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AAE Advisory Board

The AAE Advisory Board, comprised of award-winning educators
and leaders in education policy and educator support
from across the country, provides advice and perspective to the AAE staff,
contributes ideas and recommendations on education policy, and serves
as representatives to the broader teaching community.

  • Leta Rains Andrews, Disney Co-Outstanding Teacher of 1993
  • Patricia Ann Baltz, Disney Co-Outstanding Teacher of 1993 and 1993 California Teacher of the Year
  • Polly Broussard, Executive Director (retired), Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana
  • Lori Butler, Director of Charter Development, Pathways in Education Management Group
  • Jacqueline Cooper, President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options
  • Dr. Keith Courville, Executive Director, Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana
  • Guy Rice Doud, 1986 National Teacher of the Year
  • Nora Flood, Former President, Colorado League of Charter Schools; Education Director, James Walton Fund
  • Virginia Walden Ford, Executive Director, Arkansas Parent Information Network
  • Dr. Jay P. Greene, Head of the Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas
  • Robert Haag, President/CEO and Co-Founder, Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools
  • Dr. Karen Kay Harvey, Educational Consultant, Former Colorado Public Schools School Board Member
  • Dr. Frederick M. Hess, Resident Scholar & Director of Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Dr. Lewis Hodge, Professor of Education, University of Tennessee
  • Dr. William H. Hughes, Chief Academic Officer, Seton Catholic Schools
  • Lance Izumi, J.D., Former President, Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges
  • Lisa Graham Keegan, Principal Partner, The Keegan Company
  • Michael Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Dr. Gloria Romero, Founder/Executive Director of Scholarship Prep Charter School (CA)
  • Dr. Kevin Ryan, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character, Boston University
  • Nicholas Simmons, Former Vice-Principal, Success Academy Charter Schools (NY)
  • Kim Zeydel, 2015 Idaho Teacher of the Year

Biographies

Leta Rains Andrews

Leta Andrews was chosen as the co-winner of the Walt Disney American Teacher Award's 1993 Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She was invited along with our own Pann Baltz and 48 other State Teachers of the Year to Orlando, Florida to participate in this nationally recognized awards event. It was the first time there were co-winners and we are proud that both are members of the AAE and serve on our advisory board.

Leta's special relationship with students is fostered through her own experience with failure and triumph. She believes education should attempt to meet a young person's mental, spiritual, and physical needs. As a three time Texas State Coach of the Year in basketball, she had guided her teams to 860 victories with 16 trips to the state's Final Four. She is also an inductee of the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Leta served as the director of the Texas State Basketball Camps and was a USA Olympic Festival Coach.

Additionally, Leta leads the Public School In-Service/Staff Development Programs in her district.

In her acceptance of the Disney Award she shared her philosophy about education. Leta declared, "I believe in children! Race, sex, social status, ethnicity, language, or ability is immaterial. My job is to help children realize their dreams!"





Patricia Ann Baltz

Patricia Ann "Pann" Baltz was the co-winner of the 1993 Disney Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award and was also the 1993 California Teacher of the Year.

Pann plays down the fact that a history of strokes and heart problems has left her in a wheelchair. She says it has simply changed her into a "sit and deliver" teacher. Her students call her handi-capable and draw inspiration from her energy, perseverance, and curriculum innovations. Pann says, "The personal knowledge of how precious life is has made my contribution to the lives of children a very special one."

Pann was a Cum Laude graduate of UCLA with a B.A. in English and also conducted her post graduate studies there. She has been teaching 3rd-6th grades in Arcadia, California for 23 years and over that span has earned many outstanding achievement awards. She is the recipient of the Honorary Service Award given by the California PTA, the Los Angeles County Self Esteem Task Force Award, and a scholarship to International Space Camp in Huntsville. At the prestigious American Teacher Awards, Pann was named "Outstanding General Elementary Teacher."

Pann is a gifted speaker who has addressed many audiences including the California State PTA convention, the Future Educators of America annual conference, and the Los Angeles County School Psychologists annual conference.

She is a leader in creative ideas in the use of computers in a classroom. She was named Tech Center Mentor for the Technology Center of Silicon Valley in 1991. Pann has started a cross-age Science Challenge project where elementary students are challenged to solve a particular problem on a team with a teenage "scientific consultant" from the local high school. She received a Leader in Instructional Technology Education Grant for her ideas.

