Our Global Team of Facilitators











Do your PD partners just make presentations or truly coach and facilitate growth?

How We're Different

Drew Perkins: As TeachThought’s Director of Professional Development and co-host of the TeachThought Podcast Drew helps design and deliver workshops and learning both on-site and virtually as well as coordinating PD work with our other Specialists. A graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Political Science in three years, he was decidedly against the idea of being a teacher. With a mother and grandmother both educators, a stint as a substitute teacher lured him back to earn a teaching certificate in secondary social studies. Thus began a journey that includes 15 years in the classroom and leadership in Michigan, California, Texas and most recently Kentucky and spanned middle and high school, Special Education to Advanced Placement and basketball and golf coaching.

Formerly with the Buck Institute for Education and the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning he has designed and contributed to several PBL models, including the TeachThought PBL Model. Drew continues to deliver professional development and speak at conferences and events around the country. He has been referred to as a professional thought stretcher due to his emphasis on leading through inquiry and questioning.

Dayna Laur is a twice Nationally Board Certified teacher and holds degrees from VA Tech, the University of Pittsburgh, and Wilkes University. Her nearly 20 years of educational experience began in the classroom as a high school social studies teacher where she taught AP classes and in special education co-taught environments. During her classroom tenure, she received numerous awards including Civics Teacher of the Year, was featured in Edutopia’s Schools that Work series, and participated in the Classrooms for the Future initiative that promoted technology integration into core content areas. Additionally, she was the Career Academy Coordinator for Health Sciences and Human Services.

Dayna has partnered with districts from all over the United States, Australia, and China to focus on creating innovative learning environments. Her passion is connecting learners to authentic work, a topic she pioneered in her 2013 book, Authentic Learning Experiences: A Real-World Approach to PBL. She frequently presents on the topics of authenticity, PBL, technology integration, assessment, creativity, and STEAM. You can also find her work on Lynda.com, where she designs online learning experiences for educators.

Dr. Cyndi Burnett is an Assistant Professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater, a Master of Science in Creativity, and a Doctorate of Education in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning, all of which she uses to help “ignite creativity around the world.” Her research interests include: the use of creative models and techniques with children, creative thinking in higher education, and current trends in creativity. Her work includes projects such as: working with educators to bring creative thinking into the classroom, connecting communities of creative thinkers via social media, and designing and running a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Everyday Creativity.

Dr. Burnett is devoted to creating engaging lessons in education. In addition to teaching creativity professionally, she serves on the Board of Trustees for Elmwood Franklin School in Buffalo, is a Learning Advisor for DIY.org, and is a consulting editor for the Journal of Creative Behavior. Dr. Burnett was featured in an article in the New York Times titled, “Creativity Becomes an Academic Discipline.” She is the co-editor of the Big Questions in Creativity book series and co-author of the books Weaving Creativity into Every Strand of Your Curriculum and My Sandwich is a Spaceship: Creative Thinking for Parents and Young Children.

Chris Wilkins: A graduate from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Chris has been in the field of education since 1986 when the inner city school system of Dade County, Florida recruited him.   As an educator, writer, photographer and adventurer, Chris blends his travels and experience into his workshops and classes to provide a high energy, impactful learning experience for your staff, and it is this blending of experience, content and knowledge that are the foundations for his guiding belief that learning is life and it should last a lifetime. As an expert in Project Based Learning, Chris has authored several publications in the field. Having grown up in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, he can hold the workshops in English, Spanish or his favorite – Spanglish! Chris also holds a Master’s Degree in Education and Leadership and his PBL methodologies include the creation of PBL leadership roles with the school systems and districts he serves to ensure continued sustainability of the PBL plans and practices that are put into place.

Telannia Norfar is a math teacher, department chair and technology/professional development coordinator at an inner city high school. She currently teaches Geometry and PreCalculus. She has taught Algebra I and Algebra II. She has been a 9th grade academy team leader and technology coach. She has a Master’s in Teaching with Technology and promotes using technology in the classroom.

