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Learning Leaders

Meet the educators bringing the power of computational thinking to their classrooms. TECHademy Learning Leaders are critical in implementing Ignite My Future In School concepts across the core curriculum within their school districts and serve as ambassadors of transdisciplinary collaboration.

Luis Alberto Caceres Esparza

Luis Alberto Caceres Esparza
Chile Castro, Chiloé

Never consider study as an obligation, but as the opportunity to penetrate the beautiful and wonderful world of knowledge.

Luis Cáceres Esparza is a science and technology teacher at Wanelen school in the community of Castro, in Chiloé, CHILE. Luis is in charge of the science department at his school. He is a father of two beautiful children and husband of Angie Alvial who is also a math teacher at the same school. He has been teaching for 13 years and for him, the most important thing is considering students for their qualities rather than just as a number or a grade. He has actively participated in the implementation of digital texts in Chile, participated twice in DENSI, and is proud to be part of the IMFIS Global collaboration group.

Gayla Davidson

Gayla Davidson
Dallas, Texas

Computational Thinking empowers students to be innovators and create solutions to real-world community issues.

Gayla Davidson is a passionate Science teacher that believes that diversity and inclusion is a need in every classroom. She is a 6th-grade science teacher at Desoto West Middle School in suburban Dallas, Texas, and has 9 years of experience in the middle school classroom. Gayla also spent many years as a keynote and educational consultant.

Laura Dawes

Laura Dawes
Irvington, Alabama
Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability.
Laura is the Media Specialist and Technology Resource Teacher at St. Elmo Elementary in Irvington, Alabama, educating students in grades Kindergarten through fifth. She was responsible for the design and implementation of one of the first MakerSpaces in the south part of her school district. During her 22-year teaching career, she has developed a love for educational technology and project-based learning. Laura helps to inspire educators and students by sharing her love for coding, movie production, engineering and design, and all things STEAM and EdTech, through social media and through presentations at the district level for other Media Specialists.

Shawn DeLuca

Shawn DeLuca
Stephenson, VA

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.

Shawn DeLuca is an Instructional Facilitator of Computer Science for Loudoun County Public Schools. He currently works at nine elementary schools throughout the county. Three of his schools are Computer Science Immersion and integrate coding in their daily curriculum. He also works at the only PBL through the lens of Computational Thinking school in his county. He has presented at FETC and the Code to the Future Summit. He loves providing monthly PD for teachers looking to integrate CS and CT into their daily lessons. Currently, he is working with his team to create a K-12 Computer Science/Computational Thinking curriculum based on the Virginia Computer Science SOLs.

Terra-Lee Gratton

Terra-Lee Gratton
St. Paul, Alberta, Canada

The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.

Terra-Lee Gratton is a 4th-grade teacher from St.Paul, Alberta, Canada. An educator for 20 years, she has a passion for integrating technology in the classroom in project-based learning opportunities. She played an integral part in establishing a Makerspace in her K-5 school all while encouraging students to explore and achieve the Provincial competencies.

She has presented at numerous local, interprovincial, and international conferences in recent years and is always willing to learn about current and relevant teaching practices to inspire and ignite a love of learning for all students.

Hugh McDonald

Hugh McDonald
Surrey, British Columbia
Children must be taught how to think not what to think.
Hugh McDonald is a Grade 6/7 Classroom Teacher at Sunrise Ridge Elementary in Surrey, BC, Canada. He has been a classroom educator for 19+ years now. Hugh has presented at ISTE, DENSI, TEDx, and local & provincial Professional Development sessions. He is a father of 2, husband to Denni, one of the originators of the Genius Hour movement, believer in good, youth sports coach, sharer, & reader.

Hayley McKechnie

Haley McKechnie
Basildon, Essex, England

Giving children problems to solve using Computational Thinking will create forward-thinking adults in the future.

Hayley Mckechnie is a Teacher at Lee Chapel Primary School in Basildon, Essex, UK. She has been a teacher for 10 years and for the past year has focused on delivering Computing lessons across the upper school and support the trust of six schools. Her aim is to ensure that all children leave school with an advanced understanding of Computational Thinking and Computer Science. She is also responsible for training the new teachers in Essex, how to teach Computing.

LeAnn Simmerman

LeAnn Simmerman
Columbia, Tennessee
The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
LeAnn Simmerman is a Teacher of the Gifted and PBL/STEM Coach for Maury County Public Schools in Columbia, TN. She was instrumental in establishing a STEM Expo for the district and continues to lead STEM initiatives. She has presented at statewide conferences and frequently leads professional development sessions related to digital media, STEM integration, and 21st Century learning. LeAnn is passionate about educational opportunities that empower students to go beyond basic facts and formulas. If we teach simple memorization, we are holding captive the capacity of our learners. The greatest obstacle our students face is the limiting of their potential.

Emily Strickland

Emily Strickland
Greenville, South Carolina
Computational thinking concentrates on students performing a thought process, not on the production of artifacts.
Emily Strickland is a Virtual Math Teacher in Greenville, SC. She has been in education for 22 years and is passionate about students' abilities to solve real-world problems. She has presented at various conferences throughout the Southeast. She believes that all children can achieve anything with encouragement and structure.

Diego Vela

Diego Vela
Monterrey, Nuevo León

The power of computational thinking lies in the fact that once you show students how to apply it when solving problems, they will naturally begin to apply CT from that moment forward. They will forever receive the benefits of using CT to find solutions.

Diego Vela teaches STEM Lab and Computer Studies at a private school in Monterrey, México. He has been a classroom educator for 12+ years now. He has presented at ISTE, DENSI, and other local PD sessions. He believes that education is the international language spoken by passionate educators and that great things happen when you trust other teachers.

Carrie Willis

Carrie Willis
Redlands, California
Education should prepare young people for jobs that do not yet exist, using technologies that have not yet been invented, to solve problems of which we are not yet aware.
Carrie is the technology director and STEAM coordinator at Valley Preparatory School, a private school in Redlands, CA, educating students in grades preschool through eight. She was responsible for the design and implementation of her school’s recent STEAM lab addition, which was established in 2016. During her 19-year teaching career, she has developed a love for educational technology and project-based learning. Carrie helps to inspire educators not just on her own campus, but around the world, by sharing her love for coding, robotics, movie production, engineering and design, and all things STEAM and EdTech, through social media, webinars, and through presentations at local and national conferences.