schools, the program is expanding to additional schools throughout the UK in September, 2017. The program combines practical and reflective learning through classroom-based and outdoor activities to develop character, resilience, compassion, courage, teamwork and problem solving skills. It draws on the expertise and skills of ex-Services personnel who work as SkillForce instructors.


SkillForce selected the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA-mini), to measure the program’s effectiveness. The DESSA-mini is a strengths-based assessment that allows educators to screen students for social and emotional learning (SEL) competence. It identifies students that have SEL strengths, as well as others who need additional support, and tracks their progress over time.


“Helping students build strong social and emotional skills sets them up for success not only in academics, but also in life,” said Marc Kirsch, Director of Sales and Business Development for Aperture Education. “Our partnership with like-minded company SkillForce will help to improve the SEL skills of students throughout the UK. We are pleased at the promising results of the pilot and are excited about the upcoming national rollout.”


Interim research findings from the pilot show that teachers at both primary and secondary schools, across all key stages and settings, have noticed substantial changes in students’ behavior, attitude and skills in particular confidence, communication and the ability to work with others.


The program’s expansion was announced in March by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who serves as SkillForce’s Royal Patron. It is supported by investment company Standard Life, and its academic partner is the Jubilee Centre at the University of Birmingham.


The pilot, which ran in schools for one afternoon a week throughout the 2016-17 academic year, covered five themes: personal development, relationships, working, community and environment. It includes levels for each different age group: pioneer (minimum age 6), explorer (minimum age 8), and trailblazer (minimum age 12). In addition to team tasks and practical challenges, students receive feedback from instructors that encourage them to reflect on their actions and experiences, and consider how they would behave differently next time.


“We are thrilled to launch the Prince William Award, a pioneering new program and the first of its kind, which will help children and young people build character, resilience and an inner strength for life. I want to thank The Duke for his fantastic support,” said Ben Slade, Chief Executive of SkillForce. “Character attributes can be developed in children and young people, given the right mentoring. Our ex-Services personnel, who work as instructors in schools, inspire children and young people to dare to be their best selves. Developing personal skills is as valuable as academic study, given that character traits such as courage, cooperation, listening and problem solving can affect academic performance, psychological wellbeing and job success later in life.”


The partnership with SkillForce was developed through Aperture Education’s publisher in the UK, Hogrefe. It is part of Aperture Education’s ongoing work to support students’ social and emotional health in the U.S. and abroad. Aperture Education works with educators, administrators and out-of-school-time providers who are implementing social and emotional learning programs within their schools providing strength-based assessments and resilience-building resources to help address the whole child. Its goal is to ensure members of school and out-of-school time communities, including adults, have the social and emotional skills needed to thrive.


Aperture Education offers products and services to support SEL programs, including Evo Social/Emotional, a K-12 online assessment and intervention tool. It uses the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) to help educators measure students’ SEL skills and implement individualized, classroom and school-wide strategies for instruction and intervention.


For more information about the Prince William Award program, visit http://www.skillforce.org or follow @SkillForceUK. Hashtags: #SkillForcePWA #PrinceWilliamAward #BeYourBest #Character #Resilience.


About Aperture Education

Aperture Education is a social enterprise focused on addressing the whole child. Its social-emotional learning (SEL) solution, Evo Social/Emotional, is based on the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), a standardized, strengths-based measure of critical social and emotional skills such as personal responsibility, self-management, relationship skills and healthy decision-making. The Evo Social/Emotional online platform includes both the DESSA assessment and the DESSA-Mini, a brief, universal screener of social and emotional competence. Evo Social/Emotional also provides strategies to strengthen social and emotional skills. Version 2.0, now available, provides the data needed to help SEL program administrators measure the impact of their programs and to help educators understand students’ SEL needs and strengths. For more information, go to www.ApertureEd.com.


About SkillForce

SkillForce is a national education charity that specializes in character and resilience, and puts heroes in schools to transform lives, empowering children and young people to make positive choices. The charity’s dual mission includes supporting ex-Services personnel and their transition into civilian life. SkillForce delivers educational programs that develop character, self-confidence, resilience, teamwork and problem-solving skills.  Founded in 2000 and a registered charity since 2004, SkillForce has helped more than 60,000 children and young people. The Duke of Cambridge has been the charity’s Royal Patron since 2009.  As the home of character education and the Prince William Award, SkillForce works with more than 200 schools in England, Scotland and Wales. For more information, visit www.skillforce.org. Join us on LinkedIn and Facebook. Call 01623 827651.


Arizona’s Deer Valley Unified School District Launches New Collaboration with Discovery Education to Increase Student Engagement in Science Instruction


– New Science Digital Textbook and Professional Development Initiative Empowers Educators to Create Authentic Science Learning Environments Aligned with Arizona State Standards –


Silver Spring, Md. (June 1, 2017) – Arizona’s Deer Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) today announced a new collaboration with Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms. Through this new partnership, district educators in Middle School and High School will be empowered with Discovery Education’s award-winning Science Techbooks™ and robust professional development to create authentic and engaging science learning environments that are aligned the Arizona State Standards.


DVUSD’s new partnership with Discovery Education supports the district’s commitment to rigorously implementing Arizona’s Academic Content Standards of Science. Arizona’s schools have made sustaining student curiosity in the sciences a high priority.  In addition, Arizona educators understand that the application of scientific thinking enables students to strengthen skills that people use every day: solving problems creatively, thinking critically, working cooperatively in teams, using technology effectively, and valuing lifelong learning.

By integrating Discovery Education’s Science Techbooks into classroom instruction, DVUSD’s educators will be empowered to support these important goals through the delivery of standard-aligned instruction that meets each students’ unique needs while promoting higher-level thinking and questioning.


