Listen and learn : Mainstage
Dr. Miguel Cardona Richard Culatta Dr. Rand Hansen Megan McMahon Cornelius Minor Deborah Olatunji
Help us get ISTELive21 started with an exciting session filled to the brim with educational inspiration. Kick off the week with helpful tips and activities, and get revved up with the opening keynote address from the Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona. Then hear from thought leader Cornelius Minor who’s working tirelessly to build learning communities that celebrate student voice and student agency. Plus student storyteller, author and podcast host Deborah Olatunji, will be interviewed by Rand Hansen, a longtime education innovator and president of the ISTE Board of Directors.
Miguel A. Cardona, Ed.D., is the 12th U.S. Secretary of Education. Secretary Cardona has experience as an elementary school teacher, school principal, performance and evaluation lead administrator, assistant superintendent and, most recently, commissioner of education for the state of Connecticut. Under his oversight, despite the pandemic, Connecticut launched a statewide FAFSA data dashboard; procured a comprehensive statewide special education data system (CT-SEDS); announced the state’s highest ever extended graduation rates for students with disabilities and English learners; reached a new stipulated agreement in the landmark school integration case Sheff v. O’Neill; established the first national requirement for high schools to provide courses on Black and Latino studies; and initiated systemic improvement protocols that reach every corner of the state. His focus on equity and excellence for all learners has driven his work at all levels. Secretary Cardona is a lifelong resident of Meriden Connecticut, and a proud alumnus of Meriden Public School. Following his time in Meriden Public Schools, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University, and a master’s and doctorate and superintendent certificate from the University of Connecticut.
Richard Culatta, chief executive officer, brings vast experience in education policy, teacher preparation, educational technology and innovation to his role with ISTE. Culatta is a longtime ISTE member and a past recipient of the ISTE Making IT Happen Award. Prior to joining ISTE, Culatta served as the chief innovation officer for the state of Rhode Island. In this role, he focused on developing partnerships to improve opportunities for students, including launching a program to make Rhode Island the first state to offer computer science in every K-12 school and creating a state vision for personalized learning. As the director of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Technology, Culatta was at the helm of numerous efforts to expand connectivity to schools across the country, promote personalized learning and develop the National Education Technology Plan. He also pioneered new ways for the department to engage with educators and tech developers. Prior to his role with the Department of Education, Culatta served as an education policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. He was also the learning technologies adviser for the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University where he redesigned the technology component of the teacher prep program. He also served as the director of operations for the Rose Education Foundation, which brought the first internet connections to schools in rural Guatemala. Culatta began his career in the classroom as a high school teacher and, across his career, has coached educators and national leaders around the world on using technology as a tool to reimagine learning. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish teaching and a master's in educational psychology and technology, both from Brigham Young University
Rand Hansen, Ed.D., is the acting dean of the School of Arts and Science at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) and president of the ISTE Board of Directors. As acting dean, he supports the planning and execution of all academic and administrative matters pertinent to the successful operation of the School of Arts and Science; collaborates on developing and implementing a strategic plan; champions program quality; and administers academic policies and processes at the school level. He was previously a program director for learning design and technology, lead designer for the instructional design and technology micro-master’s program and acting vice-dean of the Education Department at UMGC. Hansen began his career as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher and a district technology coordinator for a large urban school district in Maryland. He has also worked at Discovery Education, Johns Hopkins University and National Louis University. He holds a master’s degree in instructional systems design from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a doctorate in educational technology from Pepperdine University. In 2015, he was named to the Center for Digital Education’s Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers list. In 2016, he earned the ISTE Making IT Happen award.
Megan McMahon is a senior events manager with ISTE, helping shape amazing educator content and events like the Creative Constructor Lab. She also has experience as a teacher resident with IDEO’s The Teachers Guild, spent 10 years as an art educator for San Francisco Unified School District, was a Peace Corps education volunteer in Bolivia, worked as a designer and art director for Anderson & Lembke Advertising, and was a co-founder of Beyond Borders Storytelling. McMahon is also an artist, and is always seeking that elusive San Francisco sun. She believes changes in education will come from inside school communities, from the ground up.
Cornelius Minor is a Brooklyn-based educator who works with teachers, school leaders and leaders of community-based organizations to support equitable literacy reform in cities (and sometimes villages) around the globe. His latest book, We Got This, explores how the work of creating more equitable school spaces is embedded in our everyday choices — specifically in the choice to really listen to kids. He has been featured in Education Week, Brooklyn Magazine and Teaching Tolerance Magazine. Minor has partnered with The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, The New York City Department of Education, the International Literacy Association and Lesley University’s Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative. “Out of Print,” a documentary featuring Minor, made its way around the film festival circuit, and he has been a featured speaker at conferences all over the world. Minor, along with partner and wife, Kass Minor, recently established The Minor Collective, a community-based movement that fosters sustainable change in schools. Whether working with educators and kids in Los Angeles, Seattle or New York City, Minor uses his love for technology, hip-hop and social media to bring communities together. As a teacher, he draws not only on his years teaching middle school in the Bronx and Brooklyn, but also on time spent skateboarding, shooting hoops and working with young people.
Deborah Olatunji is a Philadelphia-based storyteller, igniter, author of Unleashing Your Innovative Genius: High School Redesigned, and host of the Voices of Disruption Podcast. Her core value is in owning her identity as an igniter. She describes herself as an empathetic storyteller and creator who empowers community members to collaborate and grow together to ignite change, purpose and agency. She finds the most enjoyment in bringing communities together to talk about challenging issues like mental health access, racial justice, gender equality and education reform through her show (known as the VOD POD by her audience), and mobilizing members of Generation Z to take action and be civically engaged. Olatunji’s philosophy on education redesign began at age 15 when she started working for Griptape, a nonprofit that gives youth financial resources to pursue learning challenges. She credits this experience with helping spark the ideas and goals she has for disrupting the education system. Her book on youth empowerment and education reform debuted in 2020. After pivoting to a virtual tour, Olatunji continues to share her story and encourage her peers to step into their power. She has given inspirational and action-spurring talks to crowds of thousands, been featured on 20+ podcasts, and recently spoke at her first international conference over Zoom.
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