WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that Donna Woods and Kara Four Bear have been selected as the inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award awardees. This award recognizes Ms. Woods, of Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California, and Ms. Four Bear, of New Town Middle School in New Town, North Dakota, for instilling in their students the skills, knowledge, and passion for cybersecurity.
The Department received 43 nominations from 23 states, and the honorees were selected based on their demonstration of superior educator accomplishment, academic achievement indicators, and leadership contributing to educational excellence.
“I am pleased to congratulate Donna Woods and Kara Four Bear, the inaugural class of Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award honorees,” said Secretary DeVos. “Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing fields in the world. This award recognizes great teachers who are helping prepare our students to fill those jobs and help keep our nation safe now and in the future.”
As principal of New Town Middle School, Ms. Four Bear spearheaded the adoption of North Dakota cybersecurity education initiatives that teach digital literacy and safety skills to students of all ages. Under her leadership, educators at New Town Middle School make real-world connections to cybersecurity in the classroom so that students at this Title I school learn about career paths in this field. She has expanded opportunities for students to explore cybersecurity beyond the classroom through the Valley City State University Summer Academy and participation in the University of North Dakota NASA Near Space Project.
Ms. Woods has fostered pathways to success for students by guiding the creation of career and technical education programs with emphasis on cybersecurity, which include real-world training such as internships and apprenticeships alongside classroom instruction. Throughout Ms. Woods’ five years in the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s Cyber Academic Pathway, 97.4% of students have achieved industry certifications. Her students have gone on to put their cybersecurity skills to work as network analysts, systems engineers, IT network specialists, and more. She has also led award-winning CyberPatriot teams, which compete in challenges to secure virtual networks.
As part of this commendation, Woods and Four Bear will receive acknowledgement by President Donald J. Trump and Secretary DeVos, public recognition as leaders in the field of cybersecurity education, and professional development opportunities.
This award was established on May 2, 2019, by President Trump’s Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce. The U.S. Department of Education was charged to create this award within one year and in consultation with the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the National Security Council and the National Science Foundation.