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Leader U 2018 Speakers
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Keynote - Eating Kryptonite for Breakfast: Developing a Champion Mindset for Students


Ronald Woodard

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Maury County Schools, Tennessee


Dr. Ron Woodard is the assistant superintendent of instruction for Maury County Schools. Prior to that he was the executive principal of Metro Nashville Public School’s Maplewood High School for five years and one year as assistant principal. Before serving at Maplewood High, Woodard was assistant principal of Whites Creek High School for three years. He also taught science at Wright Middle School for four years where he served as program director for the Teen Mentoring Program. He has expertise in the areas of developing climate and culture in schools, building capacity and effective teams, and school turnaround.
Woodard’s undergraduate degree comes from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biology. His master’s in educational administration comes from Tennessee State University in Nashville and his doctorate in education was completed at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

Session Speakers

   Jason and Natalie Beach

Jason and Natalie Beach share their specialties in two fields of education.  With a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Jason teaches preservice teachers about the latest instructional technology, data, and statistics methods at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. Currently a kindergarten teacher at Prescott South Elementary School, Natalie has taught PreK-4th grade in both general and special education classrooms.  As a team, Jason and Natalie present ways to use the best blend pedagogy and technology to preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and administrators across Tennessee. 

Session: Tech Tools in the Early Elementary Classroom

  John Carver

John Carver is the Chief Digital Learning and Innovation Officer with the Maury County Public School System in Middle Tennessee.  His responsibility is to make operational the District’s Digital Integration Plan for Learning on Mobile and Accessibility, DIPLOMA. The vision to infuse technology into daily instruction, becoming the premier 1:1 district in Tennessee by 2026.  Prior to his job at MCPS, Carver  spend the last 10 years as a Superintendent where he led the transformation of teaching and learning in two different Iowa school districts. Empowering teachers, collaborating with business, elected officials and higher education, he led the charge to vision and make operational a new structure of learning grounded in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

Session: DIPLOMA- Digital Integration Plan for Learning on Mobile and Accessibility 

  Tim Childers

Tim Childers currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Fulton High n Knox County Schools. He was named one of the first DEN Gurus for Discovery Education and was listed on the very first "20 to Watch" lists by TechSmith. He has led workshops across the state, as well as being a featured speaker for MACUL and a keynote speaker for the Mid-South Technology Conference. Tim serves on the Board of Directors for the Professional Educators of Tennessee.

Session: Blended Learning: Lessons from the Field

Session: TEAM Evaluations: What We've Learned So Far


  Sharon Clark

Sharon Clark is an enthusiastic, innovative, 21st Century education powerhouse where she teaches STEM to 4th and 5th grade students at East Side Intermediate School in Brownsville, TN located in Haywood County.  Ms. Clark also teaches a technology enrichment class during regular school hours and STEM during afterschool and Summer Enrichment.  She was chosen as a PBS Digital Innovator (Philadelphia, PA) in 2015, called to speak at PBS Annual Meeting in Chicago in 2016, and selected as an EdmodoCon2017 speaker in San Mateo, California.  She will present at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in June 2018.  
Ms. Clark, a Tennessee Transformation Leader Alliance (TTLA) Fellow at Lipscomb University and a Tennessee STEM Collaborative Cohort Member, is dedicated to making a positive impact on every life she touches. She achieves that goal by preparing others to compete globally, live successfully, and embrace diversity. 

Session: Bridging Gaps/Cultivating Curiosity

  Mary-Owen Holmes

Mary-Owen Holmes is a 7th grade social studies teacher at Spring Hill Middle School in Maury County. In addition to teaching, Holmes serves as an instructional coach for Problem-Based Learning, teacher liaison for the MCPS Tennessee Teacher Leader Network team, cheerleading coach, and on the school leadership team. She is a current Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow and serves on the board of directors for the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance (TECA), as well as the Social Studies Chat Network (#sschat). Holmes is an alumna of the SCORE Tennessee Educator Fellowship, and is passionate about the impacts of technology, diversity, and cultural/current events education within schools. Holmes holds a B.A. in Political Science/Communications, an M.Ed. in Teaching, Learning, and Leading, and an Ed.S. in Technology Integration from Lipscomb University. Follow her classroom on Twitter at @MsHolmesTeach

