Inspiring Educators







August 2015
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It's Friday and time to celebrate individual success in education.  Joining us to share his #FlyHighFri moment of the week is the Principal of Harbor View Elementary in Corona Del Mar, Dr. Todd Schmidt.  Dr. Schmidt is a born educator and always knew his passion was to teach and credits great role models in his teachers for paving the way to teaching.  Determined to share his vision, Dr. Schmidt, became an administrator to better guide and work alongside his teachers.  A true teachers' Principal, Todd joins Inspiring Educators to share his celebration in education for this week.

Direct download: IE69_Todd_Schmidt.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:38am EDT

When you have lived abroad, you can never return home as the same person.  All your preconceived notion of your home and the world is broadened and enhanced with real life experience.  The ability to bring such valued lessons in life into the classroom is unique among the very passionate teachers who lead by example.  

Our inspiring educator, Allison Kerley, has lived in Belgium and seven states before settling, for the time being, as an elementary teacher in Atlanta.  Miss Kerley represents the vanguard of a new generation of educators who are tech savvy, progressive, and worldly.  Miss Kerley's class is a model setting for integrated flip and blended learning into the curriculum.  Her flipped class has led to better facilitating individualized lessons for her students, improved assessment, and increased engagement.  

Miss Kerley is a member of the Fulton County Vanguard team, training and coaching staff at schools in technology integration and work with the district on personalizing learning.  Miss Kerley is also the 2016 Teacher of the Year for Shakerag Elementary School.  

Allison graduated from Clemson University and has been a member of the school marching band playing the flute and the piccolo.  She remains loyal and is a huge Clemson Football fan.  

Direct download: IE68_Allison_Kerley.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:31am EDT

It’s Friday and time to celebrate our success in education with #FlyHighFri!  Joining us to share his moment of victory for this week is Paul Erickson from Hutchinson, KS.  Paul has been selected as the 2014 Kansas Elementary School Principal of the Year and after six years as principal of Inman Elementary School, Paul has already left a legacy of leadership that is benefiting not just his students and school but the entire community. Using the DuFour Professional Learning Community model as a school improvement framework, Mr. Erickson was able to greatly increase collaboration among staff and create a tiered system of intervention and enrichment that has resulted in unprecedented levels of student achievement on benchmark tests. Paul also worked collaboratively with teachers and district administrators to implement a technology initiative that has transformed the prekindergarten through sixth grade school into a model technology school. With iPads, SMART boards, Apple televisions, document cameras, and one-to-one environments in third through sixth grades, Inman earned the title of Apple Distinguished School in 2012. It now conducts an iPad Summer Summit which 400 educators statewide attend to learn best practices from the Inman staff. As a result, student engagement has “exploded,” the staff has had opportunities to shine among peers, and new and talented staff have been attracted to the school. Mr. Erickson also worked cooperatively with a town committee to pass a bond financing the addition of two new kindergarten classrooms, a four-year-old preschool, and a three-year-old preschool. Paul calls the new construction, “a 10,000-square-foot demonstration of the strong commitment our teachers, parents, and patrons have toward our students’ education.” Paul’s credentials include a B.S. from Fort Hays State University, an M.A. from Emporia State University, and a District Level Leadership from Wichita State University.

Direct download: IE67_Paul_Erickson.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 4:04pm EDT

Tracy Lafreniere teaches reading and writing as a Reading Specialist at North Smithfield Elementary School. At the time she was recognized as Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, she had been teaching for 17 years. Although she has always loved to read and to teach reading, she credits her training as a Reading Recovery teacher as her most significant inspiration because it changed her view about what was possible for struggling readers. She believes that children need to develop a love for reading early and that teaching children to read is the greatest gift we can give them. In addition to teaching and being highly active in her school community, Tracy has collaborated on many state and local projects including the Common Core Ambassador Team and the Rhode Island Writing Project. She is also an adjunct professor for the Providence College Graduate Literacy Program. She holds a degree in Elementary Education from Rhode Island College and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University.  

