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Making IT Happen

The Making IT Happen award honors outstanding educators and leaders who demonstrate extraordinary commitment, leadership, courage and persistence in improving digital learning opportunities for students. Each year as an ISTE Affiliate MSET awards Maryland's Making It Happen Award recipient. State level winners are forwarded onto the ISTE Making It Happen international award process. Winners receive an embroidered Making IT Happen jacket, a pin, a certificate, a one-year Basic ISTE membership and promotional materials.

The spirit of the Making IT Happen award supports our vision of a world in which all learners thrive, achieve and contribute.

Award winners are educators who: 
  • Apply available technology now.
  • Move forward and don't look back.
  • See students as real people.
  • Teach through relationships, inspiring, encouraging and nurturing.
  • Recognize that further change is necessary, but understand that it is a process.
  • Realize that teacher empowerment is the key element to technology integration.
  • Expect success.
  • Motivate through awareness and access to information.

Meet Our Past Making IT Happen Award Winners

2019 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Katie Lingg

Washington County Public Schools

MSET is proud to recognize Katie Lingg as the 2019 Making IT Happen Award Winner. Katie is a Digital Integration Specialist in Washington County Public Schools. Katie is a model for harnessing the power of technology to support teaching and learning. She has been integral in supporting WCPS and its Mobile Device Management System. She can often be found facilitating professional learning sessions county wide.

2018 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Michael Forte, 2018 Making IT Happen Award Recipient Mr. Michael Fort
Digital Supervisor, Office of Digital Learning & Safety
Baltimore County Public Schools

MSET is proud to recognize Michael Fort as the 2018 Making IT Happen Award Winner. Michael is the Digital Supervisor within the Office of Innovation and Digital Safety in Baltimore County Public Schools. Michael has been an advocate for technology in the classroom in entire career supporting numerous initiatives across his district as well as statewide. He continually serves his staff and students at the highest level.

2017 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Tracy Schoene, 2017 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Ms. Tracy Schoene

Technology Director 
Harford Day School

MSET is proud to recognize Tracy Schoene as this year’s Making IT Happen Award winner.  Tracy is the Director of Technology for Harford Day School and is currently the Interim President of MSET.  Tracy has been a member of MSET for twenty years and has worked hard supporting the organization through many roles, including her current role as Interim President.  MSET appreciates her service and dedication to the organization.

2016 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Val Emerich, 2016 Making IT Happen Award Recipient Ms. Val Emerich

Director of Instructional Technology, School Libraries & Online Programs
​Maryland State Department of Education

This award honors outstanding educators and leaders who demonstrate extraordinary commitment, leadership, courage and persistence in improving digital learning opportunities for students. Val Emrich has served as the Director of Instructional Technology, School Libraries & Online Programs for the Maryland State Department of Education since 2012. Prior to coming to MSDE, Val held the position of Manager for Instructional Technology for Anne Arundel County Public Schools for ten years, was a middle school library media specialist and began her career in Prince George’s County Public Schools as an Elementary School Teacher. 

Under her directorship at MSDE, Val currently oversees the Instructional Technology & School Libraries program including the MDK12 Digital Library Purchasing Consortium, the Maryland Virtual Student Learning Opportunities program, the Online Professional Development program for teachers, the Web Content Accessibility program, and management of the statewide MSDE eConnect platform. She is MSDE state liaison to CEASOM and to the MSET board. She chairs both the Maryland Instructional Technology Advisory Committee and the Maryland Advisory Council for Virtual Learning. Currently, she is spearheading Maryland’s involvement in the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen initiative encouraging the use of openly licensed educational materials.

Val frequently shares her knowledge and forward-thinking vision by presenting at local, state, and international conferences. Val passionately works with school systems to help them meet the needs of all students throughout Maryland with the implementation and integration of digital devices in the schools while acting as a conduit to open lines of communication between districts. Her positive energy and engagement with the school community has led the Office of Instructional Technology and School Libraries to become a proponent for personalized and blended learning, and the use of Open Educational Resources. 

Val led multiple Race-to-the-Top projects that produced a tremendous amount of teaching and learning resources to be used statewide by educators, students, and parents. She established a change in direction for virtual schooling in Maryland and shifted the emphasis to online professional development for teachers. She has introduced innovative statewide events for professional development and educator collaboration that include PLAYDATE, educator webinar series, and virtual EdCamps that are now being replicated widely. Some of that innovative thinking is now being channeled into Experiential learning spaces, Makerspaces. 

