Unique web-based story map wins national award

By

Jennifer Priest Mitchell

The Arizona Ready for Rigor project team at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College received a 2016 National School Public Relations Association award of excellence in the internet/intranet website category for their comprehensive project page, the AZRfR story map. This story map details a grant-funded program and its impact on K-12 educators and students.

The AZRfR Project addressed improving teacher and administrator effectiveness, educator retention and the school culture in 58 of Arizona’s high-needs k–12 public schools. The project team worked with school districts to increase student achievement over five years with a $43.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The project culminated in 2016 with the creation of the story map using data visualization and GIS mapping to share the process, implementation and outcomes.

“We wanted to share our project and its findings with educators and the general public in something more than just a written report to be put in a drawer somewhere,” said Michael Hegarty, AZRfR director of communications. “This comprehensive, interactive tool lets the viewer drive their interest level through the many different layers of the story map.”

This simple overview of the grant contains text, graphics and photos. A component on each page provides multi-layered interactive data maps of district and schoolwide results on multiple measurements. The story map also includes detailed videos from educators and grant staff on their pre- and post-grant impressions and experiences.

“The AZRfR Project team believes this is an innovative vehicle to share more than just grant analytics to all of our educational stakeholders,” said Virginia McElyea, AZRfR executive director. “The intention of the story map is to engage more educators, researchers and stakeholders to seek and share the stories behind data in their programs.”

The project was created by Hegarty, Melanie Baca, business analyst, and Melissa McGehee, geospatial data specialist, at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. They used the Esri story map app for this work.  

NSPRA recognizes outstanding education publications and marketing materials, both print and electronic, video and TV programs, social media and websites with its annual awards in 23 categories.