The Real Power of the Follett Challenge

The Follett Challenge was developed to empower innovation and reward ground-breaking educational programs. So what is the challenge in this national contest?

We often hear about innovative, grass-roots programs, which have been implemented and are highly successful. So the challenge does not come from a lack of scalable, innovative ideas.

Time and time again, we hear that the real challenge lies in how to share those innovative programs beyond the walls of the school. Educators just don’t have the time or the resources to share these highly successful programs with other schools, let alone the community that supports them.

And this is where the real power of the Follett Challenge lies.

The Follett Challenge was specifically designed to include a voting component as it encourages and allows participants to get on a soapbox and share their program with a larger audience: parents, community members, neighboring districts, and more.

It provides a conscious way to showcase the benefits of a program, so much that we’ve heard programs have been saved from the chopping block!

And it provides educators worldwide access to a database of successful programs.

While we wait for the judges to determine the grand prize winner of the Follett Challenge, we worked with each semifinalist to develop a case study. These case studies provide you examples of successful programs, how to implement them, and the benefits you can expect from doing so. It’s a wealth of knowledge that is now at your fingertips, allowing you to benefit from the work your fellow educators have already put forth – something all educators would like to provide each other.

So for your reading pleasure, we offer you case studies on the three semifinalists of the 2015 Follett Challenge.

High School Category Semifinalist: The Young Women’s Leadership School

Program: Intensives – Learning Without Walls

Overview: A two-week course during which school leaders “break down the walls of the traditional school structure, providing the time and space for teachers and students to become critical thinkers of the 21st century.”

Read the Case Study | Watch the Video


Middle School Category Semifinalist: O’Neill Middle School

Program: Conquest of the Realm

Overview: A competitive, voluntary game that increases critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills through interactions with others.

Read the Case Study | Watch the Video


Elementary School Category Semifinalist: Bluebonnet / Park Glen Elementary Schools

Program: Tech Ninjas

Overview: Help students build their technology skills and give them a place to create, explore and practice. In addition, participating students apply their technology skills throughout their days, helping classmates and teachers alike.

Read the Case Study | Watch the Video


You can visit the Follett Challenge News Hub for more case studies and to view all past video submissions. And don’t forget to tune in to on April 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm CDT to find out the winner of this year’s Follett Challenge!


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.

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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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