67 Influential Educators Who Are Changing the Way We Learn in 2015

At one point in your life — if you are lucky — an inspiring leader will change the way you see the world. All of the educators on this list have done that, in various ways, for students, teachers, and lifelong learners across the globe.

They’ve created cutting-edge tools to increase access to learning; built new schooling models from the ground up; anticipated the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century; and inspired other teachers to give the best of themselves in the classroom. In a wide range of ways, these educators are innovating the ways we learn.

Our Noodle team has extensively investigated the movers and shakers of education — and selected these 67 educators as the ones to watch in 2015. To frame our search, we decided that we would define educator broadly. On this list there are teachers as well as administrators, bloggers, journalists, policymakers, researchers, and activists who are transforming the education space as we know it. A few are also Noodle Experts, a group of thought leaders who regularly share their knowledge on our site to help students make better education decisions.

While the influencers on this list cover lots of educational ground, they also share several key characteristics. All are currently active in the education world, doing something influential in 2015, affiliated with a highly-regarded institution and/or personally well-known, and making an impact on the larger field beyond their classrooms or offices.

We’ve divided the list into groups, featuring the top educators in ed tech, education analysis (research and journalism), higher education, and K–12 education (charter, public, and private schools). We cannot wait to see how these 67 educators continue to change our world this year, and we are thrilled to see who will stand on their shoulders to reach new heights next year.

Table of Contents

Below is the full list of educators. To read a specific profile, click on the person's name.

Ed Tech

Anant Agarwal
Steven Anderson
Adam Bellow
Laura Blankenship
Richard Byrne
Rafranz Davis
Vicki Davis
Jeff Dunn
Lucy Gray
Angela Maiers
Salman Khan
Nichole Pinkard
Joel Rose and Christopher Rush
Eric Sheninger
Shelly Sanchez Terrell
Sebastian Thrun
Tom Whitby

Education Analysis

Amy Chua
Larry Ferlazzo
Jackie Gerstein
Elizabeth Green
James Heckman
Tatyana Kleyn
Doug Lemov
Diane Ravitch
Will Richardson
Sir Ken Robinson
Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj
Carolyn Strom
Shauna Tominey
Paul Tough
Audrey Watters
Lois Weiner

Higher Ed

Kaushik Basu
Jonah Berger
Andy Hargreaves
Catharine Bond Hill
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Maria Klawe
Donna Linderman
Carlos McCray
Ben Nelson
Pedro Noguera
Ted O'Neill
Trevor Packer
Jonathan Plucker
Steven Strogatz

K–12

Seth Andrew
The Blocks
Michael Brown
Geoffrey Canada
Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin
Miriam González Durántez
Greg Green
Aileen Hefferren
Sheldon Horowitz
Ileana Jiménez
Wendy Kopp
Jamie Martin
Eva Moskowitz
Kyle Redford
The Sandefers
Rev. Timothy Scully
Randi Weingarten
Angelina Zeller

Ed Tech

Anant Agarwal

Founder and CEO of edX

Agarwal

What He's Doing

Anant Agarwal created and manages edX, which offers online courses and educational content across a wide range of subject areas. A collaboration between MIT and Harvard, edX draws upon an “xConsortium” of institutional partners to create resources for learners worldwide. In addition to being a leading provider of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, edX also conducts and publishes research on learners and learning. Beyond his work with the company, Agarwal teaches electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, where he has worked for nearly 27 years.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Agarwal’s innovative open-source platform is designed to inform and empower students and educators alike. With some of the world’s leading universities as collaborators, edX is both expanding access to education and helping us better understand how we learn online.

What His Background Is

Agarwal earned his bachelor's degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, and went on to receive his Ph.D. at MIT. Before joining edX, Agarwal served as the director of CSAIL, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Agarwal is also recognized for his captivating teaching — he won several teaching prizes at MIT and had an audience of 155,000 students across the world when he taught edX’s first course.

What May Surprise You

Until 2014, Anant Agarwal held the Guinness World Record for the largest microphone array.

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Steven Anderson

Co-founder of #EdChat on Twitter, Education consultant

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What He's Doing

More than five years ago, Steven Anderson helped start #EdChat on Twitter, along with Shelly Sanchez Terrell and Tom Whitby. Through this hashtag, educators around the world can contribute advice or ask questions about their experiences. Once a week, moderators guide a discussion about a specific topic, and educators contribute their input. Additionally, Anderson leads workshops and professional development sessions about how to be a tech-savvy educator and administrator.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

#EdChat connects teachers around the world and uses a common pool of knowledge to create stimulating debates and enable users to find best practices. This was one of the first big education movements on Twitter — and it is still going strong. Anderson is also working to share what he has learned on #EdChat through the professional development workshops he leads.