Discovery Education’s award-winning Techbooks are breakthrough digital textbooks that are aligned to rigorous standards, support a comprehensive curriculum, and are updated regularly at no cost.  The series encourages all learners through interactive features that change the reading level of text and enable text to be read aloud. The Techbook series saves teachers’ time with a comprehensive design that places model lessons, student activities and assessments at their fingertips. Techbooks are platform neutral and can be used in one-to-one or one-to-many configurations and in any instructional environment.


Discovery Education’s Science Techbook series empowers educators to transform science instruction. Utilizing an inquiry-based format built on the Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate (5E) model, each Science Techbook includes rich, standards-aligned content such as video, audio, text, interactives with hands-on activities, and virtual labs that help educators differentiate instruction and provide a rich and engaging learning experience for students. Additional student features include bilingual text-to-speech and leveled reading tools, and note-taking and highlighting capabilities.


The Science Techbooks series also includes valuable STEM resources as well. STEM Project Starters encourage students to connect math, technology, and engineering to their understanding of science concepts to produce creative solutions to real world problems. In addition, the STEM In Action resources help students connect their work to STEM careers, which promotes a clearer understanding of how skills used in school can be applied to jobs “in the real world.”  Embedded formative assessment opportunities that help educators monitor student progress are embedded into each Techbook, and like all Discovery Education digital textbooks, the Science Techbooks work on any device and can be implemented in any instructional setting.

“The Deer Valley Unified School District is fully committed to providing every student extraordinary educational opportunities that help them become lifelong learners who will successfully compete, lead and positively impact the world,” said Dr. James Veitenheimer, Superintendent at DVUSD. “We are excited to launch this new partnership with Discovery Education, as together, we will create dynamic, standard-aligned digital classrooms that will engage all learners.”


DVUSD’s educators will also receive sustained, job-embedded professional development from Discovery Education’s expert faculty.  This professional development will help district educators evolve their teaching practice and effectively use their new digital resources. Also, the Discovery Education Community will support DVUSD’s educators’ efforts to transform students’ learning experiences with dynamic digital media. A global community of education professionals, the Discovery Education Community connects members across school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events, fostering valuable networking, idea sharing and inspiration.

“Discovery Education is proud to be a part of Deer Valley Unified School District’s efforts to help each student not only understand the world around them, but also develop the important critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills needed for success beyond the classroom,” said Andrew Bradigan, Discovery Education Regional Vice President. “We look forward to working with the talented DVUSD team on this new initiative.”


For more information about the Discovery Education Techbook series, Professional Development Initiatives, or other services and resources from Discovery Education, visit: www.discoveryeducation.com.



About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.



Media Contact
Andrea Oliveira
(512) 922-7505

CHERRY HILL, N.J., May 30, 2017
– The 17th annual Global Finals, hosted by Destination Imagination (DI) ended Saturday with teams from 17 countries across the globe  – including Australia, Canada, China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United States – celebrating creativity through a series of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), improvisational and service learning challenges. Students from Texas, China, Colorado, Poland and others earned the first place trophy in their respective categories.

Overcast skies and rainy weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the more than 17,000 participants and visitors at the tournament, which took place in Knoxville, Tennessee. Students worked diligently from Wednesday, May 24 until Saturday, May 27 as they polished up their innovative solutions designed around five pillars of celebration, collaboration, cultural exchange, individual decisions and personal growth.

“Every year at Global Finals, we get the opportunity to better prepare students to operate in tomorrow’s entrepreneurial environment and fast-changing 21st century with out of the box, creative thinking,” said Stephan Turnipseed, executive vice president and chief program officer for Destination Imagination. “Preparing children for a future that cannot be described requires seeing that spark of greatness that lies within each student and fanning it into a flame that can never be extinguished.”

In addition to the international tournament, thousands of attendees filled the Knoxville Convention Center to enjoy an action-packed week of festivities at the Global Finals Innovation Expo, which focused on the future of education and creativity. This year’s event also hosted a Workforce of the Future panel and networking event, as well as a costume ball where students showed off their creative design, art and engineering skills with handcrafted costumes made from duct tape.

“Each letter of STEAM education is critical to developing our future problem solvers and the next generation of engineers,” said Tracy Magee, Ford STEAM Experience Brand Manager. “To keep a child interested in a creative learning program that emphasizes those elements for over five years and several stages of life is a great testimony to Destination Imagination and all the people involved.”

The Winning Teams
Notable winners from the 2017 Global Finals include:

  • Teams from China swept the wins at this year’s Global Finals with 20 total teams that placed in the top three of their respective categories, nine of which came in first.
  • Bernards DI from New Jersey was the only team to receive the Torchbearer special award for the team’s thoughtful project that funded a year of schooling for 10 young African women.
  • Tennessee native, Mt. Pleasant Middle School from Mount Pleasant, won the Renaissance award for moving the appraisers with their compelling storytelling, which portrayed the impact of living with autism and showed a realistic portrayal of the different responses from the community ranging from bullying to sensitive communication.
  • Junior High School No. 13 in Wroclaw, Poland also walked away with the Renaissance award for creating a beautifully engineered and intricate mechanical, wooden hummingbird with wings that moves as if in-flight.
  • Team Originality from Shanghai Fengxian High School in China placed first in the engineering category for secondary level, receiving a monetary scholarship from the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF).
  • The “Goon Platoon” team from Milan High School in Tennessee placed first in the “In It Together” Instant Challenge for their quick, creative and critical thinking shown during the tournament, producing a solution on-site within eight minutes.

To view all of the Global Finals 2017 winners, visit http://www.globalfinals.org/results/.