Christine M. Johns
Utica Community Schools, Mich.
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Co-author of Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education
Rob Mancabelli is a speaker, writer, and consultant on educational innovation. He’s the co-author of Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education (2011), a columnist for District Administration magazine, and a MBA graduate of MIT.
His work is built on 15 years of experience as a technology leader in public and private schools. Mancabelli serves on the educational advisory boards for Dell Computer and Acer Corporation.
Author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms,
Will Richardson has been writing about the intersection of social online learning networks and education for the past 10 years at Weblogg-ed.com and in numerous journals and magazines. Recently, he shifted his blogging emphasis to willrichardson.com. He was a public school educator for 22 years and is a co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice, a unique professional-development program that has mentored over 3,000 teachers worldwide in the past three years.
His first book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms has sold more than 80,000 copies and has influenced classroom practice around the world. His second book, Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education was released in May 2011, coauthored with Rob Mancabelli. His articles have appeared in Educational Leadership, Education Week, English Journal, Edutopia, and Principal Leadership, among others. Over the past six years, he has spoken to tens of thousands of educators in more than a dozen countries about the merits of online learning networks for personal and professional growth. He is a member of the national advisory board of the George Lucas Educational Foundation and a columnist for District Administration magazine.
Superintendent, Kenosha Unified School District, Wis.
The superintendent of Wisconsin’s third-largest school system, with almost 23,000 students and 42 schools, Michele Hancock arrived in the Kenosha Unified School District in July 2010 with a strong vision for improving student achievement through transformation.
Her first efforts were to establish a Transformation Design Plan to move KUSD into the 21st century. The plan features a strategy to ensure all students and staff members are proficient in information, technology, and media literacy in order to be successful in the global community.
Hancock continually challenges her administration to consider blended learning opportunities that utilize technology resources, to explore personalized learning through technology, and to model effective uses of technology tools and resources. In addition to instructional discussions about online textbooks, she has championed implementation of a portal for employee self-service, eliminating the need for paper processing of employee benefits, check stubs, and personnel changes. The district has also implemented e-procurement software to automate the entire purchase-to-pay process.
Hancock was one of 10 U.S. superintendents to receive the Tech-Savvy Superintendent Award in 2012 from eSchoolNews. In 2010, she became the first recipient of the Annual Change Leader Award presented by the National Principals Leadership Institute. The award recognizes an education leader who has facilitated significant change at the school and district levels.
After teaching in the Chicago public schools, Hancock worked as a teacher, teacher leader, curriculum specialist, literacy specialist, middle school assistant principal, and elementary school principal in Rochester, N.Y. The transformation of that lowest-performing K-6 elementary school brought it to national prominence and inclusion on the New York state “most improved” list.
Chief Technology Officer, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, La.
Abshire has served as a catalyst to initiate the integration of technology throughout the nation and internationally by providing leadership on numerous national, state, and district committees focusing on the role of technology and curriculum in changing educational practice. A thirty-nine year veteran educator, she has worked as a school principal, K-5 teacher, a library/media specialist, a classroom teacher, and as a university professor. Sheryl is an accomplished grant writer and grants reader and regularly conducts institutes to fund innovative technology programs throughout the nation. She has written and directed grants in excess of $15 million.
She was the first teacher inducted into the National Teachers’ Hall of Fame, serves as the past chair of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), is on the K-12 Advisory Board for Blackboard, Dell’s Platinum Advisory Committee, Promethean National K-12 Advisory Committee, ISTE Standards and Accreditation Committee, and is Co-Chair of the ISTE/CoSN Policy Committee.
Abshire is the vice president for advocacy and programs and past president of the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators. She serves on the FCC Universal Services Administrative Corporation (USAC) Board representing our nation’s K-12 schools and libraries on ERATE issues. She has fifteen years of experience working on ERATE applications and issues. Additionally, she works in diverse staff development programs throughout the nation and in Great Britain involving restructuring schools through the infusion of technology and curriculum enhancements. In May of 2009, ISTE awarded Abshire the first “Public Policy Advocate of the Year” Award for her decades of work promoting educational technology.