Of all her awards, she is most proud that her family was given the Great American Family Award by her home city of Arcadia.





Polly Broussard

Polly Broussard has been an outstanding leader enhancing the status of the teaching corps in our nation as professionals in the highest sense. She is one of the founders of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL), and while she has retired from her position as executive director, she continues to serve on an interim basis as director of legal services.

Polly was a public school teacher for over twenty years serving as an early childhood educator. She is a graduate of Louisiana State University, with a Master of Education Plus 30 and a Bachelor of Arts in Education.

Extensive training in business and leadership skills provides Polly with the expertise to promote the recognition of teachers as the professionals they should be. Polly also served as an elected board member on the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).





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Lori Butler

Lori Butler is a Director of Charter Development at the Pathways in Education Management Group. She is a knowledgeable, experienced and devout champion of education and the opportunities students must be provided to achieve at the highest levels. With over 17 years in education, her focus remains providing a quality education to those who need it most.

Ms. Butler’s career in education started as a classroom teacher and progressed to leadership roles including Instructional Coach, Reading First Literacy Coach, Professional Development Chair, Director of Curriculum and Instruction and School Principal.

In her roles as Vice President of School Services and Director of Educational Services for two charter support organizations, she responded to the expanding needs of the growing charter school movement with tenacity and integrity. Ms. Butler launched and implemented a suite of technical assistance programs to serve member needs. She pursued partnerships with other charter friendly organizations to increase member benefits and the overall visibility of the organizations.

As a servant leader, Mrs. Butler is a devout supporter of lifelong learning. She believes the transformation of our society must begin with our learning institutions and the life long learners we inspire to create.





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Jacqueline Cooper

Jacqueline Cooper is the President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), one of America’s preeminent nonprofit education advocacy organizations dedicated to increasing access to high-quality education options for low-income and working-class Black families. As BAEO’s president, Cooper leads a national executive leadership team in implementing the organization’s mission, strategic goals, and vision.

Cooper previously served as BAEO’s Interim President and as Chief of Staff. She was responsible for the central coordination of staff activities and ensuring organizational alignment with the strategic priorities of the board. As a key member of BAEO's executive leadership team, she supported the organization in achieving its goals and objectives through improving performance management and talent development; eliminating barriers to coordination, cooperation, and collaboration; and stewarding the organization's resources to promote efficiency and cost management.

Cooper arrived at BAEO in 2009 as Director of Strategic Initiatives. In this position, she designed and implemented a management system that clarified strategy, optimized data, achieved vertical and horizontal alignment and linked strategy to operations. Most notably, Cooper directed BAEO's Annual Symposium, the largest gathering of Black education reform supporters in the nation.

Prior to BAEO, Cooper worked for 11 years at JP Morgan Chase. In her last position as Vice President and Business Manager in Global Syndicated Finance, she managed staffing, logistical needs and the performance review process for the investment bank's largest department. Cooper also owned and operated four elite "Shining Star" Curves franchises in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Cooper earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Bryn Mawr College and a M.B.A. in finance and accounting from New York University's Stern School of Business. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Cooper resides in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.





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Dr. Keith Courville

At the age of 20, Dr. Keith Courville became the first individual in his family to graduate from college with a Bachelor's in Chemistry and began his career as a biomedical researcher at Louisiana State University under a Board of Regents Fellowship. Under this fellowship, he participated in research projects on brain metastatic melanoma and ionic currents in pancreatic cells, earning a publication in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. While volunteering with his church, Keith began reading to local youth at Highland Elementary. Feeling a calling towards service, Keith enrolled in the graduate school of Education at LSU and began teaching at Walker High School in Livingston Parish. Keith taught Physics, Chemistry, and an inclusion Physical Science Class, while serving as Assistant Coach for his school's Power-lifting team and a principal intern at nearby Eastside Elementary. While teaching, Keith competed in the 2011 Presidential Management Fellowship competition against more than 10,000 professionals across the nation. He was ultimately selected as 1 of 750 finalists in the nation.

