Keynote Speaker

Ms. Joy Prescott
2019 Florida Teacher of the Year

Last year, Joy Prescott was selected as the 2018 Glades County Teacher of the Year and was then selected in July as the 2019 Florida Teacher of the Year, representing 74 school districts and more than 195,000 teachers. This year, Joy is on sabbatical from teaching and serves as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education. In this role, Joy tours the state delivering motivational speeches and workshops focused on empowering teachers to create the most impactful learning experience possible for their students.

Joy Prescott is an excellent example of a teacher who exemplifies commitment, determination and the importance of being a lifelong learner. After 17 years as an educator, Prescott continues to pursue professional development opportunities to help her empower students to develop the skills necessary to succeed academically and personally. She believes in order for students to be truly successful, she needs to challenge them cognitively and social/emotionally. This will enrich the whole child. Joy sets high expectations and provides her students the support and encouragement they need to meet and exceed them. Joy Prescott has been an elementary educator for 17 years. Since 2014, she has served as a fourth grade math teacher at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School, where she has been commended for her dynamic teaching style; her ability to engage students through “out-of-the-box” activities; and her impeccable work ethic. Over the last 5 years, she has participated in more than 25 student-focused professional development programs to enhance the instruction she provides her students.

She is the school’s lead fourth grade teacher, which enables her to meet regularly with school leadership and her colleagues to discuss strategies that have been successful, as well as ways they can work collaboratively to improve every student’s educational experience. Joy was instrumental in the school’s adoption of an app that helps teachers stay connected with one another and with students and their families. She also mentors new teachers, spends time after school tutoring struggling students and serves on committees that contribute to the overall school culture.

Joy believes that if she embraces the problems of today’s world and engages her students in the learning process, she can empower children to face challenges and become successful adults.

Breakout Session Presenters 

Maria Cristina Charters
Instructor, School of Computing and Information Sciences at FIU

As an instructor for the School of Computing and Information Sciences, Ms. Charters enjoys teaching the courses that start students off in their Information Technology or Computer Science major: COP 1000, COP 2250, COP 3804, and COP 3337. She is passionate about spreading Computer Science education to all children, starting in kindergarten, through elementary, middle, and high school. She also believes that all students at FIU should get a chance to learn how Computer Science impacts their lives, and to dabble in a little bit of coding in languages such as Python and tools like MIT App Inventor. That is why she helped develop a new online course, IDC 1000 – Computer Science for Everyone, which is designed for students who are non-CS and non-IT majors. She would like all students at FIU to consider taking IDC 1000.

Prior to teaching at FIU, Ms. Charters had 2 other careers. Most recently, she was an educator and teacher-trainer within the Miami-Dade County Public School District. Her first career was as a Computer Programmer/Analyst for FPL, where she developed mainframe and client/server systems. She is an FIU alumni, and feels blessed to be able to work in SCIS as an Instructor, after having graduated from FIU with a degree in Computer Science many years ago.

Uma Gadge, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Development

Uma Gadge is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at FIU. She received her Ph.D. in STEM Education from University of Miami. Her research interests are in the field of mathematics in-service teacher professional development esp. in the field of Cognitively Guided Instruction. Her work focuses on teaching practices, mathematical practices, and problem-solving.

Elizabeth Forde 
PhD Student of Mathematics Education at FIU

Elizabeth Forde is a Ph.D. student of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at FIU. She has a B.S., and M.S. in Mathematical Sciences from FIU. She has a teaching experience of twenty-six years across K-16 education. Her preliminary research interests are in the field of mathematics preservice teacher efficacy and beliefs.

