5th Annual Teaching With Purpose Conference Presenters

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Geneva Gay is Professor of Education at the University of Washington-Seattle where she teaches multicultural education and general curriculum theory. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, presented by the Committee on the Role and Status of Minorities in Educational Research and Development of the American Educational Research Association; the first Multicultural Educator Award presented by the National Association of Multicultural Education; the 2004 W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Lecturer Award presented by the Special Interest Group on Research Focus on Black Education of the American Educational Research Association; and the 2006 Mary Anne Raywid Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Field of Education, presented by the Society of Professors of Education. She is nationally and internationally known for her scholarship in multicultural education, particularly as it relates to curriculum design, staff development, classroom instruction, and intersections of culture, race, ethnicity, teaching, and learning. Learn more about Dr. Gay at education.uw.edu/people/faculty/ggay

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as Director of Science Education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education. He is currently a Caperton Fellow and Hip-Hop Archive Fellow at the WEB DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Dr. Emdin is a social critic, public intellectual and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. Dr. Emdin holds a PhD in Urban Education with a concentration in mathematics, science, and technology; Masters degrees in both natural sciences and education administration, and Bachelors degrees in physical anthropology, biology, and chemistry. Learn more about Dr. Emdin at chrisemdin.com

Dr. Monica R. Miller is Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of Religious Studies at Lewis & Clark College where her research focuses on the intersections of religion & material/popular culture. Miller currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow with The Institute for Humanist Studies (Washington, DC) and is co-chair of a new AAR consultation entitled Critical Approaches to the Study of Hip Hop and Religion. Miller is also principal investigator of a large scale survey project in Portland, Oregon which explores religion in youth culture (Remaking Religion). She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, and is currently at work on a second book entitled Blacklandia: The Subtleties of Race in Portland. Learn more about Dr. Miller at religionandhiphop.com.

Rob Saxton was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction by Governor John Kitzhaber in July of 2012 and was formally confirmed by the Oregon Senate on September 14, 2012. In his role as Deputy Superintendent, Rob oversees the education of more than a half-million students in over 1,200 public and charter schools. Rob comes to ODE after years working in Oregon schools and districts. For the past seven years, he served as the superintendent of the Tigard-Tualatin School District which has been recognized as a state leader in success with student outcomes in reading, math, science, and graduation rates. A native Oregonian, Rob has been active in state-level education policy for the past 12 years. He served as an advisor to the State Board of Education, was an Executive Board Member with the OSAA, was involved in shaping Oregon’s recently approved No Child Left Behind waiver proposal, and has served on state panels and workgroups including: Oregon report card re-design, School Accountability Task Force, and Superintendents Vision and Policy Advisory Committee. Learn more about Rob at http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=631

Breakout Session Presenters

David Bautista is a leader for equity who brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience.  He has degrees in Psychology and Sports and Science from the University of Guadalajara, and an  MA in Bilingual Education from the University of Arizona.  Also at the University of Arizona, he was an Education Specialist for Intercultural-Multilingual Education and participated in Doctoral Studies in the areas of Language, Reading, and Culture.  David was the former superintendent of Woodburn School District.  Now he is leading the state’s equity efforts as the Assistant Superintendent of the Education Equity Unit at the Oregon Department of Education. 

Gabriel “Asheru” Benn, M.Ed. is an educator, youth activist, and Peabody Award-winning Hip Hop artist based in Washington, DC. He has served as a teacher/administrator in DC Public Schools for the last 13 years, and is founder of Guerilla Arts Ink, LLC, a community service organization specializing in education through the arts, cultural programming, and professional development. In 2006, Benn co-founded Educational Lyrics, an educational publishing company specializing in the development of culturally responsive instructional materials. His cornerstone program is H.E.L.P., the Hip Hop Educational Literacy Program, a supplemental series of workbooks designed to HELP students of all reading levels through the innovative usage of Hip Hop lyrics for critical analysis, multicultural relevance, and effective literacy instruction. Learn more about Mr. Benn at guerillabook.com/meet-asheru

As a native Northeast Portland Oregonian, Velynn Brown understands the complexities and opportunities of growing up as a minority in the inner-city. She understands first hand the unique challenges facing Oregon’s at -risk youth and marginalized communities. A mentor and National Spokesperson with Friends of the Children and Elevate Oregon, Velynn has shared her life experiences as a pathway for others to follow. Currently as Program Manager of Black Parent Initiative’s, Parent University, her drive and passion continues to strengthen and empower the community and children she loves to serve.  

