Follett Challenge Reveals Semifinalists, Video Winners








Two New Jersey schools join Illinois, Michigan schools among final four

MCHENRY, Ill., April 14, 2014 – For the third consecutive year, the $200,000 Follett Challenge has provided a forum for K-12 schools from around the country to share inspiring stories of how their innovative programs are preparing students for the demands of the 21st century. In a live webcast today, contest organizers announced this year’s four semifinalists plus the “People’s Choice” winners —those schools whose video submissions received the highest number of online votes from the public.

From the four semifinalists, a grand-prize winner will be selected and announced May 16. The overall winner will earn a $60,000 prize in Follett products and services, while the other three semifinalists will each earn $30,000 in products and services.

In today’s webcast, Tom Schenck, president and COO of Follett School Solutions, announced the four semifinalists:

Ten $5,000 prizes (also in products and services) will be awarded to the “People’s Choice” winners. All four semifinalists placed among the top 10, in addition to these six winning schools as announced by Schenck:

A total of 103 entrants completed an online application and uploaded a three- to five-minute video describing their program. The judges scored entries based on critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration between students and among teachers and other members of the school staff. More than 233,000 votes were cast in the online competition for favorite videos.

“The innovation and creativity taking place in our schools today never ceases to amaze us,” Schenck said. “The videos are proof that exemplary 21st century teaching and learning is taking place in classrooms throughout the country, and we hope people will take the time to view them. They are truly inspiring, and Follett is proud to shine a light on what passionate educators and motivated students can accomplish.”

For more information on the Follett Challenge, visit


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About Follett’s PreK-12 Business
Follett is the largest provider of educational materials and technology solutions to PreK-12 libraries, classrooms, learning centers and school districts in the United States, and a major supplier to educational institutions worldwide. Follett distributes books, reference materials, digital resources, ebooks and audiovisual materials, as well as pre-owned textbooks. Follett also is one of the leading providers of integrated educational technology for the management of physical and digital assets, the tracking, storing and analyzing of academic data, and digital learning environment tools for the classroom focusing on student achievement.

About Follett Corporation

Since 1873, Follett has served as the trusted partner in education for students and educators at all levels of learning. Today, Follett delivers physical and digital learning materials, retail services, school content and management systems to more than 70,000 early childhood, primary and secondary schools, and on more than 1,000 college campuses. Headquartered in River Grove, Illinois, Follett is a $2.7 billion privately held company.

Cornerstone for Teachers features Follett Challenge

Do you read Angela Watson’s The Cornerstone for Teachers site?

If not, you should! It’s a great resource for teachers and other educators and includes valuable resources aimed at making classroom management easier. It also features guest blogs, and recently the featured blog was authored by Britten Follett. Titled, “Win up to $200K worth of tech resources for your school,” the blog outlines  how the contest has made a difference in so many schools and how you can enter to win this year’s contest. You can read the blog here:

Be sure to watch the videos that are a part of the entry — they are so inspiring!

With the contest open until February 28th, 2014, there is still plenty of time to work on your entry and get it submitted by the deadline. All of last year’s winners were surprised to learn they won…. and they never would have had a chance if they had not entered.

So take a moment to visit The Cornerstone for Teachers and then get started on your Follett Challenge entry at You can save your entry and revisit it later to finish.

Now is the time!

Britten Follett

Britten Follett

Taking the Follett Leap

by Meg Omainsky, Teacher Librarian, Henry M. Gunn High School

I’ll admit, I never would have entered this contest if I was not encouraged to do so by a colleague and parent within my school district.  I’ve never been one to seek out awards, and prefer to be a behind the scenes, “idea person” rather than in the spotlight. After some persuasion, though, I decided to go for it.

“How do you cultivate an environment of creativity and collaboration within your library or school environment?”  As soon as I heard this challenge, I knew the Follett Challenge was the contest for Gunn Library.

gunn library-6gunn library-11

Schools continue to face budget shortfalls, and our district is no different.  With the onset of the new Common Core curriculum, our site is racing to revamp our resources to make this new alignment.  The Follett Challenge winnings are being split between school libraries within our district so we can meet these new challenges head on.  Soon, each site will have new audio titles of core novels to assist lower level and struggling readers.  Students prepping for AP and Sat exams, will be able to access test prep materials through the digital Follett Shelf.  Our collection will become rich with primary sources giving students a first hand look into the history they are studying. Additionally, for the first time since our library opened, we will have access to materials in languages other than English and Spanish.

None of this would have been possible without Follett making this opportunity available and without the urging of my wise colleagues and supporters.

I encourage other librarians to take the leap and show off your accomplishments.  You just might win the grand prize. shares insights on Follett Challenge




If you’re active on social media and follow library types, you most likely know of Matthew Winner, author of the blog. Matthew is a librarian at in Maryland, and his widely read blog is about all things related to the life of an elementary teacher librarian. Matthew is an avid gamer, a persistent reader, an author (of a forthcoming Wii Learning professional resource), and recently learned about the opportunity of the Follett Challenge while attending AASL in Hartford, CT.

