A new school year is upon us and Illinois schools aren’t the only ones welcoming team members into their fold. The Learning Technology Center (LTC) has also grown over the summer, to the tune of 10 new team members and counting. Each of our new team members brings with them an unmatched level of experience in the education and technology fields, allowing them to further our ongoing mission of improving educational outcomes through edtech services and professional learning opportunities.
Take some time to meet our new team members, including an assortment of new Instructional Technology Coaches and a new Regional Educational Technology Coordinator. Together, they possess 150+ years of experience in the education field – an impressive total that speaks to their exceptional capacity to work with and support today’s educators. In time, these new team members will become the familiar, friendly faces that play a key role in helping schools in their region better utilize edtech, both this coming school year and for many productive school years to come.
Interested in joining the LTC team? We are always searching for new professionals to help us expand our reach to every corner of the Prairie State. Right now, we are interested in hiring a new Marketing & Communications Director, Graphic Design & Web Specialist, and Cybersecurity Specialist, respectively. You can learn more about all three positions, as well as future openings, over on our Careers page.
Anne Kasa (she/her) is a new Instructional Technology Coach serving the south Cook County region. Anne believes strongly in supporting educators through hands-on practice and embedded SEL learning, both for their students and for themselves.
A 17-year veteran of the education field, Anne has previously served as a PK-4 instructional coach, a literacy coach & reading specialist, and a classroom teacher at multiple grade levels. Anne is also a proud graduate of both University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL (BA in Education) and Benedictine University in Lisle, IL (Masters in Reading and Literacy).
“I’m excited about helping teachers feel comfortable with tech integration again after such a wild year,” Anne says. “So many teachers tell me that just looking at their device triggers feelings of inadequacy and fear. Now’s a real chance to shift that paradigm and I can’t wait to help lead that positive change.”
Brian Krause (he/him) is a new Instructional Technology Coach serving the Winnebago County region. Brian believes in instilling all educators with a love for modern educational tools, especially as more and more teachers strive to create learning opportunities that embrace technology’s full potential.
During his career in education, Brian has continuously grown and supplemented his professional skill set, including through a grade 1-6 professional educator license, a Google for Education Certified Coach credential, and micro-credentials from BrainPop, Flocabulary, and EVERFI. Brian is also a proud graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BFA in Acting) and the University of Chicago (Master of Arts in Elementary and Middle School Education).
“After a year and a half of virtual learning, our educational community has a real opportunity to take the next step towards a more robust and engaging classroom learning experience,” Brian says. “I’m really looking forward to sharing my love of classroom technology and making that new normal become a reality.”
Emily Pool (she/her) is a new LTC Instructional Technology Coach serving the Adams and Pike County regions. In this role, Emily strives to help teachers get excited about, engaged with, and enriched by educational technology – especially when it comes to bridging the gap between potential and implementation.
While serving as a 3rd grade teacher in the Quincy Public School system, Emily was recognized as a 2015 Golden Apple recipient for her outstanding commitment to education. Emily, a Seesaw Ambassador, also holds degrees from Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL (BA in Elementary Education & Spanish) and Williams Woods University in Fulton, MO (Masters in Education Administration).
When asked about what she’s most excited for in her new role, Emily didn’t hold back her desire to lend a helping hand. “I just want to be a helper! I am happy to help and want to help teachers with things that may be getting in their way! I’ve always cherished those breakthrough moments in my career so far and I can’t wait to help even more teachers achieve them for themselves.”
Eric Santos (he/him) is a new Regional Educational Technology Coordinator for the Learning Technology Center, serving the greater Chicagoland region. Eric believes in advocating for greater equity in educational opportunities as well as engaging, inspiring, and empowering all educators through effective edtech utilization practices.
A National Board Certified Educator with 15 years of experience in public education, Eric has spent over a decade as a leader in his field, including as both a Google for Education Certified Trainer and Coach. He also holds a pair of Master’s degrees, from Dominican University (Educational Technology) and from National Louis University (Curriculum and Instruction).
“Technology has empowered me to become a more effective educator,” Eric says, highlighting one of the ways edtech has impacted his professional journey. “I’m more productive, I have more resources at my disposal, and I can better engage students with technology in hand. I’m really looking forward to leveraging all of that and more while working alongside teachers in Chicagoland.”
As the RETC for the Chicagoland region, Eric will also be replacing Nicole Zumpano, who has stayed with the LTC and now serves as the organization’s first Director of Instructional Coaching.
Jennifer Leban (she/her) is a new LTC Instructional Technology Coach serving the south Cook County region. Jen is passionate about empowering educators every step of the way, helping them not only utilize the educational technology tools available to them, but also harness their full potential to both expand and enhance student engagement.
