Even more bold speakers will be announced soon!
Desiree Alexander, Ed.S., is an award-winning, multi-degreed educator who has worked in the education field since 2002. She’s currently the regional director of north Louisiana for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, and is the founder and CEO of Educator Alexander Consulting, LLC. As a consultant, Alexander works with school districts and companies to help teachers and employees with integrating technology, education leadership and branding themselves and their schools. She’s a lifetime certified in Louisiana in secondary English education and as a reading specialist, school librarian, edtech facilitator, edtech leader and education leadership 1. She’s certified in Texas as a principal and in English language arts and reading (grades 4-8 and 8-12), reading specialist (grades EC-12) and school librarian. She also holds several technology certifications. Alexander earned bachelor’s master’s and education specialist degrees from Louisiana State University, and a master’s in library science from Texas Woman’s University. She also holds a master’s in educational technology leadership from Nicholls State University, and is pursuing a doctorate in education from Lamar University. Her many awards include 2017 Young Professional Initiative 40 Under 40 Awards Honoree; 2017 Center for Digital Education Top 30 Technologists, Transformers & Trailblazers; 2017 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator for Louisiana; and 2016 A+PEL Member of the Year.
Nikole Blanchard is the director of innovation and technology at The Dunham School, an independent school in Baton Rouge, an education consultant for a number of schools in Louisiana and a former teacher. Her greatest passion is helping schools around the world create technology programs. She’s traveled as an Apple Distinguished Educator, sharing philosophies and personal stories. Blanchard is also a National Board Certified Teacher, Apple Teacher, Swift Playground Teacher, Google Certified Trainer, PBS Learning Media Innovator and Microsoft Innovating Educator. Blanchard’s passion for networking and learning from other educators led her to start a technology leaders network in Baton Rouge. In 2016, she became a leader of ISTE’s Innovation Teaching Professional Learning Network (PLN). She’s also a member of the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN and has been the playground chair for the ISTE Annual Conference & Expo. In 2019, Blanchard was elected to the ISTE Board of Directors.
After 15 years of having a blast exploring ways to integrate technology in relevant and meaningful ways in her own middle and high school science and English classrooms, Meredith Boullion became a district technology facilitator for Calcasieu Parish in southwest Louisiana. For five years, she has developed and facilitated professional development for educators through face-to-face classes, webinars and online courses. She’s an Apple Teach, a Microsoft Innovative Educator trainer, and a certified Makey Makey Trainer who has presented sessions at the ISTE Conference & Expo, the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Convention & Exposition, the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (LACUE) conference and other regional conferences. Boullion is a lifelong learner who holds a bachelor’s degree from McNeese State University and a master’s in education from Wilkes University.
Currently the president of Skokie/Morton Grove District 69 Board of Education, Steve Dembo is a pioneer in the field of educational social networking and was among the first to realize the power of blogging, podcasting, Twitter and other Web 2.0 technologies in connecting educators and creating professional learning communities. For 10 years, Dembo served as Discovery Education’s director of learning communities and led their innovation and strategy team. He’s the co-author of the book Untangling the Web: 20 Tools to Power Up Your Teaching and a course designer and adjunct professor for Wilkes University.
Kimberly Eckert, M.Ed., Louisiana’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, teaches high school English and Educators Rising, also serving as a reading specialist and instructional coach. Previously, she was a special education teacher, a reading interventionist and a Teacher Assistance Program (TAP) mentor and master teacher. Eckert creates powerful classroom cultures and meaningful learning experiences that help students of all abilities and backgrounds progress while developing their own voice and agency. Her classes are structured around genius hours to embolden students to take on ambitious personal passion projects to enhance their own lives, schools, communities and the world. Eckert established Louisiana’s statewide grow-your-own teacher initiative in partnership with Educators Rising, and is currently serving as a teacher and innovative instructional coordinator, developing tailored induction, coaching and professional development for new teachers and paraprofessionals. She was recently named a national finalist for NEA’s Social Justice Activist of the Year and received Louisiana’s inaugural Public Interest Fellowship for her work with Educators Rising. Eckert assists with the Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher initiative through the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and is a National Education Association (NEA) Global Learning Fellow for South Africa, a Stand for Children’s LEAD Fellow facilitator and an expert teacher through the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Camilla Gagliolo is the senior director of event content at ISTE, planning the program for the ISTE Annual Conference & Expo as well as ISTE’s regional events. She’s worked as the instructional technology coordinator for Arlington Public Schools in Virginia, facilitating and leading technology integration to enhance teaching and learning for students. Her passion for innovation in education has made her an international leader in implementing new technologies in all curriculum areas. She’s presented at numerous national and international conferences on technology integration, foreign and immersion language learning, digital portfolio creation, multimedia integration and the use of emergent and mobile technologies in instructional environments. She’s also presented and led workshops on technology integration at international conferences, including the ISTE Conference & Expo, the Virginia Society for Technology in Education annual conference, the Educational Collaborative for International Schools Conference and the Future of Education Technology Conference.
After a decade in Italy as a design consultant and creative director, Rebecca Louise Hare returned to the U.S. to study education and built on her BFA in Industrial Design from The European Design Institute in Milan, Italy with a M.A.T. in Art from Fontbonne University, St. Louis. Rebecca is an art and design teacher with Clayton Public Schools in St. Louis and a learning space designer and co-author of the book: The Space: A Guide for Educators.