Direct download: IE66_Tracy_Lafreniere.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:01am EDT

It’s Friday and time to celebrate our success in education with #FlyHighFri!  Joining us to share his moment of victory this week is Dr. Chris Longo from New Milford, Connecticut.  Dr. Longo started his educational career as a biology teacher at a middle school, and his passion to lead dedicated teachers and students has led to his current role as an assistant principal at Schaghticoke Middle School. Dr. Longo participates frequently on twitter with other inspiring educators and you can find and follow Chris on twitter by his handle @DrChrisLongo.

Direct download: IE65_Chris_Longo.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Transforming a failing school should be ranked up there as one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake. Reenergizing, motivating, and instilling confidence in the teaching and support staff for the marathon school year is no easy task, and we haven't even begun to mention about disruptive students and non-participation from parents.  The depth of the problem becomes so deeply engrained in the school culture and problems so varied, hope is often blurred and buried in the daily struggle to maintain any sense and normalcy.  

There are no easy solutions to such deeply rooted problems.  The daunting task requires cooperation with all stakeholders: the staff, students, parents, and the surrounding community.  To orchestrate the minute details of school improvements while having a clear big picture, the job takes a special leader to provide the level of trust during the lengthy process.  Turing around failed schools and changing the school climate is our guest's specialty.  

Mr. Todd Irving has spent almost 17 years working in demanding urban schools.  While successfully guiding his current school in Orange County back to shape, Todd has never forgotten the core value of people centered leadership.  In this episode of Inspiring Educators, Mr. Irving shares his philosophy in education, the value of every child in his school and their parents, and his unbreakable support for dedicated staff and teachers.  

Direct download: IE64_Todd_Irving.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 6:12pm EDT

It’s Friday and time to celebrate our success in education with #FlyHighFri!  Joining us to share her moment of victory this week is Mrs. Victoria Curry from the great state of New York.  Victoria’s passion and enthusiasm for education first led her to teaching.  She has since moved on to the challenging role of school administrating and now helping and guiding her staff to better facilitate students.  Victoria has found great support in twitter and encourages other educators to find innovative and positive ideas through engagement found via twitter.  You can find and follow Mrs. Curry on twitter by her handle @VictoriaCurry77.

Direct download: IE63_Victoria_Curry.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 11:33am EDT

An opportunity to share one's passion as a teacher and help students reveal their talents, is a privilege and honor all educators share on a daily basis. Travis Sevilla is an artist and an educator who has recently found home as a multi-media/art instructor at Canyon Crest Academy.  An avid outdoorsman participating in surfing, cycling, bodysurfing, rock climbing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Travis has a passion for learning from many of his endeavors.  His lesson plans frequently translates life's pursuits and activities by introducing realistic and dynamic projects to students, incorporating the arts and design thinking.  With heavy emphasis in creative and critical thinking, Travis' students perceived limitations and reality are often challenged.

Among recognitions and award received, Travis has been recognized by Otis College of Art and Design as the Art Teacher of the Year 2012 for excellence in arts instruction, recipient of FIDM Teacher Grant 2011 Fellow with the Ahimsa Center for Nonviolence Studies K-12, Cal Poly Pomona 2010/11 Fellow with the Center for Teaching Critical Thinking and Creativity (CTCTC), and is a San Diego State University Board Member for ARTHATCH: Teen Art Program.  

Direct download: IE62_Travis_Sevilla.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:40am EDT

We are celebrating our weekly success in education with #FlyHighFri moment.  Sharing his defining moment of the week is our past guest, James Sturtevant.  A motivated and inspiring high school teacher from Ohio and the author of "You've Gotta Connect", James is always full of wisdom and wit.  

Direct download: IE61_James_Sturtevant_FlyHighFri.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:10pm EDT

TGIF! So, let's celebrate our weekly success with #FlyHighFri.  Joining Inspiring Educators today is a school counselor from Warren County, VA, Maria Kisner. Maria is all about instilling values and teaching life lessons to her crop of young ladies and gentlemen.

Maria participates with her #FlyHighFri at her school site as well as on twitter.  Join in and share your victory of the week and finish the week strong with a sprint to the weekend!

Direct download: IE60_Maria_Kisner.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:30am EDT

Laura Sullivan is a GRAMMY® winning composer and recording artist. Her original music has been included in the score of two Emmy winning documentaries, as well as in many popular television programs and advertisements for Fortune 500 companies.   