In her nearly two decades as a library media specialist and National Board Certified teacher (K-8 and fine arts), Jen has earned a variety of outstanding accolades, including 2020 Illinois State Teacher of the Year finalist, Teach Plus IL Fellow, and 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching finalist. Jen, a Google Certified Trainer and Innovator, has also spoken at a variety of national education and technology conferences, including ISTE, AMLE, IDEAcon, and CPS Googlepalooza.
Outside of the classroom, Jen is a retired roller derby skater who coaches her local junior derby league. Jen earned her BA in Arts Education with honors from Elmhurst University in Elmhurst, IL and completed her MA in Educational Leadership through St. Xavier University in Chicago, IL.
“Helping teachers integrate technology in meaningful ways and empowering educators to improve their craft is what I truly love doing,” Jen says, while noting that this career change is one that she’s looked forward to for some time. “I used to do this work on top of working a full-time teaching job, so I’m excited to finally be doing it as my primary responsibility in my full-time job.”
Kevin Schouten (he/him) is a new LTC Instructional Technology Coach serving the south Cook County region. Kevin loves working with both students and teachers and believes strongly in not only offering the best-available edtech tools, but also instilling educators with the confidence needed to harness those tools’ full potential.
Over his nearly three decades in the education field as an assistant principal, adjunct professor, and instructional technology specialist, Kevin has earned a variety of specialized credentials and certifications that support his ability to find edtech solutions that meet contemporary curricular goals. Kevin is also a proud graduate of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL (BA in English Language Arts Education) and Aurora University in Aurora, IL (Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration).
“I’ve always loved seeing the way students get excited to use a new tech tool or app,” Kevin says of his years as a classroom educator. “I’ve seen numerous teachers express that same excitement and I’m looking forward to working alongside them as they turn that excitement into fulfilling educational opportunities for their students.”
Patricia Ferris (she/her) is a new LTC Instructional Technology Coach serving special education institutions in the south Cook County region. Patricia is a firm advocate for educational equity and believes in promoting edtech access and collaboration as an interconnected means of achieving that ultimate goal.
Patricia has worked in the education field for nearly two decades, most recently as a Learning Partner and Instructional Coach for the Kankakee School District, and has earned recognition for her ongoing commitment to professional learning, including as a Google Certified Educator Level 2 and as an EdPuzzle Coach. Patricia is also a two-time graduate of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL, where she earned both a BS in Elementary Education and Teaching and an MA in Reading.
Patricia says that she’s already looking forward to meeting and working with educators at her area institutions, especially now that the school year is starting in earnest. “Meeting new people has always been one of my favorite parts of my work. Stepping into this new role will give me a chance to meet so many new faces and help them all create the personalized learning opportunities their students deserve.”
Sarah Phelps (she/her) is a new LTC Instructional Technology Coach serving the south St. Clair County region. Sarah takes great joy in seeing students learn expansively through technology as well as working with the educators who strive to make those “eureka” moments happen every day.
While serving as an instructional coach and elementary computer teacher for over a decade, Sarah has been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education for her ongoing commitment to CS and STEM education via both the Emerson Excellence in Education Award and the Those Who Excel Award of Merit. Sarah also holds a variety of degrees and certifications, most notably a BS in Elementary Education and Teaching from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration.
Sarah says that among other aspects of her new role, she’s especially excited to help teachers find new ways to incorporate coding and computer science into the classroom. “There are so many exciting ways to incorporate technology into today’s classrooms and to me, coding and other computer science topics are a great way for students to get hands-on with the tech that powers their education and our world.”
Stacie Tefft (she/her) is a new LTC Instructional Technology Coach serving Franklin, Johnson, Massac, and Williamson counties in southern Illinois. Stacie is passionate about engaging students through differentiated instruction and believes that today’s educational technology holds the key to unlocking an even higher level of engaged instruction with today’s learners.
During her nearly two decades working as a history and personal finance teacher in the Murphysboro school district, Stacie has always been eager to try out the latest technology. Additionally, she has spoken about edtech integration on the national stage at the 2018, 2019, and 2020 National Council for Social Studies conferences. Stacie is also a proud graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she earned both her bachelor’s in Secondary Education Social Studies and her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction.
“For many years, I’ve felt this burst of satisfaction every time a student learns something new through well-calibrated, purposefully differentiated instruction,” Stacie says of her many years working in the classroom. “This position gives me to the opportunity to do that on a much broader scale while also working directly with teachers to meet their individual technology needs.”
A Warm Welcome
To all of our new LTC team members – welcome aboard! We are so excited to have you on the team and we are looking forward to all of the good you can accomplish in Illinois’ edtech community.