Our Global Team of Facilitators

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

How We're Different
Jill Ackers-Clayton

Jill Ackers-Clayton

Facilitator and Coach

Co-author of Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project-Based Learning, Jill’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.

Allan Carrington

Allan Carrington

Facilitator and Coach

Allan 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.

Jennifer Cruz

Jennifer Cruz

Facilitator and Coach

Jennifer’s career in education began as a teacher in a high poverty, diverse school in Phoenix, AZ. From the classroom, Jen transitioned to central office in the curriculum and assessment division before becoming a principal. After more than a decade as a principal in schools that received Title One funds, she transitioned back to central office as the Federal Programs Manager. Dr. Cruz then had a unique opportunity to work for a non-profit focused on Project Based Learning for a few years before transitioning back to a local school district where she served as the Director of Innovative Academic Initiatives to support the growth of STEAM academy schools of choice, gifted education, partner outreach, and grant writing.

Jennifer is currently the Assistant Superintendent for a district in the Metro Phoenix area
where they are working to provide a world-class education for the students in the community.

Jennifer earned her Ed.D. in Leadership, Innovation, and Policy Studies from Arizona State
University. She is an AZ certified K-8 teacher and administrator with credentials in gifted
education and structured English immersion.

 

Jackie Gerstein

Jackie Gerstein

Facilitator and Coach

Jackie‘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.

Michael Gorman

Michael Gorman

Facilitator and Coach

Mike 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.

Mike Kaechele

Mike Kaechele

Facilitator and Coach

Mike’s passion is inspiring educators to design engaging PBL curriculum for all content areas and age levels. During 15 years of PBL teaching he has taught social studies, math, personal finance, STEM, and STEAM classes. Mike has integrated projects across content areas in both middle school and high school settings. He has team taught social studies with English, and math with science in integrated classes. While living abroad, Mike gained international experience teaching English in China. He was a founding teacher at Kent Innovation High School, a nationally recognized PBL school of the New Tech Network. There he helped create its positive culture of student inquiry.

Mike leads workshops and conference sessions on a variety of topics including integrating technology, PBL, standards based grading, and collaborations between schools. He believes that “whoever is doing, is learning,” therefore his students direct their own learning through vigorous inquiry. Student autonomy is at the heart of the authentic tasks that his students complete for the local community. They become critically thinking citizens who question the status quo, solve complex problems,  and bring justice and equality to the world. Mike is convinced that we don’t need to prepare students for “someday,” but that they should be doing meaningful work right now! He is currently designing a PBL pilot program for the Western Flyer Foundation, focused on the historic boat used by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts.

Rich Lehrer

Rich Lehrer

Facilitator and Coach

Rich believes deeply in the potential of authentic STEM and making experiences to help students become empowered agents for good in their lives, communities, and the world. Rich is currently the Innovation Coordinator for Brookwood School (Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA). He trains U.S. and International Teachers in the use of Project Based Learning, is a sought after speaker and facilitator in the field of authentic and community based 3D Printing programs, and was an Allen Distinguished Educator finalist in 2016.

In 2013, Rich led a transformative project that resulted in a group of 8th grade Brookwood School students becoming one of the first school groups in the world to build a functional 3D printed mechanical prosthetic for a child: in this case, Rich’s son, Max. The transformative experiences associate with this and other 3D printed prosthetics projects confirmed for Rich the power of middle school students to create effective solutions to real life problems and for the past two years he and his Brookwood colleagues have been breaking innovative ground in the use of PBL and 3D printing to teach empathy, purposeful design, and community problem solving.

Dayna Laur

Dayna Laur

Facilitator and Coach

Co-author of Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project-Based Learning, Dayna 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.

John McCarthy Ed.S.

John McCarthy Ed.S.

Facilitator and Coach

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 and is the author of, So All Can Learn: A Practical Guide to Differentiation, published 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.

Irena Nayfeld

Irena Nayfeld

Facilitator and Coach

Dr. Irena Nayfeld is an educator, researcher, and Early Childhood and STEM expert. With extensive experience as a teacher, coach, and developmental scientist, her work focuses on the intersection of research and practice. Specifically, she develops and enacts inquiry- and project-based learning strategies in schools and community agencies serving culturally and linguistically diverse families, and families from under-resourced backgrounds. She is passionate about fostering learning that creates critical thinking, growth mindsets, curiosity, and a love for learning while being fun for teachers and students.

Dr. Nayfeld has taught at the preschool and 2nd grade levels, and received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology at the University of Miami. As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, she worked closely with educators around the country to develop, assess, and scaffold core teaching competencies of pre-service teacher candidates. Dr. Nayfeld is currently a research associate at New York University, where she designs and implements a language development program for parents of young children from diverse backgrounds. She is also a lead researcher and early childhood STEM specialist of SciMath-DLL, a professional development model for preschool STEM teachers, with supports for dual language learners.

Telannia Norfar

Telannia Norfar

Facilitator and Coach

Telannia 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. Telannia was a featured teacher in the leadership symposium of the International Society of Education conference and webinars for Inspiration Software and Discovery Education.