Stephanie Pierre
2019 M-DCPS Rookie Teacher of the Year

Stephanie Laura Pierre is the 2019 Miami-Dade County Public Schools Rookie Teacher of the Year. She has attended the prestigious Florida Memorial University and received Cum Laude for Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Magna Cum Laude for her Master’s degree in Reading, and is currently enrolled at Nova Southeastern University for a Doctorate Degree in the concentration of Organizational Leadership, where she has been recently inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society for being in the top 7 percent of her class for receiving a perfect GPA during her graduate studies. Currently, Ms. Pierre is an employee for Miami-Dade County Public Schools at Norland Senior High. She has also founded and sponsored a mentoring program titled Divas and Ladies of Distinction (DLD) where she mentors the young female population on how to become a young lady and serve as ambassadors in their community. Stephanie strives to pursue her dream of becoming a leader, both professionally and academically. Ultimately, she wants to become a director of her own academy. She acts on the philosophy of being able to mesh up the educational values, as well as the arts to empower our youth.

Judith Mansilla, PhD
Instructor, Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs

Dr. Mansilla is an instructor of Latin American History specialized in Colonial Spanish America. Her experience teaching and presenting her research in US, Latin America, and Europe motivated her to develop different strategies to approach different audiences. After obtaining her PhD at FIU in 2016, she has taught various lower and upper division classes where she applies these strategies to enhance students’ learning process. As Faculty Advisor of the Department of History, she is committed to share with students her passion for teaching History.

Remy Dou, PhD
Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Development

Remy Dou is a visiting clinical assistant professor at Florida International University working on undergraduate and out-of-school STEM education research. Previously, he served at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and at the National Science Foundation as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow. From 2011 – 2013, Dou worked on projects related to both engagement and diversity in STEM education, including the development of a design and evaluation framework for federal STEM intervention programs. This framework was used by the White House’s Committee on STEM Education in the development of a five-year Federal STEM education strategic plan. He has presented on these topics in various places including the National Science Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Prior to his work as an Einstein Fellow, Dou was an award winning STEM educator, teaching primarily Biology, AP Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. He also served as science department chair of a medium-sized, K-12, private institution.

Karina Bhutta 
Undergraduate Student in Biology Education Program at FIU

Karina Bhutta is an undergraduate student at Florida International University studying Biology with an endorsement from FIUTeach. In addition to her studies, Karina is a research assistant under the direction of Remy Dou. Her research focuses on computer science identity and the influence of CS stereotypes on minority middle school boys. Karina is the current President of the FIU chapter of Future Educators Association. She also works as a recruiter for the FIUteach program. She is a Noyce scholar, and is passionate about teaching in high-needs schools. In the future, Karina hopes to teach biology and anatomy at the high-school level before pursuing a Ph.D in education inequity and working with education non-profits.

Tammy Freeman 
2019 BCPS Teacher of the Year

Tammy is the 2018 Broward County Teacher of the Year. She is the Monarch High School ELA Department Head at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, where she is also in her twelfth year as a teacher of ninth grade English. What matters most to her when it comes to educating the next generation is ensuring that each student walk out of her classroom understanding that no matter their past, through education, they can accomplish anything in life. She works to empower them by not only instilling skills that will help them become successful in life but helping them see just how important their voice truly is.

Sandra Logan, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human Development

Dr. Sandra Logan-McKibben is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Counselor Education program and is the School Counseling track coordinator. She has worked as a counselor educator at The University of Alabama, where she also served as the EdS Program Coordinator, and as Field Supervisor Coordinator at Lamar University in Texas. Previously, she worked as an elementary and middle school counselor in California. Her research interests include school counseling supervision, counseling leadership, and professional issues in counselor education.

Currently, she serves on the editorial boards of Journal for Specialists in Group Work and The Professional Counselor and serves as an Ad Hoc Reviewer for The Clinical Supervisor. Additionally, she serves on the editorial team for the Chi Sigma Iota International newsletter, The Exemplar, which is part of the counselor education’s honor society. Lastly, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Dade School Counseling Association and Florida School Counseling Association.

