New Albany News

Domine, Willmore honored

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New Albany-Plain Local Superintendent April Domine and environmental and STEM adviser Sandra Willmore recently were recognized by national groups for their accomplishments.

Domine will receive the 2014 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award from the National School Public Relations Association on July 15.

Willmore was recognized May 28 as one of eight educators nationwide to receive a Green Educators Award through the Green Schools Organization.

Domine was chosen because one of the school district's goals is to improve communications.

"This is a wonderful celebration of our team's work to creatively and powerfully improve communications that not only inform but engage our entire community in the tremendous work our staff does every day to lead and inspire students to learn," Domine said. "Our team brings this mission to life every single day and I am grateful to work with such a creative and passionate team."

Under Domine's leadership, the district formed a communications committee and reorganized its communications department, which now includes: Patrick Gallaway, the communications director; Beth Steel, the communications coordinator who updates the website and writes many of the district's publications; and Ray Cunningham, a former teacher who splits his time between the communications department and the technology department.

Gallaway said Domine's efforts to reach the community have been successful.

"The online lunch chats have been a success in my opinion," Gallaway said. "The first was back in April and we had up to 55 viewers live and have had 146 people watch the online broadcast after the fact. It is on our website for folks to view."

Gallaway called it "an easy, affordable way for the community to stay in touch and provides that two-way communication that is one of our goals."

Domine's evening office hours also were popular, with almost all of the 10-minute blocks filled during each of the 12 events, Gallaway said.

Willmore's award was presented on May 28 in Boston.

She said she could not travel to Boston to receive it, since it was so close to the end of the school year.

Willmore was nominated for the award by Neil Gupta, the district's director of assessment and programming, who wrote in the nomination letter: "With her infectious passion and leadership in our community and across the state, I am convinced Sandy exemplifies the qualities of this award based on her environmental education and activism."

Gupta said Willmore works with classroom teachers and students "to align state and national standards and outcomes with relevant experiences both inside the classroom as well as outside across our wildlife preserve" and said as an activist, she shares "her passion for nature and conservation, modeling the experiences and voice among the students and staff on protecting the district's natural resources."

She also has organized two STEM expeditions, one to South Africa in 2013 and one to Colorado in 2014.

Willmore said she was surprised and thrilled to receive the award.

"All I can say is that I am most proud of the curriculum work I have done over the years with teachers in the district," she said. "This award is truly a reflection of them because these teachers invite me into their classrooms and together we create hands-on inquiry-based lessons and experiments that their students can do in the natural environment of our nature preserve. It is also a reflection of an innovative school district, one that supports new ideas and risk taking."

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