Notable Presenters


A.J. Hammond and Shawn O’Connor

Principals, West Hoke Elementary and Rockfish Hoke Elementary

Hammond and O’Connor will present on how educators can incorporate computer science, technology and coding into the school day. This effort has results in improved student problem-solving and reasoning skills, as well as higher mathematics and literacy scores.

Alan Blankstein

Author and Educational Leader

Blankstein served for 25 years as President of the HOPE Foundation, which he founded and whose honorary chair is Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

A former high-risk youth, Alan began his career in education as a music teacher. He worked for Phi Delta Kappa, March of Dimes and Solution Tree, which he founded in 1987 and directed for 12 years while launching Professional Learning Communities beginning in the late 1980s.

He is the author of the best-selling book Failure Is Not an Option®: Six Principles That Guide Student Achievement in High-Performing Schools, which received the Book of the Year award from Learning Forward. 

Baruti Kafele

Author and Educational Consultant

Kafele began his inspiring journey as an elementary school teacher, where he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. During his time as a middle grades and high school principal, he led the transformation of four urban New Jersey schools.

He has contributed several articles to popular education journals and is the author of seven books, including Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life and The Principal 50.

Carol Rychly

Vice President for Academic and Faculty Affairs, Augusta University

A veteran of higher education, Rychly began as an instructor of mathematics at El Paso Community College. She taught mathematics at Georgia Military College, Fort Gordon branch, as well as at Paine College. While at Paine, she was presented with the Evelyn Berry Award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She also served as director of Institutional Advancement at the college.

Her reputation in education is reflected in a number of service roles such as mathematics consultant to the Richmond County Board of Education and numerous presentations at national conferences. She currently serves on the Board of Examiners for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission and is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Charles McDaniel

Retired Principal, East Ridge Middle School

McDaniel has been a principal at the elementary level for over six years, the middle school level for 16 years, and the high school level for four years. He currently sits on the superintendent’s council representing middle school principals and was recognized as the 2015-16 Principal of the Year for Lake County.

Daniel Perna

Owner and President, James Daniel & Associates

Perna spent 30 years in public education as an English teacher, basketball coach, athletic director, principal and central administrator. In 1998, he co-founded James Daniel & Associates LLC. The company provides many services to schools, including developing curriculum, lesson planning, tracking student performance, teacher coaching, professional development and community research.

Perna specializes in motivational speaking and the need for career and technical education at all levels.  He believes that our current economic environment requires that students be aware of the opportunities to use technical education as a path to all career opportunities, not just tech- school opportunities.

Duncan Buell

Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Carolina

Professor Buell’s recent work has been in electronic voting systems and in digital humanities. His past research interests include the algorithms and architectures for performing computations, such as those in discrete mathematics and text/string processing.

Buell will address the requirements toward computing jobs with career advancement. Multiple paths exist into computing, but informed choices are needed among certification and two- and four-year colleges; not all paths lead upward. He will explain how parents and counselors can understand the paths and opportunities into careers in computing.

Gail Chapman

Director of National Outreach, Exploring Computer Science

Chapman is the co-author of Exploring Computer Science, has extensive experience with the ECS model of professional development and was instrumental in its design and instruction.

Prior to joining the ECS team, Gail was the director of leadership and Professional Development at the Computer Science Teachers Association. She taught high school mathematics and computer science, including AP Computer Science, for 15 years and subsequently worked on the AP Computer Science program at both ETS and College Board.

Greta Riffle

Integrated Academics Math IV Instructor, Cass Career Center

Riffle will show how to integrate mathematical thinking into any career and technical education or academic classroom. See how the use of algorithms, flowcharts and technical writing can enhance any content area, teaching students the analytical, critical, reasoning, problem-solving and communication skills needed for success.

Janice Cuny

Program Director for Computing Education, National Science Foundation

Cuny leads the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate’s efforts on broadening participation and education in computing. Her work led to the establishment of the eight national BPC-A Alliances to address under-representation in computing from elementary school through the research and professional levels.

More recently, she spearheaded NSF’s efforts to get inclusive, rigorous, academic computing courses into America’s schools, laying the foundation for the 2016 launch of President Obama’s Computer Science for All Initiative.

For her efforts with underserved populations, Cuny has received a number of awards including the 2006 ACM President’s Award, the 2009 Anita Borg Institute’s Woman of Vision Award for Social Impact and the 2016 SIGCSE Distinguished Educator Award.

John Gaal

Director of Training and Workforce Development, St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council

Gaal oversees five federally-approved, joint apprenticeships programs and three, full-service training facilities. A union carpenter by trade and labor representative, he has served on the Missouri and St. Louis County Workforce Investment Boards and the International Foundation Employee Benefit Plans Committee on training and education. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Missouri Trade and Technical Outstanding Leadership Award (2004) and the NAACP Labor Diversity Advocate Award (2007).

Larissa Pahomov

Author and English Teacher, Science Leadership Academy

Pahomov authored Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry, a practical and inspiring guide for creating an authentic learning environment. Her session will reveal how middle grades and high school educators can integrate technology and a 1:1 laptop program into an inquiry-based model of teaching and learning.

Lisa Berkey

Program Director, High School of Business, MBA Research and Curriculum Center

The High School of Business program is a series of accelerated business administration courses designed for college-bound students. Berkey works with an advisory council and educators from across the country to design the program she wishes was available when she was in high school. Her session will focus on how educators can develop students as the future leaders of American companies through rigorous course work, engaging real-world pedagogy and college credit options.

Mario Malabunga

CTE/STEM Teacher, Sandy Grove Middle School

The presenter will share how his district leveraged his knowledge and vision into a districtwide robotics program. Through intense training and professional development, other teachers were equipped with the knowledge and skills to initialize their own school robotics team to participate in the annual Hoke County Robotics Competition.

Philip Craiger

Professor and Principal Investigator, Advanced Cyberforensics Education Consortium, Daytona State College

Craiger previously worked as an assistant director for Digital Evidence, an assistant professor at the Department of Engineering Technology for the University of Central Florida and an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

He believes it is vitally important that K-12 programs incorporate cybersecurity as a required subject. His presentation will focus on the importance of cybersecurity and sources of existing curricula, as well as career and college opportunities in the cybersecurity field.

Shannon Register

Executive Director of Digital Teaching and Learning, Hoke County Schools

See how Hoke County High, a rural school, made the necessary changes in its curriculum and facilities to address the community’s industrial changes. This is a close look at a career and technical education program that made the necessary renovations to its outdated health science program to offer a state-of-the-art medical facility like no other high school in America.

Thomas Glanton and Bert Simmons

President and Founder, the Education Company

Founded over 27 years ago, the Education Company is a professional development service provider working directly with K-12 school administrators, teachers and support staff to solve the most pressing discipline challenges in schools today.

Glanton is a former high school principal in an urban district in Atlanta and has mastered the art of school leadership in operations, instructional leadership, data analysis and school performance.

As the founder of the Education Company, Simmons is motivated by the conviction that we all have an obligation to young people to provide the best education possible. A humorous and dynamic speaker, he heads a company that has helped more than 3,000 schools improve the teaching climate in their schools.

Tommy Jacobs and Doresia Williams

Principal and Assistant Principal, Sandy Grove Middle School

Get ready to excite, innovate and ignite student learning by going green in math, science, social studies and English/language arts. Learn about a state-of-the-art, renewable energy middle grades school that also serves as a teaching tool to provide authentic learning for all students. It may not be easy being green, but it’s well worth the effort!