As a finalist he was awarded with a lifetime career appointment to the federal government starting at a supervisory level with the opportunity for fast tracked promotions. However, Keith turned down his appointment to return to the classroom and pursue his doctoral studies in Educational Leadership and Research. Within a few months of his return, Keith joined the staff of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL), serving for 2 years as the Director of Professional Development and University Programs, before becoming its Executive Director in January 2014. In leading A+PEL, Keith and his colleagues have doubled the organization's financial reserves, seen a consistent annual growth in membership, and expanded operations into the fields of in-house professional and legal services, including district-wide professional development contracts with school systems. Keith's policy interests include Education Finance and Accountability, and he sits on numerous state committees charged with designing policy and legislation.





Guy Rice Doud

After graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1975 from Concordia College in Minnesota, Guy then moved to Brainerd, Minnesota where he taught language arts in high school and served as a youth pastor at a local church.

In 1986, Guy received the highest award the public education profession offers - the National Teacher of the Year Award - presented in a ceremony at the White House by President Reagan. This award thrust him into the national spotlight and opened up many unique opportunities to share his love for teaching.

Guy has addressed hundreds of audiences since being chosen as America's Teacher of the Year including the convention of the National School Board Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Education Association (NEA). He has also appeared on national television broadcasts such as Prime Time America, Straight Talk, and Heart to Heart. The Focus on the Family radio and publishing corporation has produced two public school videos featuring Guy entitled Classroom of the Heart and Teacher of the Year. In addition they have published two books written by Guy; Molder of Dreams, which made it in the top ten on the Christian Best Seller list, and Joy in the Journey. Concordia Publishing has recently released a new book he has written especially for teenagers, I Thought You Would Like to Know.

Guy Doud received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Judson College in 1992. He is on leave from his teaching position at Brainerd High School and has been devoting himself to speaking on behalf of public school teachers and about his love for America's children. He is readily acknowledged as one of America's most respected and beloved educators.





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Nora Flood

Nora Flood serves as Education Director of the James Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation. At the James Walton Fund, Nora works to advance cutting edge systems and instructional models in public schools, particularly nontraditional models such as Montessori schools.

Nora recently served as the President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. In her role, Nora’s goal was to make sure that school leaders at the board and building level had the tools and resources they needed to provide quality education to their students. She provided resources and school-based support to leadership and governing boards of Colorado charter schools. Nora also worked behind the scenes building relationships and creating partnerships to further the work of the League. Additionally, she served on the League’s Policy & Advocacy Team with a focus on increasing and/or maintaining equity in charter school facilities, funding and flexibility at the local, state and federal levels.

Nora spent 30 years as a teacher, school founder and school leader within various school models and types; and she spent five years as the League’s Vice President before replacing League founder, Jim Griffin, when he moved on from the League to start a research firm. When not working at the League she spend her time with her dogs Brooks and Webster, and her husband Mark, biking, hiking, skiing, camping, traveling, or reading a good book with a good glass of wine. She received her Masters of Science in Education, but she believes that the greatest education comes from simply living and experiencing life. 




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Virginia Walden Ford

A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Virginia Walden-Ford was raised by trailblazing public school educators. Ford founded DC Parents for School Choice (1998 – 2011) as a clearinghouse organization for parents. Its mission was to organize and educate parents in order to empower them to make the appropriate educational decisions for their children.

Virginia's community involvement began as a result of her own personal experiences. After obtaining a private scholarship for her son to attend Archbishop Carroll High School, she became an outspoken advocate for school choice. She believes passionately that all children should have the chance to obtain a quality education and that parents should be able to choose and send their children to the schools that best meet their needs.

Virginia is a founding member of The Black Alliance for Educational Options, Inc. She also served on the DC Advisory Committee of the US Civil Rights Commission, The Education Breakthrough Network and the Booker T. Washington Public Charter School in Washington, DC. She currently serves on the boards of The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation and the Arkansas Connection Academy.

Virginia is Executive Director of the Arkansas Parent Information Network, working to make more educational choices available to Arkansas parents by providing them with information about traditional, public charter, private and parochial schools.

 




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Dr. Jay P. Greene

Jay P. Greene is a Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. Greene’s current areas of research interest include school choice, culturally enriching field trips, and the effect of schools on non-cognitive and civic values.  He is also known for his work to improve the accurate reporting of high school graduation rates, address financial incentives in special education, and the use of standardized tests to curb social promotion.