What His Background Is

Anderson received his B.S. from Western Carolina University and holds an M.A. in education from East Carolina University. Before becoming a speaker and consultant, Anderson was a teacher. He has won several awards, including the Edublogs Twitterer of the Year, plus a Bammy for #EdChat.

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Adam Bellow

Creator of eduTecher and eduClipper

Bellow

What He's Doing

Adam Bellow started eduTecher, a website that helps teachers use education technology and Web-based tools through webinars and blog posts. Additionally, he created eduClipper, which has been called a "Pinterest for education." It's a clipboard-style site providing a platform for educators to curate and share Web content with one another.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Both eduTecher and eduClipper make sharing best practices and creating a tight-knit, international community of educators possible. These easy-to-use platforms also allow teachers to explore, share, and distribute resources and materials to their students.

What His Background Is

Bellow received his B.A. from Hofstra University, and holds two master's degrees in education — an M.A. in special education from City University of New York–Hunter College and an M.A. in education technology from Long Island University–Post. Before beginning his entrepreneurial journey, he held several positions within the College Board educational technology department. Bellow is also is a well-known speaker and published author in the ed tech space.

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Laura Blankenship

Founder of GeekyMomBlog.com, Chair of computer science at The Baldwin School

Blankenship

What She's Doing

A woman who wears many hats, Laura Blankenship is a mother of two, a prolific blogger on the nearly decade-old Geeky Mom blog, and the computer science chair at The Baldwin School, an all-girls private preparatory school. There, she is trailblazing a computer science curriculum geared toward students as young as eleven years old.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Blankenship has become an authentic voice in education issues, which she often contextualizes through her own experiences as an educator and mother. She is a strong supporter of female involvement in traditionally male-dominated STEM fields like computer science, and she participates in nationwide workshops and presentations.

What Her Background Is

Blankenship has a B.A. from Rhodes College and a Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition from the University of Arkansas. She is a self-taught programmer.

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Richard Byrne

Founder and author of the Free Technology for Teachers blog

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What He's Doing

For more than six years, Richard Byrne has been compiling a list of free and useful educational resources and posting it on a blog, Free Technology for Teachers. Byrne also discusses relevant issues within the ed tech space, updating a community of educators on best practices and innovations. He has amassed a daily following of more than 60,000 and continues to blog and speak worldwide.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

He believes all valuable education technology serves one of three purposes: discovery of information, discussion of information, and demonstration of knowledge. His carefully-curated collection of highlighted apps and websites has created a standard for the ed tech world.

What His Background Is

Bynre holds a bachelor's degrees from the University of Maine and has done graduate work at the University of Phoenix. He taught social studies at a public high school in Maine for eight years before launching his blog. Free Technology for Teachers has won several Edublogs awards for its quality content, and Byrne has traveled around the world talking to teachers about how to engage students successfully in a digital classroom.

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Rafranz Davis

Instructional technology specialist for Arlington, Texas school district

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What She's Doing

Rafranz Davis's current work supports technology implementation and professional development for teachers. She is a writer, speaker, and advocate for passion-based learning and the consideration of diverse perspectives in the development and implementation of education technology. Her most recent book, The Missing Voices in EdTech: Bringing Diversity into EdTech, discusses the dangers and lost opportunities of failing to incorporate the viewpoints of women and people of color in education technology.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Education reform and technology initiatives frequently overlook considerations of pedagogy and motivation, as well as issues of culture, class, identity, and gender. Davis is not only personally invested in the use of technology in educational settings, but also has a keen sense of the potential pitfalls within the education technology and reform movements.

What Her Background Is

Davis holds an associate's degree from Navarro College and bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas A&M University–Commerce. Her professional life has been heavily steeped in the use of technology in educational settings since her undergraduate years, during which she participated in a teacher-quality grant program that challenged prospective teachers to incorporate digital tools into their classrooms. She was a middle school math teacher before becoming a curricular strategist and technologist.

