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Arlington Teacher Wins Canvas Educator of the Year

By: Instructure

July 11, 2019

This morning, Wilfredo Padilla Melendez, teacher at Claremont Immersion School, received Instructure’s 2019 Educator of the Year Award. Wilfredo was recognized as one of six educators who go above and beyond to redefine traditional classroom activities, engage their students, and shape the next generation through innovation. As a fourth grade language and math teacher, Wilfredo uses Canvas to customize students’ learning and teach essential career-building skills.


Wilfredo Padilla Melendez –  Fourth Grade Language / Math Teacher, Claremont Immersion (Arlington, Va.)

In his time at Claremont Immersion, Wilfredo has taken full advantage of the technology platforms available to him to customize students’ learning and teach essential career-building skills. He uses data to inform the type and level of instruction that best suits each student and makes lessons that are interesting and rigorous for everyone.

“My students love using technology and Canvas provides them with useful resources,” says Wilfredo. “We get to create so many things that they can explore in my classroom.”

Middle School: 

Jon Kelley –  Sixth Grade Science Teacher, Dempsey Middle School (Delaware, Ohio)

Jon has revolutionized his teaching using technology and hands-on learning experiences. His classroom is a blended experience with students working on content that meets their individual needs, learning styles, and levels.

“I like having fun and trying new things, so when we started using Canvas, I jumped right in,” says Jon. “Using technology has helped me make time to research new methods and new content, and build relationships with my students. It helps me assist and meet the needs of all of my students and be more of a facilitator.”

High School: 

Jennifer Willis-Nichols – Science Teacher, Wentzville Holt High School (Wentzville, Mo.)

Jennifer integrates technology into her classroom in a manner that serves a purpose: to heighten the educational experience. She understands the importance of students engaging with tools like Canvas in preparation for what is to come as many colleges and careers have their own learning platforms.

“As a science teacher, it’s very impactful for me to channel technology,” says Jennifer. “It’s a creative outlet for me in terms of how I present content to my students. It also allows for differentiation and individualized learning that previously did not exist. Technology allows me to continue pushing my students, develop their critical thinking skills, and cheer them on consistently.”

Adjunct Professor: 

Gregory Beyrer, C.Phil. – History, Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, Calif.)

Greg uses data-driven metrics to both improve his courses and help the faculty at CRC design/redesign their courses to be more engaging and informative for students. He is always looking for tools to improve the student experience and help to bridge the equity gaps. Greg directly works with faculty members to integrate new tools in their courses, as well as use the toolset that comes with Canvas.

“I teach my classes online and, by using technology, I’m helping students take those classes that otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” says Greg. “Canvas makes it easy for me to assess my students on how engaged they are with a concept. As a distance education coordinator, it also gives me the ability to solve problems and help my peers. I work best when people ask me ‘can Canvas do this?’ and I get really excited because it gives me an opportunity to learn.”

Associate Professor: 

Jared Colton, PhD – Technical Communication & Rhetoric, Utah State University (Logan, Utah)

Jared has engaged his Technical Communication students in innovative activities to both learn HTML and provide more usable class materials for other students. Specifically, he created a class project for his students to take PDF files from online courses and convert them into Canvas HTML content.

“The biggest thing that technology and tools like Canvas do for me in the classroom is to increase accessibility, not only in terms of who’s able to access higher education but also for students with disabilities,” says Jared. “Everyone has an equal opportunity to learn and do research with their fellow students. Technology allows more students to succeed and see their work have an impact.”


Laura Deeter, PhD – Horticulture Technologies, Ohio State ATI (Wooster, Ohio)

Laura has been inspirational at exploring and incorporating non-traditional classroom activities that will help her students in their future careers. She likes to test out new ways of teaching, including flipped classrooms, gamification, field trips, and student video projects.

“I wanted to find a way to turn what I do and teach into something that’s fun,” says Laura. ” I took Canvas and all of the tools that come with it and turned my plant identification course into a game about plants and zombies. I learned a lot about how the students use the technology and the students felt that they engaged more with the class.”

The Canvas Educator of the Year Awards were judged on the following criteria:

How does this teacher redefine traditional classroom activities to prepare students for college and careers?
How does this teacher’s classroom experience improve achievement for at-risk populations?
How does this teacher impact student engagement, curiosity and/or achievement?
Nominations for next year will open in March 2020.

During InstructureCon, Canvas also recognized three high school seniors as the winners of its “You: To The Power of Education” student scholarship contest. Each student submitted a video via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #powerofedu explaining how a college education would give them the power they needed to achieve their dreams and how Canvas would help them on their journey. For more information, visit blog/canvas-student- scholarship-contest.


Instructure helps people grow from the first day of school to the last day of work. More than 30 million people use the Canvas Learning Management Platform for schools and the Bridge Employee Development Platform for businesses. More information at


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