Norfar works with a diverse group of students and colleagues which has resulted in her becoming an expert in English Language Learners, Special Education, Professional Learning Communities, Standards-Based Grading and Collaborative Learning to name a few. One of Norfar’s foundational teaching practices is Student-Centered Learning. One way of accomplishing this is through Project-Based Learning. Norfar incorporates project-based learning in her classroom by operating it like a business. The students are math consultants to individuals, families and organizations around the world. While learning mathematics, the students solve real world problems in teams.

Norfar speaks at local, state and national educational conferences. She was a featured teacher in the leadership symposium of the International Society of Education conference and webinars for Inspiration Software and Discovery Education. She trains on various educational strategies at the local and national level.

Don Proffit: Principal of Lawrence High School in New Jersey, until 2006, Don’s priorities were promoting a caring, inclusive, safe school community, and supporting academic rigor, diversity, and ethics.  In the years leading up to his work in Lawrence, Proffit’s innovative education initiatives included directing a “Fame” magnet high school in dance and theater. Proffit’s passion for finding and implementing tools for forming stronger, more inclusive communities has led him from Maine to Bali. He is an associate with The World Café™ — a natural and effective way to host meaningful conversations that awaken collective wisdom and engage collaborative action.

Proffit holds a master’s degree in educational leadership with a visual arts focus from Bank Street College and Parsons School of Design, a master’s in creative arts education from Rutgers, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from the Westminster Choir College. He received the D. Bennett Mazur Award for Lifetime Achievement from the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition, has twice received the New Jersey Governor’s Award in Arts Education, and is a John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Teacher Fellow.

John McCarthy, Ed.S. has been an advocate for student voice in their learning his entire career. Teacher, Consultant, Cognitive Coach, and Learner–John supports school cultures on improving teacher and learner capacity with instructional practices, including Differentiation, Personalization, Blended Learning, Project-Based Learning, Authentic Learning Experiences, Formative Assessment Practices, and Instructional Use of Technology. John writes articles regularly for various education publications that are widely shared by educators to educators. He has a book on Differentiation coming out in early 2017.

John has successfully helped teachers and administrators find the capacity and talent within themselves to design and implement structures that benefits students taking more ownership of their learning. He helps them connect pedagogical concepts into practical skill sets for successful implementation. He works with schools across the United States, Australia and Asia.

Victoria Olson is a grade 3/4 teacher and technology coach at West Langley Elementary in Langley, British Columbia. She is a student in the Masters of Educational Technology program at the University of British Columbia. Victoria co-founded #bcedchat and EdCamp35 to increase networking between BC educators and to enrich the focus on professional development within the province. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Innovator, and Google Education Trainer. Victoria is an active member of her Personal Learning Network and advocates for online sharing of best pedagogical practices. She believes in meaningful tech integration and innovation in schools, helping teachers reach their professional goals with pedagogical development and technology.

Allan Carrington is the imagineer of the popular Padagogy Wheel, a learning and teaching model that helps teachers integrate technology by designing more engaging learning and has been translated from English to Spanish, German, Chinese, and Arabic. Russian is next with another 14 languages also in production.

Allan is recognized as an Apple Distinguished Educator and was awarded the University of Adelaide Award for Excellence in Support of the Student Experience and the National Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. He has a background in Print Production, publishing and marketing and has two masters degrees, one in Interactive Multimedia and the other in Education. Allan was been a Learning Designer with the eLearning Team at the University of Adelaide for 10 years between 2003 and 2013.

Andrew Miller has spent many years in education, as a classroom teacher, an online teacher, curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher leader, and educational consultant. He has used his skills in Educational Technology, Project-Based Learning, Assessment, Student Engagement, Understanding By Design and Culturally Responsive Teaching to create an engaging learning environment for all students. He has taught grades 6-12 in both traditional and blended settings. He helped found a school in Washington state with a focused on technology and PBL to support and engage all students, and prepare them careers in STEM fields. Andrew travels internationally, working with educators in his many areas of expertise. He has worked with educators in the United States, Canada, Australia, China, India, Mexico, Kuwait and the Dominican Republic. He has given presentations and workshops at many conferences including ISTE, ASCD, the International Reading Association,  and iNACOL’s Virtual Schools Symposium. Andrew is an avid blogger and writer for a variety of organizations including and Edutopia. He is also the author of the ASCD publication “Freedom to Fail.” Andrew will soon be an Instructional Coach at the Shanghai American School in China.