Erik Cork has conducted writing workshops for more than 300,000 students, parents and professional educators, representing over 250 school districts and universities throughout the United States and beyond. He is a former writing instructor for the University of Houston’s BRIDGE and MESET (Minority Enrichment Summer Engineering Training) programs, as well as a former writer-in-residence for the nationally–acclaimed WITS (Writers-In-The-Schools) organization. Mr. Cork is the founder of International Write Now, Inc., as well as a proud mentor of other education-related entrepreneurs. He is the co creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, and a much sought-after public speaker on a number of topics that include hip-hop education, STEM education, politics, race, class, diversity, and youth empowerment. He is also an advisor to numerous international organizations, school districts, and schools where he delivers speeches, and holds workshops/ professional development sessions for students, teachers, policy makers, and other education stakeholders within the public and private sector. Learn more about Erik at erikcork.com

Dr. Carmen Cáceda is an Associate Professor of ESOL/Bilingual Education at Western Oregon University. She teaches culture, methodology, and language policy courses at graduate and undergraduate levels. She is also the Bilingual Teacher Program Coordinator and the ESOL Content Specialist for the SPELL (Sustainable Practices for English Language Learners) Project, which is a federal grant that supports professional development opportunities for ESOL practitioners. Before moving to the U.S., Dr. Cáceda worked for 22 years in Peru, where she taught English and prepared EFL teachers. Her main research interests are language teachers’ beliefs (e.g., about code-switching) and teachers’ identity.

Barbara Diamond is a labor attorney who has represented school employees and labor unions since 1985. She uses documentary films to explore the lives of people in disadvantaged groups. Engaging films prompt engaging discussion. Compassion and empathy weave with intellectual understanding of how daily acts of unintentional bias by well meaning people contribute to invisible barriers to minoritized communities.

Keisha Edwards is a trainer with InterChange Consulting. Her work is to design and deliver meaningful learning for educators and families on educational equity, cultural competence, and engaging diverse families as allies in the school change process. Ms. Edwards has facilitated hundreds of workshops, and trainings with diverse audiences. She strongly believes that a new discourse, personal reflection, and deep dialogue across difference are the most powerful strategies to transform school culture. She is co-author of several publications, including: Beyond the Oregon Trail: Oregon’s Untold Racial History (Oregon Uniting) and Culturally Responsive Standards-Based Teaching: Classroom to Community & Back (Corwin).

Having studied mathematics and psychology, Brian Greer spent most of his career in Ireland, then at San Diego State University, before moving to Portland, where he works as a quasi-retired independent scholar critiquing mathematics education. Among his publications are chapters in major U.S. handbooks, the co-authored “Making Sense of Word Problems” (2000), and the co-edited books “Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education” (2009), “Words and Worlds: Modeling Verbal Descriptions of Situations” (2012), and “Opening the Cage: Critique and Politics of Mathematics Education” (2012). With Swapna Mukhopadhyay, he is organizing the 8th International Conference on Mathematics Education and Society in Portland, 2015.   

Michael “Chappie” Grice holds graduate degrees from Cornell College and Reed College; and served as conference chair for N.A.BSE. for its 1989 national convention in Portland, Oregon. Expertly versed in the Blueprint for Action, he directed the I.R.I.S.E. Initiative, a culture-rich, urban schools leadership intervention, in the San Francisco public schools from 1996 to 2007. He relocated to Portland in 2008 and currently teaches  aviation  to 5th & 6th graders; produces annual tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (www.worldartspdx.org) and produces documentary films. In 2010, he was presented the national Human and Civil Rights Award by the NEA.

