With 10 years of teaching experience in 2nd and 3rd grade, Kayla has a Master's Degree in Elementary Education and is becoming National Board Certified, the highest mark of professional accomplishment. As a 3rd grade teacher and technology champion in North Dakota, Kayla is also a columnist for Edsurge and a blogger for Edutopia where she writes about a variety of edtech and design topics. On July 23, 2015 she delivered her first TEDx Talk, Reimagining Classrooms: Students as Leaders and Teachers as Learners. Kayla frequently travels around the United States as a featured and keynote speaker, and she is proud to be an international speaker with Best Keynote coalition. She has delivered over 50 keynotes, most notably being at Twitter Headquarters. Her work with classroom redesign and flexible seating has become the standard worldwide. She is highly sought after by educational and technology companies to preview and review their products. Kayla sits on several advisory boards of educational companies, and works closely with Remind, Go Ennounce, GoNoodle, Amazon Education, Seesaw, and Creative Teaching Press to name a few. She was also recently selected as North Dakota’s Lead Digital Innovator by PBS. She has authored a book titled Education Write Now, published in December 2017. She is currently writing a book about classroom learning spaces and flexible seating. You can connect with Kayla on all social media platforms @topdogteaching, and her student-lead social media accounts @topdogkids.
Over her 23 years as an educator, Jen has taught 1st-8th grades. She is trained in Reading Recovery, Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures, and Common Core for ELA. Jen is a K-12 Reading Specialist, has a Bachelor's in English and a minor in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and received her Master's Degree in Reading Education from East Carolina University. She taught in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District in California and at PK Yonge Developmental Research School at the University of Florida. Before she stepped into Hello Literacy full-time, Jen was the RTI Coordinator, Marzano Trainer, and Intervention Director for her school as well as the Literacy Coach and School Improvement Chair at Lake Myra Elementary in Wake County Public School System, the largest school district in North Carolina. Since 2012, Jen has traveled the country providing positive, engaging, and relevant professional development to teachers in schools and districts in 21st century literacy instruction. She has racked up miles in California, Nevada, Idaho, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and New York. Additionally, Jen writes for the International Literacy Association and Parent’s Magazine. She is a champion of Donors Choose and Facebook Live. Jen has a Teachers Pay Teachers store called Hello Literacy, where her mission is to create products that make kids think and make teachers better teachers. Jen is on social media at @hellojenjones and online at www.helloliteracy.com. She currently lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and two daughters.
Susan Arauz Barnes (@arauzed on Instagram) has taught language arts, creative writing, and literacy in Brooklyn, Harlem, and Atlanta. She is a master teacher and gifted educator trainer at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.
Since 1996 she has employed her talents as a writer, artist and performance poet, as well as her experience as an Afro-Latina, to develop culturally responsive curricula to promote interconnectedness and knowledge of self among her students. She believes those lessons have allowed her students to proudly share their unique world-view with peers they met in Australia, Peru, London, and Japan. She even had the opportunity to share her approach to teaching culture while team-teaching at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
Most recently she created lessons on Africa and the African Diaspora to prepare students for a school-wide trip to see Marvel’s Black Panther. While sharing the story behind the lesson plans with media outlets like ABC News and USA Today was exciting, Susan was especially thrilled to share her family’s Garifuna traditions with the RCA community as she credits childhood visits to her family home in Honduras with her passion for travel, food and culture.
As a recent graduate of Anderson University in South Carolina, Joy is using her degree in Elementary Education to teach 4th grade at Joseph R. Pye Elementary School in Charleston, South Carolina. As an avid traveler, Joy continues to travel, visiting nine different countries in the past year. With her favorite travel destination being England, Joy has a passion for leading trips with Bookbag Tours to London.
"Visiting global schools is a great way to make new contacts all over the world as well as experience unique teaching strategies used by international educators."
Joyce Estrada Bailey
Joyce Estrada Bailey is affectionately called Miss Maestra by her students, which means teacher in Spanish. Joyce worked for Gwinnett County Public Schools at Summerour Middle School, an International Baccalaureate World School. She taught ESL, language arts, and global connections. In 2012, Joyce accepted a position at the Ron Clark Academy and started the Spanish program. In 2016, Joyce left her job at the Ron Clark Academy to follow her lifelong dream of starting MissMaestra. She now teaches Spanish and English online, collaborates with the Latin American Association in Atlanta, and leads workshops in adult education focused on bringing the world into your classroom. This summer, she hosted, "Easy English with MissMaestra" on the AIBTV Network. She is a mother of three and enjoys traveling. She believes you should be a traveler, not tourist.
Jill Shafer, best known as Hello Fifth on social media, is an elementary school teacher in Southern California. In her ten years of teaching, she has taught multiple grade levels and loves each one for different reasons. Jill's passion is engaging learners, and she leads regular professional development sessions on reaching all students by thinking outside the box. She holds her masters degree in curriculum instruction and design and has a passion for helping students expand their horizons through global education. Jill believes in the power of relationships and loves attending her students' sporting events, concerts, and shows. Her incredibly supportive family includes her husband Michael and their three young children.
Petteri Elo is a teacher, a trainer, a public speaker and foremost an educational enthusiast. He has an extensive experience in teaching at comprehensive school level and training educators worldwide. Petteri is especially interested in creating innovation in student-centered and skill-based pedagogy by combining educational theory and practice.
