About Our Featured Speakers
Susan Zimmermann is an internationally-known writer, presenter, and consultant. She is a co-author of the educational bestsellers Mosaic of Thought (1997; Second Ed. 2007), 7 Keys to Comprehension, and Comprehension Going Forward (2011), books that are changing the way reading is taught in classrooms across America. She co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the Denver-based Public Education and Business Coalition, an organization that has spearheaded ground-breaking comprehension work. During her time there, she initiated numerous programs to improve the quality of public schools, including the Reading Project, which provides many of the examples in Mosaic of Thought and 7 Keys.
Susan is also the author of Keeping Katherine; Writing to Heal the Soul, winner of the Colorado Book Award; and Grief Dancers, finalist for the Colorado Book Award and winner of the Exceptional Parent symbol of excellence for its “profound contribution to human understanding and dignity.” These wise and inspiring books grew out of Susan’s personal experience raising her profoundly handicapped daughter, Katherine.
A lover of the wilderness and believer in the transformative power of the out-of-doors, she has been a Trustee of the Colorado Outward Bound School and served as the Board Chair of The Women’s Wilderness Institute, which provides wilderness learning experiences for adolescent girls and women. Currently a full-time writer and consultant, Susan has given hundreds of workshops, keynotes, and summer institutes in nearly every state in the U.S. and in many countries around the world. When not working with schools and teachers, Susan can be found backpacking in the Utah desert, climbing Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, or rafting wilderness rivers. A graduate of Yale Law School and mother of four, she lives in the foothills west of Denver with her husband, Paul Phillips.
Matt Glover is a full-time educational consultant and author. He is the co-author (with Katie Wood Ray) of Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarten (2008) and Sit Down and Teach Up (2011), a video-enhanced e-book that combines video and text to examine conferring with young writers. He is also the author of Engaging Young Writers, Preschool-Grade 1(2009), which focuses on increasing energy and motivation for all writers. Matt is also the author, with Mary Alice Berry, of the book Projecting Possibilities for Writers: The How, What, and Why of Designing Units of Study, K-5 (September 2012). He is a frequent presenter at conferences and in school districts on topics related to nurturing young writers and supporting children’s intellectual growth and development. Matt has been an educator for over 20 years, including 12 years as the principal and instructional leader of Creekside Early Childhood School, a school of 900 preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students. Before becoming a principal, Matt taught first grade. Matt lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife and four children.
Debbie Diller is in her 35th year as an educator. Debbie has taught Pre-K through 10th grade in public schools. Her experience ranges from being a classroom teacher to a Title I reading specialist to a migrant education teacher to a literacy coach, as well as a national consultant and author. She has been published in The Reading Teacher and The State of Reading. She is the author of many books for Stenhouse Publishers, including Spaces and Places, Making the Most of Small Groups, Literacy Work Stations, Practice With Purpose and Math Work Stations for K-2. She has several videos on literacy work stations and small group instruction.
Debbie uses her strong understandings of child development and literacy development to address the differentiated needs of all students in her work with teachers and administrators. She builds upon current literacy research and theory to provide practical, realistic applications for today’s classrooms. Debbie lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Tom, and their Great Dane, Hercules. They have two children in their 20’s, Jon and Jessica, who have taught them much about life and literacy.
Jerry Pallotta began writing books in 1986 when he was 32 years old. He got the idea for his first book, Ocean Alphabet, while reading to his own children and remembering all the fun he had growing up at the beach on the Massachusetts coast. This self-published title established Jerry’s creative process: he hired his own illustrator; designed the book; researched, wrote, and edited the text; bought paper; and rented press time. While successfully selling Ocean Alphabet, inspiration for the next title, and the next, took hold. Information researched in the field, complimented by museum and library study, grew into a series of 22 nonfiction alphabet titles which includes Icky Bug Alphabet, Flower Alphabet, and Skull Alphabet. And more are in the works!
Along with the alphabet series, Jerry’s stories provide opportunities for both research and creative writing. Dory Story reveals the Atlantic Ocean food chain with a fictional twist. Who Will Guide My Sleigh This Year? and How Will I Get to School This Year? inspire young writers to come up with their own solutions for yearly dilemmas. And Jerry’s new series, Who Would Win, sets the ground work for oral or written debate by providing a nonfiction comparison between two potential rivals (boys really love these!). The titles thus far are Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark, Lion vs. Tiger, Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear, and T Rex vs. Velociraptor. Four more books in this series are underway. Jerry also brings nonfiction subjects to the field of elementary math. His Math=Fun series includes the operations of addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and fractions and measurement.
Jerry has been to over 3,500 schools and 350 conferences. He has presented to over two million children face to face, and he has spoken in all 50 states. Jerry continues to create new books in several genres in his own particular style.
Brod Bagert was born and raised in the City of New Orleans, where he studied the classics in Latin and Greek, wrestled and boxed to vent adolescent angst, fell in love with and married his high-school sweetheart, practiced law, served in public office, and reared four children that are the joy of his life.
Brod has written poetry his whole life. He started in third grade with a poem for his mother. He wrote a few poems in high school then picked up the pace in college because “Girls love poetry!” During his lawyer days, Brod wrote fewer and fewer poems. Then one of his children asked him to write a poem for her to perform in her school elocution program, and that was the beginning of a flood of poetry. In 1992, Brod closed his twenty-one year law practice and became a full-time poet.
