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

In My Own Words: Should you enter the Follett Challenge?


by Darcy Coffta, Berwick Academy

We all have so many demands on our time, that you might find yourself asking, “Why should our school enter the Follett Challenge?”  I felt the same way, but then you think about how much there is to gain and you just have to go for it!

Entering the Follett Challenge allowed us to share our story of the Berwick Innovation Center on a national stage.  We collaborated with librarians, teachers, students and administration to create a video that represented the key elements of our program.  We highlighted how the library was the central component and crucial to the success of the Innovation Center, because librarians are just so good at coming up with new ideas and being resourceful!  So, not only could other schools, teachers, and librarians view our video, but we watched several others too.  We gained so many new ideas and learned what amazing programs are happening across the country (and across the globe for that matter) as there were international entries.

The sharing of knowledge was incredible. It created an instant network of educators who were able to suddenly communicate what they were doing and allowed us to make connections that otherwise would not have been possible.   Personally, I felt a strong sense of validation, too!  I mean, we all know what we do is important and that it matters and that we can create positive change for our kids, but to have a panel of experts say, “Yes, your program should be recognized,” was so rewarding.

So, by taking a chance and entering the Follett Challenge and by spending some time on our video submission and application, we were fortunate enough to win third prize, which has allowed us to add resources to our library that would never have been possible.  We are adding eBooks and databases that will permit our students to push the levels of their research and expand the scope of their projects to places that we just could not go before.  Winning has also opened the door to other funding opportunities, so it is well worth the time investment.

I would encourage all schools that are doing truly innovative programming to enter!  Not only can you share your story, but you have the chance to win substantial resources for your students, and when it comes right down to it, it’s all about giving kids everything possible they need to succeed.

Good luck!

Darcy Coffta

Berwick Academy