Conference Presenters & Panelists

Zaretta Hammond - Keynote Speaker

Ms. Hammond is a national education consultant and author of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students.

Ms. Hammond focuses on making culturally responsive pedagogy understandable and practical for educators. She uses the lens of neuroscience to help teachers see the interaction between student relationships, academic mindset, and processing content that leads to higher achievement for diverse students.

She is a former writing teacher and has been consulting with school districts and non-profit organizations around issues of equity, literacy, and culturally responsive teaching for the past 20 years.

Johnny Cole - Presenter

M.A.T. State University of New York at Cortland; B.S. Boston University; IDEAS Instructor; Assistant Principal, Needham High School. Johnny is a proud member of an interracial family, built with love with his husband and their two adopted children. Prior to becoming an administrator, he spent more than a dozen years as a high school English teacher, working in the Boston area first at Medford High School and later Concord-Carlisle High School. In the summer of 2019, he will begin a new position as the Director of Equity and Student Support for the Lexington Public Schools. His family’s experiences have been featured with the Huffington Post and the Outspoken Voices podcast, among others. His published work includes “‘He Can’t Be Your Dad!’: The Intersection of Race, Adoption, and Gay Marriage,” a chapter in the book Adoption Matters: Teacher Educators Share Their Stories and Strategies for Adoption-Inclusive Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Ariel Cox - Panelist

Ariel Cox, BA in English & MAT Northeastern University. Ariel Cox is an English teacher (grades 9-12) at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, and an assistant coach for the Indoor & Outdoor Track teams. She is passionate about issues relating to social justice, race, and identity, and has incorporated them into her courses through the literature she teaches. Ariel is also an active member of her school's diversity and equity initiatives, and helped to design and implement the curriculum for a 9th grade diversity workshop.

William Craft- Panelist

A.L.M. Liberal Arts in Psychology, Harvard University Extension School; B.S. Human Services, Springfield College; Middle School Counselor, Wellesley Middle School (SEL). As a former special educator and METCO coordinator, and as a Wellesley METCO alumni, Bill brings a multifaceted lens to work centered around the inclusion of and respect for multiple perspectives, the importance of uplifting and empowering members of marginalized groups, and his work as a committed anti-bias educator. He not only learns from and works with children but also co-created and co-facilitates a graduate level course for educators, Allies, Achievers, and Risk Takers, focused on using a community building base to deliver year round content that elevates the concepts of sharing and valuing cultural identity, committing to ally behavior, building a sense of community, embracing empathy, and actualizing the consideration of multiple perspectives. Bill also co-facilitates Students Talking About Race Skillfully (S.T.A.R.S.) at WMS.

Jennifer Dirga - Presenter

MSW, LICSW, is the Director of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) at Project Adventure. She joined Project Adventure after 15 years as a SEL trainer, consultant and program manager through the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College. For many years, Jennifer was a school counselor in Attleboro and Boston. She continues to provide school based counseling services and consultation to districts. She has published articles and spoken at numerous conferences on SEL and trauma responsive practices. In addition, she has been a guest lecturer and instructor for both graduate and undergraduate courses on SEL. Jennifer practices and teaches mindfulness and is also an IDEAS instructor. Back in the 1990’s, Jen was active in the initial stages of the Governor's Commission for Creating Safe Schools for LGBTQ students.

Claudia A. Fox Tree - Presenter

M.Ed. in Educational Research, Northeastern University; Elementary and Secondary Special Education Certification, Fitchburg State College; B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology, University of Massachusetts (Boston). She has been an IDEAS Instructor for over 25 years and Middle School Special Education Teacher for over 30 years in the Lincoln Public Schools. Claudia has presented keynote addresses, courses, panels, and workshops on First Nations people, microaggressions, transforming curriculum, growth mindset, culturally responsive teaching, white privilege, and social justice. Additionally, Claudia was the first speaker at the Boston’s Women’s March in January, 2017 and contributed a chapter, "Aren’t They All Dead? Covert Racism and Native Americans" in Covert Racism: Theories, Institutions, and Experiences edited by R. D. Coates and published by Koninklijke Brill: Leiden, The Netherlands. In the past two years, she has been in the lead for 5 protest marches in the Boston area. Claudia is the proud (and exhausted) mother to five adult children (born only 5 ½ years apart) and four affectionate cats (Mesa, Luna, Salem, and Bagheera).

