School & District Management Video

Building a Digital Hub in Rural Alabama – Meet Matt Akin, 2016 Leader to Learn From

February 24, 2016 2:21

Piedmont, Ala., is a town with three traffic lights, a defunct textile industry, and few job opportunities. But students in the small school district there each have MacBook laptops, free Internet at home, and shiny new school media centers that look like they’ve been transplanted from Google headquarters. All those projects—and more—are the brainchildren of Matt Akin, the superintendent of the 1,200-student district. Akin has made it his mission not only to improve the prospects and education for the students in the Piedmont City school district, but to provide a boost in self-esteem to the entire community. A former computer programmer and computer science teacher, Akin is fluent in the language of ed-tech, but he’s been able to match that savvy with an ability to get school staff members on board with even the most challenging initiatives, and a talent for unearthing funds to make his ideas reality. He’s an educational entrepreneur in the truest sense: pitching to investors, marketing his brand, and “pivoting” when things don’t go as planned. This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country.

Coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts learning is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.

Video

School Climate & Safety Video They Survived a School Shooting. Here’s What They Want You to Know
The survivors of one school shooting offer insight and advice to future school leaders dealing with similar tragedies in their communities.
Lauren Santucci
6:28
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard, writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front of the school in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 21, 2018.
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard, writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front of the school in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 21, 2018.
Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP
Recruitment & Retention Video One District’s Transformative Solution to Its Staffing Shortage
A suburban Virginia school district overhauled its hiring process, enabling it to address a bus driver and teacher shortfall simultaneously.
A Cobb County School bus moves on street Friday, March 13, 2020, in Kennesaw, Ga.
A Cobb County School bus moves on street Friday, March 13, 2020, in Kennesaw, Ga.
Mike Stewart/AP
School Climate & Safety Video How a School Shooting Survivor Found Healing in Activism
Voting for the first time has been part of one school shooting survivor's healing process.
Kaylee Domzalski & Lauren Santucci
5:13
092422 Mia Saugus 09 ml BS
Morgan Lieberman for Education Week
Teaching Video Teachers, Try This: An SEL Lesson That Teaches Kindness and Empathy
See how this elementary school teacher uses an SEL lesson to teach students about the value of kindness, empathy, and the power of words.
Lauren Santucci
4:29
An 8th grader works on a class project at Paw Paw Middle School on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Paw Paw, Michigan. The students were asked to write a word that was important to them and their work in the classroom. They then added the words to a poster to serve as a class "contract." The district has upped its social-emotional curriculum during the pandemic, as more students struggle. That is common nationwide. A recent AP-NORC/MTV poll found that nearly half of U.S. teens said the pandemic has made it harder to be happy and maintain their mental health.
An 8th grader works on a class project at Paw Paw Middle School on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Paw Paw, Michigan. The students were asked to write a word that was important to them and their work in the classroom. They then added the words to a poster to serve as a class "contract." The district has upped its social-emotional curriculum during the pandemic, as more students struggle. That is common nationwide. A recent AP-NORC/MTV poll found that nearly half of U.S. teens said the pandemic has made it harder to be happy and maintain their mental health.
Martha Irvine/AP