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Vicki Davis

Creator of Cool Cat Teacher Blog, IT administrator and teacher at Westwood Schools

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What She's Doing

Vicki Davis currently teaches business and computer skills at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia, where she is also the IT administrator. She is, however, best-known for her Cool Cat Teacher Blog, where she shares advice about ed tech, teaching, and social media. Additionally, Davis hosts a show called Every Classroom Matters on BAM! Radio Network, and she provides professional development and workshops to schools and organizations.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

A key aim in modern education is to graduate culturally-literate and globally-competent citizens. One of Davis’s books, Flattening Classrooms and Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time, outlines her philosophy: Teachers in the 21st century must leverage globalization and communications technology to connect students and educators worldwide in international collaborative learning.

What Her Background Is

Davis earned her bachelor's degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Davis has been a teacher and IT administrator for nearly 13 years, and her insights into teaching have been noted by researchers and writers, including Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat. Her blog has received recognition from Edublogs, and Davis has also won the ISTE Online Learning Award.

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Jeff Dunn

Co-founder of Daily Genius and Edudemic, Online education specialist at Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Dunn

What He's Doing

Jeff Dunn’s site Daily Genius helps education professionals learn about new topics in education, tech, and ed tech. At the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit dedicated to securing and stewarding how we access the Internet, Dunn helped launch an online learning portal and assists members of the global ICANN community in connecting with one another.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

In the rapidly-evolving world of ed tech, Daily Genius allows teachers to stay informed about developments that can enhance their classrooms. At ICANN, Dunn works with diplomats, executives, and global thought leaders to help encourage better understanding of highly technical (mostly Internet-related) topics.

What His Background Is

In 2010, Dunn founded Edudemic, one the world's largest education tech websites, and worked as the executive editor there for several years. He was also a former communications manager at Harvard Law School. He holds an A.L.M. from Harvard and a B.A. from Trinity College (Hartford).

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Lucy Gray

Education consultant, Co-founder of the Global Education Conference

Gray

What She's Doing

As a consultant, Lucy Gray has advised a range of educators and organizations, including Edmodo and EdSurge, on best teaching practices using 21st-century technology. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator and the founder of the Global Education Conference, which brings together an online network of students, educators, and organizations to share ideas and projects related to global education. Most recently, Lucy has been working on individual projects related to innovation with CUE Inc., Kajeet Education, the Convergence Academies, and an international school based in New York City.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Gray is a leading voice in the conversation about 21st-century learning initiatives, and she is helping influence the way educators use technology to modernize their teaching practices. Through the Global Education Conference network, she is also working to foster worldwide dialogue about education issues.

What Her Background Is

Gray earned her B.A. from Beloit College and went on to receive her Ed.M. at National-Louis University. She began her career as a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. Gray has also worked at the University of Chicago in a variety of roles related to education technology, including at the Urban Education Institute and the University’s Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education.

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Angela Maiers

Founder of Maiers Educational Services, Teacher, Writer

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What She's Doing

Maiers is a star consultant and founder of her own firm, Maiers Educational Services. She specializes in curricular planning, technological literacy, parent outreach, and motivation. She is the author of The Passion-Driven Classroom and Classroom Habitudes, both of which discuss methods for creating classroom cultures of curiosity, adaptiveness, and technological literacy. She is also the author of the forthcoming e-book Liberating Genius in the Classroom.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Technological literacy, the capacity for lifelong learning, and other 21st-century skills are essential competencies in our modern society, which is marked by rapid technological change and global interconnectedness. Maiers has a proven and impressive track record of motivating and helping educators across the country transform their classrooms to meet the needs of today’s students.

What Her Background Is

Maiers has run her consultancy for 25 years. She has also taught elementary school reading classes and worked in middle school dropout prevention. Maiers completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa and she received her master's degree from Drake University.

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Salman Khan

Founder and Executive Director of Khan Academy

Khan

What He's Doing

Salman Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, a free online educational site that provides practice exercises, instructional videos, and other personalized learning tools across a variety of subject areas. Khan Academy is a nonprofit organization that has been able to grow exponentially through user donations and support from high-profile funders such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, and Google.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

With more than one million unique students per month, Khan Academy is the most-used educational video source on the Internet. Khan and his company are at the forefront of developing innovative online education tools with the mission of providing “a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” Khan Academy continues to democratize the education space with its accessible and affordable content; recently, the organization has partnered with established education organizations, such as the College Board and the American Association of Medical Colleges, to create free test-prep materials for the SAT and MCAT.

