Keynote Speakers

Andrew Chen

Andrew Chen is the President of EduTron Corporation. Before founding EduTron he was a professor and a principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He frequently consults with education research institutions including the Institute for Education Science at the U.S. Dept.ment of Education, and Achieve, Inc. Dr. Chen is on the Common Core Standards Development Team in Mathematics. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the National Council on Teacher Quality. Locally he is on the Mathematics and Science Advisory Council for the Massachusetts Board of Education.

Dr. Chen provides high quality professional development in mathematics and science to teachers at all levels through Intensive Immersion Institutes. Chen also works with higher education institutions to develop rigorous and effective pre-service and in-service offerings in mathematics and science. He works with school districts and school administrators to increase their capacity to support excellent mathematics and science instruction. He was an Adviser for the Massachusetts 2008 Guidelines for the Mathematical Preparation of Elementary Teachers. Dr. Chen continues to teach and do research in physics. He received a PhD in physics from Columbia University.

John Deasy

Dr. John E. Deasy, who led improvements that propelled student achievement and high school graduation rates to historic levels in the nation’s second-largest school district, consults for The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems as a superintendent-in-residence. In this role, John provides executive coaching to Center alumni leading urban public school systems as well as facilitates professional development sessions for The Broad Academy. Most recently, Dr. Deasy was a Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he championed a “youth first” agenda credited with reversing the district’s school-to-prison pipeline, raising achievement and helping more students graduate ready for college and the workplace. Deasy previously served as Superintendent in Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in California and Coventry Public Schools in Rhode Island. He was named Superintendent of the Year in 2001 by the Rhode Island School Superintendents’ Association. A former high school principal, Deasy focused school improvement efforts on child-centered, outcomes-based practices, including alternative assessment, school-to-work transition programs and interdisciplinary instruction.

Kate Gerson

Kate Gerson is a nationally recognized expert in Common Core instructional practice and adult learning pedagogy. She is the cofounder of the Standards Institute.

Previously Kate was a Senior Fellow for Educator Engagement and the Common Core with the Regents Research Fund. In this role Kate led the New York State’s ground-breaking curriculum, training and professional development resources related to Common Core practice. She oversaw the development of the first comprehensive, free Common Core curricula for grades K-12 in English Language Arts and mathematics and led a team to implement thirty large-scale, in-depth trainings for educators across New York State in curriculum implementation, data-driven instruction, parent engagement, and school/district adoption. She led the development of the nationally recognized EngageNY.org site, which provides educators and school leaders nationwide with open access to Common Core aligned curricula for grades K-12 in English Language Arts and mathematics, professional development tools, resources and videos. She also oversaw the development of over 400 K-12 teacher and principal practice videos. Kate has consulted nationally on Common Core implementation and how to improve the quality of instruction at all levels of the school system.

Kate also served as Executive Director of Academic Programs for New Leaders. There, Kate led program design and implementation for principal recruitment, selection, assessment, training, organizational change management, and leadership coach development. She is a former New York City turnaround principal and was part of the New Leaders inaugural cohort of principals. She designed, launched and successfully led South Brooklyn Community High School, a model transfer school for over-aged/under-credited students which was later duplicated more than 15 times. Kate began her career as a high school English teacher in Indianapolis where she twice received the ACE Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Indianapolis Star. She holds a B.A. in Women's Studies from the University of Arizona and a M.A in Language Education from Indiana University.

Kaya Henderson

Kaya Henderson has served as Chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS) since November 2010. Under Henderson’s leadership, DCPS has become the fastest–improving urban school district in the country. Henderson has championed the launch and expansion of a range of innovative programs – such as blended learning, the Schoolwide Enrichment Model and extended–day – to increase academic achievement for all students. As a result, students across the city are performing at higher levels in reading and math; high school graduation rates have increased; more classrooms are led by highly effective teachers; more families are choosing DCPS, with enrollment increasing after decades of decline; and student satisfaction is high.

Henderson joined DCPS in 2007 as Deputy Chancellor responsible for overseeing the Office of Human Capital. In this role, she served as chief negotiator for the groundbreaking 2010 contract between DCPS and the Washington Teachers’ Union, and led the development of IMPACT, the school system’s professional development and assessment system designed to ensure that an effective teacher is leading every classroom in DCPS.

Prior to joining DCPS, Henderson was a partner at The New Teacher Project (TNTP) responsible for helping urban school districts recruit and retain effective teachers. Previous to her work at TNTP, Henderson was executive director of Teach For America – DC and national admissions director and recruiter at Teach for America. She began her career in education as a middle school Spanish teacher in the South Bronx.