Her recordings consistently receive more than 4 million spins a month on Pandora alone, among many other stations around the world, resulting in broad international airplay. Her albums have charted in the top 2 on The Zone reporter, the internationally recognized New Age and ambient radio chart.   

Her music publications are represented by Performing Rights organization BMI which holds more than 500 of her original compositions in her prolific Composer/Songwriter catalog.   Laura is the composer, arranger and visionary for the epic crowdsourcing video, 900 Voices, produced by herself and her Grammy® winning husband, Eric Sullivan. 900 Voices involves the singing participation of 938 people around the world singing in 27 languages, all in 1 song. 

Laura's 2015 collaborations include music created on forthcoming albums with Native American 17 year old virtuoso Gareth Laffely, as well as Grammy® nominated New Age artist Paul Avgerinos, among others. 

Direct download: IE59_Laura_Sullivan.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 6:33am EDT

The role of a school administrator is arguably one of the most challenging positions for any individual in a leadership position.  The ability to provide personal attention to daily details of individual student, parent, or staff member while orchestrating the mass to a cohesive common goal requires a level of competence and patience very few perfect during their tenure.  The clear difference between a leader instilling and providing a vision for the school and a manager merely maintaining the status quo, is the difference between a thriving and vibrant school of learners and an average school focused on percent gains on standardized tests.

Joining us on Inspiring Educators is Penny Sturtevant, a middle school Principal from Ohio.  Penny's unlikely journey into education as a teacher, counselor, and to her current role as the Principal reflects her people centered style of leadership.  The role of a Principal at top can be a lonely journey, but Penny's approach and philosophy, a great institution does not stand on any single leadership alone, but with an effective team, has set into motion a successful partnership with teachers, students, and parents.

Direct download: IE58_Penny_Sturtevant.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

On Friday, we celebrate!  We celebrate our success in and outside the classroom.  #FlyHighFri is catching on and joining us to share his moment of triumph this week is Justin Birckbichler.  Justin is an elementary teacher in Virginia.  Inspiring Educators interviewed Justin this year in episode 43.  A tech savvy teacher, who's all about celebrating and sharing success, Justin is one of the co-founders of the #FlyHighFri movement and today, he has the mic!  

Direct download: IE57_Justin_Birckbichler._FlyHighFri..mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:52am EDT

Brilliant or Insane publisher and Hack Learning creator Mark Barnes has written six books on education technology, student-centered learning, using mobile devices and social media in the classroom, global learning and 21st-century assessment, using his revolutionary SE2R system. Mark Barnes is a recognized thought leader and one of education’s most dynamic speakers. A prolific content curator, Mark’s social media shares reach more than three million global educators every month.

As founder and publisher at Times 10 Books, Mark collaborates with some of education’s brightest authors and content creators, in an effort to re-imagine teaching and learning. The first book in Mark’s Hack Learning Series, Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School, debuted at Number 1 on Amazon in both Education Leadership and Professional Development, and it became an Amazon Bestseller in its first week. Mark’s Hack Learning mobile app delivers weekly Learn-Today-Implement-Tomorrow strategies to all education shareholders, through multiple audio/visual channels.

Direct download: IE56_Mark_Barnes.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:40am EDT

It's Friday!  The week's work is done, but we know, the work is really never done.  There are essays or labs to grade while catching some football games over the weekend and lessons to be planned for the upcoming week, but today is Friday.  First, we are going to celebrate our victory in the classroom, however small or big.    

Mari Venturino is teacher in San Diego and has started a movement at her school to share the positive experiences between her colleagues every Friday.  She and her digital colleague in Virginia, Justin Birkbichler, opened it to the world via Twitter with a hashtag #FlyHighFri.  Each week educators all over join in and post their moments of triumph.  

So every Friday, we will #FlyHighFri and finish strong!  Today, we begin with Mari's defining educational moment of the week.

Direct download: IE55_Mari_Venturino._FlyHighFri.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 9:07pm EDT

Jonathan Wai, Ph.D., is a research scientist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program and a visiting researcher at Case Western Reserve University. He did his postdoctoral work at Duke University, holds a doctorate from Vanderbilt University, and graduated from Claremont McKenna College.