His research was cited four times in the Supreme Court’s opinions in the landmark Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case on school vouchers. His articles have appeared in a variety of academic journals, including Education Finance and Policy, Economics of Education Review, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Researcher, and Sociology of Education.

Greene has been a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. He received his B.A. in history from Tufts University in 1988 and his Ph.D. from the Government Department at Harvard University in 1995.

 




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Robert Haag

Robert Haag has been a leader and active participant in the Florida charter school movement since 1997. He is a co-founder and superintendent of the Charter Schools of Excellence. The Charter Schools of Excellence Fort Lauderdale Campus is one of the first urban charter schools established in Broward County and one of the first Florida charter schools to receive accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The Charter Schools of Excellence has grown from one campus to four serving over 1,250 students in Broward County.

Working with other early charter school operators, Mr. Haag spearheaded the creation of the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) in 1997. Under Mr. Haag’s stewardship, FCPCS has grown to become the primary membership organization with over 500 member schools and has become one of the most influential charter school associations in the country. It provides training and professional development, advocacy, information and other resources to charter schools throughout the state.

Mr. Haag is a member of the National State Leaders Council, the Florida TaxWatch Center for Educational Performance (CEPA) Advisory Board, The Broward Foundation’s Superintendent’s Cabinet, and the Broward County School District’s Charter School Task Force. In addition to his experience in the charter school arena, Mr. Haag has over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, businessman and real estate investor.

 




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Dr. Karen Kay Harvey

Dr. Karen Kay Harvey has been involved in education for forty years and has served in all educational capacities. Dr. Harvey was an elementary teacher for fourteen years, an elementary principal for eight years, served in various capacities at the central office level for eleven years, New Mexico NAEP Coordinator; New Mexico Public Education Department Assessment Specialist; and performed the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Quality Assurance and Systems Integration at the New Mexico Public Education Department.  Her broad background includes teaching at the university level and serving as a school board member in Douglas County, Colorado Public Schools. 

During these years in education, Dr. Harvey has worked in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Canada, Washington, and Nevada.  She has worked in three districts as the leader of curriculum and instruction. In these positions she worked on systemic reform to impact student achievement and was responsible for the development of standards based grading and reporting systems.   

Dr. Harvey serves as an educational consultant and national presenter in standards-based grading and reporting, gap analysis, curriculum alignment, administrator mentoring, and supporting Schools in Need of Improvement (No Child Left Behind), and Turnaround Schools.  In addition, she is a Nationally Certified Mentor for building administrators; trained in cognitive coaching; and the Virginia Leadership Model. 

Recently, Dr. Harvey co-authored a book entitled, Sacred Elephants: The Catastrophic Crisis in Education Impacting the Decline of America.





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Dr. Frederick M. Hess

An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include The Cage-Busting Teacher, Cage-Busting Leadership, Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age, The Same Thing Over and Over, Education Unbound, Common Sense School Reform, Revolution at the Margins, and Spinning Wheels. He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, Rick Hess Straight Up, and is a regular contributor to The Hill.

Hess’s work has appeared in outlets such as U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, USA Today, the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, among others. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind.

Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review board for the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS.

A former high school social studies teacher, Hess's teaching experience spans from the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in government, as well as an M.Ed. in teaching and curriculum, from Harvard University.

 




Dr. Lewis Hodge

Dr. Hodge is retired professor of education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville . He has enjoyed a uniquely diverse experience in public education. He has taught junior high school English and social studies in Dallas, Texas; served as an education and training officer, Air Training Command, USAF (during the Vietnam era); coordinated the Secondary Teaching Laboratory, University of Texas at Austin, Research and Development Center; in addition to serving as a faculty member at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

As a university professor and consultant, he has teamed with others to evaluate a large school system (Memphis); develop curriculum at all grade levels in small, large, rural, suburban, and inner city schools; and implemented professional enhancements systems (state and local).

