Back to School Olympics 2021: Speakers


No way but forward: an Olympic start to the school year. All the speaker sessions are now available on demand.

This virtual conference will help you learn about the benefits digital tools can bring to both you and your students. You'll walk away with tips and new ideas on ways you can prepare your classroom for a digital future.

Register today to access the recordings.

Want to know what's on the timetable? Look no further.

We have a full schedule for you.

Let's welcome our speakers!

Amy Mayer headshot

Amy Mayer

Amy Mayer, nationally known speaker and Google professional development guru, got her start in education as an English and Foreign Language teacher. Since that time, she’s served as a district level director of multiple varieties and now runs a Google partner company friEdTechnology. Amy is well known for her humor and is a beloved presenter and keynote speaker at tech and teaching and learning conferences due to her engaging presentations that emphasize the needs of learners with unique strategies that lead to quick adoption. Don’t miss a chance to learn with this teacher of teachers; trust us, you won’t forget it because everything really is better fried.

Andratesha Fitzgerald headshot

Andratesha Fritzgerald

Andratesha is committed to excellence in education. She has worked as a teacher, curriculum specialist, administrator and director.  As an international speaker, presenter and facilitator, Fritzgerald exhibits an audacious perseverance that calls organizations to evolve into inclusive antiracist safe zones for all learners. With a passion for Universal Design for Learning, Culturally Responsive Teaching and Antiracism, she has led the charge to craft implementation plans, design lab templates, professional development symposia and professional practice cadres. She models expert learning while equipping  others to do the same.

Chris Bugaj headshot

Chris Bugaj

Christopher R. Bugaj, MA CCC‐SLP is a founding member of the Assistive Technology Team for Loudoun County Public Schools. Chris co-hosts the Talking With Tech podcast about using technology to design inclusive educational experiences for those who use augmentative/alternative communication. Chris is the author of The New Assistive Tech: Make Learning Awesome For All, published by ISTE, co-author of Inclusive Learning 365: EdTech Strategies for Every Day of the Year and The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools.

Cynthia curry headshot

Cynthia Curry

As Director of Technical Assistance at CAST, Cynthia Curry oversees projects that build the capacity of education agencies to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities. With an emphasis on increasing inclusive uses of technology in education and career training, Cynthia ensures that CAST’s technical assistance is grounded in evidence-based practices, adult learning theory, and strategic partnerships.

Cynthia was an environmental engineer for five years before pursuing her interest in science education. Teaching sparked a passion for creating inclusive learning environments. She went on to work on two NSF-funded projects to increase the number of students with disabilities who pursue STEM in college and careers. For ten years, she was a statewide integration mentor with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, partnering with Apple to train teachers on how to implement one-to-one learning technology in inclusive classrooms. For Maine CITE, the state’s Assistive Technology Act Project, she led statewide training and technical assistance on accessible educational materials and UDL. As director of a U.S. Department of Education personnel development grant at the University of Southern Maine, Cynthia led the university’s teacher preparation initiative to integrate general and special education program pathways. Just prior to joining CAST, she was an instructional designer and the coordinator of Disability Services at the University of New England.

Eric Curts headshot

Eric Curts

Eric has been in education for 30 years, and currently serves as a Technology Integration Specialist for SPARCC in North Canton, Ohio where he oversees Google for Education implementation, training, and support, as well as other technology integration initiatives. Eric is an authorized Google Education Trainer and Innovator, and provides training to schools, organizations, and conferences throughout Ohio and across the country. He is a co-leader of the Ohio Google Educator Group at bit.ly/gegohio. Eric runs the award-winning blog www.ControlAltAchieve.com where all of his edtech resources can be found, and is the author of the book "Control Alt Achieve: Rebooting Your Classroom with Creative Google Projects".

Joni Degner headshot

Joni Degner

Joni Degner is a trusted voice and recognized leader in the implementation of UDL for schools, districts and institutions of opportunity. Joni is a territory director for Texthelp, supporting schools in Michigan and her homestate, Indiana. She is a dedicated partner to CAST and the UDL-IRN, presenting and keynoting at major summits & symposiumsJoni is passionate about design thinking, Universal Design for Learning, culturally responsive teaching, developmental relationships and equity. Joni is known for her high energy presentation style and practical teaching strategies.