On December 15, Matthew discussed the Follett Challenge in his blog, calling it “an opportunity for you to share your school’s story with the world, to share the way innovation is changing your school, and to involve your students in reaching thousands of others through your message.” Here is a link to the blog. Take Matthew’s advice and let the world know about the ways you are innovating!

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Winner of last year’s People’s Choice Award calls Follett Challenge ‘the gift that keeps on giving!’

grisworld danielle and kids  griswold little boy with ipadby Danielle Salina

We all have grand visions of the opportunities we would like to expose our students to, and the resources we would like to provide them with. However, as budgets seem to become tighter and tighter, our creativity in how we rise to the occasion becomes more and more challenged. Although time consuming, entering the Follett Challenge was a decision we are ABSOLUTEY THRILLED we made!

We were originally enticed by the monetary prize, but it quickly became evident the Challenge took on a life of its own, as our school video was earning nearly 1000 votes a day! School and community spirit was at an all-time high, and it became clear that every person counts and can make a difference. What a wonderful, authentic life lesson!! Our children were so excited to garnish the support (and votes!) of every neighbor, uncle, aunt, grandparent — basically ANYONE who would listen to them! — that they tirelessly pitched OUR school.

In viewing the video, our community was reminded that schools are indeed the heart of any community, and that children are indeed our most precious resource.

The Follett Challenge provided us with a platform to share the daily commitment of our teachers in consistently enhancing our teaching and learning environment, and it also provided us with great insight as to what other schools and communities do in their effort to achieve the same goal.

When it was announced live that our little elementary school had won the Popular Vote, after erupting in cheer, our children began singing our school song, loudly and proudly. THAT was a priceless moment, and one that I, and many, many others, will never forget.

Each month, I reveal a new set of “Follett Challenge” books to the children, and each time, their faces light up. The Follett Challenge is the gift that keeps on giving!

A Grand Prize Winner Shares Why You Should Enter the Follett Challenge

shelving SOS class

by Patrice Bryan, Maplewood Richmond Heights High School

If you’re anything like us at MRH, it’s been a long hard road to achieving real innovation. Considering the constraints of the current educational landscape and the anxiety everyone’s feeling over yet another standards shift to Common Core, it often feels like real innovation in education gets put on the back burner while we focus on mere compliance. At MRH we have a saying, “Compliance as a last resort.” That doesn’t mean we don’t comply with educational mandates, it means that our real work goes way above and beyond compliance.

Is it great to win $60K? You bet! But more important was the validation that our efforts have been fruitful, our creativity truly knows no bounds, and most important, that we’re moving in the right direction.Taking the time out to showcase what we’re doing was well worth the effort. We never expected to win; it was more about clarifying our narrative and focusing our vision of next steps.

Think big. Dream big. Enter the Follett Challenge.

Validation is fuel.

Patrice Bryan
Maplewood Richmond Heights High School

SOS in the R&D


There Really are Winners! Why You Should Enter the Follett Challenge

   first order deb cross

by Deb Cross, Goochland High School

You really CAN do it!

“I don’t have time to do one more thing!” I know, that is exactly what I thought last year when I was debating entering the Follett Challenge. I have to admit, the idea of I don’t have time to do one more thing! I know, that is exactly what I thought last year when I was debating entering the Follett Challenge.

I have to admit, the idea of winning free money to expand teaching and learning in my school was quite enticing, especially with all of the budget cuts that are happening. So, I decided to go for it. I knew that we were doing great things in our high school, and the Follett Challenge was the platform we needed to showcase it all. I work in a small county, so the idea that 30% of the calculated totals would come from the voting was a bit intimidating, as I knew we would be up against larger schools that could earn many more votes. But, I didn’t let that stop me.

Having the opportunity to see so many creative things happening using one platform, the Follett Challenge, was worth me entering.  So many schools are doing fantastic things; watching the videos of other entrants was inspiring. Sometimes we get so involved in what we are doing in our communities that we don’t look elsewhere for ideas as to how we could do things differently. We get stuck doing the same thing over and over each year because we don’t feel as if we have the time to change. Seeing so many creative things being done at other schools inspired me to do more with my students and teachers, to be better.
When I found out that our school won 4th prize, I was speechless. The opportunities that winning has presented our teachers are amazing. I have been able to provide materials way beyond what we can usually offer students. I now have quite a large collection of nonfiction ebooks for research, numerous new class sets of books and many of the items teachers have requested have been ordered. I compare winning to being a kid in a candy shop and able to pick out anything I wanted….it is incredible. And all of this was gained by taking a chance and entering the Follett Challenge.
So, I encourage you to find the extra time to submit an entry to the Follett Challenge. There really are winners, and it could be you!

Deb Cross
Goochland High School

wewon deb cross