Additionally, Dr. Hodge has published numerous professional papers and journal articles on teacher education. He has been active in several professional organizations and honorary societies: the Association for Supervision and Curriculum and Development, the American Educational Research Association, Kappa Delta Pi, and Phi Delta Kappa. During the 1993-94 academic year, he lectured in Russia , Belarus , and the Ukraine at the invitation of the Russian Ministry of Education on topics related to establishing a new ethically based curriculum for Russian public education.

Lewis Hodge has been uniquely recognized throughout his career as an outstanding educator, underscored with honors such as a United States Air Force Commendation Medal, Outstanding Young Men of America Award, and the Governor's Outstanding Tennessean Award.

His educational background includes earning a B.A. degree in English from Lamar State University , a M.Ed. in secondary school administration at North Texas State University, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas.





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Dr. William Hughes

Dr. William H. Hughes has worked in education for 35 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, and director of leadership development. He is the Chief Academic Officer at Seton Catholic Schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Previously, he served as Director of Leadership Development with Schools That Can Milwaukee, an educational nonprofit that is expanding the number of high performing urban schools in the City of Milwaukee and as the Director of Instructional Leadership Program at Alverno College.

For 16 years, Hughes led the Greendale School District to recognition as one of the highest performing school districts in Southeast Wisconsin. He is a former board member of the Milwaukee Area Technical College and a member of the National School Climate Council. Hughes works with the Special Olympics International to bring Project Unify to national scale, is a board member of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship and a partner with Cascade Educational Consultants based in Bellingham, Washington.

Bill holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Leadership from University of Wisconsin- Madison. A resident of the Milwaukee area, Bill is a proud husband, father, and grandfather.





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Lance Izumi, J.D.

Lance Izumi is Koret Senior Fellow and Senior Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, a public policy think tank based in San Francisco and Sacramento. He is the author of numerous books, studies and articles on education policy issues, and served as co-executive producer of an award-winning PBS-broadcast education documentary.

From 2004 to 2015, he served as a member of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the largest system of higher education in the nation, and served two terms as president of the Board from 2008 to 2009. In 2015, Lance was elected chair of the board of directors of the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the official non-profit that supports the community college system and the state Chancellor’s Office.

Lance also served as a commissioner on the California Postsecondary Education Commission and as a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission’s California Advisory Committee. For the past six years, Lance has served as the president of the Community Relations Board for the United States Army’s Sacramento Recruiting Battalion. He was also an original member of the executive committee for the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion’s Community Relations Board.

Lance served as an officer, O3/captain, in the California State Military Reserve (Headquarters Public Affairs Office). During his service, he was awarded the commendation medal, the achievement ribbon and the unit citation ribbon.

Lance received his juris doctorate from the University of Southern California School of Law, his master of art in political science from the University of California at Davis, and his bachelor of arts in economics and history from the University of California at Los Angeles.





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Lisa Graham Keegan

Lisa Graham Keegan is the Principal Partner at the Keegan Company, where she leads numerous projects, writes, and speaks on critical issues and emerging excellence in American education. She is a sought after education reform expert who has worked with national education leaders, the media, U.S. Congress, state legislative bodies, business groups, policy organizations, community groups, and the education industry.

She currently serves as a Senior Advisor to National School Choice Week, an annual public awareness campaign to advance excellent choices in education; and as Executive Director of A for Arizona, a joint project of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber that seeks to accelerate the number of A quality public charter and public district schools in Arizona.

Mrs. Keegan served as Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she advanced clear and challenging academic standards gauged by publicly transparent assessments, and fought successfully for the implementation of school choice, including Arizona's landmark charter school and tuition tax credit laws. She also led efforts to revise the state’s school finance formulas to reflect a commitment to equal access and choice of excellent schools...a job she considers unfinished.





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Michael Petrilli

Mike Petrilli is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and executive editor of Education Next. An award-winning writer, he is the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma, and editor of Education for Upward Mobility.

Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg View, and Slate, and appears frequently on television and radio. He's helped to create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and, long, long ago, Young Education Professionals.

In addition to AAE, Petrilli serves on the advisory boards of MDRC and the Texas Institute for Education Reform. He lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.

 




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Dr. Gloria Romero

A forceful advocate for education reform and civil rights, former California State Senator Gloria Romero is the Founder/Executive Director of Scholarship Prep Charter School located in Santa Ana.