Louis Shanafelt headshot

Louis Shanafelt

Louis is the EquatIO Product Manager/Evangelist for Texthelp which is an industry leader in literacy and STEM software. In 2 years at Texthelp, he has served as the liaison between the marketing team, sales staff, development team, and Texthelp's customers who help drive the EquatIO product roadmap. Prior to this role, he spent 20 years working in a large urban district as a teacher & district administrator. His teaching experience began at the elementary level & eventually he transitioned to secondary mathematics. He has also delivered countless hours of professional development to thousands of teachers on instructional best practices using technology. He finished his education career as an instructional designer building online learning modules for teachers in the district for which he worked.

Luis Pérez headshot

Luis Pérez

Luis Pérez is a technical assistance specialist at CAST. He holds a doctorate in special education and a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida. Luis is a Past-President of the Inclusive Learning Network of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which named him its 2016 Outstanding Inclusive Educator. He was also recognized with an ISTE Making It Happen! Award in 2020. Other recognitions include Apple Distinguished Educator (2009) and Google Certified Innovator (2014). Luis has published three books on accessibility, mobile learning and UDL: Mobile Learning for All (Corwin Press), Dive into UDL (ISTE) and Learning on the Go (CAST Publishing). He currently serves as an Education and Learning strand advisor for the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA).

Matt Miller headshot

Matt Miller

Matt Miller is a blogger, author, speaker and educator with more than 10 years of classroom experience. He’s the author of five books: Ditch That Textbook, Ditch That Homework, Don’t Ditch That Tech, Tech Like a PIRATE, and Do More with Google Classroom. Matt is a Google Certified Innovator, PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and two-time Bammy! Awards nominee. His Ditch That Textbook blog encourages tens of thousands of educators in more than 100 countries to use technology and creative ideas in teaching. Reach him at matt@DitchThatTextbook.com or on Twitter at @jmattmiller.

Michele Haiekn headshot

Michele Haiken

Michele L. Haiken, Ed.D. is an educator, author, and blogger. She has been teaching for more than twenty years as a middle school English teacher and an adjunct professor in New York. Michele is the author of Podcasting for Students: Tips and Tools to Drive Creative Expression (ISTE, 2020), New Realms for Writing (ISTE, 2019), co-author of Personalized Reading (ISTE, 2018), and editor of Gamify Literacy (ISTE, 2017).  Michele is passionate about empowering 21st Century learners,  educational technology and literacy so everyone can reach excellence. You can read more on her weekly blogtheteachingfactor.com and connect on Instagram @teaching_factor and Twitter @teachingfactor.

Tinashe Blanchet headshot

Tinashe Blanchet

is a former high school math teacher (from Algebra to Calculus) with over 15 years of experience in education and teacher training. She currently travels around the United States to train hundreds of teachers on using technology to enhance their instruction each year. She is a Google Certified Educator, Google Certified Trainer, and a Google for Education Certified Innovator. Tinashe has built a strong reputation as a skilled communicator and tech-savvy educator and has presented at local, state, national, and international education conferences and events. With a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, Tinashe has also taught pre-service and practicing educators at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans.

Randall Sampson headshot

Randall Sampson

Founder of Liberty Leadership Development

Randall Sampson, Ph.D., ensures equity and access for students through innovative learning models. Dr. Sampson has experience at the K-12 secondary education level as an administrator, teacher and a national transformation specialist. It is essential to engage schools in the areas of Growth Mindset, Grit, and Resilience.

Through a systemic and comprehensive approach, Dr. Sampson’s organization helps school districts focus on rigorous content, pedagogy and engagement. With the appropriate supports and tools, teachers and leaders will be able to maximize their practices; therefore, exceeding the school's Continuous Improvement Plan. Through a job-embedded professional learning system, Dr. Sampson’s firm, Liberty Leadership Development, has engaged educators and leaders in 11 countries and 13 US States.

Allison Posey headshot

Allison Posey

Allison Posey is an international leader for professional learning and implementation of Universal Design for Learning. She works at CAST, where she collaborates with researchers and educators to apply current understandings from brain research into instructional design with the vision that all students will be able to access and engage in meaningful, robust learning. Prior to coming to CAST, Posey was a life science teacher in high school and community college settings, teaching courses such as genetics and biology, and she still teaches courses at Lasell University. She received a degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and is author of Engage the Brain: How to design for learning that taps into the power of emotions (ASCD, 2018) and Unlearning: Change your beliefs and practice with UDL (CAST Publishing, February 2020).

Devin Siebold headshot

Devin Siebold

Devin Siebold is an award winning comedian and former teacher. His videos are regularly featured on Bored Teachers, and he can be heard on his popular podcast Crying in My Car: A Podcast for Teachers. Devin has been named the iHeart Real Radio Comedian of the Year and won the Boston World Series of Comedy.