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the professional learning association

© 2017 by Learning Forward Texas. 

speaker bios

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As a staff developer, Dr. John Almarode works with teachers, school districts, and a wide variety of organizations. His work focuses on a variety of topics including student engagement, evidence-based practices, creating enriched environments that promote learning, and designing classrooms with the brain in mind. John’s action-packed workshops offer participants ready-to-use strategies and the brain rules that make them work.

In addition to his work with schools and in-service teachers, John is a member of the faculty at James Madison University in the College of Education. As a member of the Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education, John works with pre-service teachers, and actively pursues his research interests including educational neuroscience, the design and measurement of classroom environments that promote student engagement, interest and engagement in STEM disciplines, specialized STEM high schools, interventions for low socioeconomic populations, college and university laboratory schools, and the translation of American education pedagogy in international schools. The work of John and his colleagues has been presented at the United States Department of Education as well as the Office of Science and Technology Policy at The White House. 

JOHN ALMARODE

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Romain Bertrand is known for his work as an innovative personalized learning leader, consultant, coach and practitioner.  During his 20 years in education he led numerous education innovations including coding and robotics courses, as well as Blended and Personalized Learning programs. He pioneered Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s math blended learning curriculum and was integral to the development of their Multi-Classroom Leader role. Romain has supported hundreds of teachers and in-school coaches across the US to use personalized learning as a tool for equity. He’s presented at numerous conferences including the National Conference of School Superintendents, ISTE and iNACOL. Romain is a well known blogger and has written numerous blogs for EdSurge, Education Next and BetterLesson. He currently serves as the Senior Manager of Innovative Learning Experiences for BetterLesson.

Romain Bertrand

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Sue Chapman, Ed.D. is a professional educator, presenter, and author who has devoted over 40 years to instructional improvement and mathematics education. During her career, Sue is proud to have served as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, district curriculum coordinator, and school administrator. She currently supports the education community as a Coach and Professional Learning Consultant with Math Solutions and an Adjunct Faculty Member with the University of Houston – Clear Lake.

Sue has published numerous articles about professional learning and school improvement in The Learning Professional and Teaching Children Mathematics. She regularly blogs and hosts Twitter Chats about instructional coaching and professional learning. Sue’s passion for teaching and learning and her ability to inspire educators to come together around a shared vision of success have been instrumental in helping schools and districts develop internal capacity to achieve continuous improvement of instruction.

Sue is currently writing a book on mathematics coaching with colleague Mary Mitchell. The book will be published by Math Solutions and is scheduled for release in October 2020. 

You can read Sue’s blog posts and sign up for her newsletter Learning Matters at SueChapmanLearning.com. Connect with her on Twitter @SueChapmanLearn.

SUE CHAPMAN

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Mr. Kevin W. Curtis is the Founder and Lead Consultant for National Educators for Restorative Practices and co-author of the book, “Restorative Discipline Practices: A Journey in Implementation from a Community of Educators.” 

Kevin was the former Restorative Discipline Coordinator and Assistant Principal at Ed White Middle School in the Northeast Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas where he played an instrumental role in the development, implementation, and support of restorative practices as an alternative method to managing student behavior. This innovative, whole school approach model was the first of its kind in the state of Texas, and has been considered the blueprint that many campuses across the state of Texas are following.

Kevin has currently developed an educator’s model for restorative practitioners in schools. He has discovered the real life struggles that teachers experience during their first year of implementation and has developed specific educator-to-educator model to support them. His hands-on approach to training and his dedication to being actively involved in classrooms allow him to be a credible voice for all educators committed to the implementation of the restorative model.

He received his B.S. from University of Texas at San Antonio, an M.S. in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University at Kingsville. Kevin has more than 21 years of experience in public education at the elementary level, middle school level and high school level including classroom teacher, coach, and assistant principal and principal.

