Jan. 12 was the nomination deadline for the 2018 ACSA Awards Program, marking the first time in recent history that all regions have shared a single deadline and the inaugural year of the new online awards platform. The new interface, powered by the acclaimed company Award Force, was selected and launched last May in a joint effort by Communications and Member Services.
While any transition produces a certain amount of concern and confusion, the transition to ACSA Awards Online has proved to be surprisingly smooth and constructive. Awards coordinator Emily Agpoon credits the region leadership for this.
“The success of this program has always depended on engagement at the region and charter levels,” Agpoon said, “and this year their involvement and support was critical as we moved to an entirely electronic nomination system.
“Across the board, the region and charter leadership and region staff have stepped up to make sure that they understood the new processes, shared their needs and concerns, and gotten the word out to the members. Not only that, region award managers were asked to learn a whole new management tool, and have been incredibly gracious and patient as we adapted to the requirements of having a single point of entry and deadline.
“Even though it’s a statewide program, its core is the grassroots communication and work at the charter and region levels,” Agpoon said. “Without the buy-in and effort from our member leaders and region staff, the online platform wouldn’t have been possible.”
More than 600 nominations from ACSA’s 19 regions were submitted using the online platform, as members statewide nominated their colleagues for recognition in 26 award categories. Even as members and leaders encountered a few challenges as they began using the interface, they discovered that the guesswork was taken out of the nominations.
“Overall the feedback has been really positive,” Agpoon said. “People liked how easy it was to use, especially given how confusing the forms could be in the past with the different criteria, pages limits and requirements for each category.
“The system tells you exactly what you need to include, what’s required and what isn’t, and allowed us to add helpful interactive links and instructions to guide people through filling out the forms.
“I’m really excited to see what we can do with it next year, once we’ve had a chance to smooth out all the kinks and work with region leaders to improve on what we started,” Agpoon said.
In addition to creating a more consistent and less confusing process for members, ACSA’s awards platform aligns with the goals set out in ACSA’s Strategic Plan, which calls for increased investments in technology and a greater online presence for ACSA.
“Moving to new technology is a key part of our Strategic Plan,” ACSA Executive Director Wesley Smith said. “We’re looking for all the ways we can use the most cutting-edge tools and innovations to create a better experience for our members.
“This awards platform is just one of many new advances bringing us closer to reaching that goal.”
ACSA Senior Director of Member Services, Margarita Cuizon, agreed. “This [awards] program is such an important way to recognize the outstanding work of our members,” she said. “Once we found a tool that met all our needs, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to transition to an online form and take the program to the next level.”
Region award chairs and committees are now reviewing the nominations that were submitted this year. They will have until the state deadline of Feb. 5 to select the finalists they want to send to the state Awards Committee for consideration, and will be announcing their regional honorees in the coming weeks. State recipients will be announced in EdCal on March 26.
For more information about ACSA’s Awards Program, visit www.acsa.org/awards.