Michael Hernandez is an award-winning cinema and journalism teacher in Los Angeles whose work focuses on digital storytelling, media literacy and social justice. As an author, keynote speaker and consultant, he helps educators empower students to find passion and purpose in their learning so they can make a positive impact in their communities. Hernandez believes in the transformative potential of technology in the classroom, and his presentations at conferences in the U.S. and abroad for CUE, ISTE, SXSW EDU and Apple Education focus on tech integration and innovative teaching and learning strategies. He also leads students and teachers on documentary trips to Vietnam, Cuba and Cambodia as part of an experiential learning program. Hernandez is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google for Education Certified Innovator and PBS Digital Innovator. Follow him on Twitter @cinehead, on Instagram @changing.the.narrative and at www.michael-hernandez.net
Manuel S. Herrera is an educator, international speaker and doodler. He’s the innovation coordinator for the Affton Schools, a public school district in the suburbs of St. Louis, and an adjunct professor at Webster University, teaching courses on digital video for educators and designing edtech facilities. In addition to those roles, he’s the communications and design lead for Connected Learning, an educational nonprofit in St. Louis. Herrera has presented internationally at events like SXSWEdu, the ISTE Conference & Expo, .EDU and the Future of Education Technology Conference. In 2016, he was named the Midwest Education Technology Conference Spotlight Educator.
Anthony Johnson Jr. describes himself as a terrible student and "teacher’s nightmare' who dropped out of school at age 16 after having failed fourth, seventh, eighth and ninth grades. After earning his General Education Diploma (GED), he spent a decade moving from job to job. In 1998, Johnson lost both of his parents just six months apart, leading him to reflect on his life and career. A year later, he enrolled in college, graduating in four years with a degree in elementary education. Today, Johnson is a passionate teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator who travels the world and strives to help young people succeed.
Karla Kiper is a nationally Certified Educational Technology Leader (CETL) and director of technology integration for East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. She also has experience as a district-level technology facilitator and a classroom teacher. Kiper is a Certified Google for Education Trainer, Certified G-Suite Administrator, Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainee, Adobe Educator Trainer and a Flipped Learning Global Initiative Certified Trainer. Her work currently focuses on 1:1 Chromebook initiatives, models of technology integration and personalized professional development, and her specialties include digital literacy, e-learning design and development, mobile app development, technology grant writing, strategic technology planning and flipped and blended learning implementation. Kiper is currently a doctoral student in educational leadership at Southeastern Louisiana University where she’s researching blended and personalized learning.
Kurt Klynen started his career in education nearly two decades ago. Today, he develops learning experiences and teacher support materials that are both simple and elegant using Apple technology, tools and apps to improve student engagement and outcomes. He’s passionate about building and delivering technology-based instructional materials, curriculum or professional learning programs for educators and education institutions.
James McCrary is the director of technology and innovation at the St. James Episcopal Day School in Baton Rouge. He has a background as a social studies educator and technology specialist. An Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Educator and Common Sense Media Certified Educator, McCrary is passionate about integrating technology skills into the classroom and positively impacting students globally. McCrary presents at local, state and international conferences on innovation in education, with a focus on 3D development, especially for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). He also hosts "The VR Podcast" with several educational leaders throughout the U.S., discussing how immersion technology is impacting education and business. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Louisiana State University and an M.Ed. in educational leadership from Southeastern Louisiana University.
Joseph South, chief learning officer, is a strategic national educational technology leader focused on evidence-based learning transformation. He formerly served as the director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. In his role at the department, he was an adviser to the Secretary of Education and developed national educational technology policy, formed public-private partnerships to assist state and local education leaders in transitioning to digital learning, helped school districts expand the use of openly licensed educational resources (OERs), and collaborated with stakeholders to nurture a robust ecosystem of edtech entrepreneurs and innovators. He also worked on a cross-governmental team to bring high-speed broadband, interactive devices, professional development for educators and leaders, and high-quality affordable digital content to U.S. classrooms. He is a strong proponent of the active use of technology by learners. South has led learning product development teams at startups, museums, nonprofits, corporations and higher education institutions. He has also directed a host of learning programs and consulted on projects in China, Korea, Mexico, South America and the Middle East. He holds a doctorate in instructional psychology and technology from Brigham Young University.
Claudio Zavala Jr.’s experience in education spans 21 years, during which he’s been a teacher, mentor teacher, technology master teacher, instructional technology trainer and coordinator. Zavala is passionate about fostering creativity and using creation tools to enrich learning and experiences in the classroom. He’s an Adobe Education Leader, Alpha Squirrels certified educator, Participate Community Advisor, Google Certified Educator and Flipgrid Ambassador. Zavala is also an experienced photographer, avid cinematographer, vlogger YouTuber, musician and graphic designer.
"Ms. Z.," as her students affectionately call her, is a creative digital powerhouse. After 20 years of leadership in media production and graphic design, she followed her true calling into the classroom. Her innovative technology techniques energize and engage the toughest students, inviting them to express themselves digitally in their chosen learning styles. Zientek is an Adobe Certified Expert, a Google Certified Educator, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in instructional design and technology.