KEVIN CURTIS

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Elita Driskill currently serves as an administrator, consultant, researcher, ICF Professional Certified Coach, and Gallup Certified Strength Coach.   As a middle and high school teacher, instructional coach, RtI testing specialist, district mentor coordinator, Education Service Center regional consultant, Director of Instructional Technology, and Director of Professional Learning,  Driskill has worked with K-12 preservice teachers, support staff, child nutrition staff, teachers, teacher leaders, administrators, and superintendents. She is the author of several professional articles, blogs, vlogs, and co-author of research articles.  In 2015 she became a member of the Learning Forward Texas Board of Directors and President during 2017-2018. Elita served on Learning Forward’s 2018 Dallas Host Committee. Because Elita believes that “a wise teacher makes learning a joy,” she infuses her work with interaction, laughter, and collaboration.  Connect with Elita on Linkedin and Twitter @DriskillElita.

ELITA DRISKILL

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Sylvia is an award-winning Canadian Edtech consultant and sketchnoter with 32 years of teaching experience. She is a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer, Apple Distinguished Educator, and author of the books “Sketchnotes for Educators” and “How to Sketchnote: A Step-by-Step Manual for Teachers and Students”. You can find her resources at sylviaduckworth.com and her store at sylviaduckworth.shop.

SYLVIA DUCKWORTH

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Prior to 2015, Daniel Guerrero flourished in his role as Master Teacher for the Blended Master Teacher project out of Miami, Florida. Daniel believes in the importance of infusing tangible 21st century skills into teaching, and enhancing students’ capacity to think and problem solve, while at the same time building student character. In his role as a learning designer, he develops and refines BetterLesson’s world class professional learning opportunities. He joined the BetterLesson team in 2015 and currently serves as the Director of Professional Learning Experiences.

Daniel Guerrero

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Joellen Killion champions educator learning as the primary pathway to student success. She serves school systems, schools, regional, state, and national agencies within the U.S. and abroad as a consultant and learning facilitator. She is senior advisor to Learning Forward and formerly was its deputy executive director. Joellen leads, facilitates, and contributes to a number of initiatives related to examining the link between professional development and student learning. She has over 30 years of experience in planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of professional learning at the school, system, state, and international level.

 

Joellen is a frequent contributor to education publications and the author of multiple books, numerous chapters, and papers on the design, implementation, and evaluation of professional learning. Her particular interests are collaborative learning teams, coaching educator success, evaluation and program audits, standards for professional learning, policy to support professional learning, and comprehensive planning and implementation of high-quality, standards-based, results-focused professional learning.

 

The creed Joellen lives by is:

Excellence can be achieved if you . . .

Care more than others think is wise . . .

Risk more than others think is safe . . .

Dream more than others think is practical . . .

Expect more than others think is possible . . .

jOELLEN KILLION

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2019 Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo is the Superintendent of the Fall Creek School District in Fall Creek, WI. The Fall Creek School District was named an Innovative District in 2016 and 2017 by the International Center for Leadership in Education. He holds a BA in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, a MS in Educational Psychology, a MS in Educational Leadership, and a PhD in Leadership, Learning, and Service. Joe has taught Kindergarten, 2nd Grade, and 5th Grade. He has served as a principal in suburban and rural Wisconsin.  Joe co-authored The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story, Principal Professional Development: Leading Learning in a Digital Age, and Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students, and Parents Love. He was selected as 1 of 117 Future Ready Superintendents in 2014 and 1 of 50 Superintendents as a Personalized Learning Leader in 2016 by the US Department of Education. He was named 1 of 5 K-12 Administrators to watch in 2018 by Education Dive.

JOE SANFELIPPO

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Diane Sweeney is a respected voice in the field of instructional coaching. While teaching and coaching in the Denver Public Schools, Diane grew interested in how her coaching could more directly impact student learning. As a result, she has authored Student-Centered Coaching (Corwin, 2011), Student-Centered Coaching at the Secondary Level (Corwin, 2013), Student-Centered Coaching: The Moves (Corwin, 2017), and Leading Student-Centered Coaching (Corwin, 2018). This developing body of work has influenced countless coaches, teachers, and leaders to get more from their coaching efforts.

DIANE SWEENEY

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Jamila Thomas is a 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholar appointed by the Presidential Centers of William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson. She is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur. She is a native of Dallas, Texas and a graduate of Florida A&M University, located in Tallahassee, Florida. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration and a graduate degree, Masters of Business of Administration (MBA). She also has Master of Arts degree in Divinity from The University of Chicago Divinity School. 