He researches and writes about the development of talent, broadly conceived, and its impact on society. His interests focus on the role of cognitive abilities, education, and other factors that contribute to the development of expertise in education, occupation, and innovation. Additionally, he is interested in policy implications of developing (or failing to develop) talent, and connecting his work with the larger global conversation.

Dr. Wai's work has started international conversations, and has been covered in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNBC, Financial Times, The Economist, Scientific American, Wired, Education Week, Nature, Science, and newspapers all over the world. In addition to academic publications, his public writing has appeared in Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Education Week, NPR, and many others. He is a contributing writer to Psychology Today, Business Insider, Quartz, and others, where his ideas have reached millions of people. He has been profiled in Rotman Magazine.

His work has won multiple international Mensa Awards for Research Excellence. He has served on the board of directors of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation. He lives with his wife, son, and cat.

Direct download: IE54_Jonathan_Wai.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 5:20am EDT

Some of the most meaningful dialogues I've had with students occurred outside the class time. The opportunity afforded me to get to know my students on a one to one level, especially the more introverted ones. Free from peer pressure and the the urgency to complete the lesson plan for the day, the calm of the morning and the afternoon was the perfect time to discuss all things important in life.

There's a side to a student who volunteers to come out to play a sport or joins a club, teachers are fortunate to be part of. The same is afforded to a student; they see a wonderful part of the teacher who volunteers her time to share a common interest and bond. I've never taken for granted how spending time outside the class to listen to a student share about his or her goals, family, or life meant so much to both of us. When educators take the time to create an opportunity for students outside the classroom, the implication for student success, academically and emotionally, is immeasurably enhanced.

Direct download: IE53_Teaching_Outside_the_Classroom._Just_As_Important._mixdown.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:43am EDT

Stacey Lindes is a Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology (an exceptionally long title for a tech integrator/innovator/coach) in Central New Jersey (yes, it really does exist). In her current position, she works in a 4th and 5th grade school supporting the 1:1 GAFE program.

A two time graduate from The College of New Jersey, Stacey earned a her MAT in Elementary Education. Since that time, Stacey has taught 2nd, 3rd, and, most recently, 1st grades and has experience in preschool and 4th and 5th grades.

Stacey is also the founder of #PodcastPD, a weekly Twitter chat that takes place Sunday evenings 8:30 eastern. Join her each week as she and co-moderators AJ Bianco and Chris Nesi lead the discussion about how we can learn and grow using podcasts as professional development.

Finally, Stacey is a dedicated, albeit SLOW runner who enjoys using the "alone time" to reflect on education, changes in technology, and the practical marriage of the two. Having completed multiple half marathons (including the Trenton and Disney Princess Half Marathons) and numerous 5Ks, Stacey has had many miles during which to have "running reflections" and "running thoughts". This site is her effort to share those ideas with the world.

Direct download: IE52_Stacey_Lindes.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:24am EDT

Burned out teachers can easily throw in the towel and relegate themselves into doing the minimal work.  Some do, yet others don't. Why does one group give up, while others stay in and continue the good fight?

Direct download: IE51_Burned_Out_Teacher._Doing_the_Right_Thing.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:51am EDT

Fear of public speaking rates at the top of all fears in the US, more so than the fear of flying, heights, spiders, and even clowns.  For a new teacher, the anticipation of delivering her first lesson to a classroom of students can keep her up all night.  Seasoned veteran teachers may have perfected his craft or his delivery has become predictable and dull over the years.

One year, to improve my public speaking skills, I signed up with an acting class.  It was one of the most fun and enjoyable classes I've taken.  The course helped me to deliver a more animated and lively lectures to my students.  Recently, to continue to improve my pubic speaking skills, I've enrolled with a local Toastmasters International Group.  

In this "between classes" episode, I discuss the value of groups such as Toastmasters, my personal experience with the group, and the importance of refining our speaking skills to better serve our students.  

Direct download: IE50_Fear_of_Public_Speaking._The_Power_of_Words.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 1:22am EDT

John Linney (M.A.) is an international speaker, trainer, podcast host and author. As a “climate specialist,” he has provided services and training to over 400 educational institutions, foundations, community partnerships, and organizations in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, & Northern Ireland.