Petteri started his teaching career as a substitute teacher. For years he taught at elementary school level without formal training. These experiences led him to believe that he had mastered the art of teaching and formal training was not needed. However in order to make teaching his real profession, Petteri entered University of Helsinki and graduate in 2007 majoring on education and pedagogy. This experience completely transformed his idea what of teaching and learning is all about. Without scientific knowledge and deep understanding of pedagogy teaching cannot truly be a profession that requires skills that not just anyone has. By applying this knowledge and these skills in the classroom, it is possible to create meaningful learning experiences for our students that give them the best tools to succeed in life.
Fall of 2015 Petteri spent in Virginia as a Fulbright Scholar. During his project he worked with local educators in creating innovation in pedagogy and leadership. After this experience Petteri founded his company PedaNow – Educational Consulting and Training. His passion, expertise and genuine approach to training is praised by educators in Finland and internationally.
In 2012, Bethany Humphrey, the face behind Teaching and so Fourth, began her teaching career in a 6th grade classroom in Olive Branch, Mississippi. After Mississippi, Ms. Humphrey relocated to Las Cruces, New Mexico where she taught kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders in a multi-age classroom. Currently, she resides in Las Vegas, Nevada teaching 4th graders. Teaching has taken Ms. Humphrey from the Southeast to the Southwest with one constant: her passion for using musical strategies as a means to help students learn. This passion has not only created a positive teaching and learning environment, but has produced definitive results in the classroom. Now, Ms. Humphrey shares her passion for breaking the traditional mold of instruction through district, regional, and national professional development seminars. Ms. Humphrey’s mission and methodologies allow her to reach the highest point of student engagement.
Juan Edgar Gonzalez, Jr.
Juan Edgar Gonzalez Jr. is a third grade Texas teacher with a Texas-sized love for literacy and student engagement. Over his teaching career, he has taught 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade. He loves to develop and share new ways to strategically use literacy to create effective classroom environments, school wide experiences, and passionate readers! In the spring of 2016, his classroom was featured in Scholastic Teacher Magazine. Shortly after, he was asked to be part of the Scholastic Top Teaching Blog team. He now writes monthly for Scholastic.com and shares ideas and his journey in the classroom. You can follow Juan and his teaching adventures on social media with his handle @Teaching3rdWithMrG
Shaunda Wasik is a 3rd and 4th grade multiage teacher in Minnesota who has developed a passion for creating a positive and engaging learning environment for her students. In her five years of teaching, she has taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. She loves reaching upper elementary students through project based learning, digital activities and student choice. Shaunda holds her masters degree in reading. She strives to create passionate readers through engaging them in authentic reading opportunities and integrating reading into all subject areas. Shaunda believes that relationships come first in the classroom and works hard to build authentic relationships with her students both in and out of the classroom. She is excited to be taking her teaching experiences global and traveling with Bookbag Tours this summer! You can follow Shaunda and her teaching adventures on social media with her handle @UpperElementaryAdventures.
Current principal at Wren Elementary in Anderson School District One, Tommy has been in the education profession for over 20 years as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Born and raised in Dublin, Tommy Bolger, the current principal at Wren Elementary in Anderson School District One, has been in the education profession for over 20 years as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. Tommy was born and raised in Dublin and immigrated to the United States in 1988. He currently resides in South Carolina with his wife Tracy, who has been an educator for over 25 years and is a current teacher at Daniel High School. They have two children; Jordan, a graduate of Clemson University, and Dylan, an Air Force member. Tommy has traveled throughout Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and 40 of the US states. Tommy loves to travel and finds experiences such as driving from Alaska to South Carolina to be helpful when working with students.
"Being able to visit schools in other countries is a great way for us to see what other educators teach their students and ways that can help you expand your craft and do what we in education call 'school espionage'."
Amittia Smith is a wholeheartedly passionate, innovative, and loving soul. With her experience in Atlanta Public Schools, Dothan City Schools, Muscogee County schools, and in a correctional facility, Tia is currently a high school teacher who believes that all students are deserving of the opportunity to receive a superb education. With grit, guts, and the gifts entrusted to her, she allows herself to speak life and educational success into all the students she comes in contact with in hopes that they will one day be agents of change in society. Affectionately know as Tia, she has facilitated numerous workshops for students and adults. Tia is best known as the “inclusion guru”, as she loves to make certain every child feels included in the classroom and has the opportunity to learn alongside their peers. Tia holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morris Brown College, a Master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University, and an Educational Specialist Degree from Columbus State University.
Tammie Scharf is a Digital Technology teacher in beautiful Bowen, Australia. She has taught in the classroom, mainly in Year 5, for fifteen years before moving into the role of teaching Prep to Year 6 Digital Technology in 2016.
She is also an Advanced QLD Digital Champion and a founding member of the QLD Tech Brekkies team, who continue to work collaboratively in providing guidance, tech support, and assistance to teachers across Australia.
Tammie has a passion for STEAM and two years ago created a Makerspace in her school library which becomes a bustling hub of creativity each day. She also has conducted an Entrepreneur program at her school for the last few years to encourage students to create their own small business, with all profits going to a charity of choice. Under her guidance, one of the teams in 2017 became the National Winners for the Kidpreneur Challenge.
The love of global collaboration was sparked in 2014 by participating in student blogging challenges and has continued to evolve into a passion for building educator connections across the globe. There is a hardly a night that Tammie is not on online connecting with innovators of education, learning from them and developing her pedagogy. Although based in a small rural town, Tammie’s ongoing global connections enable her students to not be disadvantaged by their isolation. She opens the world for them.
After meeting so many amazing educators in this year's Australian Bookbag Tour, Tammie is hugely excited to travel to America in 2019! Look out America, as an Aussie is heading your way!