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What We Do

Modern Teacher partners with districts to modernize learning at scale. We provide a research-based methodology for Digital Convergence in education, including a technology-enabled solution to support your district's organizational change and chart key milestones. Modern Teacher has established a National Network of districts committed to paving the way for the future of learning with a common language through Digital Convergence.

Who We Are

 
 

At Modern Teacher, we’ve assembled a network of like-minded professionals dedicated to supporting educational leaders in today’s highly connected, digital world.

Modern Teacher is proud to be named a Great Place to Work for three consecutive years based on extensive ratings provided by its employees in anonymous surveys. At Modern Teacher, we are committed to building a workplace community that supports and values its members.

 
 

Meet Our Team

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Patricia Barrett
Content Specialist

Patricia Barrett, Professional Development Specialist, has a family heritage rich in education, including her father and two children. She was born and raised in the Midwest and attended schools in Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. An educator for over 35 years, Patti has a bachelor’s degree in English Education, a master’s degree in special education and a certification in educational administration. Her school experiences are in public and private schools; elementary, middle and high schools; general education and special education; teaching and administrating. She likes to say that in the world of education, she’s done it all!

Patti’s most recent years in education were as an elementary school principal. In this capacity she was able to work closely with teachers on many of the instructional issues faced by professionals today. As an administrator in the second largest school district in Illinois, she served on many committees that helped bring initiatives and innovative practices to classrooms. She was also deeply involved with the teacher mentor program that worked with new teachers. Patti brings these many years and wide variety of experiences to the work that she is now doing with Modern Teacher.

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Shannon Blake
Strategy Officer

Shannon Blake serves as a Strategy Officer for Modern Teacher. Shannon started her career in education as a high school special education teacher in Charleston, SC before moving to Charlotte, NC and teaching middle school. She has experience working with superintendents, district leaders, principals, teachers, students and community leaders. Shannon is extremely passionate about transforming educational practices. She has devoted much of her career to meeting each of her student's needs while promoting and helping students develop their creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaborative skills. Throughout her career Shannon has taught kindergarten to seniors, served as an innovation coach, a personalized learning coach and an adjunct professor for The College of Charleston.

Shannon earned her Bachelors of Arts from The College of Charleston in Special Education and her Master's of Education from Lesley University. When Shannon isn't working can be found on the side lines of the soccer fields, tennis courts or pool watching her children and husband. She also enjoys working out, running, and playing at the beach in Charleston, SC.

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Dr. Kristen Brittingham
Chief Learning Officer

Dr. Kristen Brittingham is currently serving as the Chief Learning Officer of Modern Teacher and supports districts with the transformation to modern learning environments. She is a national leader with digital convergence, student agency and competency-based instruction.

Previously, Kristen served as the Director of Personalized Learning for a large and diverse school district comprised of rural, urban and suburban schools. She led a department of 35 district leaders who worked with principals, teachers, students and community members to build and integrate a nationally recognized personalized learning framework and model. Kristen led the district through technology modernization including the full integration of 1:1 technology for over 50,000 students and the conversion to an online curriculum including learning progressions and blended learning units.

Kristen holds degrees from Ohio University (bachelor’s degree, elementary and middle school education), The Citadel (master’s degree, educational leadership), and Nova Southeast University (doctorate degree, educational leadership). Formerly Kristen was a teacher, principal, assistant principal, technology specialist, and adjunct college professor for 21 years in school districts in South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania and Australia. In her free time she enjoys boating in Charleston, SC with her husband and two children and competes in the Ironman Triathlon.

Lisette Casey
Strategy Officer

Lisette Casey is currently serving as Strategy Officer for Modern Teacher. Her background in public education includes 22 years of experience at the elementary, secondary and administrative levels. She is passionate about the growing need to transform educational practices to create authentic and collaborative learning environments that promote inquiry, visible thinking, and student voice and choice through Digital Convergence. In efforts to create classrooms for modern learners, Lisette works with administration and staff in effectively designing and delivering both professional development and educational content for 24/7 availability with an emphasis on making learning personal for all learners. She has effectively collaborated with school-wide administration to successfully develop and implement a district-wide iPad roll out and personalized learning program. Lisette is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Lisette is also a founding partner of the Colorado Mobile Learning Collaborative. This collaborative consists of Colorado administrators working to support 1:1 learning initiatives in districts. Lisette also extended her work as an independent consultant when she started her own company in 2013. During this time she partnered with teachers and administrators in the transition to modern learning environments by utilizing digital technology and changing pedagogies.