Joyce Harris has directed the Equity Program at Education Northwest for 20 years. She provides training on culturally responsive pedagogy, harassment, bullying, civil rights, family engagement, and discriminatory discipline in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Idaho, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kosrae, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap.  She wrote the African American Traditions in Language Arts Baseline Essay. She has a BA from Reed College, a BS from Oregon State , a Master’s from Portland State and has completed doctoral studies at Oregon State. She has extensive knowledge of African American children’s literature.

Johnny Lake, PhD is a scholar and presenter focused on teaching and learning around issues of leadership, diversity, race and culture, personal and organizational growth, cultural competency, and communication. Dr. Lake assists individuals and institutions gain critical knowledge and skills, as well as develop effective methods and strategies to bring about growth and progress, and to build and support productive relationships in the organizations and community. He works with schools, government and business to enhance client services and develop skills to promote and manage productive change. He facilitates the development of skills and resources to help individuals and organizations better meet the demands of a changing society. Dr. Lake is an Assistant Professor of Education at Northwest Christian University and leads teacher preparation, counselor and administrator classes. He is also an administrator on special assignment with the superintendent in the Eugene, OR 4J School District. Dr. Lake is also a former chairman of the State of Oregon Commission on Black Affairs.

Rachel Lawrence is Program Director at SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) where she leads efforts to ensure continued excellence in program quality and delivery. She joined SMART in October of 2007 with a range of experience in the education, nonprofit, and research fields.  Rachel received a Master’s Degree in Sociology at Arizona State University with an emphasis on research design and methodology. Working as a research assistant, she gained valuable program evaluation and school-based research skills. In addition, Rachel brings firsthand knowledge of the education system at many levels. She has teaching experience in the K-12 classroom, the university setting, and as an academic advisor to Master’s of Education students.

Sarabeth Leitch is a language arts teacher, journalism adviser and basketball coach. She has been teaching for 8 years, and she just started her first year at Wilson HS. Her path to become an educator started somewhere between a campfire circle at summer camp and a cypher of couches at an alternative high school. She works with youth to help them hone their voice, connect with their community and become true artists. She has developed curriculum around culture, media literacy and expression with a focus on research, analysis and dialogue. She enjoys collaborating with other leaders to reinvigorate public education.

Ramon Livingston III My steps have been measured and consistent as I develop my career plan, and my contribution to schools and children while in each position held has been both valuable and noteworthy. I have currently completed my eighth year as a public school administrator. These positions followed five years as a classroom teacher in predominantly urban environments at both the elementary and middle school levels. I have provided students with the academic rigor and social nourishment needed for achievement and modeled the skills of organization, accountability, integrity, and self-acceptance. I have strengthened my own skills in those areas and have developed a deep understanding and empathy for youth, especially high-risk students. I have often been credited as the catalyst for their later success. Because my persona is gregarious and approachable, parents are, also, drawn to me and immediately recognize my sincerity in working with them in matters concerning their children. Most importantly, I have earned the respect of my colleagues because of my positive interactions with them, and my personal background has given me insights into the hopeful outcome I hold for not only teachers, but also for all students and their parents as well.

Tawnya Lubbes is an Assistant Professor and ESOL Program Coordinator in the College of Education at Eastern Oregon University.  She is also the director of the Center for Culturally Responsive Practices.  She specializes in ESOL, Spanish, diversity, and online pedagogy.  Prior to coming to EOU she taught ESOL and Spanish in Payette, Idaho for 10 years.  Tawnya has been actively contributing to field research on the topics of culturally responsive pedagogy, teacher identity development, ESOL best practices and online pedagogy. Her current research is in regards to the stages of rural pre-service teacher identity development and how teacher identity influences the integration of culturally responsive pedagogy in K-12 classrooms.

Cynthia MacLeod has been a K-5 teacher in Portland Public Schools for 20 years, PPS Curriculum department Language Arts and Social Studies TOSA, K-8 Principal for 10 years, and is currently Assistant Director of Equity Professional Development.

S. Renee Mitchell is teacher, performer, speaker and award-winning former journalist who, after leaving the business, became a popular artist-in-residence in Portland’s public schools. Renee quickly noticed that many young children of color were shy, insecure and easily bullied, as she had been as a child. So, Renee wrote and illustrated her  first children’s book, The Awakening of Sharyn: A Shy and Brown SUPER Gyrl, and also wrote curriculum to encourage young people to find their hidden super powers. When children discover the power of their own words, they build confidence in their own potential.

