Speakers: Tech Forum Midwest

Speakers at Technology & Learning's Tech Forum are innovators in the field of educational technology. With years of experience as conference presenters, educators, school leaders and Technology & Learning authors, they offer a unique perspective on technology challenges and solutions.


Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Adjunct Faculty
College of William and Mary, VA

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, a 17-year educator, has been a classroom teacher, charter school principal, district administrator, and digital learning consultant. She currently teaches graduate and undergraduate preservice teachers at The College of William and Mary, where she is also completing her doctorate in educational planning, policy and leadership. Nussbaum-Beach has published articles and book chapters, has been featured on public broadcasting television and radio shows, and is a regular presenter at local, state, national and international conferences speaking on topics of homelessness, teacher leadership, virtual community building, and 21st Century learning initiatives. She frequently facilitates online seminars and workshops using Elluminate Live and other learning platforms. Nussbaum-Beach is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and Products Specialist, a senior fellow of the Teacher Leaders Network, and winner of Virginia Beach City Public Schools' 2002 Teacher of the Year award. Currently, she is co-leading a statewide 21st-Century Skills initiative in the state of Alabama. She also serves as an organizer and convener of the K-12 Online Conference, which seeks to help educators around the world contextualise and integrate emerging technologies into their schools and classrooms.


Anna Beard

Associate Product Manager

Wireless Generation/FreeReading.net

Anna Beard manages the development of FreeReading.net, an open-source, free reading intervention program that is used throughout all 50 states and over 160 countries. In addition, she coauthors the early literacy blog Literacyispriceless.com with Melissa Skolnick (a Chicago Public School teacher). Prior to joining Wireless Generation, Beard worked on the research and development of the websites SchoolNet.com and PocketKnowledge (a digital archive that houses historical and contemporary education documents). She also worked on a number of technology and management consulting engagements between the Columbia Business School and the New York City Department of Education. Before living in New York, she taught English in Osaka, Japan.

Ryan Bretag

Coordinator of Instructional Technology

Glenbrook North High School, Northbrook, IL

Ryan Bretag has spent seven years in education, both as a secondary English educator and now as an administrator at Glenbrook North High School, one of the top schools in Illinois. In his role as instructional technology coordinator, he focuses on the infusion of technology into the curriculum and the facilitation of professional development for educators. He has presented and facilitated workshops at local, state, and national levels with a focus on web 2.0, blended learning environments, professional development, and 21st Century Learners. Bretag holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction and is currently in a Ph.D. program for Educational Technology at Walden University where his research interests are on secondary reform and the concept of 21st Century schools. He blogs weekly for Technology & Learning as well as maintaining his own blog, The Four Eyed Technologist, where he generates enthusiasm and conversation on many topics facing the world of education today.

Steve Dembo

Online Community Manager

Discovery Education Network

Steve Dembo's teaching career began in the same place he first set forth on his educational journey, the kindergarten classroom. After teaching kindergarten for four years, it was discovered that he knew the secrets to fixing printer jams. He was immediately promoted to director of technology. He is currently working for Discovery Education, as the online community manager for the Discovery Educator Network, where he oversees their blog network and manages their teacher community of 20,000+ users. Dembo was a pioneer amongst educational podcasters. His blog, Teach42.com, has inspired countless teachers to begin their own blogs and podcasts. He is passionate about education and works diligently to assist teachers in their efforts to learn and integrate new technologies. For more information about Dembo, you can visit his permanent record on Google.

Kellie Doubek

Instructional Technology and Literacy Consultant

Plainfield, IL

Kellie Doubek utilizes her experience as a classroom teacher to assist Pre-K through 12th grade teachers and students in using digital tools effectively to enhance learning. As a reading specialist, she is passionate about sharing the connection between technology and its impact on literacy. She has been a lead design team member for a multi-million dollar NCLB Grant and is currently involved in several one-to-one technology initiatives and working part-time as a reading specialist in the Plainfield School District. Doubek has presented at the International Reading Association National Convention and other conferences nationally. She serves as an adjunct professor at University of St. Francis and works with individual school districts to improve student literacy skills.

Christopher A. Gales

Educator/Instructor, Science Department

Downers Grove South H.S

Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt

Director of Instructional Technology

Indian Prairie School District 204, IL

As director of instructional technology for Indian Prairie School District 204 in Aurora, Illinois, Jeffrey Hunt directs and provides leadership for educational technology applications for Illinois' 4th largest district of 29,000 students. He works closely with curriculum committees, librarians, department chairs, principals, executive administration, and the Board of Education to implement the district's plans. A 30-year employee of Indian Prairie School District, he has served as a teacher and director of the district's planetarium, an operation that he continues to administer as IT director. His other interests include visual literacy, informal science education, technology planning, technology evaluation, and educational technology applications.

David Jakes

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Community High School District 99, Downers Grove, IL

David Jakes serves as the instructional technology coordinator for Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, IL. His interest in technology developed from his 15 years as a classroom science teacher, and from his observations about the difference technology can make in student learning. In addition to speaking at many technology conferences, he conducts technology staff development projects in his school district and throughout the United States. Jakes currently manages three technology-related Web sites — Jakesonline.org, Biopoint.com and myprojectpages.com — that seek to help teachers use technology, and particularly the World Wide Web, to increase student achievement and performance. He is also a blogger, producing The Strength of Weak Ties, as well as contributing regularly to the Techlearning.com blog. His other interests include digital storytelling, information literacy, effective professional development, and the creation of online learning communities.