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.

Kym Pawelka

Kym Pawelka

Facilitator and Coach

Kym Pawelka is an educator with multiple years of experience with Project-Based Learning. Most recently, she was integral in the startup and design of Kent Innovation High School where she served as principal. Kent Innovation serves as a project-based lab school for Kent County districts. KIH received a national demonstration site designation from New Tech Network in its second year of operation and continued this status during Kym’s tenure.

Prior to Kent Innovation, Kym taught biology in the Kentwood Public School District for 13 years. While in the classroom, Kym had the opportunity to develop an inquiry based curriculum for English language learners and helped implement a project-based school within a school at East Kentwood’s Freshman Campus. Kym has a Masters degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University and a Bachelors degree in biology from Hope College. She is currently managing the Groundswell Program, a placed-based educational initiative housed in Grand Valley State University’s College of Education, supporting teachers in integrating placed-based projects into their curriculum.

Dr. Angela Peery

Dr. Angela Peery

Facilitator and Coach

Angela is a consultant and author with three decades of experience as an educator. She is the author/co-author of 13 books, including the bestsellers Writing Matters in Every Classroom and The Data Teams Experience: A Guide for Effective Meetings.

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.

Drew Perkins

Drew Perkins

Director of Professional Development, Facilitator and Coach

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 internationally. He has been light-heartedly referred to as a professional thought stretcher due to his emphasis on leading through inquiry and questioning.

Don Proffit

Don Proffit

Facilitator and Coach

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.

Beth Rayl

Beth Rayl

Facilitator and Coach

Beth 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.

Ian Stevenson

Ian Stevenson

Workshop Facilitator

Ian brings diverse experience and passion for PBL, performance assessment, instructional and leadership coaching with a focus on equity and social justice.  His current work with Stanford University’s SCALE as ELA content specialist focuses on school and district implementation of performance assessment, and managing the Performance Assessment Resource Bank.

As the Director of School Development in New Tech Network (NTN) schools in Massachusetts and Tennessee Ian created and led PBL instructional coaching, and teacher-led professional development programs. In these low-SES urban schools he worked side-by-side with leadership teams to identify PBL early-adopter teachers, and coached their leadership to support a culture of PBL. He also led the successful technology integration of several Learning Management Systems for students, teachers, and school leadership.

Ian’s 12 years of teaching experience includes Lead Teacher and PBL coach at the Bellevue Big Picture School in Bellevue, WA; and as a certified New Tech Network Humanities teacher at DaVinci Charter Academy in Davis, CA where he was co-designer and teacher of the 2012 NTN Best in Network project.  Ian earned his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, creating a “PBL Management Resource for Teachers” at CSU-Sacramento. He also holds a CA Administrative Credential.

Beckie Stobaugh

Beckie Stobaugh

Facilitator and Coach

Rebecca has been a principal and middle and high school teacher. While serving as a teacher, she was named Social Studies Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Council for Social Studies in 2004. In her position as a middle school principal, she focused on aligning curriculum, increasing the level of critical thinking in assessments and instruction, and establishing a school-wide discipline plan. She is the author of three books: Assessing Critical Thinking in Middle and High Schools, Assessing Critical Thinking in Elementary Schools, Real-World Learning Framework for Secondary Schools, and Real-World Learning Framework for Elementary Schools. She has also co-authored a math workbook series entitled Explore the Core. She received a PhD from the University of Louisville. Currently, she serves as an associate professor at Western Kentucky University, teaching assessment and unit-planning courses in the teacher education program. She supervises first-year teachers and consults with school districts on critical thinking, instructional strategies, assessment, technology integration, and other topics.

Heather Warrell

Heather Warrell

Facilitator and Coach

Heather Warrell is a champion of ruckus makers, purple cows, and those who fly close to the sun. Heather currently leads the #KYGoDigital movement in her state through which she passionately teaches schools and districts across Kentucky how to leverage the power of digital tools to “work smarter not harder” via collaborative systems of efficiency. Heather has led as a middle school teacher, library media specialist, and school leader. She is currently working on her superintendent certification at The University of Kentucky.  Her former school, Thomas Nelson High School, was the original host site for EdCampKY and is widely recognized as one of the most forward-thinking schools in the state of Kentucky. Heather is a co-founder of #EdCampKy and also leads the Kentucky Online Virtual Network (KOVN) which is a coalition of district-level online course providers spanning courses across Kentucky, the nation, and world.

Along with her KYGoDigital team, she developed a Youtube Channel to provide on-demand digital workflow ideas and support for school leaders. Heather also organizes #KYGoDigital Regional Events across Kentucky which unite principal and teacher edtech leaders who CREATE – CONNECT – SHARE to further digital innovation in their regions.

Heather is a sought after keynote speaker where she passionately models the power of digital tools to revolutionize the way schools and districts collaborate.  Her workshop, “Digital Workflow For School and District Leaders,” has been conducted in more than 100 school districts.  

Eric White

Eric White

Facilitator and Coach

Eric 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.

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