What His Background Is

Khan holds three degrees from MIT and is a Harvard Business School graduate. He worked as a financial analyst before founding Khan Academy.

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Nichole Pinkard

Associate professor at DePaul University in the College of Computing and Digital Media

Pinkard

What She's Doing

Nichole Pinkard believes that digital literacy will lead a revolution in the world of education. To turn her belief into action, she founded the Digital Youth Network in 2006. The Network aims to support educators so they can better teach technology and digital media. It also seeks to ensure that technology is available to a wide range of students, regardless of socioeconomic background or the presence of home Internet access.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

An associate professor at DePaul, Pinkard also teaches beyond the walls of the classroom: Digital Youth Network has spurred her to partner with the Chicago Public Library to develop the YOUMedia Learning Lab Network, which has undertaken the task of transforming libraries, museums, and community centers into innovative spaces that allow students to “hang out, mess around, and geek out” — all while being completely supported by a team of mentors.

What Her Background Is

Pinkard is a co-founder and chairperson of Remix Learning, a learning network for primary and secondary education. She holds a B.S. from Stanford and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Northwestern.

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Joel Rose and Christopher Rush

Co-founders of New Classrooms Innovation Partners, Creators of School of One

RoseRush

What They're Doing

In 2009, Joel Rose and Christopher Rush helped the New York City Department of Education develop School of One, a personalized learning platform that analyzes each student’s performance on a daily basis and customizes the following day’s lesson depending on the student’s learning style and needs. In their desire to spread this cutting-edge technology across the country, the duo founded New Classrooms Innovation Partners, a nonprofit organization that partners with schools to provide the personalized learning platform, now called Teach to One: Math. The organization is using the program to teach math to more than 6,000 middle schoolers.

How They're Changing the Ed Space

A study conducted by Douglas D. Ready showed that students who used the program had collective gains that were 47 percent higher than the national average. Allowing space for differentiated learning in a classroom has been a challenge that many educators have struggled to address, and New Classrooms Innovation Partners has the capacity to offer a widely-applicable solution.

What Their Background Is

Before working on School of One, Rose held several positions within the New York City Department of Education, including that Chief of Staff to the Deputy Chancellor. Rose originally got involved in education as a Teach for America Corps member. Rose holds degrees from Tufts and the University of Miami School of Law. Rush started as an outdoor education specialist in Pennsylvania, and he later went on to work at IBM before meeting Rose at the DOE. Rush holds degrees from Penn State and American Intercontinental University.

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Eric Sheninger

Senior Fellow at the International Center for Leadership in Education, K–12 director of Technology and Innovation at Spotswood, New Jersey school district

Sheninger

What He's Doing

Eric Sheninger is an advocate for transforming school cultures and incorporating technology use in the classroom. He writes, speaks, and consults extensively on the challenges of leading transformative initiatives (generally from his viewpoint as a principal), and he is an expert at mediating sustainable change through the use of Web 2.0 technologies, most notably social media.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Sheninger singles out social networks and mobile technology as potential educational game-changers. As a school principal, he systematized his experiences into a set of seven principles called the Pillars of Digital Leadership in Education, which emphasize engaging and connecting with the community and leveraging technological tools to help students in and out of the classroom.

What His Background Is

Sheninger was principal of New Milford High School when he led an initiative to create a culture that, in his own words, was "transparent, relevant, meaningful, engaging, and inspiring." Before then, he served as a science educator, coach, and administrator at the same school. Scheninger has received multiple awards and honors for his influential presence in the education world, including a Bammy for Secondary School Principal and a spot on TIME Magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds to Follow. Sheninger holds two bachelor's degrees — a B.S. from Salisbury University and a B.S. from University of Maryland Eastern Shore — and a master's in education from the East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Co-founder of #EdChat, Creator of 30 Goals Challenge for Educators, Noodle Expert

Terrell

What She's Doing

In addition to co-founding the #EdChat Twitter forum with Steven Anderson and Tom Whitby, Shelly Sanchez Terrell created the 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers — a community based on her book of the same name — where teachers set small goals that push them to become better educators. Terrell also launched the Reform Symposium Global e-Conference, a multiday virtual enrichment event for teachers. In addition, she has used her knowledge of the education space to consult for organizations around the world, from the Ministry of Education in Spain to UNESCO Bangkok.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Terrell has a talent for compiling, consolidating, and simplifying large quantities of educational resources. By curating the topics in the Reform Symposium, and by selecting salient goals that teachers can strive to accomplish throughout the years, Terrell gives teachers the tools to apply the sometimes-lofty ideas of education reform and technology.