Swapna Mukhopadhyay is a Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University. As a mathematics educator, her scholarly interests focus on issues of critical mathematics education and cultural diversity. The main thrust of her work is in realizing that mathematics is socially constructed. Using the framework of Ethnomathematics, she unifies research and curriculum design, an act synonymous with activism. She had co-edited Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education (2009, Routledge) and Alternative Forms of Knowing (in) Mathematics (2012, Sense). She is a part-time potter.

Julie Palmer has worked with marginalized and academically disengaged populations for all of her 22 years in education. Julie started working with gang-affected youth in Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey, in the late 1980’s. After earning her Masters’ Degree in Special Education from the University of Oregon she taught at Roosevelt Middle School in Eugene and then worked as a teacher and instructional leader in the Portland Day and Residential Treatment School, where she actively facilitated Racial Equity work. Julie strives to create culturally relevant environments for all students in her current role as an Equity TOSA for Portland Public Schools. Julie is also a mother, daughter, sister, partner and collaborator.

Kenneth Peterson is Professor Emeritus at Portland State University, where he taught classes in instruction, discipline, educational psychology, and reflective practice. He also supervised student teachers in the Portland metropolitan area for 25 years. He has taught classroom management classes at Lewis & Clark College. Previously, Ken was a high school teacher, and taught for 15 years at the University of Utah and University of California-Berkeley. The second edition of Ken’s Teacher evaluation:  A comprehensive guide to new directions and practices was published by Corwin Press (2000).  He is author of two other books on teacher evaluation and hiring, and over 60 refereed journal articles on education; he served on the editorial review boards of three journals. He is a former president of the national Consortium for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation. Ken was awarded the George C. Hoffman award for Faculty Excellence at Portland State University in 2010. Currently Ken is working on book manuscripts recording what he learned in the classrooms of teachers who stand out in communication, relationships, intercultural competence, emotional expression, and teacher satisfaction.

Rudyane Rivera-Lindstrom recently transitioned from the classroom to the newly formed Equity Unit at the Oregon Department of Education.  This unit has a team of 12 dedicated educators that have been brought together to support efforts in closing the opportunity gap for students.  Rudyane’s role is as an Education Program Specialist focused on Equity and English Learner support for districts all over the state. Her  previous experience includes working as a Family Service worker in Headstart for Denver Public Schools, a  Migrant Ed specialist for the Multnomah ESD, an ELL/Spanish/AVID  teacher and  Multicultural/ELL Coordinator for the Tigard/Tualatin School District.  Rudyane specializes in work with equity, student intervention support, and multiculturalism; and is currently a Doctoral candidate at George Fox University completing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership.   

Regina Sackrider serves as the Program Director for Collaborative Action Research for Equity (CARE) for Portland Public Schools. Regina has worked at PPS for 13 years as a Special Educator (Gregory Heights, Cleveland, Woodlawn, and Irvington), Instructional Coach/CARE Facilitator, and most recently, Assistant Principal with PPS DART.  Before joining PPS, she taught in Baltimore, Colorado and served as a Community Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa. 

Markisha Webster Smith is currently serves as the Director of the Equity Unit at the Oregon Department of Education. Prior to her position at ODE, she served as the Director of Undergraduate Teacher Education and Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Warner Pacific College. She received her Ed.D. from Texas Southern University, Houston, Texas. Prior to earning this degree, Dr. Smith earned a BA in English from the University of Memphis and a M.Ed. from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Markisha has taught as an Assistant Professor at Northern Michigan University and Western Oregon University. Dr. Smith taught in the public school systems of Houston, Texas for over eight years as an English teacher. She is committed and passionate about closing gaps for students of color and English Learners. Her research interests include diversity/multicultural education, closing achievement and opportunity gaps for students of color, differentiated learning, and the academic performance of underrepresented populations.

