Sometime in late June someone left a typewritten note on Anna Crawford’s windshield. “In case you haven’t heard this in a while,” the note began to the principal at Wadsworth Elementary, “YOU ARE DOING AMAZING.”
That was followed by four exclamation marks and their equivalent in words as the note, seemingly written by a collective (Crawford hid the signatories in the clipped photograph of the note she posted on Twitter) went on to uplift Crawford at what must have been a difficult time. The note was full of words like “dedicated, encouraging and determined,” “beyond blessed to have you,” “amazing,” and “I cannot thank you enough.”
To which Crawford replied by way of Twitter: When you find a note like this on your car… there are no words to express my gratitude and love for the team that I am blessed to work with. 💙 WES family, I am beyond thankful for you.”
The note appears not to have been an exaggeration: on Friday morning, and the superintendent aside, Crawford was the only Flagler County school district staffer that the state School Board of Education recognized by name when it opened its monthly meeting at the Government Services Building in Bunnell, its first visit locally since 2015. (Laura Thompson of Flagler Palm Coast High School and Brea Dwyer of Matanzas High School opened the meeting with a rendition of the National Anthem.)
Board members had spent Thursday visiting district schools, among them Wadsworth, where they learned why Crawford was selected as one of just three state finalists for the 2019-2020 Innovative Principal Award.
“Yesterday we were fortunate enough to be visiting some of the schools in Flagler, which is an amazing district, by the way,” state Board Chairman Andy Tuck said, “and I had the opportunity to sit at the table with a young man by the name of Matthew, who started telling me about coding, computers and robotics and all kinds of things like that. And he was pretty amazing, that the young man is only in sixth grade. He’d been doing it for four years. But he made the comment that his principal, Dr. Anna Crawford, was a big help to him, and I was informed that she is one of the top three finalists for state innovative principal of the year.”
He asked Crawford to stand, and recognized Matthew, who was sitting next to her. “If you really want to be wowed you need to talk to that young man,” Tuck said.
Only then Tuck introduced Jim Tager (referring to him as “James Tagart”) for some introductory remarks, an occasion Tager used to highlight a different kind of activist innovation–what he described as the “protest” by Old Kings Elementary second graders two years ago that led to the wholesale replacement of plastic lunch trays across the district with recyclable, biodegradable trays. The students, Tager told the state board, “have become renown throughout the state. Over half the districts have taken on our initiative. I read about a district that just did it last week. So third graders have impact, they have a voice, they collaborated, they used teamwork, and I think that’s kind of the message: if we can work with our kids on teamwork and projects that will benefit them throughout life. If you were here yesterday, you saw that.”It’s the sort of message Crawford radiates from her Twitter feed almost every day, with a touch of humanism that’s never far off: “When you are working so hard your brain hurts, but you are acing every problem… this is how our @WESPANTHER Panthers get it done!!” “Living my best life with the class of 2033 this morning and reading about Kindness.”
“Dr. Crawford consistently and methodically pursues innovative practices with the purpose of enriching the personalized learning opportunities with students,” Tager said in a release the district issued later in the day about her nomination for the state award. “She is aggressively seeking a higher level of inclusion within the STREAM Flagship at Wadsworth Elementary School. Dr. Anna Crawford is successfully formulating creative learning spaces for all students to grow in terms of academic achievement in collaboration with our talented Instructional and Operational Innovation Team.”
Crawford, the district said, was recognized for her ability to remove barriers and provide equitable technology access, use technology to monitor student progress, as well as her vision to promote college and career readiness for Wadsworth Elementary students. Crawford and the other two state finalists will travel to the Future of Education Technology Conference in January in Miami, where the winner will be announced.
The Innovative Principal Award is sponsored by the Florida Council of Instructional Technology Leaders, an affiliate for the International Society for Technology in Education. The society which will recognize the winner at its annual conference in Anaheim, Calif., from June 28 to July 1.
Tager appointed Crawford principal at Wadsworth in July 2017, at the time her 18th year in education and 12th with Flagler Schools. She had been an assistant principal at Flagler Palm Coast High School. She subsequently earned a doctorate through Nova Southeastern University in Distance Learning and Technology Education.