George Lucas Educational Foundation

Forest Lake Elementary School

Grades K-5 | Columbia, SC

Principal Kappy Cannon Steck Fosters Technology Innovation and Teamwork

Kappy Cannon Steck, the South Carolina 2010 Principal of the Year, encourages master teachers to innovate with new technologies and work together to share their skills with the entire staff.
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Principal Kappy Cannon Fosters Technology Innovation and Teamwork (Transcript)

Ready to answer?

These second graders in Columbia, South Carolina are about to come face-to-face with a class of second graders halfway around the globe in Jordan.

Good morning, South Carolina.

Good morning, good morning.

This teleconference is just part of the technology-rich, twenty-first century curriculum mix at Forest Lake Elementary.

We want you to meet our Principal, Dr. Cannon.

Spearheaded by South Carolina's elementary principal of the year, Kappy Cannon.

Good morning!

Good morning girls and boys.

I don't think there's a school in the world where you have a regular classroom where everyone is exactly the same. Our school is a microcosm of the world so we work very hard to make sure that we know where children are. We don't take time to teach things that they already know. We try to go where they are and take them as far as we can.

What are you working on?

Oh, I'm working on swamps.

If we all speak the same language, that we're all on the same page, when children are getting the same messages from all of us on what our expectations are, we know that they are going to have much greater achievement.

Seventy-five percent of us got that right.

Our focus is on preparing children for the twenty-first century. We know that they have to have science technology, engineering, and mathematics to be successful. So we make sure that we do have a shared vision and that shared vision is something that's always being tweaked and changed a little bit here and there as we find our way to making the best decisions on behalf of students.

What's our challenge this time? What are we researching? Yes, sir?

Classroom community is something that's extremely important and you can't build a classroom community the first week of school or the first month of school. It is an ongoing process.

Who can tell me what we can tell by the graphs?

It's also something developmentally that the way it looks in kindergarten might be different than the way it looks in fifth grade.

So that's what they're going to be the experts about and they're going to present that to us.

But at the same time building that culture of excellence and having the personalization with the students. You know bottom line is this; you can have all the tools and all the bells and whistles, all the technology, but it's still is going to boil down to one thing: the relationship between a teacher and the student.

Can you make someone else feel great this morning? Who would you like to complement?

We have created our own walk-through form which is an observation, it's not an evaluation. And we call that our "failure is not an option" form. And what we did was we tried to think of all the things that we have worked on in the past few years. Maybe we've gone to a workshop, it might be professional reading that we have done, conversations, staff development. Collectively put it all together to make sure that we're doing that we say that we're doing and to stay focused and to stay on track.

And you like spending that time with him?

We also have times during the years where all of the teachers will go in each other's classroom. And again it's a nonthreatening type of process and you can get just that one snapshot of going in someone else's room and seeing how they have taken some of the same information that you have been given and they're using it in a different way.

You are the best Arabian knight I've ever seen.

Thank you.

You're just awesome, awesome.

Thank you.

If I were to advise anyone on how to get started with training it would be to find those in your building that have a natural interest in technology and invest in those folks. And you really have to be strategic with that and it can't be a hit and miss.

Do you want to make sure that you include that?


Okay, good.

You need to select teachers that are master teachers. That doesn't mean veteran teacher. It means that it's a teacher that is well-respected by their peers and can ignite the fire, the excitement with other teachers and then once it begins to grow, you know, your job as a principal is to provide what it is that they're asking for because before you know it you have a school full of instructional leaders.

First we place in a light. Was this experiencing a day in the life of?

Anyone who does not hold a classroom teacher position in this building including myself knows that our number one job is to support the classroom teachers in what they're doing.

Who can think of a question to go with our graph?

Teaching is one of the most challenging and rewarding professions, and I think it's critical that the administration understands that, not just by saying it but truly understands and respects what they're doing every day.

Great try. Let's see. Is there anyone who would like to help Juliana this morning?

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Video Credits

Produced, Written and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis


  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Michael Epstein
  • Perry Goodfriend

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Michael Pritchard

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

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Comments (7) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

suzannah salti's picture

That was a very nice video. I am a teacher at Cambridge High School Jordan.
We joined the Global Buddies Project this year with Mrs. Richards. We had lots of fun, it was such an experience.
A small comment is that the classroom level in Jordan was 3rd grade. As well as we will be happy if you mention our school name. Thank you somuch

Cassandra Love's picture

I thought the video was awesome. I am learning about Professional Learning Communities, and I think showing how everyone works together to produce the success that I viewed from the video would be convincing to others,

Mrs. CJ's picture

I enjoyed this video. Clearly this principal supports her staff, and that's where it all begins. As a history teacher, I do get a little bothered when math and science get all of the attention. In our district, we are constantly denied resources because we are not "math and science" and our "test scores are good. I caution any program that doesn't respect all of the disciplines.

CarolArc's picture

The first thing I noticed is that women were the main contributors in this school. There are a few good men leaders, but for some reason, when women are in charge - shift happens.

Jeff Schultheis's picture

Substitute another demographic and this comment gets flagged. You appear to be an ist. The first thing that I noticed is that men were the main contributors... The first thing I noticed is that white people were the main contributors... The first thing I noticed is that straight people were the main contributors... The first thing I noticed is that Christians were the main contributors... What do you think?

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