Congratulations to the Flipgrid 2015 Graduation Voices Winners, Top Voices, and More

I was honored to be one of the judges in Flipgrid’s inaugural Graduation Voices contest.  Graduates of high school and college contributed their voices to two grids to complete the sentence, “To me, graduation means…”  Almost 200 graduates added their voices between the two grids, and I enjoyed watching all of them along with fellow judges Shannon Miller and Alec Couros. Congratulations to the two winners, Eliot and Jay.  They will each receive a new Apple watch.  You can read the full post on Flipgrid’s blog. I also send a huge congratulations to the other top voices on the grids.

Judges’ top choices for Graduation Voices 2015

High School

Watch Ami’s video here. Watch Anthony’s video here. Watch Ben’s video here. Watch Guillermo’s video here.  Watch Kyle’s video here.


Watch Abbie’s video here. Watch Alyson’s video here. Watch Jamie’s video here. Watch Liz’s video here.  To view all entries to the #grad15 grid, click here. Since I had the pleasure of watching every single video, I heard many standout voices.  Every video was special in some way, and some had me laughing out loud.  Graduation means so many things to so many people.  We all might think of it as closing one chapter and starting another, but most of us have other reasons we love graduation.  High school and college are a time to find yourself and further develop yourself as an individual.  Bravo to these students for letting their personalities shine through.  I want to recognize a few of the voices that made me smile in their own way.

Neil’s: I’m done with school!

You know you all want to binge watch Netflix and eat some junk food at 3AM.

How about the freedom to buy baked goods?

The end to regulated lunches?

Here’s to sleeping in!

Spread your wings and prepare to fly from sea to shining sea

Time to do whatever you want

The end to pointless homework

Getting to go home!

Get on board that train

I wish all of these graduates the best as they continue on in what life has in store for them next.  Go out and change the world!

Proud to Be One of the NSBA 20 to Watch in Education Technology


Last week, some exciting news was released.  I have been named one of the National School Board Association’s 20 to Watch.  I will travel to Atlanta, GA on March 16-17 to meet the other 19 and be recognized.  Each time that a recognition such as this comes my way, I know that it isn’t just mine.  It also belongs to all of the students, teacher, and families that I work with.  It also emphasizes the power of libraries in schools.

It has been so much fun to hear from so many of my colleagues and friends about this honor.

FireShot Capture - Andy Plemmons -_ - https___www.facebook.com_andy.plemmons_posts_10204863935376531

Here is the official press release from my school district.

Barrow Elementary’s Andy Plemmons Named to the “20 to Watch” Education Technology Leaders by the National School Boards Association

 Writer/Contact: Anisa Sullivan Jimenez, (706) 546-7721, ext. 18271,

 (Athens, Ga.) — Barrow Elementary School Media Specialist Andy Plemmons was today named by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to their list of “20 to Watch” top technology educators for 2014-15. Those on the list are being recognized for their ability to inspire colleagues to explore and embrace innovative digital learning solutions that lead to stronger teaching and learning practices.

“It is such an honor to receive this national recognition because it means that my library, my students and my teachers are reaching a wider audience,” said Plemmons. “We are living in a time where now more than ever we can harness the power of technology to collaborate within and beyond our walls. Our students are more than just consumers. They are creators who have a voice, and I am thankful to work in a district where I can walk into my library and expect the miraculous every day.”

Plemmons was also a finalist for School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, sponsored by Scholastic Library Publishing. Commendations were given to only three librarians in the U.S. He is also Clarke County’s only Certified Google Teacher.

“The entire Barrow community is proud that Andy was chosen as a ‘20 to Watch’ education technology leader,” said Principal Ellen Sabatini. “Andy’s collaborative leadership style supports teachers as they develop their own skills in orchestrating technology-based projects and lessons that engage students in authentic work. With Andy’s vision, encouragement and strong belief in taking risks, we are all expanding our use of innovative technologies.”

Some examples of creative work taking place in the media center under his leadership include:

  • Pre-K students used Storybird to create digital narratives.
  • Kindergartners used Chromville to augment reality and inspire narrative writing. They also used Padlet to write and collaborate with students from other states.
  • 1st Graders used Google Earth to preview a walking field trip.
  • 2nd Graders created a black history campaign using Flipgrid, Smore and social media, and held a Skype celebration with the developers.
  • 3rd Graders studied the art of Jerry Pinkney, took a field trip to the High Museum and used iMovie to publish their own versions of folktales. They also designed and printed 3D gems after a study of rocks and minerals in conjunction with Aurum Studios.
  • 4th Graders created multiple digital projects in an online museum that tied into social studies standards.
  • 5th Graders experienced the events of 9/11 through a day-long exploration using a variety of texts and collaborated on a video with an elementary school in California.
  • Students participated in the nationwide Hour of Code and with the use of Google Hangout, Plemmons collaborated with librarians in five states to plan the day.
  • Students participated in World Read Aloud Day, Poem in Your Pocket Day and more through the use of Skype and Google Hangout.