John has worked in public and private schools and colleges and as a youth development and organizational climate educator. For over a decade, he has worked on improving school climates, integrating full service community schools, youth engagement, and bullying and violence prevention for staff, students and parents. John also serves as a founding Director of the International School Climate Institute.

John has been the keynote speaker at several conferences and has been a featured guest on numerous local and national television and radio programs in the U.S. and Mexico including C-SPAN, Univision, and National Public Radio. He has written several publications and is co-author of “Safe School Ambassadors: Harnessing youth power to stop bullying and violence.” Best-selling author Deepak Chopra says of John’s work, “It is the only sane solution for ensuring security in our society.” John is also the host of a top ranked Education podcast, “Edspiration.”


Direct download: IE49_John_Linney.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:41am EDT

Time flies when you're having fun!  It's been one year since the launching of Inspiring Educators.  After 47 episodes, downloads in 98 countries, and 48 states (come on Alaska and Rhode Island), I'm looking forward to the great promise of what season two holds for IE.  

The process of building a podcast has been a steep learning curve, but all the effort has totally been worth it.  I'm still learning and it's more than just a work in progress, but it is just that--a progress.  I had all the initial squadron of butterflies flying out of formation in my stomach, but looking back, I shudder at the thought of never taking that initial step.  I learned so much and met great individuals I would have never met if I didn't embark on this path.  

The process has been an educational one, and I have learned so much interacting with brilliant educators, thought leaders, writers, and passionate individuals getting involved.  I am privileged to be in a company of these unsung heroes.  It's like falling in love all over again, and I'm motivated to do more.  One more cliche.  They say it's not the destination, but the journey.  So true!  

I hope many of you will continue to listen in, provide feedbacks, and share my little program with your friends and colleagues.  There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm having a lot of fun on this road not taken.  I thank you for the many support I've received throughout the year and one more favor, por favor.  If you can provide a rating and a brief comment on iTunes for the value of my program, I am grateful.  So, as usual, until next time, carpe diem!

Direct download: IE48_One_Year_of_Inspiring_Educators.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:39pm EDT

Brian is a veteran English teacher and former basketball coach in New York.  His dedication to education extends beyond the final school bell and the confines of his classroom.  By day, a mild manner English teacher and by night, Brian is a husband, father, Twitter chat host, podcaster, and blogger.

Brian's firm belief, great ideas should be shared and celebrated, is the keystone foundation by which helped his students outperform the world on the AP Literature and Composition exam.  His passion to share great ideas in education has helped catapult his podcast, Talks With Teachers to the No.1 in the K-12 category on iTunes. Brian has also contributed writings on Edutopia, EdWeek, Heineman, and AdLIT.  His contributions has earned Brian the Bammy Educators' Choice Award in 2015 for Education Commentator/Blogger.

Direct download: IE47_Brian_Sztabnik.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:09am EDT

Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

In this episode of Inspiring Educators, I talk with Andy about his upbringing and how he gained interest in science fiction and writing.  Among other topics, Andy provides his viewpoint on education in society and his unique journey into publishing success.  Join us and listen to the serendipitous journey of our favorite Martian on earth.  

Direct download: IE46_Andy_Weir.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:27am EDT

John was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the rural South Hills and spent his summers between academic years working on a farm picking corn in the morning and tomatoes in the afternoons. He also wrestled and played football, being captain of the Varsity football team and placing 3rd in State his senior year. He attended Brown University and graduated with a degree in Classics in 2003. He taught Latin at Wheeler High School from 2002 to 2004. Summer 2004 he and his newly-wed wife, Amois, moved to southern Oregon to be near her family. By some freak alignment of the stars he landed another High School Latin position at St. Mary’s, literally the only High School Latin teaching position within a 300 mile radius. It was at St. Mary’s the John developed the Academic Life Coaching Program for four years, from 2004 to 2008. With the Academic Life Coaching Program he attempted to fill the gap between what students were learning in classrooms and what was useful in life.

What is academic life coaching and why is it gaining momentum?  John joins Inspiring Educators to explain how academic life coaching began, evolved, and continuing to grow internationally.