Matt Harris, Ed.D. has worked as an educational leader, teacher, instructional technologist, author, presenter and researcher. He has taught at all grade levels from preschool to university graduate school as an ICT and mathematics teacher. He has worked as a senior administrator at independent schools and universities in North America and Asia. He currently works as Deputy Head of School for Learning Technologies at the British School Jakarta in Indonesia.

As of January, 2016, Dr. Harris serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). He is the first person to hold the post while living and working outside of the United States. He has advised on countrywide educational technology plans of action, development of standards in educational technology and IT for an internationally recognized accrediting organization, site based technology leadership and program development, and the creation of a new international school in the Middle East.

Jackie Gerstein‘s byline is, “I don’t do teaching for a living. I live teaching as my doing . . . and technology has amplified my passion for doing so.” Dr. Gerstein has been teaching in-person and online for several decades. Currently she teaches master’s-level online courses in educational technology for Boise State, Walden, and Western’s Governors’ Universities. Her background includes a strong focus on counseling and experiential learning, which she brings into her teaching and professional development workshops. She believes that one of the roles and responsibilities of the 21st century educator is to share resources, ideas, and instructional strategies with other educators.

Eric White is an educator who, above all else, is devoted to student and teacher empowerment. He has performed many roles in education that include serving as a classroom teacher, department head, instructional coach, and Title I / CTAE coordinator. During his tenure, he co-founded multiple academies that focused on design thinking, blended learning, and project-based learning. Eric has presented at many state and national conferences on innovative learning approaches and continues to provide professional development in this area. He also provides coaching and professional learning to assist districts and schools with 1:1 initiatives. In addition to having his blogs published by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, he co-authored “Design Thinking and the Shift From Refrigerator Projects” for UnBoxed: A Journal of Adult Learning in Schools. Eric was also featured for his work with project-based learning in Edutopia’s Schools That Work series in 2011.

In his spare time Eric loves to go fly fishing, but he admittedly catches more trees than fish.

Erika Jordan has served as an educator for over fifteen years. Working as an elementary teacher a portion of Jordan’s teaching career included working on a comprehensive school reform campus. The school’s focus on project based learning served as an essential piece to Erika’s and the school’s growth and success. This experience has provided her a unique perspective from ‘the other side’ of the professional development experience.

Over the past six years, Erika has worked closely with teachers, instructional technology coaches, administrators, and key school district stakeholders across the country to provide professional development to effectively integrate technology. She has assisted several districts in deploying 1:1 laptop initiatives and instructional coaching models while building capacity and sustainable professional learning. The heart of her work is to coach and model alongside administrators, coaches, and teachers within the school setting to form lasting results.

Erika received her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from Jamestown College and her Master’s in Teaching and Learning with a Technology Emphasis from Arizona State University.

Jill Ackers-Clayton’s arc of professional learning began in 1996. Her experience includes STEM, Network Director, International Baccalaureate Coordinator and Trainer and School Leader. She has worked at the university level, designing transformational leadership programs for aspiring principals. She founded a Spanish Immersion and Dual Language Project Based Learning School in Dallas, Texas. Her extensive professional development background includes training in urban, charter and private schools all over the world. Jill’s philosophy is that relevant learning experiences prepare children and adults to be critical thinkers who use creativity to solve challenges.

Kimberly Mitchell has experienced firsthand the potential for inquiry-based instruction to transform learning in her many roles as teacher, principal, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IB school authorizer, director at Teach For All in Argentina and teacher at the University of Washington’s College of Education. Kimberly honed the inquiry strategies she presents while working in in low-income and international schools (K-12). She has led workshops around the world, coaching teachers and modeling strategies that work best to increase student engagement and understanding. Kimberly started Inquiry Partners in 2014 with the mission of supporting educators around the world with the implementation of inquiry-based teaching strategies; strategies that work in any school context, grade level or subject area. Her strategies are research-based, accessible and impactful and her simulation workshops receive rave reviews. She is Board Chair for the IBO Americas Regional Council and co-Chair of the University of Washington’s Ambassador Board at the College of Education. Kimberly was a 1991 Teach For America corps member and received her BA in History from Skidmore College and her MA in Education Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University. She is married to a middle school PE/Health teacher and has two school-aged children, all of whom “keep her real.”

