Previous educational technology graduate award winners

Learn about the successes of our Educational Technology Award’s previous recipients.

2010: Dallas McPheeters


With five of their six children in college, McPheeters and his wife decided to return to school as well. Dallas completed a BA in Sociology at Northern Arizona University and continued on to pursue a MEd in Educational Technology.

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During his two-year journey to a master's degree, Dallas enjoyed a year working as a technology liaison in a Tucson elementary school. After budget shortfalls eliminated his position, Dallas developed programs to help teachers increase their proficiency with technology integration in the classroom.

Research convinced him the missing link to the technology integration gap demanded professional development efforts for which teachers had little time. Therefore, Dallas designed a capstone project targeting such professional development gaps using the 3D virtual platform “Second Life” as a time-and cost-saving tool.

The course was designed to be accessible enough to ensure ease of participation by busy teachers. Possible options included:

  • synchronous
  • asynchronous
  • guided
  • self-paced
  • 2D web-based
  • 3D virtual

As a result of this blended instruction delivery, Dallas' virtual classes were attended by more than 40 professors and instructional designers from North and Central America, Western and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

One participant commented, "I teach Caribbean studies at a NYC [New York City] university. It is not possible for students to go back in time in RL [Real Life] and going to the Caribbean is cost prohibitive. Virtual learning environments open up the possibility of exploring these places as though we were there."

Dallas plans to continue researching alternatives to traditional education including virtual, augmented, and mobile delivery platforms. He enjoys teaching in blended environments that combine face-to-face with web-based, virtual, and mobile possibilities.

You can see Dallas' capstone project  and enjoy his brief video explaining virtual worlds as a cost-effective platform for busy teachers.

Find out more information about Dallas. 

2009: John Spencer


For the past five years, John Spencer has been a social studies teacher in the Cartwright School District. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and working for an inner-city nonprofit organization, John began at Frank Borman Middle School.

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Working with a low-Socio-Economic Status, largely English language learner (ELL) student population, John has developed an in-depth service learning program.  His students paint murals, volunteer for local charities, participate in advocacy, create documentaries, and work toward communicating their social voice to the outlying community. As a result, John has taught professional development workshops on service learning, authentic learning, and student-centered classroom leadership.

After creating a class website and leading students in their first documentary, John heard about the MEd Educational Technology at Northern Arizona University.  He saw the potential to learn innovative ideas from peers, delve deeper into educational theory, and find a more research-based, constructivist approach for integrating technology in the classroom.

“The teachers were amazing.  The classes were flexible.  I could meet with my group at eight in the evening and then work on a project at four in the morning.  I felt like each class resembled a community in a deeper way than most of my traditional, lecture-based classes.”

Currently, John is branching out and teaching a technology-integrated English language development (ELD) immersion intervention, one technology-integrated social studies class, and two computer classes.

Over time, he plans to develop a technology-integrated social studies curriculum and use his “Teacher Commons” site for professional development and curriculum development.

Eventually, John’s plans include writing a book about technology literacy. His goals also include working toward a doctorate and speaking at conferences. 

Visit his capstone project, Social Voice.

2008: Kate Klonowski


Kate Klonowski is a language arts and journalism teacher from Cleveland, Ohio.  Kate received her undergraduate degree in English and secondary education from the College of Wooster in Ohio.

She has attended several graduate schools for enrichment in journalism and literature, and has since instructed in many different public and private schools in Ohio and North Carolina.  Currently, she teaches reading to incarcerated male youths in a detention facility in Cleveland.

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When considering a degree program for her master’s, Kate hit a wall.  “I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I love teaching, I enjoy the dynamics of the classroom, but where to go from here?”  She had no intention of leaving her career, but something was missing. 

“When I discovered that Northern Arizona University had an all-online master’s program in educational technology, I was thrilled.  I had always wanted to pursue an advanced degree, but had no way to fit it in with a family, work and other commitments.” 

Kate was right at home in an online learning environment.  “I love online learning, and I have really grown in the program as an educator.  I have been so honored to work alongside some of the most incredible teachers from all over.”

Kate hopes to take her role as an educator a step further by working with the technology implementation program at her facility to develop interdisciplinary lessons to raise awareness about environmental issues and counter the increasing violence that her students deal with every day. 

In addition to teaching, Kate was recently married and has a pre-school aged daughter who can already e-mail her friends and burn CDs.  Klonowski also has an online knitting business, and sings soprano in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus.

Meet Kate at her Facebook page

2007: Maggie Leivas


Little did Maggie Leivas know how computer technology would change her life when in 1982 she stated, “Why do I need to do this computer assignment? I’m going to teach English!”

Her fascination with computer applications began in 1989, when she received her first classroom computer. Today, teachers and students view Maggie as a technology leader who is eager to help others integrate technology to enhance learning.

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Born and raised in Carrington, North Dakota, Maggie earned her teaching degree in English/speech/theater at the University of Minnesota, Moorhead (formerly Moorhead State University).

Accepting an English teaching position at Wallace Junior High School, she relocated to Parker, Arizona in 1983.  The next 24 years with Parker Unified School District brought a variety of assignments:

  • elementary and high school librarian
  • English department chair
  • instructional specialist
  • testing coordinator
  • junior and senior high school teacher of:
  • English
  • speech
  • library science
  • computer skills

In her current position as Parker High School’s librarian/instructional specialist/testing coordinator, Maggie provides on-site training and enrichment programs, suggestions and examples for integrating technology, technology mentoring, and much more. 

She credits Northern Arizona University’s MEd Educational Technology program for providing her with additional skills, experience, and knowledge in both learning theories and instructional strategies to help her successfully guide students and staff through the educational technology maze.

Have a look at the capstone project Maggie created for Parker Unified School District 27.

2006: Lynette Nield


Lynette Nield was born and raised in Green River, Wyoming, and attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. Lynette received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an emphasis in special education.

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Throughout her teaching career, Lynette has held several positions, including teacher in a 5th and 6th grade classroom, Gifted Resource Specialist in an academically accelerated gifted program, and for the past year, Educational Technology Specialist for the Kyrene School District in Tempe, Arizona. 

Lynette’s current position as an Educational Technology Specialist allows her to mentor and support teachers in the area of technology and curriculum integration.

Visit her capstone project for the Kyrene School District 28.