Speaker Bios

Monday, November 8, 2021

Dr. Eunice Santos

Session Title: Dean UIUC iSchool Welcome

Session Description: Join Dr. Santos as she opens our conference with a welcome from the iSchool and best wishes for a successful conference.

Biography: Eunice E. Santos is Professor and Dean of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining Illinois, Santos was the Ron Hochsprung Endowed Chair, as well as Department Chair, in the Department of Computer Science at Illinois Institute of Technology. Santos has received numerous awards, including a National Science Foundation Career Award, the Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching, the IEEE-CS Technical Achievement Award, the Robinson Faculty Award and the IEEE Big Data Security Woman of Achievement Award. She has been named to Crain's Tech 50 in 2016 and 2018. Santos is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She works in the areas of complex adaptive systems, human modeling with applications to the biological, physical, and social sciences, large-scale parallel and distributed processing, cybersecurity, and other areas. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

John Schumacher, Mr. Schu

Session Title: The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life

Session Description: In this presentation of the heart, teacher, librarian, book lover, and story ambassador, John Schu, invites us to consider literacy beyond its academic benefits, highlighting the ways story speaks to our hearts and brings us together.

Biography: John Schu has made a career out of advocating for the people and things he cares about most: kids, books, and the people that connect them. During the thirteen years he spent as a classroom teacher and school librarian, he was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker for his dynamic interactions with students and his passionate adoption of new technologies as a means of connecting authors, illustrators, books, and readers. John is a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University and the former Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. He is the author of This Is a School (Candlewick, 2022) illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison, This Is a Story (Candlewick, 2023) illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Lauren Castillo, and The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life (Stenhouse, 2022). He is a contributor to The Creativity Project (Little, Brown, 2018), edited by Colby Sharp. John Schu lives in Naperville, Illinois.

Twitter: @MrSchuReads Instagram: @MrSchuReads

Blog: MrSchuReads.com Website: JohnSchu.com

Dan Zehr

Session Title: Find Your Passion; Find Your Voice; Be You in the Library

Session Description: Discover how to tap into your authentic self in order to use your passions and interests to fully engage your students in the library. Learn how what you are interested in personally can lend itself to bolstering your library and school culture!

Biography: Dan Zehr is a Star Wars expert and is the host and brand director of Coffee With Kenobi. He is the co-author of The Star Wars Book (alongside Pablo Hidalgo & Cole Horton) and is a prolific high school educator, who teaches Literature and Composition, and has a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning.

His work combining Star Wars and education garnered him a role in the Target Rogue One Star Wars commercial, as well as feature profiles in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois State University’s Statewide Standard, and the Peoria Journal Star. He has also been interviewed in Good Morning, America, the HuffPost, Forbes, and Bloomberg.​ Dan Z is also a recognized keynote speaker, host, and presenter. He was a consultant for Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars books and wrote an article for Star Wars Celebration Orlando’s Commemorative Program. He has appeared on numerous panels at Star Wars Celebration and travels the world covering Star Wars products and events. Dan resides in Illinois with his wife and three boys.

Contact Dan at danz@coffeewithkenobi.com and Twitter

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Jordan Sonnenblick

Session Title: Our Lives, Our Stories: Why Representation Matters

Session Description: “Representation” has become something of a political football, but at its most basic level, it should not be. Every child deserves to see their life reflected in stories, and every child needs to see the lives of others reflected in stories, as well. Join Rebecca Caudill award-winning author Jordan Sonnenblick as he discusses his journey as a writer, from representing the struggles faced by his students to writing his own memoirs for middle-grade readers.

Biography: Jordan Sonnenblick was a public school teacher for fourteen years, but always dreamed of being a writer, so one day in 2003 he sat down and started his first young adult novel, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, which was published by Scholastic in 2005. Jordan was as surprised as anybody when the book took off: it was named to the American Library Association’s Teens’ Top Ten List, won the Rebecca Caudill award, sold over 750,000 copies, and has been translated into fifteen foreign languages. Jordan followed Drums with six more acclaimed books for teens: Notes from the Midnight Driver, Zen and the Art of Faking It, After Ever After, Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip, Are You Experienced?, and Falling Over Sideways. Jordan has also written four books for middle-grade readers: the Dodger and Me trilogy and The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade. Jordan’s newest book, The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell, is a memoir of his experiences as a trouble-prone fourth-grader. It was published in February 2021 by Scholastic. Jordan’s website is the cleverly-named www.jordansonnenblick.com.

Eric Kallenborn

Session Title: The FAQs Answered: Five Important Things to Know About Graphic Novels

Session Description: As the medium expands, what are the major things we need to keep in mind as we continue to fill our shelves with graphic novels? Join educator and school administrator Eric Kallenborn as he explores the answers to the five most common questions/concerns that he receives from librarians and educators about the medium: how do we deal with push-back; how do we know what's good; what can we do to ensure a variety of subjects and titles; what makes comics/graphic novels different?

Biography: Eric Kallenborn is a teacher and administrator at Oak Lawn Community High School. His work with comics and graphic novels in the classroom has been featured on the cover of the Chicago Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune as well as many other national publications. He has written educational articles on the use of graphic novels in the classroom for Heinemann, The Chicago Architecture Foundation, and Pop Culture Classroom and has developed programming for and presented at a number of major comic and educational conventions, including keynote speaking at NCTE with award-winning graphic novelist Gareth Hinds. He has also spoken on panels with such talents as Gene Luen Yang, Craig Thompson, Nick Dragotta, Kazu Kibuishi, Cecil Castellucci, R.L. Stine, Raina Telgemeier, Lucy Knisley, and Jonathan Hennessey.

Dr. Emily Knox

Session Title: Media Literacy: The Problems of Misinformation and Disinformation and (Some) Ways to Address Them

Session Description: This year the Illinois legislature made media literacy an official part of the high school curriculum. This is a laudable change but misinformation and disinformation in the social media age are difficult to navigate. What makes addressing such media literacy such a “wicked” problem and how can school librarians take advantage of this opportunity?

Biography: Emily Knox is Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield) is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. She also recently edited Trigger Warnings: History, Theory Context (Rowman & Littlefield) and co-edited Foundations of Information Ethics (ALA). Her articles have been published in the Library Quarterly, Library and Information Science Research, and the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy.

Emily serves on the boards of the Beta Phi Mu. and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Her research interests include information access, intellectual freedom and censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. She is also a member of the Mapping Information Access research team.

Emily received her Ph.D. from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information. Her master’s in library and information science is from the iSchool at Illinois. She also holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Smith College and an A.M. in the same field from The University of Chicago Divinity School.

More information is available at emilyknox.net.