Brod loves to entertain audiences with poetry. He tours some thirty weeks a year, and has visited Asia, Europe, South America, and just about every nook and cranny of the good ol’ USA. He has written 15 books of poetry for children and adults.
Lori Elliott, Ed.D. is an energetic, passionate, National Board Certified (former) teacher and trainer. She has taught students in many different grades and uses her daily classroom experience to enhance her session presentations. Lori believes that integrating technology into instruction is a powerful way to enrich teaching and motivate students. Lori is the author of several books including: Teach Like a Techie and The Accidental Techie to the Rescue. She currently works for Staff Development for Educators as an educational consultant and presenter.
Erin Baker graduated in 1995 from Missouri State University and went on to earn her Masters from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has taught preschool, kindergarten, first grade and Reading Recovery. While teaching first grade, Erin earned her National Board Certification in Early Childhood. She is currently working with the Missouri Reading Initiative as a Pre-K to second grade Trainer. When she is not driving across the state, she enjoys curling up with her dog, Lucy, and a good book!
Kathy Heitmeyer is a career teacher whose classroom experience includes work in 1st-3rd grade multi-age classroom, and then as a kindergarten teacher for 26 years. She then taught Reading Recovery and served as a K-2 Title I teacher, totaling 30 years in public schools. She is currently in her sixth year of work as a Trainer for the Missouri Reading Initiative, serving schools throughout Missouri, primarily in the St. Louis area.
Susan Kendrick’s 17 years of classroom experience include first grade, second grade, multi-age, and Pre-K through sixth grade writing. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BS in Elementary Education and MED in Curriculum and Instruction from William Woods University. Susan, a former STARR teacher for the Northeast Missouri district, is currently serving her sixth year as a Trainer for the Missouri Reading Initiative, working in schools in mid-Missouri and St. Louis.
Glenda McCarty is embarking on her second year as Assistant Professor of Education at Culver-Stockton College. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, with a focus on science and literacy in education. Her research interests include the ways families explore science and literacy in the home and informal learning environments. First a high school biology teacher, she has experience sharing her love of nature with students of all ages, and especially enjoys exploring the out of doors with her family and friends. With a background in both science and literacy, including both formal and informal education, she has taught in public schools, libraries, and at the Missouri Botanical Garden. She has worked in the professional development of pre-service and in-service teachers, taking them to onsite learning adventures such as Alaska. She has participated in extensive training at the Center for Informal Learning and Schools at the Exploratorium, looking at ways to connect learning between both formal and informal environments. Her passion includes providing resources for teachers and families to promote lifelong learning opportunities while exploring the world around them. Glenda has traveled extensively across the United States and is looking forward to her next adventure.
Jill Molli has the uncanny ability to help people laugh and learn at the same time. Her position for 10 years in a behavior disabilities classroom, a regular third grade classroom, and as a counselor in a Title I elementary school offered her opportunities to apply Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline model, and her own young children offer ongoing, constant real-life experiences to share with her audiences. Jill was selected as a Loving Guidance Associate because of her no-nonsense ability to get to the heart of a situation and her commitment to living Loving Guidance principles at school and at home. She is an entertaining, motivating, and heart-felt presenter.
Glenda Nugent has 18 years of classroom teaching experience plus ten years as an administrator of literacy and early childhood programs. Her experience includes Arkansas Department of Education’s Program Manager for Reading and also Reading First Professional Development Coordinator. As Director of Elementary Literacy and Early Childhood for the Little Rock, Arkansas School District, she led district-wide literacy reforms that resulted in significant gains on state achievement tests by focusing on early literacy, differentiation, and intervention. Glenda has served as President of the Arkansas Reading Association and as chair of IRA’s International Coordinating Committee for North America. She is currently the President of IRA LEADER Special Interest Group and also serves on the MSC-IRA Board. She has been an IRA literacy volunteer in Pakistan and South Africa. She presents at numerous state, regional, and national conferences, including IRA.
Sarah Valter's eight years of classroom experience include first grade, second grade, fourth grade, and reading intervention. Sarah graduated from Saint Louis University with a BA in Early Childhood Education and earned her Masters in Reading from Maryville University in St. Louis. Sarah, a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Reading-Language Arts, is currently serving as a mentor teacher through the MU Teaching Fellowship Program in the Lindbergh School District in St. Louis.
Betty Porter Walls, currently an assistant professor in the College of Education at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, MO, is a career educator. University teaching specializations are in the areas of literacy/reading, leadership development, diversity, curriculum and instruction, and early childhood education. She is treasurer of the Missouri State Council of the International Reading Association (MSC-IRA) and past president of the St. Louis Suburban Council of the International Reading Association. Betty is a noted consultant and professional development presenter who is the recipient of several awards including the “High Flyer Award” from the University of Missouri-Columbia, “People Making A World of Difference” from the B’nai B’rith, “Salute to Excellence in Education Award” from the St. Louis American, and “MoSTAR (Star Educator) from Missourians for Students At Risk.
Debbie Wood has had many different experiences in education over 25+ years, including: elementary principal, classroom teacher for a variety of grade levels from preschool to 6th grade, Early Childhood Supervisor for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Project Construct facilitator. She is currently a kindergarten teacher. Janet Rinehart has over 20 years experience in education. Janet is currently the Director of Project Construct. Her classroom teaching experience includes preschool, kindergarten, 5th grade, and college courses in early childhood education.