Caroline Han - Presenter & Panelist

M.A.T. Boston University; B.A. Cornell University; History teacher, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School (LSRHS); Mentoring Program Coordinator, LSRHS; Tenacity Team Challenge Advisor, LSRHS; IDEAS instructor. Caroline has been a history teacher at L-S for the last 28 years. In 1995, she created a yearlong course on African History, which she continues to enjoy teaching. Her commitment to racial equity has translated into a career of service in multicultural education and providing structural and socio-emotional supports for students of color. In and out of the classroom, Caroline strives to create an environment where all students can achieve academic and personal greatness. Through her diversity work at L-S and as an IDEAS instructor, Caroline is able to share culturally responsive approaches and strategies that have resulted in students of color feeling more confident and motivated.

Jennifer Hannon - Panelist

B.S. from Emerson College, M.S. in Applied Linguistics from UMass Boston. Jenn Hannon is an ELL Teacher who has taught in South Korea and Massachusetts. She currently teaches at Wellesley Middle School and has been teaching in Wellesley for ten years. Jenn has created and led PD on standards for ELL students as well as on issues of race and equity. She is a resolute member of her school's Diversity Equity Action Committee and is the facilitator for the school Gay Straight Alliance and STARS (Students Talking About Race Skillfully) clubs.

JoAnne Kazis - Presenter

M.Ed, Educator, yogi, mindfulness practitioner & teacher, and lover of all creative expressions are some of ways to describe JoAnne Kazis. She is a Boston native and a graduate of Boston Public Schools, who went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Art and English with a concentration in Communications from UMass Boston and then a Masters degree in Elementary Education and Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley University. JoAnne has taught elementary school for 15 years in Newton, MA. She is a Yoga Alliance registered teacher at the RYT-200 level and received her certification through YogaWorks and has also completed 95 hours of additional training for all levels of kids’ yoga through ChildLight Yoga. She has completed several courses through Mindful Schools and is currently enrolled in the Mindful Schools Year Long Certification Program to become a Mindful Schools Certified Teacher and has worked as an IDEAS Instructor for several years.

Mark Liddell - Panelist

M.A.T. University of Michigan; B.A. in Psychology , Morehouse College; METCO Coordinator Wayland High School. Serving as the METCO Coordinator of Wayland High School over the past twelve years, Mark encourages students to find and use their respective voices. From projects like the “I Too, Am Wayland” video highlighting the ubiquity of race and gender based microaggressions in school settings to his series of annual schoolwide student forums, Mark aims to educate and provide youth with a sense of agency. In addition to being a student/teacher/parent liaison, Mark teaches a Cultural Identity Group Seminar (CIGS) affinity course for Boston resident, Wayland HS students and co-teaches a senior Race Relations elective in the Social Studies Department. Within the field of education, Mark worked as a middle school History teacher in Lincoln, Jamaica Plain and Southfield, Michigan. He also credits his former employment as a probation and parole officer with the Michigan Department of Corrections with fortifying his commitment to youth.

Paula Martin - Presenter

Adjunct Professor, Quinsigamond Community College, Consultant, IDEAS Instructor, Retired Middle School Administrator, Academic Coach and Scholar Practitioner with over 25 years of experience in Education and Professional Development. Her dissertation focus was White Privilege Awareness. Additionally, she has delivered courses and workshops on Difficult Conversations about Race, Mentoring Students of Color, Anti-Racist Practices in the Classroom and Diversity in the Workplace. Currently, Dr. Martin teaches a Valuing Diversity Class with a focus on Unconscious Bias, Stereotypes, Culture and Gender at Quinsigamond Community College.

Katie O’Hare Gibson - Presenter & Panelist

M.Ed. Katie has been an early childhood educator in private, public and charter schools in Lexington and Dorchester. Currently, she is at the Estabrook School in Lexington. She has led workshops for parents and teachers about how to answer children’s questions about identity, and has worked with school staff to build school communities dedicated to equity.