Henderson earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and master’s degree in leadership from Georgetown University. She also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Georgetown University and Trinity University. Henderson serves on Board of Directors for Georgetown University and on the Board of Trustees for The College Board, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Student Achievement Partners. Henderson is actively involved in a number of community and professional organizations including the Executive Committee of the Council of Great City Schools, Pahara Aspen Fellowship, Nevada Leadership Institute, and Raise DC. She shares her insights and DCPS success stories on Twitter as @HendersonKaya.

David Liben

David Liben is the Senior Content Specialist of the Literacy and English Language Arts team at Student Achievement Partners. David has taught elementary, middle school and high school students in public and private schools, as well as community college and teacher preparation courses, in New York City and Vermont. David still spends as much time as possible in schools with teachers and children. Together with Meredith Liben, David founded two innovative model schools in New York City - New York Prep, a junior high school in East Harlem, and in 1991, the Family Academy - where he served as Principal and lead curriculum designer. David holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in school administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Shaun Nelms

Dr. Shaun Nelms is the current deputy superintendent of East High School, a new position created by the partnership between the New York State Education Department, the Rochester City School District and the University of Rochester. As the Educational Partnership Organization deputy superintendent, Dr. Nelms has been charged with creating a reform model that will be replicated in urban settings throughout the United States.

Dr. Nelms previously served as the Deputy Superintendent of Schools for the Greece Central School District, where his primary focus is on improving student achievement and closing equity gaps in accordance with district goals. Dr. Nelms provides guidance to members of the executive leadership team on School Improvement planning, professional development, and assessment of progress toward district targets in alignment with the Greece Strategic Framework.

Prior to his current position, Dr. Nelms served as Chief of Schools for the Rochester City School District, where he supervised the Northeast Zone and successfully led implementation of the NYS Regents reform initiative. His focus on professional development for principals and teachers led to improvements in leadership capacity, instructional delivery and student achievement. Dr. Nelms has also worked as a principal in the Rush-Henrietta School District, and as an assistant principal and social studies teacher in the Greece School District.

A renowned speaker on cultural competence, differentiation and administrative leadership, Dr. Nelms is also an adjunct professor for the University of Rochester where he teaches Human Resources and Urban Leadership programs. He is active in numerous community organizations and has been honored with several awards for his leadership and work in education.

Dr. Nelms received his doctorate in K-12 School Leadership from the University of Rochester, where he also earned his master’s in Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from SUNY Fredonia and NYS Permanent Certification as a School Administrator and Supervisor, and in School District Leadership; and NYS Permanent Teaching Certification in Social Studies, 7-12 grade.

Timothy Shanahan

Timothy Shanahan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chi­cago and Visiting Research Professor at Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Previously, he was Director of Reading for the Chicago Public Schools. He is author or editor of more than 200 publications including the books, Teaching with the Common Core Standards for the English Language Arts, Early Childhood Literacy, and Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners. His research emphasizes the reading-writing relationships, literacy in the disciplines, and improvement of reading achievement.

Professor Shanahan is past president of the International Reading Association. He received a presidential appointment to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Literacy, and served on the National Reading Panel (the third most influential education policy document according to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center). He chaired two other federal research review panels: the National Literacy Panel for Language Minority Children and Youth, and the National Early Literacy Panel, and helped author the Common Core State Standards. He is co-principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Title I Study of Implementation and Outcomes: Early Childhood Language Development. 

Shanahan received the William S. Gray Citation for Lifetime Achievement and the Albert J. Harris Award for outstanding research on reading disability from the International Reading Association. In 2009, he was researcher of the year at the University of Illinois at Chicago (Social Sciences/Humanities). He co-developed Project FLAME, a family literacy program for Latino immigrants, which received an Academic Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Education, and his article, “The Common Core Ate My Baby” received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Learned Articles from the Association of Educational Publications (2013). He was inducted to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2007, and is a former first-grade teacher. For more information: click here

Jason Zimba

Jason Zimba was a lead writer of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and is a Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners. He holds a B.A. from Williams College with a double major in mathematics and astrophysics; an M.Sc. by research in mathematics from the University of Oxford; and a Ph.D. in mathematical physics from the University of California at Berkeley. As a researcher, Dr. Zimba’s work spanned a range of fields, including astronomy, astrophysics, theoretical physics, philosophy of science, and pure mathematics. His academic awards include a Rhodes scholarship and a Majorana Prize for theoretical physics. Jason is also the author of Force and Motion: An Illustrated Guide to Newton’s Laws. As an educator, he has taught physics, mathematics, and other subjects to college students, university physics and engineering majors, adult prison inmates, children of non-English speaking immigrants, and disadvantaged high school students.