What Her Background Is

Terrell has been recognized by multiple organizations, including the National Association of Professional Women, which named her Woman of the Year in 2014, and EdTech Magazine, which named her blog one of the 50 Must Read K–12 IT Blogs. She holds an Ed.M. from the University of Phoenix and a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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Sebastian Thrun

Founder of Udacity

Thrun

What He's Doing

Sebastian Thrun is the founder of Udacity, a site that offers online courses and technical training for those seeking to advance their careers in the tech field. Designed in consultation with industry leaders — Thrun himself is a former Google VP and Fellow — Udacity’s Nanodegree model promises to provide students with an efficient, affordable way to gain the most relevant skills for today’s job market.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Udacity strives to bridge the gap between academia and the workforce by offering a new type of credential, the Nanodegree, which it characterizes as “compact, flexible, and job-focused.” Under Thrun’s leadership, the company is pioneering new models for online education and has the potential to expand beyond the fields of technology and computer science.

What His Background Is

At Google, Thrun was the lead on projects such as Google Glass and the self-driving car. He is also a research professor of computer science and robotics at Stanford University. Thrun completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Hildesheim and holds Ph.D. from the University of Bonn in Germany.

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Tom Whitby

Co-founder of #EdChat, Host of EdChat Radio

Whitby

What He's Doing

Tom Whitby is one of the co-founders of the Twitter forum #EdChat, along with Steven Anderson and Shelly Sanchez Terrell. When he’s not interviewing compelling educators on EdChat Radio, Whitby is giving them a voice through the Educator’s Personal Learning Network (PLN) that he founded; the site enables teachers and administrators to compile and share their collective classroom knowledge. Additionally, Whitby has written extensively about education in various forms, including in his own book, Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning, his personal blog, and his articles for EduTopia.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Whitby is constantly looking for new ways to foster communication and support among an international network of educators. By providing such opportunities in a variety of mediums, he casts a wide net that allows educators from various backgrounds to connect with one another.

What His Background Is

With 34 years of experience teaching in secondary school plus six in higher education, Tom Whitby knows the classroom inside and out. He has contributed to WISE Conference, an international educators event in Doha, Qatar, and won the ISTE Making IT Happen Award in 2014. Whitby earned a B.A. at Salem International University and an M.S. from Long Island Univeristy–Post.

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Education Analysis

Amy Chua

John M. Duff Jr. Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”

Chua

What She's Doing

As a Yale Law professor — and winner of the school's "Best Teaching" award — Amy Chua teaches courses on contracts and international business transactions. As an author, she has written most famously (in the international best-seller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) about raising her children the "Chinese" way — with strict, achievement-oriented values.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

With the publication of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” Chua started an international dialog about how to raise high-achieving, successful children. Beyond her contributions to academic discourse (via writings on free-market democracy, among other topics), Chua has inflected conversations about education and child-rearing best practices.

What Her Background Is

An alumna of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Chua worked first as a law clerk and then as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton before taking a faculty position at Duke Law, later moving to Yale Law. Having grown up with strict Chinese-immigrant parents, Chua has sought to raise her own two daughters with the same values she knew as a child; she has chronicled these struggles and triumphs in her memoir.

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Larry Ferlazzo

Blogger, Teacher at Luther Burbank High School

Ferlazzo

What He's Doing

Larry Ferlazzo teaches a variety of courses, including English and social studies, to English-language learners and native-English speakers alike at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California. He is also a regular contributor to Edublogs, Education Week, the New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and other publications. His writings primarily address strategies for teaching, motivating, and challenging ESL/ELL students.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Ferlazzo is a prolific and enthusiastic writer, focusing on teaching strategies which cultivate student success. For instance, his monthly column in the New York Times offers efficacious lesson-plans and approaches for the ELL classroom, and his newest book, Building a Community of Self-Motivated Learners: Strategies to Help Students Thrive in School and Beyond, centers on the importance of non-academic factors, such as grit and physical health, in a student's ability to do well in school. His extensive exploration of these subjects is leading educators, families, and students to think of academic success in a more holistic way, taking into account a student's motivation and personality.