Dawn Shearer Coren - Presenter

Ed.M.; B.A. in Sociology, Suffolk University and Ed. M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education with a concentration in Policy and Risk in Prevention. Dawn is Senior Associate, with Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) where she supports schools and districts implementing Essential Personalized Learning. While working district wide with Boston Schools, she developed district wide professional development on family engagement practices linked to learning and currently is a trainer leading Scholastic’s FACE (Family And Community Engagement) Series. Dawn’s commitment to equity and culturally relevant teaching is driven by her experiences as mixed race Black woman and her involvement in the METCO Program over the past 15 years. She has been an IDEAS Instructor for 10 years.

Leslie Smart - Presenter

BA, Emmanuel College and MA, UMass, Boston. Leslie is currently the Needham METCO Middle Schools Coordinator. She has been an IDEAS (EMI) Instructor for 12 years and also helps develop professional development programs focused on cultural proficiency for her district. She taught English for 13 years at Boston Latin Academy and has worked in programs in Brookline, at the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education and at Framingham's Mckinney-Vento Program.

Rebecca Smoler - Presenter

MS in Educational Leadership and MAT, Simmons College; BA in English and Cinema Studies, Northeastern University. Rebecca has been an English Language Arts educator in the Boston suburbs for the last ten years. After taking her first IDEAS course in the summer of 2010, she returned to her classroom and school with a new commitment to equity and justice. She is currently an IDEAS Instructor and the English Language Arts Coordinator 6 - 12 in Sharon Public Schools. She also co-founded Wayland Community for Social Justice in 2016. Rebecca lives in Wayland with her husband, two daughters, and their dog, Tonks.

Margaret Credle Thomas - Panelist

MSW, Simmons University; BA, University of Massachusetts. Margaret has worked for the Arlington Public Schools for six-years as the K-12 METCO (Metropolitan Council For Educational Opportunity) Director. Her previous positions included METCO specialist for Wayland Public Schools, Assistant METCO Director for Lexington Public Schools, and Interim METCO Director for Brookline Public Schools. Margaret has a strong background in anti-racist education, having served as an IDEAS facilitator/trainer for over 15 years, to increase cultural sensitivity and effective teaching. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts/Boston and a Master of Science in Social Work from Simmons University. Her background also includes serving as a school social worker/adjustment counselor and as an adjunct professor at both Wheelock College and the Urban College of Boston. She's been married for 21 years and has an 18-year-old son she adores. She enjoys boxing, Soul Cycle, writing, and she's an avid reader.

Edward Walker - Presenter & Moderator

M.Ed, Boston native and a Boston Public School graduate, who went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies with a concentration in English and then a Masters degree in School Psychology and Counseling (Bates College and Cambridge College). Combined, Ed has worked in higher education and secondary education for 16 years. He is the Founder and President of Independent Consultants of Education, currently serves an Inspirational Speaker, IDEAS Instructor, and Guidance Counselor at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

Doug Weinstock - Presenter

Currently an IDEAS instructor, as well as a consultant providing diversity, equity, inclusion training, assessment, and coaching with VISIONS, Inc. He was a teacher, staff developer, and principal in several Boston-area school districts. From 2003 - 2015 he served as a part-time Coordinator for EMI, which became IDEAS in 2014. He received an Ed.M from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jennifer Wolfrum - Moderator

Obtained her BA from Skidmore College with a double major in Philosophy and Government and her M.Ed, from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on Community Health Education. Jennifer is currently an IDEAS Instructor and has provided a range of graduate courses addressing race, racism and white privilege for over 20 years. She retired as a Senior Instructor at Cambridge College for graduate studies in Health, Family and Consumer Sciences in 2018 and she recently retired (2016) from the Lexington Public Schools where she was Assistant Coordinator of Health and Physical Education, K-12, teaching health education at the high school and supervising health and physical education teachers K - 12. She is the proud mother of twin daughters and a white woman committed to anti-racist education and social justice issues.

Melissa Wong - Panelist

Melissa has been a METCO counselor in the Newton Public School system for the past 16 years and previously worked in the Lexington and Montgomery County school systems as a high school and middle school guidance counselor. She is also an IDEAS Instructor. She earned her M Ed in School Guidance from Suffolk University and her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Business Communication from Bentley University.