Superintendent, Utica Community Schools, Mich.
Johns, the superintendent of Utica Community Schools in Macomb County, Mich., is a recognized leader in creating a college culture in a region heavily dependent on manufacturing and the automotive industry. The Utica system, with 29,525 students, is Michigan’s second-largest school district.
Under her leadership, Utica Community Schools has been at the forefront of implementing educational changes that move the district from serving a manufacturing mind-set to providing students a depth of knowledge for college and career readiness. Utica’s nationally recognized “Reaching Higher” initiative has resulted in staff members, community members, and parents making conscious choices to increase the expectations and rigor for students. Despite dramatic changes in the community, student-achievement levels are the highest in the district’s history and remain among the best in the state and the county.
Johns’ commitment to using technology to drive achievement has led to the integration of schoolwide data teams at each of Utica’s 36 schools. Those teams are having meaningful conversations about closing achievement gaps and creating an item analysis to lead thoughtful curriculum changes that ensure students’ mastery of content.
Johns has also led the creation programs that offer parents a portfolio of choices that support the district’s college culture. Thanks to a federal startup grant, UCS has created a K-12 international learning initiative that begins with early-elementary Mandarin immersion and ends with an International Baccalaureate diploma.
A recently opened Center for Science and Industry, which lets students earn college credit and industry certification while still in high school, was chosen as the educational program of the year by Automation Alley, a regional organization of industry leaders that markets Michigan to international companies.
Before becoming the superintendent of Utica Community Schools in 2006, Johns served as deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Baltimore County, Md., district. She has also held administrative positions in the Pasadena Unified School District in California and the Prince George’s County, Md., schools.
Superintendent of Academics, Detroit Public Schools
Ridgeway, who served as assistant superintendent of the Office of Research, Evaluation, Assessment and Accountability from August 13, 2010 to June 30, 2011, became superintendent of academics for Detroit Public Schools in November, 2011. The superintendent has been continuously employed by the Detroit Public Schools for the past 30 years.
Ridgeway is a product of the Detroit Public Schools completing her matriculation as a member of the first full graduating class of Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School. She has served as a teacher for special education students, acting special education department head, special instructor for the Wayne County Youth Home, school-wide test coordinator, program associate, director of assessment, and executive director for the Office of Research, Evaluation, Assessment and Accountability for the Detroit Public Schools.
She has oversight of Pupil Population Management, Student Information Systems, Student Records and Transcripts, the District Archivist, and has served the district as an executive level cabinet member since July 2005.
Emergency Manager, Detroit Public Schools
Board Chair, Education Achievement Authority, Michigan
Roberts brings decades of managerial, financial, and organizational experience to his roles as the emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools and the board chairman of the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. He was appointed to those positions by Gov. Rick Snyder last year.
Under Roberts, the Detroit Public Schools has generated an annual operating surplus for the 2011 fiscal year, its first surplus since 2002; accelerated the elimination of its $327 million legacy deficit; and adopted a balanced budget for fiscal 2012. The district has earned a favorable A+ Standard & Poor’s credit rating and exceeded budgeted student enrollment by more than 300 students.
A former managing director at Reliant Equity Investors, Roberts also served as the highest-ranking African-American executive in the U.S. automobile industry as group vice president for North American Vehicle Sales, Service, and Marketing of General Motors Corp. Among other executive positions he held at GM, he served as vice president and general manager of the Pontiac-GMC Division from February 1996 to October 1998, presiding over the merger of Pontiac and GMC. Roberts was the first executive at GM to lead such a merger, which necessitated combining the marketing staffs of those two divisions into a streamlined workforce and instituting 21st-century innovations and cost efficiencies. As a GM manager in the 1980s, “Roberts earned a reputation as a tough but compassionate person who tried to streamline operations without resorting to the massive, morale-breaking layoffs so common during the era,” according to Gale Contemporary Black Biography. Before his 23 years with General Motors, Roberts spent 17 years with the aerospace division of Lear Siegler Inc.