Lisette received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Delaware, a teaching certificate from the University of Colorado and a Masters in Education from Lesley University. When she is away from work you may find her gardening, cooking, traveling or spending time with her family in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

 
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Dr. Ann Chavez
VP, Growth & Innovation

Dr. Ann M. Chavez is an author, innovator, and entrepreneur dedicated to re-designing the student experience in public education. She is currently serving as a founding partner and Vice President of Growth & Innovation for Modern Teacher. Modern Teacher supports school districts in transformation to modern learning at scale through The Digital Convergence Framework. Formerly Ann served as teacher, principal, Special Education Director and Deputy of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction over 22 years in Southern California and Chicago, Illinois. Ann earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from California State University of Long Beach, a Masters of Education in School Administration from Azusa Pacific University, and a Doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California.

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Jeri Crispe
VP, Growth & Innovation

Jeri Crispe is a highly accomplished educational leader who has experience designing, leading and scaling modern learning models through close collaborations with educators, community leaders, and post-secondary partners as well as state and national thought leaders to transform our public education system. She has built sustainable high functioning teams that enable innovative efforts to expand as she is dedicated to ensuring equity and access for all students by promoting professional learning and leadership opportunities for educators.

She delivers a message that fosters success through inspiration, engagement, and motivation. She currently serves as Vice President of Growth and Innovation at Modern Teacher. Previously she served as a district director where she collaborated with other educators to enact meaningful change by creating the system conditions to support a vision of personalized learning in a competency-based education system as well as serving an educational non-profit for three years working with districts on standards, assessments, and evaluation.

Charles Fred
Executive Chairman

Charles Fred is a best-selling author, entrepreneur, investor, and public speaker. He has devoted more than three decades of his life discovering new ways for professionals to acquire skills necessary to compete in today’s knowledge-thirsty economy. Considered a pioneer in the e-learning industry, Charles has led a number of successful companies that provide learning technologies and services. His best-selling book, Breakaway, is credited with transforming learning strategies for high-growth organizations and is consistently used for instructional design curricula at major universities. Today, as the Executive Chairman of Modern Teacher, Charles is taking his expertise and experience and devoting his time to help teachers reinvent the classroom. Charles is also the founder of Magnusson-Skor, a research firm dedicated to helping business owners make the transition to chief executives.

 
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Laura Janusek
Chief Product Officer

As a founding team member at Modern Teacher, Laura has held several roles. She's currently the Chief Product Officer, focusing on the design and development of the company's software solutions. In collaboration with the CEO, she defines Modern Teacher's current and upcoming product offerings and uses client feedback to oversee the development lifecycle, from ideation through live releases and enhancements. Laura leads the development and quality assurance teams, which have included both U.S.-based and nearshore developers. She has also managed Modern Teacher’s professional learning content creation team, including graphic and e-learning designers.

Laura also acted as VP of Curriculum and VP of Client Experience with digedu, The Digital Education Company, leading a team of over 40 digital content creators and overseeing client relationships nationally. Prior to her work in EdTech, Laura was involved with a variety of educational organizations, teaching in both Special Education and English departments as well as nontraditional learning environments.

Laura enjoys practicing yoga, playing violin, and listening to audiobooks. She is an active member of communities for women in technology, she has recently been recognized in a series on “Women on Top in Tech”, and she is passionate about education equity and technology’s ability to  improve lives in the education space and beyond.

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Jenna Jones
Human Resources Director

Jenna Jones currently serves as Human Resources Director for Modern Teacher. She brings over 20 years of experience in the area/s of executive and operational administration for both small and large companies, and is proficient in all functions of human resources. Jenna is particularly experienced in working with the executive team to develop company culture, create efficiency in workflows, and develop internal policies and procedures, all of which contribute to Modern Teacher’s current growth. Jenna earned her certification as an HR Professional from the Society for Human Resource Management and continues to stay current on federal and state regulations, as well as trends in the workplace related to employee engagement. Jenna lives in Aurora, Colorado with her husband. In her personal time, she enjoys golfing and spending time with her family.

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Kelly Jones
Marketing Manager

Kelly Jones serves as Modern Teacher’s Marketing Manager. Originally from Arkansas, Kelly earned a Bachelor of Arts in both Biology and French from Hendrix College. Post-undergrad and leading up to her current position, Kelly positively contributed to the growth of multiple companies in the fields of education and sustainable food systems. The diversity in her experience, interests, and skill sets allows her to approach marketing strategy holistically from analytical and creative vantages.

Personally, Kelly aims to draw meaningful connections about the intersections between culture, education, and technology with respect to the social and economic climates in which they coincide. Professionally, Kelly aims to use these connections to drive positive change in the educational landscape. Through data-driven marketing strategy and effective foresight, her role promotes Modern Teacher as a long-term asset to K-12 school districts in our ability to empower them to make learning relevant for all students and teachers.

In her free time, Kelly loves scratch cooking and hospitality.