Desmond Spann is currently a Language Arts Teacher at Franklin High School, in Portland. Prior to this position, he spent the ten years teaching emceeing skills through workshops, after school programs, and residencies. Desmond is a military child raised in the west, from Arizona, California, and Portland, Oregon. You can find more information about Desmond’s background at about.me/desmondspann

Dr. Lee Stiff has taught mathematics at the middle grades and high school levels since 1971 after completing a BS degree in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In May 1978, he received his PhD in mathematics education from North Carolina State University.  Dr. Stiff has been active in many professional organizations, including the Benjamin Banneker Association, NCTM, NCCTM, AERA, and PME-NA. Most notably, he served as NCTM President (2000-2002), and on the Board of Directors of: the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Benjamin Banneker Association, and the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Dr. Stiff’s research focus and other professional activities include effective teaching strategies, problem solving, the mathematics education of African-American children, and uses of instructional technologies in mathematics teaching. His research methodologies include experimental design, surveys and interviews, and classroom-based investigations. He has more than 100 publications, including the authorship, co-authorship, or editorship of twelve textbooks in middle grades and high school mathematics, six professional books and eight book chapters. Learn more about Dr. Stiff at leestiff.com.

Mary Ventura has been teaching with Portland Public Schools DART (Day And Residential Treatment) school since 2003.  She has extensive experience teaching special education and language arts through a lens of racial equity and social justice.  She has increased her focus on racial equity since becoming a member of the DART CARE (Collaborative Action Research for Equity) team in 2012. She is licensed in special education, endorsed as a reading specialist, and highly qualified to teach language arts.    

Amanda Villagómez is an assistant professor in the College of Education and coordinates the reading program at Eastern Oregon University. She is passionate about literacy and biliteracy development. Dr. Villagómez is also the co-director of the Oregon Teacher Pathway program at EOU www.eou.edu/otp.  Prior to EOU, she taught for seven years in Oregon, including: high school ESL and Spanish; middle school reading, ESL, language arts, and social studies; 4th-8th grade Spanish and English language development; and a self-contained dual immersion 6th grade class. She also has experience teaching adult ESL courses and providing reading and writing workshop push-in support alongside K-5 colleagues.   

Jane Waite has been the Equity and Diversity Specialist at Lane ESD since 2006 where she collaborates with educators in the transformation of the education system from one that is white supremacist to one that reflects and nurtures the community it serves.

Dr. Moses Wambalaba is a Senior Program Advisor at Education Northwest, Equity Program. Dr. Wambalaba is a trainer and technical assistance provider in the areas of Cultural Competence, Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), School-Based Bullying and Harassment, Classroom Management, and Key Components of Educational Equity. Dr. Wambalaba obtained his BA in Political Science and Sociology from Dominican University of California, San Rafael, California. He received a masters degree in Public Administration and a doctorate in Educational Leadership. Dr. Wambalaba worked at Portland State University in different capacities before joining Education Northwest.

Mr. Sandy Womack Jr., M.Ed., currently serves as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Cleveland Heights University Heights School District.  Mr. Womack is a veteran educator with twenty two years of experience. He has proven to be one of the top principals and school administrators in the state of Ohio. Mr. Womack was recognized in 2014 by the Ohio Alliance of Black School Educators as one of the top African American administrators in the state. Mr. Womack and his staff were recognized by the Ohio Department of Education and the governor of Ohio for advancing Hartford Middle School from Academic Emergency (F) ranking to the Effective (B) ranking in September of 2011. Sandy was assigned as the 1st Director of School Improvement in Canton City Schools after transforming his first school, Lathrop Elementary, from Academic Emergency status to School of Choice status in 2006. Mr. Womack has presented strategies to reach our youth all across the United States and served as keynote speaker in over 100 venues, recently serving as the commencement speaker for Kent State University Stark Campus in May, 2014. He is the author of two books: Even the Best of Plans go Astray and The Urban Educators Month by Month Guide to School Improvement. Sandy and his wife Monica have three daughters and reside in Ohio where he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc. and the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masonic Lodge. For more information on Mr. Sandy D. Womack Jr. please visit www.oepallc.wix.com/oepallc or Sandy Womack Jr. on YouTube.