Congratulations to the winners and finalists of the Orlando Tech & Learning Innovative Leader Awards who attended our Regional Leadership Summit on January 24, 2022, at the Citrus Club, where our winners were crowned.

Our deserving winners and finalists are all mentioned below, in our article on the Tech & Learning website and interviews with our winners will be published in the March issue of Tech & Learning - keep your eyes peeled!

Our winners...

Laurel Chiesa
Director of Instructional Technology, Fayetteville-Manlius School District

Laurel Chiesa is the Director of Instructional Technology for Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District in central New York. In this role she works closely with K-12 curriculum leaders to support students in all content and special education disciplines with innovative student experiences.
Laurel has been the Director of Instructional Technology at the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District for 15 years. Prior, Laurel provided professional development for K-12 teachers, taught instructional technology courses at Syracuse University and K-12 schools in New Jersey and New York. As a Technology Director she oversees the implementation and integration of technology in addition to the purchasing of hardware and software. Working closely with the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Special Services, she collaborates with teachers and teacher leaders in addition to facilitating professional development to both teachers and parents, including students with special needs. Recently, she has been published in journals and a book in research for the first VIS (Visual Immersion) system implemented in a public school setting working with students with severe autism. This system depends heavily on technology and the professional development of teachers and teaching assistants that has only been practiced in a one on one clinical setting. Laurel is a cofounder and now facilitates the Central New York Technology Collaborative providing a learning communities to 48 technology directors. In the last three years a main focus has been student privacy and cybersecurity as well as the preparation of students for technology based occupations, collaboration, and civic responsibility.

Jay L. Barrett
Principal, AmTech Career Academy

Jay has 37 total years’ experience in public education. He has been a principal in Amarillo ISD for a total of 27 years, with stops at Forest Hill Elementary, Travis Middle School, and Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning. He has also served as assistant principal at Tascosa High School and associate principal at Palo Duro High School. Before that, Jay taught English and coached tennis at Pampa after doing his student teaching in Rota, Spain.
In June 2021, Jay became the principal of AmTech Career Academy, which opened its doors in August of 2021.  
Recent Awards: • 2021 Nominee, Amarillo Man of the Year • 2019 HEB North Texas Secondary Principal of the Year • 2019 Elbert K Fretwell Outstanding Educator of the year by the Golden Spread Council of Boy Scouts
Community Involvement :• Deacon, First Baptist Church • Amarillo College Regent, Secretary of the Board of Regents • Chair-Elect, Community College Association of Texas Trustees Board of Directors  • Amarillo College Foundation Board of Directors • Chamber of Commerce Governmental Advisory Council • Amarillo Police Training Advisory Board • WT Enterprise Center Board of Directors Panhandle Workforce Development Board of Directors, Executive Committee • Maverick Boys' and Girls' Clubs in Amarillo Board of Directors • Co-Founder, Gateway to Health Careers.

Paul Sanfrancesco
CTO, Owen J Roberts School District

Paul Sanfrancesco is the Director of Technology for the Owen J. Roberts School District located in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For over 26 years, he has worked in Catholic, private, and public education, including as a teacher, Assistant Principal and in collegiate teaching at Saint Joseph’s University and Neumann University. The National School Boards Association named him one of the “20 to Watch” Educators for his work in Instructional Technology and the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology named him CTO of the year for the state of Pennsylvania in 2018. Mr. Sanfrancesco has been featured in Tech & Learning, Schools CIO, EdTech Mag, and Catechetical Leader and presents at local, regional, and national convocations.

Adam Phyall
Director Of Technology and Media Services, Newton County School System

Dr. Adam Phyall is a former high school science teacher and currently serving as the Director of Technology and Media Services for Newton County School System in Covington, GA. Since Adam got his first laptop in college, he has been hooked on the fantastic things that technology can add. Throughout his professional career, Dr. Phyall worked extensively with Title I and Urban schools to improve technology integration with economically disadvantaged students. He has planned and developed Mobile Learning plans for school districts in Georgia and Missouri that have led to 1:1 device initiatives. His philosophy on teaching is “if you’re having fun teaching it, then your students will have fun learning it.”

Our final category has two winners...

Charles R. Newsome
IT Site Support Services Manager, The School District of Manatee County

I am a Proud Husband, Father, Papa, and Pastor. I have worked in the IT Site Support division of the School District of Manatee County for 22+ years.

Christopher J. Lockhart
Director, Technology, Princeton City Schools

Christopher Lockhart is a dedicated, results-driven IT Director with proven success in team management, project planning, and budgeting. The IT field is continuously changing, and leaders in this field must have the ability not only to understand current technology and how to support and leverage it but also to remain on the lookout for emerging technologies constantly. Directors and managers are also tasked with having a broad view of technology while leading a team to complete the goals of the business and practice applicable business acumen. Experiences include; vendor selection and negotiations, large-scale system deployment, managing over $1 million-dollar budget annually and consulting for private corporations on their IT infrastructure. Christopher is currently the Director of Technology for Princeton City Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a graduate of Western Governors University with an MBA In Information Technology Management.

Our finalists...

  • Stephanie Hofer
    Assistant Superintendent of the Metropolitan School District, Decatur Township in Indianapolis


  • David Childress
    Director of Technology, Louisa County Public Schools


  • Kenneth Bouwens
    Director of Career & Technical Education, Louisa County Public Schools


  • Martin Miller
    Superintendent, Antwerp Local Schools


  • Robert Kyle McCartney
    Principal, Gulf Shores Middle School


  • Pam Holifield
    Director of Educational Technology, American Heritage Schools


  • Joseph DiPuma
    Coordinator of Innovation, Flagler Schools