For over 20 years, Jamila has been emphatically involved in organizations and activities that uplift the world community and is a sought after speaker. 

In 2009, Jamila founded a 501c3 not for profit organization called WOMEN DIVINE in Chicago, Illinois. The mission is to effectively impact the lives of young women through academic enhancement, leadership development, financial literacy and cultural enrichment. The vision is to educate, inspire and empower young women to strive for excellence in all areas of their lives. In this capacity, she serves as the President of the Board of Directors. As of 2017, WOMEN DIVINE serves young women currently residing in juvenile detention centers in Dallas, Texas. 

In 2018, at the direction of Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees, Jamila created and established the Racial Equity Office for Dallas ISD. In this capacity, she was responsible for developing culturally responsive policies and programs designed to close the achievement gap and simultaneously build culturally intelligent practices for all staff. As a result of this work, she established Cultured Consulting Group, LLC. in an effort to guide institutions striving to indoctrinate culturally responsive practices in their operations. 

Jamila continuously serves her community as she has been appointed to a variety of organizations including, Board Member for Pipeline to Possibilities, SMU Hunt Institute Fellow 2017-2019, Board Member of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library in 2016, and a member of the 2015 Leadership Dallas ISD class. She is also a 2017 Boone Family Foundation Public Voices Fellow, under the auspices of The Op-ed Project. In addition, Jamila was invited to the White House in Washington, D.C. during President Barack Obama’s administration to collaborate with a number of individuals from across the nation to discuss opportunities that engage minority youth in STEM career fields. As a result of her commitment to her community, she won the 2015 WOMAN of the YEAR award from the South Central Dallas Business and Professional Women’s Club. 

Jamila now serves as the Senior Vice President for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is responsible for building the strategic plan for community and corporate engagement. 

Jamila currently lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, Brandon Thomas and two children, Braylon and Jaidence.

JAMILIA THOMAS

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Kara Vandas works with districts and schools around the country to implement processes and practices that best support student learning. Kara brings experience in these areas from her previous work as the Director of Teacher Effectiveness for the Colorado League of Charter Schools, where she was responsible for partnering with over 30 public charter schools around the state of Colorado in the implementation of Data Teams and Rigorous Curriculum Design. In doing so, Kara has had the opportunity to support rural, urban, and suburban schools of various instructional models and student populations in order to best implement these powerful practices.

KARA VANDAS

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Mark Victor Hansen, the noted co-author of the #1 New York Times best-selling series, “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, says of Dave Weber...“Dave is a superstar. He WOW’s his audience to think and take action now. I predict he will become one of the top 10 speakers of our time.” 

Dave Weber is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and trainer in helping people make progress on purpose... and he has the track record to prove his techniques work. 

An honors graduate from Mercer University, he simultaneously captained the university’s NCAA Division 1 soccer and volleyball teams for three years and was accorded All-Conference honors in both sports. 

Upon graduating in 1984, Weber began his professional career at Motorola. After three years of award-winning selling and training, he left corporate America to launch his own speaking and consulting firm. 

Since 1987, Weber has been one of the country’s most sought after speakers. Speaking an average of 165 times a year, to 30,000 participants, his high energy and entertaining style have made him a crowd favorite. 

While his fun, upbeat style might initially get him invited to present, it is his wide range of topics, great content, and timeless principles that get him invited back time and time again. 

Weber’s client list reads like a “Who’s Who” of America. Not only has he spoken to tens of thousands of education and dental professionals from all 50 states, but his corporate clients include some the best companies in the world: FedEx, AT&T, Bank of America,  Chick-fil-A, Southern Company, Shaw Industries, Coca-Cola, Waste Management, Cintas, Aflac, Bell South, Sherwin Williams .... and Hundreds more 

In addition to presenting on the motivational speaking circuit, Dave is the author of Sticks and Stones Exposed: The Power of Our Words, and Leadership [redefined]: The 12 X’s of Success for TODAY’S Leader. 

 

Dave and his wife Tina are the proud parents of two young adults & reside outside Atlanta, GA.

DAVE WEBER

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