Sherry Kirkland
Strategy Officer

Sherry Kirkland serves as a Strategy Officer for Modern Teacher and brings 31 years of experience working with superintendents, district leaders, principals, teachers, students, and community leaders. She is passionate about transforming educational practices to create modern learning environments that are personalized to meet each learner’s needs and interests while promoting critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Sherry has served as a professional development administrator, innovation specialist, adjunct professor, instructional coach, interventionist, and teacher.

Prior to her work with Modern Teacher, Sherry led district-level projects that focused on creating and developing instructional resources and blended learning units for teachers to support the implementation of personalized learning and technology integration. She also designed and delivered professional learning for district administrators, principals, instructional coaches, and teachers. Sherry supervised the district's Personalized Learning Coaches and collaborated with local universities working with pre-service teachers. Sherry earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Charleston Southern University. In addition, she received both a Master’s and Ed. Specialist degree from Florida State University. When she is away from work you may find her reading, golfing, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, or spending time with her husband and three adorable cocker spaniels in Ellijay, GA.

 
 
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Robyn Kohen
VP, Network Membership

Robyn Kohen has loved education since early childhood. She would watch her Kindergarten teacher in admiration, and do all she could to emulate her. Instead of toys, Robyn wished for gradebooks, red pens and chalkboards for birthdays/holidays. Her dolls were her first students, prior to her first real classroom of 1st graders, which began straight out of college in Brooklyn, New York. Robyn thrived during her time teaching in the classroom, while working towards her Masters in Educational Leadership. She continued her career outside of the classroom to serve as Dean of Students in Newark, NJ. From there, Robyn began her work with adaptive personalized learning, working closely with school districts to ensure fidelity and success with their personalized and adaptive Redbird Advanced Learning digital math curriculum. Robyn has since had experience as a McGraw Hill Education Personalized Learning Specialist working in districts across multiple states as they focused on their adaptive curriculum implementations.

Robyn enjoys time with her family, traveling, and indulging in delicious food. She dotes on her two children and loves the opportunity to experience new adventures together.

Robyn's true passion is education and she lives by the idea that demographics does not equal destiny. We, together, can make a difference in children’s lives and Robyn is on a mission to continue this important work with Modern Teacher.

Kevin Obenchain
Controller

Kevin Obenchain is a CPA & financial and systems manager with over 35 years experience in both the Fortune 500 & small business. As an entrepreneur, he founded two software companies, an equipment distributor, and a heritage education non-profit, and he’s frequently served as consultant or advisory board member. While IT Director at Great west Life, he was a contributor to Stanford Univ. Press’ text, Business Driven Information Technology, Laube/Zammuto, Ed. Recently, he’s been developing quantitative risk management tools for business managers & auditors. Today, Kevin manages the accounting & financial planning functions for Modern Teacher.

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Garrett Seaman
VP, National Events

Garrett Seaman is currently serving as a founding partner and Vice President of National Events for Modern Teacher. Garrett has spent 9 years as a teacher and school district administrator, studying and perfecting instructional strategies around effectively integrating technology and media. In addition to training students, teachers and administrators on how to best capitalize on the participatory-web, Garrett is versed in: website development, instructional software, educational assessments, and is an expert in understanding how the learner interacts with multiple technologies. Garrett’s focuses his work in schools in re-defining effective instructional technology in the modern classroom. Garrett earned his B.A. from the University of Illinois, M.A. from Aurora University and is currently conducting research at Northern Illinois University on how the role of the instructional technologist effectively functions in urban school systems. With the completion of this research he plans to apply this knowledge to both private and public sector technology leadership.

 
 
Mike Smith
Strategy Officer

Mike is currently serving as Strategy Officer for Modern Teacher. Mike started his career in education as a social studies teacher in a public high school on Chicago’s southwest side. Over his four years in the classroom, Mike helped design a leadership development program for students and wrote a civic action curriculum that is still in use in 40 Chicago high schools today. Mike went on to the University of California-Berkeley where he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Following that, Mike moved back to Chicago and spent the next six years in the central office of the Chicago Public Schools as a researcher, data analyst, and project manager. His work there included program evaluation, setting up and coaching district and school leaders on performance management systems, analyzing and drawing insight from large data sets, strategic planning and goal setting, and advising district leaders on policy. Mike broadened his work with school districts by founding his own education consulting firm, Kartograf Consulting, where he informed high school reform strategy for the Madison (WI) Metro School District.

Dr. Shawn K. Smith
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Shawn K. Smith is a national leader on issues surrounding digital education and pedagogy and is currently serving as Chief Executive Officer of Modern Teacher. He is compelled to preserve education’s rich heritage and support America’s teachers and leaders as they transition traditional classrooms into modern learning environments.

As a rare book collector, Shawn has one of the world's largest private collections of John Dewey’s writings. Shawn has authored three books: Teacher as Architect: Instructional design and delivery for the modern teacher, The New Agenda: Achieving personalized learning through digital convergence, and The Shape of Change: The Continued Journey of the Digital Convergence Framework. He has appeared on both Discovery and Learning channels as well as various radio, web, and podcast programs.

