The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Spaces4Learning.

PBLWorks Announces its 2019 PBL Champions

Napa Valley, Calif. – PBLWorks has announced its 2019 PBL Champions—a designation that honors a school district, a school, and an individual for their commitment to providing high-quality Project Based Learning.

The 2019 PBL Champions are:

  • PBL Champion District: Burkburnett Independent School District
  • PBL Champion School: Billie Martinez Elementary
  • PBL Champion Individual: Ron Berger

The PBL Champions were recognized during PBL World, the premiere conference for Project Based Learning held June 18-20, 2019 in Napa Valley, Calif. To learn more about the Champions, visit   

“Our PBL Champions are schools, districts and individuals who have positively impacted students by implementing high quality Project Based Learning,” said Bob Lenz, executive director of PBLWorks. “We honor these individuals and organizations so that others can learn from their experiences and expertise.”

Burkburnett Independent School District, a 3,300-student school district in Texas, was selected a PBL Champion because of its deep commitment to provide all students with at least three high-quality Project Based Learning experiences every year. Superintendent Tylor Chaplin models the value PBL holds by clearly communicating this vision, attending PBL professional learning opportunities and taking action to grow and sustain this work. The district provides opportunities for school leaders to engage in ongoing professional learning to better understand how to support their teachers, and the teachers have participated in summer “curriculum camps” to update their projects and learn with and from one another.

“Our teaching staff has worked to make sure all of our students are benefiting from the authenticity of PBL. They are really the rock stars in implementing on the ground level and their efforts in reaching every student is where the vision has come to life,” said Missy Mayfield, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction at Burkburnett ISD.

Billie Martinez Elementary, a neighborhood school in Greeley Colorado, serves 583 students in grades K-5. Its focus is STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) curriculum delivered through Project Based Learning.

While the school was once in danger of closing, it now has been given “innovation status” by the state board of education. Under the leadership of Principal Monica Draper, the school has created time for teachers to collaborate and share their practice, put processes in place to maximize their resources, and focuses on continuous improvement. Today, students are engaging in PBL at all grade levels, including kindergarten students designing a safer, environmentally friendly school playground, third graders serving as architects designing “tiny houses” to apply math concepts, and fifth graders attempting to diagnose medical illnesses for patients as a way to learn about human body systems.

Ron Berger is chief academic officer at EL Education and a longtime leader in the PBL movement. EL Education is a member of the Deeper Learning Network and a national leader in creating PBL-infused schools and top-notch curriculum.

Berger was a public school teacher and master carpenter in rural Massachusetts for more than 25 years. He did his graduate work at Harvard Graduate School of Education and now teaches a course there that uses exemplary student project work to illuminate standards. Berger and Harvard colleague Steve Seidel founded Models of Excellence: The Center for High Quality Student Work, an open-source collection of the nation’s best K-12 student project work and writing. Berger is an Annenberg Foundation Teacher Scholar and received the Autodesk Foundation National Teacher of the Year award. He has also authored six books, including the influential An Ethic of Excellence.

“I have been fortunate to work in project-based education for more than forty years, and I am gratified to see the movement growing again, especially with a sharper focus on quality,” said Berger. “In life, we are not measured by test scores, but by the quality of our work and the quality of our character. If we want students to build the ethics and skills to do great work, we have to give them the opportunity to learn this.”

“Ron is one of my PBL heroes,” said Lenz. “His work as a teacher set the bar for excellence in PBL and now his work at EL Education is inspiring educators all over the world.”

About PBLWorks

At PBLWorks (the brand name of the Buck Institute for Education) we believe that all students—no matter where they live or what their background—should have access to quality Project Based Learning to deepen their learning and achieve success in college, career, and life. Our focus is to build the capacity of teachers to design and facilitate quality Project Based Learning and the capacity of school and system leaders to create the conditions for teachers to implement great projects with all students. For more information, visit