“Andy Plemmons is an innovator and leader that makes a difference in our district, state and nation,” said Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue. “He sets the highest standard, but what is most impressive is how he seamlessly blends innovative digital learning environments with ensuring he has a personal relationship with each child.”

The school was also one of the featured schools for the 2012 Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education Bus Tour, due to Plemmons’ leadership in the exemplary use of technology. He is also a past recipient of the Foundation for Excellence’s Kathryn H. Hug Instructional Leadership Award.

This is the ninth year of the NSBA “20 to Watch” program, created in 2006. This year’s honorees are being recognized at the 2015 Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Conference on March 16 in Atlanta.

“This year’s ‘20 to Watch’ honorees highlight the kind of exciting innovations that exist throughout America’s public schools. These teachers and administrators, with support from their school boards, share a vision for learning that will prepare students for future success,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “These inspirational pioneers are having a positive impact on the districts they serve.”

The Clarke County School District is home to the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Philip D. Lanoue. It is also home to the #1 Career Academy in Georgia (2015), a designation from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. CCSD was named the state’s Title I Distinguished District for closing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. The district is a state-level model technology school district, 2013 and 2014 NAMM Best Communities in Music Education and has a nationally innovative Professional Development School District partnership with the University of Georgia. Graduates are offered upwards of $3 million in scholarships annually, not including the HOPE. For more information, please visit

Edublog Awards 2014: A Great Source for New Professional Learning


Since 2004, the Edublog Awards have been a source of community support and recognition within the education world.  It’s a time when educators nominate other educators and tools for their outstanding work and contributions throughout the year.  Being nominated by your peers means the world to each nominee because it validates the contributions and sacrifices of each person as well as all of the times that nominees have second guessed themselves.

The Edublog Awards, or Eddies, are also a wealth of resources to push your thinking as an educator.  Each year, I see familiar faces and tools in the nominees, but I also find someone or a resource that is new to me.  I invite you to take time to visit the nominees.  Learn from these amazing educators and tools.  If you have a moment, show some love and appreciation by voting.  Voting is simple.  Once you login with your facebook, Twitter, Google, or listly account, you can vote for as many nominees as you want by clicking on the thumbs up.

If you enjoy reading this blog, it is nominated in 2 categories.


Vote for best library/librarian blog


Vote for best educational use of media


2014 SLJ School Librarian of the Year Finalist

An incredible honor happened this week.  I was named a finalist for the 2014 School Library Journal & Scholastic School Librarian of the Year.  My Twitter and Facebook feeds have been flooded with congratulations and I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls as well.  Being recognized is such an honor, but more importantly to me, recognitions like this highlight the powerful work that takes place in school libraries around the world who have librarians who are connected educators constantly staying on the cutting edge of innovation, advocating for students, and sharing their work for the good of libraries worldwide.  I stand tall with Michelle Colte, School Librarian of the Year, and Colleen Graves, co-finalist.

You can read the full SLJ story here.

Read about Michelle Colt.

Read about Colleen Graves.

Read about me.

Here’s the official press release.

School Library Journal and Scholastic Announce Winners of the Inaugural School Librarian of the Year Award Library Media Specialist Michelle Colte is recognized for her innovative use of technology and exceptional

NEW YORK, NY – September 3, 2014 – School Library Journal today announced the winners of the first annual School Librarian of the Year Award, which honors K–12 school library professionals for outstanding achievement and the exemplary use of 21st- century tools and services to engage students toward fostering multiple literacies. Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI, was named the winner and will receive a $2,500 cash award and $2,500 worth of materials of her choosing from Scholastic Library Publishing, the award’s founding sponsor. Additionally, Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA and Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, were both recognized as finalists and will each receive $500 in Scholastic materials of their choice. All three school librarians are currently featured in the September 2014 issue of School Library Journal, available now with winner Michelle Colte as the cover story, and on

A panel of school librarians, School Library Journal editors and other industry professionals from Scholastic and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) determined the winners of the award. All nominations were judged based on several criteria, including creativity in programming, exemplary use of technology and integration of library resources with curricula.

To learn more about the School Librarian of the Year Award and its honorees, visit

Quotes about the School Librarian of the Year Award:

Michelle Colte, 2014 School Librarian of the Year, stated, “I believe that being a librarian is about so much more than providing access to information and promoting literacy – it’s about helping people make connections and share knowledge within the community and beyond. I am honored to be named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year, and I hope that my passion for learning will inspire others in my field to push themselves, their fellow educators and students in their schools creatively.”

Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor of School Library Journal, said, “This inaugural award is a unique opportunity to highlight the work of school librarians who help K–12 students gain critical literacy skills, discover great literature, and engage personal, creative expression, using technology. School Library Journal is pleased to honor these exemplars of the profession, underscoring the important role of librarians and media specialists in fostering future generations and bettering the greater community.

Allison Henderson, Vice President and General Manager of Scholastic Library Publishing, shared, “It’s an honor to recognize and celebrate the innovative and dedicated work school librarians are doing to engage students, foster literacy and encourage lifelong learners through technology. Scholastic is thrilled to sponsor the School Librarian of the Year Award and we look forward to seeing how the winners, all of whom creatively and passionately have implemented exciting ideas in their schools, continue to inspire their students as well as their fellow school librarians.”

About the 2014 School Librarian of the Year Winner and Finalists:

2014 School Librarian of the Year Michelle Colte, who has served as the library media specialist at Hale Kula Elementary School in Wahiawa, HI for nine years, is a passionate advocate of integrating technology into instruction as well as building community. Her efforts and accomplishments have included:

  • Emphasizing the importance of playful learning through initiatives such as Hour of Code, where students learn the fundamentals of computer programming;
  • enhancing her library’s technological capacity by actively seeking out grants for netbooks and tablets;
  • working hand-in-hand with teachers to incorporate technology into instruction through the use of student-developed websites and fostering collaboration through Google Apps;
  • developing a sense of “ohana,” or family, in the library by regularly coordinating school events to bring together students, staff and parents;
  • understanding her school’s community, which predominantly serves military families and providing resources specific to their needs, both in the library and through its online portals; and
  • sharing best practices with other educators throughout Hawaii and nationally through social media and as a frequent presenter at tech and education conferences.

Finalist Andy Plemmons of David C. Barrow Elementary School in Athens, GA, aims to enrich classroom instruction with lessons and activities from his school’s media center program, focused on empowering students to experiment with new technologies. He continuously encourages students to use various apps and social media channels, not only to create content, but to share their creations with fellow classmates and the community. As a lifelong learner himself, Plemmons understands the importance of professional collaboration and often presents at conferences or webinars.

Finalist Colleen Graves of Lamar Middle School in Flower Mound, TX, established a Makerspace and introduced a series of Maker Monday workshops at her school where students have the opportunity to design and create during activities such as app-making. An early adapter of new technologies and programs, Graves shares her knowledge by organizing “lunch and learn” sessions where students and staff discover innovative strategies using programs such as GarageBand, Google Sites and more.

Each of the honorees provides a unique look into what a modern-day school librarian’s role is in today’s schools. To learn more about the winners and their accomplishments, visit


The Award-Winning 5th Grade Little Free Library Project


Our Little Free Library was presented to the school during the 5th Grade Moving On Ceremony

Today was our 5th grade Moving On Ceremony.  This is a very special day where every 5th grader is honored for their time at our school. Our teachers worked together to write tweets about each student to highlight some of their great qualities.  Another portion of the ceremony is awards.  Again, this is a very special time because so many students are honored for their many gifts:  academics, citizenship, service, creativity, and more.  Among the awards are some memorial awards which honor Barrow Buddies who were taken from our world way too soon.  The Eve Carson Service Learning Award is one of those awards.  The award is described in this way.

Eve Carson

Several ideas are important at Barrow School—learning, service and fun. Service-Learning—the intentional connection of service and learning is something we are growing here. Service-Learning adds the very important part of self-reflection to a project. Through Service-Learning you come to understand yourself and your world in a different way.Well, when we put together service, learning and fun we quite naturally thought of Eve Carson. Eve was an outstanding Barrow Buddy who continued to lead an outstanding academic and personal life. As difficult as it is today to not have Eve here, we are so thankful for her example of living a meaningful life and for the inspiration she will continue to give Barrow Buddies through the years. Each year hereafter, an award in her name will be given in honor of a service learning project completed by a class or group at Barrow Pre-K-5th Grade.

This year, I nominated the 5th grade Little Free Library Project for this award.  It exemplifies service learning because every Barrow 5th grader was involved in the project in multiple ways.  Students learned so much about a commitment to serving their community and thinking beyond just ourselves.  Today, we learned that our project was chosen as this year’s recipient of the Eve Carson Service Learning Memorial Award.  I am honored that our project will be listed on the memorial plaque among so many other inspiring projects that have served our Barrow community and beyond.  Sarah James, Barrow 5th grader, presented one of the Little Free Libraries as the gift to our school during the ceremony.  Our 5th graders should be very proud of their accomplishment that will provide more access to free books for our community for years to come.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mysteries of Harris Burdick Contest

Over the past month, students from all grade levels at our school have been participating in a writing contest sponsored by Avid Bookshop, a new independent bookshop in Athens.  We had over 50 students enter the contest, and I’ve heard that Avid received hundreds of entries from local schools.  Today, the finalists were announced.  They will be honored this Sunday November 13th at Avid from 1-3:00PM.  Some of the students will read from their stories and the top winner will be announced.  The top winner’s story will be submitted to a national contest sponsored by Chris Van Allsburg in celebration of his new compilation, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.  