Because of her diverse background and former political leadership posts, Romero possesses a keen knowledge of the legislative and political process. She was elected to the 24th Senate District in 2001, representing East Los Angeles and the greater San Gabriel Valley. Upon her election she was recognized as one of the hardest working members of the Legislature and quickly rose in leadership positions. She was elected by her peers to serve as Senate Democratic Caucus Chair and as Senate Majority Leader—the first woman to ever hold that leadership position in the history of the California State Senate. Prior to serving in the Senate, she held the post of Majority Whip in the California State Assembly from 1998-2000 and served on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees from 1995-1998 and the Los Angeles Elected Charter Reform Commission in 1998. Additionally, she held the post of California Director of Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee dedicated to making reforms in the Democratic Party.





Dr. Kevin Ryan

Dr. Ryan is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the founding director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character. The Center's mission is to support elementary and secondary schools in efforts to aid children in acquiring good moral judgment and habits.

Dr. Ryan began his teaching career as a high school English teacher. Since entering the higher education profession with degrees from Stanford, Columbia, and the University of Toronto, Kevin has taught on the faculties of Harvard, the University of Chicago, the University of Lisbon, the Ohio State University and Boston University. He has written and edited twenty one books, focused primarily on teacher education and character education.

Dr. Ryan and the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character garnered national praise for writing the Character Education Manifesto which has been endorsed by fifty of the nation's most recognized educators, legislators, and business executives in America. Whenever the subject of character education comes up in the news, Dr. Ryan is one of the first persons the media calls for comment. He has appeared on Good Morning, America and The O'Reilly Factor and has been featured in articles in U.S. News & World Report, the New York Times, the Washington Times, and the Boston Herald. In addition, Kevin has served on the AAE Advisory Board since its inception.

Kevin has extensive experience in education project fund raising.





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Nicholas Simmons

Nicholas Simmons recently served as a middle school vice-principal at Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City. Before becoming vice-principal, Nicholas taught 7th grade math for three years at a Success Academy Middle School in Harlem. In his three years teaching, Nicholas’ 7th grade math classes ranked as the ninth, fifth and fourth highest performing classes in the state of New York respectively.

Before entering public education, Nicholas worked in the financial sector, and credits his success in the classroom to the supportive, flexible and high-expectations environment of his public charter school.

Nicholas is an outspoken advocate for high quality teaching and believes any student can thrive in the right environment. His editorials have been published in the Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post, and he has appeared on national television to spread the word about education reform.




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Kim Zeydel

Kim Zeydel is the 2015 Idaho Teacher of the Year and has been an educator for twenty-seven years. She has spent most of those years working with at-risk students in grades 3 – 12. She was director of the middle school at Oak Ridge Private School in California for six years and worked with UCI’s program for ADHD students to help the students transition back to public/private schools. After leaving the private school, she worked for Orange County Department of Education in CA with at-risk students. Then in 1996, she moved to Idaho and set up an alternative education program for at-risk middle school students. For the past ten years, she has taught mathematics to at-risk high school students at Meridian Academy where she is also the mathematics department chair.

She believes that all students can learn mathematics and helps her students believe they can learn and succeed. She has brought technology and other hands-on activities into the school to enable the students to visualize and experience mathematics.

Kim has a B.A. in Social Sciences with an emphasis in juvenile delinquency prevention from Johnston College at the University of Redlands, a M.A. in Education from Claremont Graduate School, and a M.S. in Education-Mathematics from Walden University. She is currently working on an EdD in curriculum, instruction, and assessment from Walden University. Her credentials in Idaho at the Secondary level are in Mathematics, Social Studies, and Sociology.

In 2009, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She is Past-President of the Idaho Council of Teachers of Mathematics and was co-chair of the 2009, 2012 and 2014 Idaho State Fall Conferences for math and science teachers. Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Idaho Science, Mathematics and Technology Coalition, the NCTM Representative for the Idaho Council of Teachers of Mathematics, a member of the Idaho Professional Standards Commission, and a board member of Northwest Professional Educators.

She has conducted many week long professional development summer conferences for teachers with an emphasis on mathematics. She has also presented at the Texas International Conference as a T^3 Regional Instructor and numerous ICTM conferences.