Direct download: IE45_John_Andrew_Williams.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 6:19pm EDT

Jessica Lahey is an educator, author, and speaker.  She writes the bi-weekly column "The Parent-Teacher Conference" for the New York Times, is a contributing writer for The Atlantic, and a commentator on Vermont Public Radio.  Her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, will be published by Harper Collins and available August 11, 2015.

Jessica joins us today on Inspiring Educators to discuss her new book and the unintentional consequences of over-parenting.  Gift of Failure provides a wonderful historical chronology of change in parenting role and societal expectations from our adolescents.  The book is also a personal account from a viewpoint of a mother and a classroom teacher struggling and succeeding on finding a balance between providing and empowering her own children and students.  Most importantly, Jessica's book challenges us, as parents or teachers, to reassess our approach to teaching and provides valued guidelines for our daily interactions with teens.  

Join us as we celebrate our launch of Season 2, episode 44: The Gift of Failure!

Direct download: IE44_Jessica_Lahey.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT

Justin Birckbichler's goal is to bridge the technology gap for his students at an early age.   His creative, project based, tech implemented lessons, provide his students with a high level of autonomy to instill confidence and experience based outcomes.  However, it's not all about technology.  Students sitting and bouncing on yoga balls for seats and implementing "Hunger Game" for test reviews provide a window into a vibrant learning atmosphere this young educator has created and shared through his popular blog.

Our inspiring educator today is an energetic 4th Grade Teacher from Front Royal, Virginia.  Mr. B is an aspiring technology coach, Google Educator, WCPS leader in technology, and a Bammy Award Nominee in the category of Elementary School Teacher of The Year by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences.  

Direct download: IE43_Justin_Birckbichler.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:09pm EDT

Jennifer Gonzalez is a National Board Certified educator and the creator of the popular education website, "Cult of Pedagogy." Having taught and inspired her students for eight years, Jennifer eventually left teaching to raise a family.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.  Jennifer continued to pursue her passion in teaching by guiding future educators at the collegiate level, ensuring her expertise is continued in good hands.  An educator who has always been reinventing herself, Jennifer's talent and knowledge would eventually reach far greater audience.

If you build it, they will come!  "I hope to create what I did not have myself: a vibrant, encouraging, stimulating community of teachers, supporting each other toward excellence.  I believe if we can reach across the limits of geography and find each other, there’s no limit to the amazing things we can accomplish."  The Cult of Pedagogy was born.

Join us and listen to our inspiring educator, Jennifer Gonzalez, as she explains her journey and how the Cult is educating, sharing, and connecting educators worldwide.

Direct download: IE42_Jennifer_Gonzalez.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 12:47am EDT

Our Inspiring Educator today is a high school physics teacher at the Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois.  Mr. Tom Henderson has been teaching physics and chemistry since 1989 and a pioneering developer of an online tutorial guide for students and educators.  As the creator of the popular physics site, "The Physics Classroom",  Tom has been working tirelessly on the development of the website since 1996. When not teaching and not working on The Physics Classroom, Tom enjoys time with his family, gardening, home projects, reading, and outdoor activities.  

Tom joins Inspiring Educators to share his journey as a teacher and his approach and philosophy on engaging and motivating his students.  

Direct download: IE41_Tom_Henderson.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:35pm EDT

In 2006, I took a leave of absence, a gap year, from teaching to travel and explore the world.  It was a pause in my teaching career to reassess my life and to this day, the single most important decision I have made for myself in my adult life.  

In this episode, I discuss my reasons for pursuing a leave of absence, the process with my district, and life on the road.  

It's "between classes" and time to shoot the breeze!

Direct download: IE40_My_Gap_Year.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:37pm EDT

As a high school student, Joe was already assisting his teachers in communicating with the deaf students through sign language, often filling in for the interpreters running late.  Even with his limited knowledge of the American Sign Language, Joe played a pivotal role in bridging the communication gap for his fellow students and teachers.  His passion for the silent language and strong desire to empower the deaf students would lead to his current position as a teacher.  