What His Background Is

Ferlazzo was a community organizer for 19 years before becoming an educator. He’s written seven books about teaching strategies and his experiences in the classroom, and he has won various awards, including the IRA Presidential Award for Reading and Technology. Ferlazzo is an alumnus of the New College of California, California State University-Sacramento, and Goddard College.

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Jackie Gerstein

Writer and college instructor of education, counseling, and education technology

Gerstein

What She's Doing

Jackie Gerstein teaches college-level courses in education, counseling, and educational technology. She is a proponent of the educational philosophy social constructivism — which holds that learning is communal, and, pursuant to the demands of living in the 21st century, must leverage the use of digital technology and constitute a project- and inquiry-driven process.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Gerstein is one of several influential educators who have seriously considered how the demands of globalization and rapid technological change affect the fundamental aims of education. Her style of social constructivism is an information-age adaptation of holistic, experience-driven progressive pedagogies à la Dewey or Montessori. She has written about her work in holistic and experiential learning in Metaphors for Living: Stories and Related Experiential Exercises for Individual, Group, and Family Growth and Sticking Together: Experiential Activities for Family Counseling.

What Her Background Is

Gerstein earned her B.S. at Pennsylvania State University, her M.A. at University of Northern Colorado, and her Ed.D. at Northern Illinois University. She has been on the faculty at a number of colleges and has also worked as an elementary school teacher and counselor for troubled children.

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Elizabeth Green

Co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat

Green

What She's Doing

Elizabeth Green founded GothamSchools, an online publication that covered educational issues in New York. The site was so successful that Green was able to merge with other similar outlets and start Chalkbeat, a nonprofit online publication that covers education news. As co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief, Green oversees the company’s four bureaus in New York City, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Chalkbeat prides itself on publishing in-depth but accessible reportage, with the aim of promoting better outcomes for all students. Among its principles, Chalkbeat emphasizes the importance of editorial independence and keeping an agnostic platform, allowing the coverage that the outlet offers to be neutral and reliable. The sense of civic duty in keeping their reporting independent and thorough is a quality that filters through each piece of content that Chalkbeat publishes.

What Her Background Is

Green received her bachelor's degree at Harvard University and studied journalism at Columbia University, where she was a Spencer Fellow. She is the author of Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone), from Norton, featured last year in the New York Times.

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James Heckman

Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Winner of Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Heckman

What He's Doing

James Heckman holds professorships in economics, law, and public policy at the University of Chicago. His professional life has been dedicated to the advancement of empirical methods in the social sciences, with a focus on the economics of education and its implications for inequality and social mobility. His most recent research has investigated how psychometric tests measure (and fail to measure) cognitive and non-cognitive skills.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Heckman's most famous and publicly influential work has concerned the efficacy of intensive early childhood education in contrast to adult remediation and rehabilitative programs. His findings — that intelligence in early life is essentially malleable and largely shaped by prenatal and early childhood stimulation — have provided the intellectual basis for universal pre-K initiatives and wraparound social services focused on early child care.

What His Background Is

Heckman was inspired to study racial discrimination and gaps in social status, mobility, and achievement by his experiences as a young man visiting the Jim Crow–era Deep South with a Nigerian college roommate. Although an economist by training, his work has also incorporated insights from genetics, economics, psychology, and neuroscience. He was awarded his B.A. at Colorado College and his Ph.D. at Princeton University

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Tatyana Kleyn

Professor at the City College of New York specializing in bilingual education, Noodle Expert

Kleyn

What She's Doing

Kleyn is an associate professor at CCNY's Teaching, Learning and Culture Bilingual Education and TESOL Department. She has written extensively about the situations of immigrants and English-language learners in a number of settings, and she co-produced and directed Living Undocumented: High School, College, and Beyond, a documentary about the challenges that undocumented students face.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Undocumented immigrants comprise 3.5 percent of the nation's population and 5.1 percent of the nation's workforce. About seven percent of K–12 students are the children of at least one undocumented parent. Kleyn's work illustrates the dangers and lost opportunities of failing to address the challenges that undocumented immigrants face. It also presents a practical way forward for educators whose students cope with the issues associated with being an undocumented immigrant.

What Her Background Is

Kleyn is herself the child of political asylum–seekers from the former Soviet Union. Before her university career, she was an elementary-school classroom teacher, curriculum developer, and bilingual education consultant. Kleyn earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at Ohio State University and her Ed.D. from Columbia University's Teacher's College.

