Exemplary PK20 Boundary Spanner Award

Nominations are now closed.  Check back for 2025 nomination deadlines.  Check out this VIDEO for more information when submitting nominations.

2024 Award Winners

Jenn Hatch Knight, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

“As the Assistant PDS Director, she serves as the coordinator of the First Years of Teaching Support Program.  She has worked with each one of our PDS partnership districts to co-facilitate on-site support sessions during district level beginning  teacher inductions, co-designed on-site professional learning opportunities,  and leads three full days of professional learning on our campus for beginning teachers across the region and beyond.  She collaborates with each district so that they receive individualized support rather than a pre-packaged series.” ~from 2024 Awards Ceremony

Drew Polly, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

“Since 2006 you have served as a boundary spanner with public schools and school districts in the Charlotte area and with the North Carolina state department of education.

Your work has involved considerable amounts of time investing in mutually beneficial partnerships that focus on supporting teachers and instructional leaders at their school sites.  In addition to the various types of supports and professional learning provided to teachers and leaders, you also serve as the co-editor of the PDS Partners journal and currently co-editing a book on boundary spanning that includes descriptions of boundary spanning activities across the United States and in 3 other countries.” ~from 2024 Awards Ceremony

Award Information

This NASUP award recognizes an individual who is exemplary in meeting Essential 8 where the individual moves beyond the responsibilities of one’s job to impact a third space. Boundary spanners are situated in a “third space”  between university and PK12 settings and are not bound solely by the traditions or responsibilities of any one institution.  An exemplary PK20 boundary spanner innovates the systems or practices to enhance the learning of all of those involved in the partnership. 

In order for a candidate to be considered eligible for this award, they must:

  • Be either a boundary-spanning university-based educator or PK12 school-based educator within a mutually beneficial partnership program
  • Be a member of NASUP at the time of the Annual Conference 
  • Attend the annual conference during the year nominated if possible  
  • Receive a nomination from a member of NASUP

Promoting exemplary practice through demonstrated leadership and impact. Candidates will be considered in light of their contributions in one or more areas, including:

  • Contributions to developing and enacting aspects of the NASUP 9 essentials within and/or beyond their organizations
  • Collaborative nature of the work benefits both the university and PK12 school through continuous improvement and connections to theory and practice
  • Deconstructing traditional power relationships through the support of and dialogue across contexts; work to understand roles and responsibilities across boundaries and relate to others across those boundaries
  • Engaging in practices to understand and interpret differing perspectives that lead to the creation and/or maintenance of mutually beneficial school-university partnerships

The nomination must demonstrate how the recipient is worthy of being named exemplary boundary spanner. A single nomination letter, no longer than 3 single-spaced pages with 12-point font and 1-inch margins is required.   One supporting letter addressing the criteria for the award, may be submitted in addition to the nomination letter.  A copy of the nominee’s resume or vita must also be included. Please note: Nomination letter and supporting letter must be from two different individuals. 

Nominators are encouraged to inform the nominee so that the nominee can provide any information that will assist in providing the nomination.

Selection Process

  1.  NASUP members may nominate candidates by letter or email to the Awards Committee using this link.
  2. All nominations and supporting materials must be submitted electronically to the NASUP Awards committee no later than January 22, 2024.
  3. A sub-committee of the Awards Committee will review nominations using a simple rubric based on the eligibility conditions and criteria detailed above.
  4. The winner(s) will be announced at the awards ceremony of the conference and publicized by press release to the honoree’s home institution and via the NASUP publications and website.

PK20 Boundary Spanner Awardees


  • Jenn Hatch Knight, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • Drew Polly, Univesity of North Carolina at Charlotte


  • Dawn Nowlin, Whitehall Elementary, part of Bowie State University PDS Network
  • Gina Dudkowski, South Buffalo Charter Schools, part of Buffalo State PDS Consortium
  • Dr. Kristien Zenkov, George Mason University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Hale, Tiger Academy, PDS School of University of North Florida