Scott Meech

Technology Integration Specialist

Plano District #88, IL

Scott Meech is in his 13th year of teaching and is currently working at Plano Community School District #88 as a technology integration specialist. After beginning his teaching career in Social Studies, he quickly realized his greatest joy in teaching was helping teachers and students utilize technology more efficiently and more productively. Meech earned his masters in education in curriculum and technology in 2005 and is currently studying as a student-at-large in preparation for a doctoral degree in instructional technology. While he has a myriad of interests, his favorite pastime is studying the impact technology is making and can make on education. He believes that education is on the brink of major change as technology is finally fulfilling its promise.

Jon Orech

Teacher and Curricular Technology Consultant
Downers Grove South High School, IL

Jon Orech has been teaching English for 23 years. Currently, he teaches and serves as both a curricular technology consultant and a cooperative learning trainer at Downers Grove South High School in Illinois. Since completing training at the Center for Digital Storytelling under Joe Lambert in 2004, Orech has applied many possibilities of digital storytelling in his own classes and has trained colleagues and spoken at many conferences. His presentations include "Beginning and Advanced Digital Storytelling," "Digital Inquiry," "DST for Low-Achieving Students," "Techno-Cooperative Learning," and "Hi-Tech Lit Circles." He also conducts multiple-day digital storytelling workshops on site.

Meg Ormiston

Instructional Technology and Curriculum Consultant

Tech Teachers, Inc., Hinsdale, IL

Meg Ormiston is passionate about transforming teaching and learning through the power of digital tools. She loved being a classroom teacher, but now she is always on the move empowering educators across the globe through her powerful presentations focused on change. Ormiston is an author of two books, school board member, adjunct professor, consultant, keynote speaker, successful grant development specialist, and most importantly, a mom. She is high energy, truly motivational, but also very practical. Her current research is focused on how curriculum can be delivered through the use of visual images, simulations and multimedia coupled with real time assessment to check for comprehension. She is the author of Conquering InfoClutter and co-author (with Mark Standley) of Digital Storytelling with PowerPoint.

Mark Pennington

Assistant Principal for Instruction, Technology & Support Services

Hinsdale South H.S, Hinsdale District 86, IL

As assistant principal, Mark Pennington facilitates and oversees the infusion of instructional technologies into the classroom experience. A twenty-eight year education, he is a member of the District 86 Technology Committee and has had shared responsibility for the implementation of the Tablet PC initiative at Hinsdale South high school. Before assuming his current position in 2001, he served as instructional technology coordinator for Indian Prairie District 204 and, before that, as a science teacher in Aurora, Illinois. He has conducted technology staff development projects in his school district and throughout the United States and Europe and is committed to leveraging technology for the improvement of learning, instruction, and the creation of a generation of technologically literate citizenry able to contribute globally.

Dr. Darlene J. Ruscitti

Regional Superintendent of Schools

DuPage County, IL

Darlene Ruscitti is the first woman ever elected to the position of regional superintendent of DuPage county since the inception of the office in 1854. She has been a school board and PTO president, teacher, staff developer, administrator, and the assistant regional superintendent of schools. Her experiences include appointments and nominations to a myriad of education and business committees including the DuPage County Strategic Planning Initiative, DuPage Work Force Investment Board, DePaul University Education Board, University of Illinois Chicago's CASEL Board, Illinois delegation to the annual Congressional Conference on Civic Education and many more. In 2007 the Education Commission of the United States selected Dr. Ruscitti a member in the commission's 100 District Leaders for Civic Engagement. She has won numerous other awards and recognition over the years and is well known for her work in the areas of student safety, taxpayer accountability and high classroom standards.

Judy Salpeter

Program Chair
Technology & Learning Events

Judy Salpeter, an experienced educator and education technology specialist, is program chair for Technology & Learning Events. On the editorial staff of Technology & Learning magazine since 1985, Salpeter served as editor-in-chief from 1994 to 2000. In addition to overseeing content for Technology & Learning Events, she is now consulting editor to the magazine and works as a freelance writer, consultant and conference planner. Over the years, she has written for publications including Business Week and Newsweek, authored a software program (Mystery Sentences, Scholastic, 1984) and a book (Kids & Computers: A Parents' Handbook, SAMS, 1991), and edited a number of publications for the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

Gwen Solomon



Gwen Solomon is director of techLEARNING.com, the web site of Technology & Learning and a contributing editor to the magazine. Ms. Solomon has served as senior analyst in the U.S. Department of Education, coordinator of instructional technology planning for New York City Public Schools, and founding director of New York City's School of the Future. Her most recent books are Connect Online: Web Learning Adventures and Toward Digital Equity: Bridging the Educational Digital Divide (edited book). Her next book will be published in June 2007.

Marcus W. Thimm

Director of Technology

Glenbrook High School District 225

Marcus Thimm has served as technology director at Glenbrook High School District 225 since August 2007. Before joining the district Marcus was the technology director for School District U-46, were he was instrumental in establishing a reliable and effective technology infrastructure. He brings his experience from the private sector were he worked in various industries for over 20 years. Thimm believes that technology is a catalyst of change that has to be directed in a proactive and collaborative fashion.