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Doug Lemov

Author, Managing director of Teach Like a Champion

Lemov

What He's Doing

Driven to understand what makes exceptional teachers so effective, Lemov studies their practices and shares their techniques — collected in “The Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices,” or “The Taxonomy” for short — with other educators. His work formed the basis of the organization Teach Like a Champion, which makes great teaching techniques accessible, and inspired his book of the same name. He’s also the co-author of Practice Perfect, which illuminates the qualities that make a champion, and of a forthcoming book about reading and the Common Core standards.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Lemov has started a national conversation about how to evaluate — and how to become — an effective teacher. Teach Like a Champion studies the practices of great teachers and creates replicable models that other educators can adopt. His work also led to the publication of the widely read and discussed New York Times Magazine cover story, Building a Better Teacher.

What His Background Is

After spending several years running New York State Uncommon Schools while concurrently leading educator workshops, Lemov transitioned to focusing entirely on Teach Like a Champion. He holds a B.A. in English from Hamilton College, an M.A. in English from Indiana University–Bloomington, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Diane Ravitch

Research Professor at New York University, Blogger

Ravitch

What She's Doing

Ravitch works as an historian of education and a research professor of education at New York University, but she is perhaps best known for her blog, which has received more than 20 million page views since 2012 and is described by its author as “a site to discuss better education for all.” On the site, she rallies for teachers’ rights and unions and argues against standardized testing, charter schools, and the privatization of education. She's written over 500 articles and published 10 books, including The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education, which contextualizes the last decade of education reform, and her newest book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, which specifies the roots of educational failure and proposes solutions revolving around the importance of public education.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Ravitch has been molding the way the public thinks about education for decades. She has held key roles, including as Assistant Secretary of Education and as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, that have allowed her to shape national policy under the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations. With more than 110,000 Twitter followers, Ravitch is widely regarded as an adamant advocate for the public school system and the leading voice for teachers, who often find their needs and demands unheard in a space dominated by policymakers and politicians.

What Her Background Is

Ravitch earned her B.A. at Wellesley College and her Ph.D. in the history of education at Columbia University, where she studied under Lawrence A. Cremin, the current president of the renowned Teacher’s College. Ravitch also served as the Brown Chair of Education Studies at the Brookings Institute, wrote two major books about education, and has received many of honorary doctorates and awards, including the John Dewey Education Award, the Grawemeyer Award, and the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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Will Richardson

Co-founder of Modern Learner Media

Richardson

What He's Doing

Will Richardson recognizes that with information more accessible than ever, the education world needs to adapt to stay relevant to students’ lives. Via his company Modern Learner Media, Richardson has created two important sources of information for those interested in staying abreast of education developments: Raising Modern Learners, geared toward parents, and Educating Modern Learners, geared toward administrators and teachers. Through his blog, Richardson also informs families and others about how they can be proactive in supporting schools.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Richardson is a staunch advocate of updating current education systems to incorporate the opportunities that the Internet and social media networks offer. He consistently reflects upon the question, "What happens to schools and classrooms and learning in a 2.0 world?" Richardson not only challenges parents and policymakers to do the same, but also facilitates their doing so by providing guidance at Modern Learner Media.

What His Background Is

A veteran educator with 22 years of experience, Richardson has spoken to tens of thousands of teachers about digital learning around the world. He’s written four books, the most recent of which is Why School? How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere. Richardson completed his undergraduate studies at Ohio University and his master's degree at The College of New Jersey.

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Sir Ken Robinson

Public intellectual, Proponent of arts education and creativity in education

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What He's Doing

Since the publication of All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture, and Education, Sir Ken Robinson has served in a consultatory and advisory capacity to governments, corporations, and organizations with an interest in education as well as personal and professional growth. For instance, he was one of four advisors tasked with transforming Singapore into the creative capital of Asia, and he took part in conceiving the creative strategy for North Ireland’s Peace Process. His most recent book is called Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Robinson's TED Talk How Schools Kill Creativity is, with more than 33 million views (and counting), the most-watched TED talk of all time. His argument stems from three key principles. First, humans naturally have a diverse range of aptitudes and interests that are often not recognized or validated by formal educational institutions. Therefore: Education must be individually-tailored. Second, curiosity is the default human disposition, but is often eroded by formal schooling. Therefore: Teaching must be a high-status vocation. Finally, creativity, broadly construed, is the default mode of human engagement with the world. Therefore: Schools and institutions must be trusted to behave autonomously and inventively.