Val Emrich is a “doer” and leads a talented staff of program specialists and staff at MSDE whose ultimate goal is to make a difference in the lives of all Maryland students. It is with great enthusiasm that we present on behalf of MSET, Val Emrich with ISTE’s Making IT Happen Award for 2016.  We cannot think of a more deserving individual to be recognized than Val.

2015 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Nicole, Paylor 2015 Making IT Happen Award Recipient Mrs. Nicole Paylor

Conococheague Elementary School

Washington County Public School

Congratulations to Nicole Paylor for her efforts in supporting digital teaching, leading, and learning through her work with MSET and Common Ground. Nicole was awarded the Making IT Happen Award at the 2015 Common Ground Conference.  
Nicole is the Principal of Conococheague Elementary School, a K-5 school in Hagerstown, MD.  All students have access to 1:1 devices including iPads and Lenovo laptops.  Nicole is the co-chair for Common Ground, an educational conference held yearly in Ocean City, MD, and has been an active member on many WCPS committees including the Negotiations Committee and the Calendar Committee.  Nicole holds a  Bachelor of Arts degree from Purdue University, a Masters from University of Missouri - St. Louis, and completed the Educational Leadership Program through Frostburg State University.  She taught middle school social studies and math for 5 years, was a middle assistant principal for 6 years, and served as the Supervisor of Human Resources and Teacher Personnel for 3 years before moving to elementary school as a principal.

2014 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

James Corn, Jr., 2014 Making IT Happen Award RecipientMr. James Corn, Jr.

Executive Director, Department of Informational Technology

Baltimore County Public Schools

Congratulations James Corns, Jr., 2014 recipient of the prestigious Making IT Happen Award. Jim received his honor at the Common Ground spring conference.  

Jim grew up in Carroll County, MD and has taught at the elementary and middle school levels in Kent County, MD. In 2007, he became the Supervisor of Technology for Kent where he planned and implemented plan to provide 1:1 iPods to every student in grades 5-12. In 2010, he relocated to St. Mary’s County to become the Director of IT for the public school system.  In St. Mary’s, he deployed the county’s first WiFi network, initiated a computer refresh cycle, and completely replaced the county’s Wide Area Network.  In addition, he has dramatically increased the usage of Moodle and converted the county to a Google Apps for Education institution.  Jim joined MSET in 2000.  He was asked to join the Conference Equipment committee at this time.  For the next 8 years, Jim continued to serve on the Equipment Committee for the then MICCA conference.  In 2008, he took on the role of Chairperson of that committee.  In 2009, Jim was elected to President-Elect of MSET.  During this term he also continued as the Equipment Committee Chair.  In 2010, Jim became president of MSET.  During his presidency, MSET created a Leadership Toolkit that was designed to assist school administrators in the effective use and evaluation of technology in education.  Additionally, the groundwork was laid for MSET to transition its conference to our current joint professional development, Common Ground.  In 2012, Jim was elected to Treasurer of MSET.  In this position, he manages the overall budget of the organization.  In addition, he is the Common Ground Treasurer and manages the finances of this statewide professional development experience.

2013 Making IT Happen Award Recipient

Catherine Poling, left, is shown being presented the 2013 Making IT Happen Award by Hilary Goldman of ISTE.Ms. Catherine Poling


Emma K. Doub Elementary School
​Washington County Public Schools

Congratulations to Catherine Poling, the 2013 MSET Making IT Happen Award recipient.  Catherine, current principal of Emma K. Doub elementary school in Washington County and incoming president of MSET, received her honor at the Common Ground conference in April.  At the award presentation, Catherine was lauded as a person “passionate beyond words” and “dedicated to meeting the needs of students and helping them learn in a 21st century classroom." 
Led by her belief that all children deserve high quality instruction and access to technology, students of Emma K. Doub are surrounded by meaningful uses of technology, including a 1:1 environment immersed with Promethean boards, mobile labs, green screen technology, digital photography and video production.  With an emphasis on professional development, Catherine ensures her teaching staff is well versed in effective uses of technology to support the instruction of rich content and measurement of progress toward meeting goals.  
Catherine leads by example building her own noteworthy digital footprint.  She regularly blogs, tweets, creates and participates in online discussions, shares resources, and models the importance of authentic and purposeful uses of technology to achieve goals.
MSET has benefitted from Catherine’s energy and enthusiasm through several leadership roles, including chairing the Student and Teacher Contest Committee, Secretary, President-elect and President for the 2013-2014 term.
Internationally, across the country and throughout the history of the Making it Happen award, Catherine joins 302 fellow educators recognized for their outstanding educational technology leadership.  

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