Session: PBL (Project Based Learning) for All 

  Ryan Jackson

Dr. Ryan B. Jackson is the Executive Lead Principal of The Mount Pleasant Arts Innovation Zone, America’s first and only Pre-K through 12 STEAM Campus. Under the campus’ Courage 2 Create vision, The Mount, as it is colloquially known, has secured unprecedented industry partnerships with such heavyweights as Parker-Hannifin, NASA, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, O’More College of Design and Berklee School of Music.In only his second year at The Mount, Dr. Jackson and his team have implemented a revolutionary STEAM model that includes the counties first 1:1 implementation and the state’s first second through twelfth grade STEAM Summit (in conjunction with Junior Achievement of Middle TN). 
Previously, Jackson served ten years at Maplewood High School in Nashville, TN, as an English teacher, Dean of Students and Graduation Coach and as an assistant principal over the Academy of Energy & Power. Jackson is passionate art education and is a sincere advocate for the Underdog, as well as the founder of #FitLeaders, a national group of educators and industry leaders dedicated to professional success through healthy living. He resides in Spring Hill, TN with his wife and young child.

Session: Fit Leaders – From Surviving to Thriving

  Chikezie O. Madu

Dr. Chikezie Madu has 22 years of experience in education, teaching Biology, Chemistry, Physical Science, Algebra, Geometry, Anatomy and Physiology in Nigeria and the US. He earned an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Freed-Hardeman University and a PhD and in Biomedical Science (emphasis in Cancer Biology) at the University of Tennessee Health Science center in Memphis, TN. He is currently teaching AP Biology, DE Biology, and DE Anatomy & Physiology at White Station High School in Memphis, TN. 
In addition to teaching, he is an AP Biology Reader, loves to mentor new teachers, and is the President of Foundation Reforming Education in Africa and America-FREAA, formerly Critical Thinking Education Services (a nonprofit tutoring services that targets low income students).

Session: Organized Chaos

  Bill Parker

Bill Parker serves as the Director of the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission (TNFLC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization administratively attached to the Tennessee Department of Treasury. Under Bill’s leadership, the Commission provides educators with critical resources and training needed to incorporate financial literacy in the classroom. Additionally, the Bill has helped the Commission expand its scope of services to include financial education for adult Tennesseans. In conjunction with Treasurer Lillard and the TNFLC Board of Directors, Bill works hard to deliver comprehensive and meaningful financial learning opportunities for the whole family, at no cost to the user. 

Session: Teaching Financial Literacy 

  Lynn Seifert

Having served as a superintendent, principal and teacher, Dr. Lynn Seifert brings a wealth of experience in all levels of schooling. She enjoys planning, writing and delivering professional development to schools across the nation. Having been in the trenches with inner city, rural and suburban districts, Dr. Seifert understands the struggles many teachers and administrators face and can provide solid steps for improvement. She is proud of the work she does to mentor pre-service teachers as an adjunct professor for Colorado State University @ Pueblo. Although she will tell you that her proudest moment was when she established a school for non-traditional learners. Currently, Lynn works for No Bully as a Partnership Manger for ESPN and Major League Baseball. 

Session:The Effects of Bullying on Learning 

  Lisa Ventura

Lisa Ventura is a devoted & fierce advocate of people with disabilities.  Currently she is the the Director of Special Populations in Maury County Public Schools; previously in Marshall County TN.  She started her career teaching Biology & Chemistry, but then went to the “dark side” into Special Education.  She has also served as a behavior and autism specialist and worked as a Special Education Coordinator & Management Consultant for TNDOE.  Currently she serves on the Board for TN Association for Administrators of Special Education and on various state and federal task forces regarding Special Education issues.

Session: Top 10 Things an IEP Team Member Should Know

  Cicely Woodard
Cicely Woodard is an 8th grade Math teachers from West End Middle School in Nashville,Tennessee.  She is the current 2018 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. In addition to that, Woodard was a 2017 State-Level Finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She recently served as a member of the inaugural Nashville Public Education Foundation Teacher Cabinet where she actively informed education policy at the district level. In 2014, she served as the Coordinator of the Tennessee Educator Fellowship with the State Collaborative on Reforming Education where teachers learned about education policy and advocating for their students. Woodard earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Memphis and a M.Ed. from Vanderbilt University. Cicely and her husband, Ron, are raising two sons, Jonathan and Joseph.

Session: The Engaging Classroom

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