Formerly Shawn was a teacher, principal, and Chief of Schools for 15 years in school districts in Illinois and California. Shawn holds degrees from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin (bachelor’s degree, elementary education), the California State University, San Bernardino (master’s degree, middle school education), and the University of Southern California (doctorate degree, urban education policy and leadership).

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Nick Stutzman
VP, Network Membership

Since joining Stanford University’s Education Program for Gifted Youth in 2007, Nick Stutzman’s career has focused on helping school districts navigate and maximize the intersections between advanced learning science, emerging education technology, and modern instructional delivery strategies. With mentorship from National Medal of Science Award Winner and renowned Stanford Cognitive Scientist Dr. Patrick Suppes, Nick developed a diverse leadership and consulting background that complements his current role as Modern Teacher’s Vice President of Network Membership. From managing federally-funded EdTech research at Stanford, to helping launch a successful digital curriculum startup at Redbird Advanced Learning, to leading McGraw-Hill Education’s Personalized Learning division, Nick brings a unique and valuable lens to school districts moving along the path to Digital Convergence. An avid runner and outdoorsman, Nick is an honors graduate of Rhodes College and enjoys life with his rescue pup Gracie in beautiful Charleston, SC.

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Ben Sylvester
Business Operations Analyst

Ben Sylvester serves as a Business Operations Analyst for Modern Teacher, helping to drive efficiency in sales and operations. Originally from Kalamazoo, MI, he moved to Chicago in 2011 to begin his career at a property management technology firm, SMS-Assist, working there for 5 years to develop operations strategy and facilitate client roll-outs throughout the company's rapid growth period. In 2016 Ben moved to the education field, where prior to his start at Modern Teacher he spent 14 months in an analyst and operations role as Director of Partnership Support at Acceleration Academies, which works with school districts nationwide to assist in better serving high school dropouts. He remains very proud of the 263 former high school dropouts the company had re-engaged and graduated with their diplomas at the time of his departure.

Ben earned his B.A. in Business Administration from Michigan State University in 2010. He was lucky enough to be among the first class of high school graduates to utilize the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship, an innovative program which utilizes a private donor endowment to cover 100% of Michigan college tuition costs for any student who attends Kalamazoo Public Schools from K-12 grades. He currently lives in the Lincoln Park area and enjoys the not so unique hobbies of traveling, watching too much football and basketball, and tackling the dilemma of saving money versus sampling Chicago's many restaurants.

 
Justin Vincent
Chief Technology Officer

Justin Vincent has held CTO and technical architect positions at start-ups and Fortune 500’s, including Idealab, Uber Media, B Sky B, the UK’s number one Satellite TV network, and Reed Elsevier. Most recently he founded, built & sold Pluggio, a social media dashboard. Justin’s Open Source software ezSQL is used in over a million websites and has been incorporated into many open source products, such as WordPress.

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Dr. Mike Walls
Chairman Emeritus

Dr. Michael W. Walls is currently serving as Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships. Mike has also served as Director of National Development for HOSTS Learning and Senior Vice President for Community Relations for MBNA America Bank. Prior to joining the corporate world, Mike was a teacher, principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent of Schools in Beloit, Wisconsin and Wilmington, Delaware. Mike has been awarded the First Citizen Award in Beloit, Wisconsin; chaired the State Delaware United Way Campaign; served as Chairman of the Board of Junior Achievement Delaware; and was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award from Continental, Ohio. Mike earned a BA from Adrian College, an MA from Eastern Michigan University, and a Doctorate from Wayne State University.

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Robbie Pruitt Woody
VP, Network Membership

Robbie Pruitt Woody is a lifelong educator and began her educational career in the Wake County Public Schools as a special education teacher at the high school level. She then moved to middle schools and served as a curriculum director, assistant principal, and then principal. After 15 years in the public schools of North Carolina, Robbie expanded to working across North Carolina and the Southeast in providing quality instructional technology solutions to raise student achievement. She enjoys working with district level administrators and teachers to provide classrooms that will prepare them for the 21st century and beyond. Robbie received her Bachelor’s degree from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, her Master’s degree from North Carolina State University, and her superintendent certification from North Carolina State University and East Carolina University.

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Who We Work With

Modern Teacher's National Network is drastically changing the way we as an industry think about the education system. Below are some of the districts from across the country who are revolutionizing student and teacher experiences, making learning relevant in the Conceptual Age.

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FALCON D49, CO

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BALTIMORE COUNTRY PS, MD

ALAMANCE-BURLINGTON, NC

Cajon

CAJON VALLEY, CA

ELIZABETH FORWARD, PA

SAN ANTONIO PS, TX

The National Council on Digital Convergence

Meet the Chair

 
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District Leaders

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Partners in Digital Convergence