Middletown Schools leader wins national award

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Middletown Schools leader wins national award

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Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. has been chosen as one of America’s top 30 educational leaders in digital learning. Styles was the only school official from Ohio to win the annual honor from the California-based Center for Digital Education. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Middletown Schools’ leader may be new to the job, but he has already racked up a national honor.

The Center for Digital Education has chosen Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. as one of America’s “Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers,” the Journal-News has exclusively learned.

Styles is the only Ohio educator to be honored in this year’s awards.

Officials with the California-based center, which is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding, said Styles and the other winners epitomize the leading edge of digital learning.

“The 2017 winners were selected based on their efforts to improve education through effective implementation of technology-rich solutions; their impact on student outcomes; and their overall initiative, creativity and leadership skills,” center officials said in an announcement.

“Our winners have shown an immense amount of passion and courage as they take on education in an era that encompasses rapid changes. They have demonstrated a unique ability to use technology as a catalyst to transform education at all levels and to have a positive impact on student success,” said Kecia Ray, executive director of the center.

Styles, a former top official with Lakota Schools who started as Middletown’s new school leader last month, said he is “happy” about the national spotlight but more so for what it means to bolstering his new campaign to modernize learning in the city school system.

“I’m more excited about what this means for the district and the Middie Modernization Movement,” said Styles, referring to changes he has launched to improve the quality of the 6,300-student district he now leads.

“Digital learning is one of the main points of the Middie Modernization Movement. Students using technology throughout the learning process will enhance opportunities for career readiness. That is what this movement is about, preparing our students for careers, equipping them with the skills and providing meaningful learning experiences,” he said.

Prior to being hired by the Middletown school board in May, Styles worked as the executive director of curriculum and instruction for Lakota Schools, where he pushed for expanding digital learning in Southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school system.

Styles — and other 2017 national winners — will be honored during the center’s Digital Education Leadership Conversation K-12 event on Nov. 9 in Pampano Beach, Fla.

The former school principal recently told Middletown school staffers at an employee meeting prior to opening the school year that they need to become more digitally savvy and aggressive in using such tools in their teaching.

“Educators can modernize their instructional approaches by gathering resources, join and participate in online professional chats, and collaborate with educators locally and across the country,” Styles previously told the Journal-News.

“I believe one of the most effective leadership qualities I have learned is to model the way,” he said.

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