Mr. Rivera is a middle and high school teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Los Angeles’ one of a kind school for the deaf, the Marlton School.  The many challenges Mr. Rivera’s students face range from the daily routines of the classroom to effectively communicating within their own neighborhoods and even basic expression within their own households; many family members don’t know sign language.  As Joe has done for his deaf classmates in high school, Mr. Rivera once again is playing a pivotal role in bringing families together. Frequently, Mr. Rivera is the only person who is able to effectively communicate the needs and feelings of his students to their parents.   

Joe's story was featured on CBS News as one of the inspiring young teachers making a difference and joins us today on Inspiring Educators to share his inaugural year as a teacher.  Like a magician, without spoken words, Mr. Rivera brings laughter to his students and inspires them towards wonderful possibilities in their lives.

Direct download: IE39_Joe_Rivera.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 10:35pm EDT

As educators, we are responsible for having a diverse range of knowledge that goes beyond our subject matters.  We have to be open to accommodate the increasing number of cultures and ethnic backgrounds in our students yet strive to always find and solidify the common bond in all of us.  

What if, you were placed in one of your student's country?  How would you acclimate to the language, culture, their unique daily routines, and deal with the possible shortcomings in the infrastructure?  It's a real gut check as an educator.  How we adapt to varying scenarios and our abilities to overcome the many daily challenges we face in our classroom environment allows us to thrive in success or painfully whiter away.  What do you stand to gain by being a fish out of the water?  How does embarking on a road less taken allow us to evolve into a more effective teacher?  

Henry Mulzac is a former Peace Corps volunteer who has served in Belize from 1975 to 1977. "From a Ghetto Jungle Brown Stone to a Jungle Brown Hut" is how Henry's experience has been summed up as one of the featured articles written on the Peace Corps' Webpage.  Henry joins us today on Inspiring Educators to share his story as a volunteer and how two years in the jungle of Belize has transformed his life and continues to provide inspiration to this day.

Direct download: IE38_Henry_Mulzac.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 10:16pm EDT

As educators, we seek to motivate our students, provide perspective, and draw the big picture to make sense of sometimes the obscure concepts that is at times lost to a population of students lacking the vital experience based knowledge.  Experience is the best teacher and the next best thing is sharing lessons through a story.  The ability to have students hang on every word spoken, at the edge of their seats, and move them to be inspired and to action is an art form.  The art of story telling has been adopted by major US firms such as Nike, Proctor & Gamble, and others to motivate and empower its employees.  Can you apply such corporate technique in the classrooms?

Paul Smith is a popular keynote speaker and a corporate trainer in leadership and storytelling techniques, and former executive and 20-year veteran of The Procter & Gamble Company. He is also the author of the best selling book Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire. His current area of research is the use of stories for character development in children. His new book on that topic is titled Parenting with a Story: Real-life lessons in character for parents and children to share.

As part of his research on the effectiveness of storytelling, Paul has personally interviewed over 200 executives and leaders in over 20 countries. His work on leadership and storytelling has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Time, Forbes, The Washington Post, PR News, Success Magazine, CIO Magazine, Investors Business Daily, Marketing Research Magazine, the American Banking Journal, and London’s Edge Magazine, among others.

Paul was most recently the director of consumer research for Procter & Gamble’s $6 billion global paper business where he led a research team across four continents. Previously, he was responsible for leading the development of P&G’s global $80 billion sales forecasting capability. In his 20 years at P&G, he also held leadership positions in corporate finance, manufacturing plants, and sales working closely with executives at major retailers around the world like Walmart, Costco, BJ’s, Asda, and Sam’s Club.

His keynote speaking and training clients include international giants like Hewlett Packard, Ford Motor Company, Bayer Medical, Abbott, Novartis, Progressive Insurance, Novartis, Merrill Lynch, Kaiser Permanente, Luxottica, and Procter & Gamble among dozens of others.

Paul holds a bachelors degree in economics, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives with his wife and two sons in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason, Ohio.

Direct download: IE37_Paul_Smith.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 2:34am EDT

How do you compete as a teacher with Youtube, Facebook, iPads, smartphones, and all other distractions influencing your children and our students in the classroom?  How do you get students to put down their smart phones, stay focused, on task, listen, and work together towards progress?  Visualize teaching math to eight graders.  That's a daunting task for anyone, and it takes a very special teacher to inspire and lead a group of 13 and 14 year old teenagers to succeed in and outside the classroom.