Roberts also has played leading roles in numerous social and civic organizations. In addition to heading NAACP organizations at the local level, he has served as a trustee emeritus of Western Michigan University, as the president and a member of the national board of directors for the Boy Scouts of America, and as a board member for the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, and the Aspen Institute. He was named Executive of the Year by Black Enterprise and African Americans on Wheels magazines and received the American Success Award from President George W. Bush.
Learning Technology Policy Director, Maine Department of Education
Mao provides vision and oversight to Maine’s education technology programs, including the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI).
He has represented the state of Maine at numerous conferences throughout the United States as well as in Australia, China, Denmark, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Korea, and Sweden. He has testified in support of education technology to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and has published articles in the journal Principal Leadership, the One-to-One Institute Newsletter, and T.H.E. Journal, as well as online for MacWorld.com. Mao is the chair of the board of directors for the State Educational Technology Directors’ Association and was named the 2012 Common Sense Media Educator of the Year.
Mao began his career in the classroom at Brewster Academy, in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where he helped develop its pioneering 1-to-1 laptop program in 1993. He spent seven years teaching and coaching in Rochester, N.Y., before returning to Maine. After working as the technology director in one of the state’s larger school districts, he joined the Maine Department of Education in 2004.
Executive Director, Carpe Diem Schools
Ogston is the executive director of a K-12 system of three charter schools serving 850 Arizona students. As Director of Carpe Diem Collegiate High School, Desert View Academy, and Carpe Diem Online, he provides leadership for a team of 90 administrators, teachers, and support staff.
He has served as President of the Arizona Charter School Association, adjunct professor of Philosophy at Arizona Western College, and school improvement coach for the Arizona Department of Education. Prior to his career in education, Ogston was director and therapist of a marriage and family counseling center, served on the board of directors and worked in the finance department of Anitox Corporation, and served in the United States Marine Corps as an infantry communications officer and in the United States Navy as a Marine Chaplain.
Chief Technology Director, Technology Services & Support
Los Angeles Unified School District
Themistocles (Themy) Sparangis is responsible for technology services and support for the nation’s second-largest school district. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Technology Services & Support Group is made up of local area maintenance, telecommunication, and IT customer-support services. The customer-support branch provides help-desk support, repair, and maintenance services for the district’s IT infrastructure and end-user technologies. The telecommunications branch provides repair and maintenance for the district’s phone, public address/intercom, and alarm systems. As chief technology director, Sparangis reports directly to the LAUSD’s chief information officer.
He is also an adjunct assistant professor for the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. He is a credentialed teacher of secondary physical science, having taught advanced-placement physics, physics, and physical science in the LAUSD, and holds a California state administrative credential.
Sparangis is a member of Phi Delta Kappa, the International Society for Technology in Education, Computer Using Educators, the Consortium for School Networking, and the International Council for Online Learning.
Chief Technology Officer, Clark County School District, Nev.
Ebert has served students and staff members of the Clark County School District, the nation’s fifth-largest district, for over 20 years. As an award-winning mathematics teacher, the district’s first secondary technology coordinator, its first virtual high school principal, and the founder and current chair of the Nevada Commission on Educational Technology. Ebert has developed a vision that continues to drive education reform in Clark County and the state of Nevada.
Having also served as director of mathematics, executive director of curriculum and instruction, and assistant superintendent for curriculum and professional development, she draws on her experience in curriculum and educational technology as the district embarks on major reforms in technology integration and blended learning. All county schools will be supported in providing choice and innovation in instruction through the implementation of a districtwide vision that continues to transform learning environments. Clark County’s approach includes offering six models of blended learning, using a modular approach to program development and implementation, and leveraging technologies such as electronic textbooks and curriculum resources to alter instructional processes and improve efficiency and effectiveness.
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