Michael Creeden
Associate Chair, Department of English

Michael Creeden specializes in technical and professional writing. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. Prior to coming to FIU, he worked for fifteen years as a professional writer in magazine publishing, software documentation, proposal writing, and project management in the software and biotech industries. He regularly teaches ENC 1101, ENC 1102, ENC 3213, and ENC 4260.

Paul Feigenbaum, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of English 

Dr. Paul Feigenbaum earned his PhD from the University of Michigan and specializes in Community Literacy and Public Rhetorics. He regularly teaches Grant Writing, How to Go Public, Community Writing, Rhetorical Theory and Practice, Writing as Social Action, Intro to Writing Studies, and Advanced Writing and Research.

Ms. Yadira Alvarez Veres
Founder, GirlKind Project

Yadira Alvarez Veres created GirlKind Project, inspired by her daughter Nina, to address social bullying among girls by empowering them with life skills based in the social framework of infusing “kindness” for positive interpersonal peer relationships. This Social Emotional Learning program focuses on the transformation of girls to become their best possible selves, while supporting, including, encouraging, inspiring, and respecting their peers. Yadira was born in Cuba and has lived in Miami for 33 years. She holds a B.A. in Psychology ’95, from Florida International University and practiced as a Certified Behavior Analyst. In addition, she is a Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur, having created and designed the GirlKind pro-kindness clothing line. She is also the proud mother of a 12 year old daughter and has been happily married for 14 years. She collaborates with The Education Effect of Florida International University to bring GirlKind Project to girls at schools in underserved communities. Yadira’s lifework and passion is to implement the GirlKind Project program nationwide. Her goal is to shift the current girl culture of relational bullying to one of respect, inclusion and support. Her mantra: “The kind girls are the cool girls.”

Laird Kramer, PhD
Founding Director of the STEM Transformation Institute, Professor of Physics at FIU

Laird Kramer’s work focuses on facilitating institutional change through implementation of, and research on, evidence-based educational practices that optimizes student learning and promotes inclusion and equity. He led transformation of the undergraduate physics experience at FIU, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of physics majors at FIU in part due Modeling Instruction physics courses where students learn physics by doing physics in a lecture-free course. This work led to numerous projects that are fostering change in STEM courses across the university and an ongoing shift to student-centric learning practices. He serves as coDirector of FIUteach, a local replication of the UTeach secondary science and mathematics teacher preparation program. With FIUteach, students have the opportunity to test out teaching and experience the reward of teaching while deciding their role in education. They can then decide to simultaneously earn their teaching certification in addition to their science or mathematics bachelor’s degrees and be eligible for several Scholarships for FIUteach students. He also serves as project director on FIU’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Education grants and leads multiple National Science Foundation grants.

Dr. Jacqueline Lynch
Associate Professor, School of Education and Human Development

Dr. Jackie Lynch is an associate professor in the School of Education and Human Development at FIU who conducts and publishes research in the language and literacy field. Jackie has participated in literacy research in the US and Canada across age groups, with a focus on early childhood and the elementary school level. Her research interests include early literacy development, family literacy, and teacher professional development. Along with research, Jackie has been active in teaching language arts and literacy courses to undergraduate and graduate students in the education field for over a decade.

Participating Schools

Broward County 

Charles W Flanagan High School
Coral Glades High School
Everglades High School
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Northeast High School
Nova High School
Piper High School
South Broward High School
Stranahan High School
West Broward High School
Western High School
William T. McFatter Technical High School


Miami-Dade County 

Barbara Goleman Senior High School
Coral Reef Senior High School
Felix Varela Senior High School
Hialeah Gardens Senior High School
iMater Academy
John A. Ferguson Senior High School
Mater Academy Charter High School
Miami Coral Park Senior High School
Miami Jackson Senior High School
Miami Norland Senior High School
Miami Palmetto Senior High School
Miami Senior High School
Miami Springs Senior High School
North Miami Beach Senior High School
Ronald Reagan/Doral Senior High School