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A member of the ACDS faculty since 1989, Jim teaches 7th & 8th grade history, and is an 8th grade advisor, the Director of High School Placement, and the Director of Alumni Relations.


Sherry Ward Innovation Award

Throughout her distinguished career as both a classroom teacher and longtime Director of Technology for ACDS, Sherry Ward demonstrated a passion for innovation that was supported by her positivity, curiosity, perseverance, and commitment to lifelong learning.  The Sherry Ward Innovation Award will be given to the faculty member who has demonstrated a growth mindset by taking risks to innovate in the classroom for the benefit of ACDS students.

In its inaugural year, it is fitting that this award goes to a veteran teacher who has consistently demonstrated an abiding love of learning, professional curiosity, an openness to new ideas, and a willingness to take risks in service to strengthening the experiences of his students.

Jim Girard has long been a quiet and unassuming leader as ACDS has undertaken new initiatives.  In recent years, he has embraced innovative practices such as Understanding by Design, the Developmental Designs advisory program, the early implementation of a one-to-one iPad program, and a renovation of the social studies curriculum that will strengthen inquiry-based learning.  When the Middle School undertook an overhaul of its approach to student assessment, Jim was an early adopter and helped lead the effort to embrace this new methodology that challenged long-held ideas about student assessment.  

With over 30 years of experience in the classroom, Jim has never stopped thinking of ways to renew his approach, make learning engaging and meaningful to students, and adapt to new ideas.   While maintaining a balanced and centered focus on what truly enhances the learning experiences of his students, Jim has never been resistant to change. He was an essential partner in curricular innovations, such as developing an interdisciplinary humanities curriculum, creating a religion-based curriculum for 6th grade history, and bringing technology into the social studies classroom.  Working with Sherry Ward, Jim gamely undertook an experimental mobile interactive video system that was years ahead of its time. More recently, Jim has creatively employed new 360-degree interactive photography to enable students to create relevant, engaging, and dynamic presentations.

Jim can be counted on to generate and receive new ideas with an open mind, a sense of curiosity, and an enthusiasm for finding new ways to engage and inspire students.  In recognition of his years of creative and forward-thinking instruction and the many ways in which he continually models the mindset that leads to and supports innovation, I am pleased to present the 2018 Sherry Ward Innovation Award to Jim Girard.  

Scott Baytosh, Head of School
October 5, 2018

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