McKINNEY — The National School Boards Association's (NSBA) Technology Leadership Network (TLN) has announced its “20 to Watch” honorees for 2013-2014. These distinctive education leaders from across the country are being recognized for their ability to inspire colleagues to incorporate innovative technology solutions that contribute to high-quality learning environments and more efficient school district operations.

McKinney Online - Joli Barker

Joli Barker

Among those being recognized is Joli Barker, 3rd grade teacher from Slaughter Elementary.

“The '20 to Watch' honorees offer real-world examples of how new technologies are being used to impact learning and how these new tools may influence or inform policy,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “From ‘BYOD’ and the Maker Movement to virtual schools and the increased use of the cloud, these inspirational pioneers are paving the way.”

Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Technology, shared that common characteristics across honorees include their willingness to take risks, share learnings with colleagues, and inspire others to believe that they, too, can effectively use technology. “Their voices and experience will inform local, district and state approaches to education technology decisions for years to come,” Flynn said.

Barker is leading the way in game-based, project-based learning in her Fearless Classroom where lessons include real-world, global-minded empathy games. The Fearless Classroom movement she started is inspiring educators world-wide to change the way they approach lesson design, pedagogy and the art of teaching.

“I am extremely humbled and honored to have been chosen as a leader in education by the National School Boards Association,” Barker said. “Knowing that I have given students the opportunity to discover their own voices and genius through my classroom experience is the life force behind everything I do. Being a part of the NSBA's ’20 to Watch’ will hopefully provide me with further opportunities to grow professionally, connect with other like-minded educators and affect change in policies and ideas for students not just in MISD but throughout the United States,” Barker said.

This is the eighth year of the NSBA “20 to Watch” program, created in 2006. This year’s honorees are being recognized at the 2014 Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Conference on March 19 in Washington, DC, along with a TLN-hosted luncheon at NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans this April. TechSmith Corporation is sponsoring the “20 to Watch” celebration events and is providing software scholarships to the honorees.

Previous honors for Barker include induction into Microsoft’s Expert Educator Program for her use of technology to drive student achievement and being named as one of the most outstanding teachers in Texas in 2013 by the Texas Computer Education Association for innovative integration of technology and education.

Information provided by NSBA. To see the complete list of honorees, visit the newsroom on their website at

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or


About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at