Michael Gorman is a graduate of Western Michigan University, Indiana University, and Johns Hopkins University’s. Along with 33 years in the classroom, he spent four years implementing a 1:1 laptop and digital PD initiative for students and educators at Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He helped design a program based on the pedagogy of PBL to help provide process to the 1:1 program, facilitated curricular changes to replace the textbook with digital learning possibilities, and assisted in replacing snow days with an blended e-learning program.

Mike’s awards include district Teacher of the Year and Indiana State Teacher of the Year semi-finalist. He has also been awarded Indiana STEM Educator of the Year by the US Airforce Association, Advocate for Johns Hopkins University, and was recently awarded the honor of being one of Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Heroes.

Mike has worked with several state DOE’s, numerous school districts, and various nonprofits/foundations. Most of all, Mike continues to advocate for teachers and students while concentrating efforts at transforming education and bringing 21st Century Skills to every classroom.

Thom Markham is a psychologist, educator, author, speaker, and internationally-respected consultant to schools focused on project based learning, 21st century skills, innovation, and high performance cultures. He is the primary author of two best-selling books on project based learning, the Buck Institute for Education’s Handbook on Project Based Learning and the Project Based Learning Design and Coaching Guide: Expert tools for Innovation and Inquiry for K – 12 Educators, as well as Redefining Smart: Awakening Students’ Power to Reimagine Their World. By combining proven methods for designing high quality, challenging, and authentic projects with innovative tools for teaching 21st century skills and strategic school redesign principles, he has helped over 300 schools and nearly 6000 teachers across five continents establish transforming inquiry-based programs. His intention is always to work collegially with other educators to discover, empower, improve, and succeed.

Beth Rayl previously served as the Regional Executive for WAY (Widening Advancements for Youth), providing a blended model of project-based learning for middle and high school aged youth. She has also served as a superintendent of schools, an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, an elementary school principal, a high school assistant principal, an adjunct university instructor, and a teacher in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts in K-12 education, a Master of Arts as a K-12 reading specialist, and a Master of Education in educational leadership and administration.

Beth has been recognized as a Gerstacker Fellow from Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU); in Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers; as the SVSU College of Education Outstanding Alumni; as an AAUW Eleanor Roosevelt Teaching Fellow; as the Michigan Health Teacher of the Year; as a National Collegiate Health and Physical Education Award winner; and as a National Collegiate All-American Scholar. Beth held National Board Certification as a teacher.

Beth provides professional development and job embedded coaching in the areas of differentiated instruction, leadership and organizational development, literacy, blended learning, project-based learning, and instructional technology integration.

Dr. Angela Peery is a consultant and author with three decades of experience as an educator. She has spent the last decade completing over 1000 consulting days and authoring or co-authoring 13 books, including the bestsellers Writing Matters in Every Classroom and The Data Teams Experience: A Guide for Effective Meetings. Her latest books focus on vocabulary instruction.

Prior to becoming a full-time author and consultant, Angela was an instructional coach for a chronically low-performing middle school. Additional experience includes ten years of classroom teaching in secondary schools, four years as a high school administrator, and various leadership roles at the building, district, and state levels. In these roles, she developed curriculum, studied effective instruction, and mentored other teachers. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, both in-person and online. For several years, she was a co-director of a National Writing Project site, teaching the summer institute graduate course.

Angela earned her doctorate in curriculum from the University of South Carolina. Her doctoral research highlighted professional development in teacher inquiry. A Virginia native, Angela earned her B. A. in English at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and her M. A. in Literature at Hollins College. Her professional licensures include secondary English, secondary administration, and gifted/talented education. Most recently, she has undertaken graduate study in brain-based learning and global education. Angela sees every day as a new learning experience and delights in working with teachers and administrators around the globe.

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