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What We Do


Modern Teacher serves as a trusted advisor to K-12 school districts, empowering their leaders to make learning relevant for all students and teachers. We accomplish this by delivering the methodology, community, resources, and support to enable Digital Convergence, the fundamental shift from the traditional classroom toward a modern learning environment.  


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.

Patricia Barrett

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.

Charles Fred

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.

Kevin Obenchain

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.

Dr. Shawn Smith

Dr. Shawn K. Smith is currently serving as President of Modern Teacher and a national leader on issues surrounding digital education and pedagogy. 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. Shawn is an author, speaker, consultant, and rare book collector. He has one of the largest private collections of John Dewey’s writings in the world. He is the author of Teacher as Architect: Instructional design and delivery for the modern teacher and The New Agenda: Achieving personalized learning through Digital Convergence. Formerly Shawn was a teacher, principal, and Chief of Schools for 15 years in school districts in Illinois and California. He has made appearances on both Discovery and Learning channels as well as various radio, web, and podcast programs. 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).

Jason Bletzinger

Jason Bletzinger serves as a Strategy Officer for Modern Teacher and brings a diverse set of experiences to the work of Digital Convergence. Jason has served as a special education teacher, data instructional facilitator/coach, building-level administrator, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, program evaluator, and professional learning facilitator. Prior to his work with Modern Teacher, Jason led evaluation processes focused on the impact of technology integration on classroom instruction to guide schools and districts in their planning for effective technology integration as one tool to support and enhance curriculum-aligned instructional practices. Jason has also led district-wide accreditation initiatives as a means for continuous quality improvement and organizational effectiveness. Jason’s wealth of experiences inform his visionary and strategic leadership for developing and enacting practical solutions to leverage success for school districts and students.

Chris Hurd

Chris Hurd is the Quality Assurance Manager at Modern Teacher with 4+ years experience. A Kansas City native turned Chicagoan, Chris comes from a background in healthcare education tech and e-commerce web development. His experience, knowledge, and passionate work ethic bring great energy to the team. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, photography and spending time with friends and family.

Jeff Ottens

Jeff Ottens is a former consultant and entrepreneur experienced in driving growth and building high performing teams. He brings experience in a broad range of functions to Modern Teacher from strategy and operations to finance and business development. Jeff began his career at Huron Consulting Group, where he focused on restructuring and turnaround initiatives with a focus on the airline industry. Jeff brings entrepreneurial and operational experience from his time spent growing a flood and fire restoration company until its acquisition in 2012. Currently serving as Executive Vice President of Operations, Jeff works to streamline processes to scale operations and efficiently service our Clients to transform traditional classrooms to modern learning environments. Jeff earned his B.A. from the University of Illinois with a degree in Finance.

Ben Sylvester

Ben currently serves as a Business Operations Analyst for Modern Teacher, helping to drive efficiency in operations and better serve district partners. Originally from Michigan, 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 re-engaging high school dropouts. Ben earned his B.A. in Business Administration from Michigan State University in 2010. He enjoys the not so unique hobbies of traveling, watching too much football and basketball, and sampling Chicago's many restaurants.

Lisette Casey

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.

Jenna Jones

Jenna Jones has over 15 years of experience as an executive assistant, with expertise in providing executive-level administrative support, customer service, office and project management, and event/meeting coordination. She currently serves as Executive Assistant to Charles Fred, the CEO of Modern Teacher. Jenna resides in Denver, Colorado with her 2 sons and family dog. She enjoys golf and cycling. She is also a Notary Public for the State of Colorado.

Andy Pridgeon

Andy Pridgeon is currently serving as the Vice President of Network Membership for Modern Teacher. Originally from the Grand Rapids area of West Michigan, Andy earned his B.S., as well as his M.A. in educational administration and administration of secondary schools from Central Michigan University. Andy has been a middle school professional educator for 21 years and has worked closely with professional teachers aligning customized professional development. Andy takes great pride in leading a one-to-one initiative within his middle school and providing high engagement instructional techniques for the professional staff. Andy also believes in developing the leadership capacity of teachers and empowering them to be primary decision makers regarding the objectives, goals and trajectory of a school building and district. Andy started his career as a seventh and eighth grade science teacher and has served as a middle school athletic director, assistant principal and most recently as a lead principal for the past 15 years. Andy continues to reside in Michigan with his wife (Angie) and their two daughters.

Justin Vincent

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. Ann Chavez

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 Chief Academic Officer of 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.

Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones serves as Modern Teacher’s Marketing Director. 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.

Garrett Seaman

Garrett Seaman is currently serving as a founding partner and Executive Vice President of District Partnerships 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.

Dr. Mike Walls

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.

Laura Janusek

As Vice President of Product, Laura manages Modern Teacher's whole product, with an emphasis on their software solutions. With the CTO, Laura manages the development and quality assurance teams, including both U.S.-based and nearshore developers. With the CEO and President, she defines Modern Teacher's current and upcoming software solutions and uses client feedback to oversee the development cycle, from ideation through live releases and enhancements. As a member of the founding team at digedu, The Digital Education Company, Laura managed over 40 award-winning educators and editors in the development of a 3500-lesson Library of digital curriculum. She also oversaw client communication and relationships in 1:1 schools and classrooms across the nation. Prior to her work in EdTech, Laura was involved with a variety educational organizations, teaching in both Special Education and English departments as well as nontraditional learning environments.

Alex King

Alex King is a Software Developer specializing in system and user interface design. His job includes developing new platform features, ensuring existing ones continue working great, and keeping his cat from walking all over his keyboard.

Mike Smith

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.

Robbie Pruitt Woody

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.