Congratulations to our Barrow finalists:

Amelia Ray and Hanna Lee

We hope to see lots of supporters at Avid on Sunday.

Avid Bookshop

493 Prince Avenue

Athens, GA


Foundation for Excellence

Tonight was the Clarke County Foundation for Excellence banquet where I was honored with the Kathryn Hug Instructional Leadership Award.  This awards banquet is always an inspiring event.  I was very honored to have David Richard, 5th grade student poet who has been featured on this blog, to do my introduction.  He did a fantastic job, and his words had me on an emotional roller coaster before I had to do my acceptance speech.  Several people asked me if I would share my speech, so here it is.

I recently heard author/illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi say that when you get to be an adult, you’re able to look back at your life and name the moments and people who impacted your path in life to bring you to where you are today.  Each of us in this room has a story to tell of what has brought us together today.

As a leader in education, I hope that

  • my spirit of transparency and making my work public
  • my collaboration with teachers, students, and families
  • my risk-taking to dive into the unknown exploring innovative technologies, texts, and ideas
  • my constant pursuit of developing myself professionally and being a model of lifelong learning
  • and my philosophy of giving students the space to participate and be creators of content rather than just consumers of information

will somehow positively impact the paths of the students, educators, and families that I work with.

This evening, I want to honor some of the moments and people that brought me here today and invite you to reflect upon your own story and how you might continue to foster opportunities to impact the lives of individuals that cross your own path.


Where I’m From


I’m from the Blue Ridge mountains

From winding dirt roads and cool, misty creeks

Beauty shop gossip and old men gathered at the post office

From Fall leaf lookers and apple pickers

Banjo music and late night revivals

I’m from pickled corn, sliced tomatoes with salt, and Sues’ Best Hamburgers in Town

I’m from the enchanted trail through the forest from Mammaw’s to home

from the rusty, white trailer by the creek, metal storage buildings, worn down vehicles,

and discount stores


But I’m from more than a place


I’m from my family and countless educators

who paved the way to where I am today

with love, encouragement, perseverance, and support


I’m from my dad, Joe

high school education

factory worker


cracked, grease-filled hands scrubbed with a toothbrush and gojo after a hard day’s work

round the clock phone calls to fix it, fix it, fix it

from “You know I love you, don’t you” and “You’re going to go to college”

I’m from the perfect model of working hard to provide for your family


I’m also from my mom, Cindy

high school education

factory worker

Thinking of others before herself

weekly trips to the library for an armload of books

picnics in the park in the front seat of the van

I’m from “You make your own choices, but you have to live with what you decide”


I’m from my grandparents

Pappaw Bob, Mammaw Hazel, Pappaw Bone, and Nanny Sue

Faithful church-going Christians

“Stay in touch with the caretaker cause you never know when you’ll need took care of”

I’m from trips to Cherokee to the dirt place and yearly visits to Santa’s Land

Picnics at Vogel, waterfall tours, adventures in Helen, and late evening fishing

I’m from storytelling into a tape recorder

And made-up recipes in the kitchen


I’m from my wife, Denise

activist for homeless animals

Creative spirit and outside-the-box ideas

Encouraging words in times of stress

Lifelong friend


I’m from my daughter, Alora

eyes open to the world

helping me see everything again for the first time


I’m from my teachers

Ms. Burger’s comforting smile as my nerves and anxiety grew

Skilled storytelling with a thick southern accent from Ms. Deloache

And the pain of beloved artwork being destroyed from Ms. Montgomery


I’m from the independence learned from a space project with Ms. Pugh

and Vis-a-vis math with Ms. Shinpaugh

A push from Ms. Weaver to break past my deep-rooted fear of public speaking

and a lunchbox full of notecards for Ms. Mercier’s senior research paper


I’m from Mr. and Mrs. Moates

band directors who treated every student like a family member

my ticket out of a small town life with limited opportunities


I’m from the 59 on my first college English paper

and the ridicule of  a trombone professor

From a career-changing guidance counselor

and my critical friends


I’m from Mary Ann Fitzgerald

Forward thinking about what libraries should be

a professor and friend who pushed me to create information

and think of my patrons first


I’m from Colham Ferry and Barrow

Mentor teachers

Collaborative partners

Path-paving administrators

Innovative students

Pushing me to always reinvent my beliefs in education


I’m from each of these people and moments

My memories

My struggles

My foundation

Carried with me wherever I go

This slideshow requires JavaScript.