Our inspiring educator today is Kyle Gurkovich, a middle school math teacher at Quibbletown Middle School in Piscataway NJ.  Kyle has unique methods to motivate his students, keep them inspired, and engaged in his classroom.  Join us and learn why Kyle will do whatever it takes to ensure his students' success and happiness.  Then ponder the superhuman feat that got Mr. Gurkovich in the Guinness book of Worlds' Records.

Direct download: IE36_Kyle_Gurkovich.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:49pm EDT

Our inspiring educator today is Dr. Rick Hanson, a neuro-psychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture.  Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide.

Dr. Hanson joins inspiring educators today and shares his journey as an educator and researcher.  A prolific writer and speaker on the topic of modern brain science discussing stress, happiness, inner strength, and confidence, Dr. Hanson provides a unique viewpoint and perspective on the evolution of modern educational system and its impact on an individual and societal level. 

Direct download: IE35_Rick_Hanson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:57am EDT

Remember the scene from "The Dead Poet's Society", when Robin Williams character Mr. Keatings guided his students out to the trophy case in the hallways, had his students lean in and stare into an old black and white photo of the bygone football team of the past and hauntingly whispered in slow crescendo,"carpe diem...seize the day..."  Who in the audience wasn't moved by the powerful yet humble and touching scene between an inspiring teacher and group of teens navigating through life?  Sitting in my reality between consuming popcorn and contemplating life, I have watched the movie as an inspired college student and later shared the scene literally 100's of times with my students and the effect, year after year, class after class, has demonstrated the importance and value of making a connection with our students. 

With all the background noise of curriculum, common core, standardized testing, pedagogy, etc., at the core of our business of education is one of relationship.  The ability for a talented instructor to cross all ethnic, social, economic, language, and racial divide to connect and earn mutual trust between the teacher and the student trumps everything.  Our inspiring educator today is Mr. James Sturtevant.  A veteran high school social studies teacher in Columbus, Ohio and the author of the book, "You've gotta connect."  In his book, Mr. Sturtevant successfully applies 30 years of classroom experience, systematically breaks down, and provides valued points and techniques on how to connect with our students.  He challenges our own self-perception as educators and provides a gut check for our role and mission in the classroom.  Mr. Sturtevant explains the key types of relationships in our schools often ignored in the discussion.  Join us and make the connection!

Direct download: IE34_James_Sturtevant_.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 8:27pm EDT

Our inspiring educator today is a professional keynote speaker and a certified facilitator with Premier International Training Company.  Mr. Seth Sherwood is a former elementary and high school teacher and once a Peace Corps volunteer in South America.  Seth holds an MBA from the University of New Haven and recently published his first book, "Trains Make U-turns", Simple Steps to get your life on track and empower others.  Among Seth's many accolades, he was once a first place winner of a Spanish variety entertainment television.  Seth is fluent in Spanish, a musician, and his ability to constantly reinvent himself, take risks, and push past his comfort zone has inspired many in and outside the classroom.  I'm honored to put the spotlight for this show on a remarkable friend and a former colleague.

Direct download: IE33_Seth_Sherwood.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 3:43pm EDT

Making a difference.  Providing an opportunity.  Inspiring!  Our inspiring educator today is a Peruvian Music professor.  An instructor at a high school and the highly regarded Universidad Catolica Del Peru, he was the founder of the first College Big Band in Peru.

Professor Carlos Granthon is self-educated and grew up in a tough economic condition with few opportunities.  Now an advocate for reaching out to the needy community and some of the poorest neighborhoods in Peru, Carlos provides a hope for Peruvian children to pursue music and a possibility for music to become a passionate profession of choice.  His work has inspired the Peruvian government at a national level.  An innovator who has worked with the Peruvian National Ministry of Education to create and implement a music program for school children, join in and listen to how Carlos' dream for his nation has blossomed into a single man act to a blossoming symphony!

Direct download: IE32_Carlos_Granthon.mp3
Category:education -- posted at: 11:44pm EDT