meet our presenters

ARDEN McLEAN

Arden is a Professional Learning Specialist in Northside ISD focused on teacher support, from the district’s newest hires to its teacher leaders. She loves being able to “pay forward” all the support she received when she first started teaching and as she moved into leadership roles in her district. She strives to help teachers improve their practice each and every day because, as Jim Knight says, “When teachers stop learning, so do students.” This year she was added to the LFTX Board of Directors and as a trainer. Connect with her on Twitter at @arden_mclean.

DEBI TANTON

Debi has served in Mesquite ISD since 1994 as a teacher, instructional specialist, campus principal, and now as Executive Director for Professional Learning. Each of these roles have involved the development and implementation of professional learning programs that have improved teacher effectiveness and student success. Serving students by serving teachers has been her passion for many years, and she is thankful for the connections she has made through Learning Forward Texas. Debi has been a part of the Learning Forward Texas Board of Directors for three years, and is currently serving as President-elect.

DENISE GONZALES

Denise is a passionate K-12 educator and nurse. She’s served as a K-12 literacy educator and professional learning facilitator since 2000 and loves every minute of the work. Instructional Coaching is her favorite!

She has a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Texas A&M), a M.A. in Education (Fontbonne University) and a B.S. in Nursing (2021 Texas Tech University). She’s a published writer for journals and ELA curriculum components for districts around Texas and enjoys working with students, teachers, and administrators. Connect with her on Twitter @Literacy4LifeRN

DIANA ELY

Diana Ely is a passionate educator who has devoted 37 years to education. As the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning in Northside ISD in San Antonio, TX, she is blessed to work with others who understand the power of professional learning and the link with student learning. She believes that if we want engaged students we must first have engaged adults. Diana’s husband, daughter and son all have jobs working with children. You could say it’s a family passion. You can connect with her on Twitter at @DianaEly1.

EDNA PHYTHIAN

Edna Phythian serves in the Plano Independent School District as Coordinator of Professional Learning where she proudly serves teachers and students. She considers being an educator a true honor and is constantly amazed by the work and commitment of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members on a daily basis. Edna is a member of the Learning Forward Academy Class of 2020, and her district Professional Learning team is the recipient of the Learning Forward Texas 2019 Excellence in Professional Learning Award. Edna is currently a Learning Forward Texas presenter.

ELITA DRISKILL

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.

JANET CORDER

Janet is an educational technology consultant specializing in technology integration, BYOD implementations, interactive whiteboard technologies and mobile learning devices. She has over 30 years experience as a classroom teacher and instructional technology coordinator in Texas public schools and has also been an adjunct education professor at a local university. Her passion for assisting educators learn new strategies for successfully integrating technology into their curriculum has provided her with many opportunities to present at national, state and local conferences and in school districts throughout the United States. She has co-authored four books on technology integration and professional development. Janet served in various positions for the Texas Computer Education Association Board of Directors for several years and was awarded ISTE’s Making It Happen award given to leaders in educational technology.

JANET SWAN

Janet Swan (Retired/Educational Consultant) has 44 years of experience as a teacher, school administrator, Director of Professional Learning, and Educational Consultant. Janet earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University and her master’s degree from North Texas University. She taught math at the junior and senior high level before becoming an administrator at the junior high level.

In retirement, Janet has continued to work in public schools throughout the country with the American Alliance for School Systems (AAIS), helping teachers and administrators in the planning, teaching and assessing of their state standards. In addition, she teaches sessions for Learning Forward Texas to help presenters design their own presentations in engaging and active ways.

KAREN NIX

Karen Nix, EdD, is the former Executive Director of Professional Learning for Mesquite ISD in Mesquite, Texas. During her 38 year career in public education, she has been a classroom teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal, and executive director for both special education and professional learning. Karen is currently an educational consultant who enjoys working with teachers and administrators in the areas of leadership, coaching, and effective instructional practice. She is a former LFT Board member and is passionate about supporting and improving instruction. In her leisure time, Karen enjoys time with family, traveling, and working out.

KATIE BAZZANI

Katie Bazzani is currently a K-12 Professional Learning Specialist who works at the district level to support teacher effectiveness. She has been in the position for ten years and has previously worked as a school administrator and classroom teacher.

LISA CASTO

Lisa is an educator passionate about supporting educator and student success. In her career she has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and Director of Curriculum and Professional Development. Her beliefs for student success are based in ongoing learning for all- to meet the changing needs of today's education world, including digital learning. She has worked in small, fast-growth and large diverse urban districts. In retirement she continues to support educators at all levels and in a variety of programs -- literacy, early college and more!

MARCUS MILLER

Marcus Miller is a Coordinator for Professional Learning in Plano ISD. He has served as a middle school teacher, Digital Learning Specialist, and a Coordinator for Instructional Technology. He is passionate about professional learning, building capacity, and employee wellness. This year he was added to the Learning Forward Texas Board of Directors and a trainer. When he isn't working, he likes cats and video games. Don't ask him about Dungeons and Dragons unless you have a lot of free time.

MARK WELLBORN

With nearly forty years of experience in the field of education, Mark Wellborn has taught in secondary, undergraduate, and graduate level classrooms, served as a public school district program and professional learning director, and has consulted with and trained for multiple educational support organizations. Mark joined the Texas Staff Development Council in 1998 (now Learning Forward Texas), and served a term on its Board of Directors. In addition to various recognitions, he is a recipient of Plano ISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year award and a graduate of Learning Forward’s three-year academy in educator learning. Currently, Mark teaches undergraduate history classes while also training and consulting for Learning Forward Texas and for Law-Related Education.

TERRI ILES

Ms. Iles is a long-time member of both Learning Forward and Learning Forward Texas and is deeply rooted in the principles of effective professional learning.​

Ms. Iles has served for many years on the Board of Directors of Learning Forward Texas, and as a trainer for many Learning Forward Texas professional-learning modules. She has also been a Director of Professional Learning and Quality, a campus Principal, Assistant Principal and an elementary teacher. Terri has received numerous awards and has been consistently recognized for her dedicated service, including receiving the Administrator/Director of the Year award in Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD.​

Ms. Iles earned her Master of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington and Bachelor of Science in Education from Texas Christian University. She and her husband reside in Graham, Texas, and are the proud parents of two boys and are even prouder grandparents of four terrific grandchildren.

As you get to know Ms. Iles, you will discover she is a skilled, knowledgeable, warm and engaging leader.

TIM PERSALL

Tim Persall is a former assistant superintendent, executive director, principal and teacher. He is a transformation consultant engaging stakeholders in the development of systems focusing on the improvement of Tier 1 and EL instruction, school culture, and utilization of student growth data.

Tim leads professional learning experiences throughout Texas for school districts and educational service centers. He has served on the board of Learning Forward Texas and was a past president. He has also co-authored the T-TESS Flipchart for Mentoring Minds. Tim is committed to leading adults in engaging learning experiences so they may change the lives of the students they serve.

TRISH HINZE

Trish Hinze is an educational consultant who offers engaging workshops and professional development programs on a wide range of topics including presentation and facilitation skills for adult learners, leading highly effective PLC teams, transforming school culture, conflict resolution, classroom management, and brain-based instruction. She served as a campus administrator at both the secondary and elementary levels. Developing and coaching teachers to be effective practitioners and working with campus administrators to build their capacity to serve as instructional leaders has been her primary focus the last 11 years. Having served as a state and national presenter, with 27 years of educational experience, Trish has a strong passion for facilitating professional learning for all leaders who impact students.

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© 2017 by Learning Forward Texas.