Ralston 5th

More often than not, these days, the news that surrounds our public school system is less than celebratory. And while many of the issues at the forefront appropriately require debate and deserve coverage, there are initiatives that spur change and progress that need to be highlighted so that they can be replicated.

One organization doing just that is Digital Promise, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate innovation in education. The organization has formed the League of Innovative Schools—a national coalition of school district superintendents committed to innovation.

Induction into the coalition is a competitive process with 13,588 school districts in the United States eligible to apply. Applicants must show how their vision and practices show a commitment to innovative ways to engage students and improve outcomes.


This year, Avonworth School District was chosen for its ability to “leverage the resources in its community.” Avonworth partners with museums, businesses, universities, and government agencies to help enrich student learning.

District Superintendent Thomas Ralston is proud of what the district has achieved. “As a learning organization, we are really focused on providing students with skills that will allow them to thrive regardless of what they choose to do in their future. The professionals in our district understand that our students’ careers will be very different from what we know now. By ensuring that we not only strengthen academics but also skills such as communication, collaboration and critical thinking, we are equipping them with a strong foundation.”

Avonworth joins two other districts in the region that have previously been accepted into the League: South Fayette and Elizabeth Forward.

Gregg Behr, Executive Director of the Grable Foundation, which has been critical in supporting innovation in our region’s schools, credits the collective effort in our region to improve education. “It’s yet another external affirmation that our region stands at the forefront of remaking learning.”

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment. She is the Chief Veghacker, recipe creator and curator at The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She writes about the intersection of food, health, innovation and policy.