What His Background Is

Robinson has backgrounds in theater as well as education. He was a professor of education at the University of Warwick and head of the U.K.'s Select Committee on Education and Skills before becoming an internationally-recognized public intellectual, adviser, and consultant. Robinson is an alumnus of the University of Leeds and the University of London.

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Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj

Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University, Co-Director of the Center for College Readiness, Noodle Expert

Sattin

What She's Doing

With a background in grassroots organizing, Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj was a natural fit to become a voice for undocumented students in the U.S. Her research focuses on how immigrant-origin children of different backgrounds are affected by education policy. In her much-lauded book, Unaccompanied Minors: Immigrant Youth, School Choice, and the Pursuit of Equity, she investigates what life is like for Latin American–immigrant youth facing the complicated system of school choice in New York City. As co-director of Seton Hall’s Center for College Readiness, Sattin-Bajaj leverages her research and that of her colleagues to develop modes of supporting low-income students.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Sattin-Bajaj begins her book by explaining that by 2018, about 30 percent of school-age children will be living with at least one immigrant parent. The issues she tackles are pressing, and her incisive analysis dives into the topic of school choice unapologetically. Her commitment to raising awareness about immigration issues and how they intersect with education is evident in the numerous and diverse outlets in which she has presented her research: WNYC, the Huffington Post, and the Peabody Journal of Education.

What Her Background Is

Sattin-Bajaj earned her B.A. at Duke University and her Ph.D. in international education from New York University. Before pursuing her doctoral studies, Sattin-Bajaj worked at the New York City Department of Education on secondary-school reform.

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Carolyn Strom

Founder of Reading Root, literacy specialist, Noodle Expert

Strom

What She's Doing

A state-certified reading specialist, Carolyn Strom spent ten years in the classroom before founding her own private tutoring and education consulting practice. Her company, Reading Root, helps students overcome their literacy hurdles. Strom believes that reading difficulties are the root of various other learning disabilities and differences. She infuses her scientific findings on learning, literacy, and the cognitive ability with anecdotes borrowed from her day-to-day teaching, as well as the questions that parents frequently ask. She also continues to teach at her doctoral alma mater, New York University.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

As part of her work, which is both comprehensive and accessible, Strom has delivered talks on literacy all over New York City. She also works with individual schools to ensure that teachers have the tools and knowledge they need to provide ongoing, rigorous instruction for students who may be at risk of reading failure.

What Her Background Is

Strom earned her Ph.D. in literacy from NYU, where she received a nomination for the Outstanding Dissertation Award. She also holds a master’s degree from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She began her career in the classroom as a Teach for America corps member.

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Shauna Tominey

Associate Research Scientist at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Noodle Expert

Tominey

What She's Doing

Tominey is the director of early childhood programming and teacher education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, an organization that conducts groundbreaking research on emotional skills and helps schools incorporate best practices to teach children emotional intelligence. Tominey also directs the Preschool RULER Development Project, a collaborative program between the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Stamford's Childcare Learning Centers that strives to develop evidence-based initiatives that incorporate emotional education in the preschool classroom. To help fuel her evolving understanding of social skills, Tominey conducts research at the Yale Child Study Center, where she works to understand how disadvantaged families teach their children about resilience.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Tominey's research focuses on creating and promoting stimulating learning environments by encouraging empathy and recognizing the importance of emotions for children and the key adults in their lives — parents and educators. With the recent emphasis that has been placed on the importance of early childhood education, Tominey's body of work helps educators understand how they can truly take advantage of this essential period in childhood development to cultivate emotional skills that can help young children turn into successful students.

What Her Background Is

Tominey holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Washington, a master’s degree from Kansas State University, and a doctoral degree from Oregon State University. She has been an instructor at Oregon State University since 2010.

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Paul Tough

Author of “How Children Succeed” and “Whatever It Takes,” Contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine

Tough

What He's Doing

In his most recent book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Paul Tough hypothesizes that a child’s success depends less on pure cognitive ability and more on the development of a collection of qualities referred to as non-cognitive skills. These characteristics, which include persistence, self-control, grit, and self-confidence, are derived from the experience of overcoming failure. Tough argues that both wealthy and low-income students face obstacles in this regard — the wealthy students because they are too insulated from adversity, and the low-income students because the challenges they face are simply too overwhelming.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Tough’s latest book explores non-cognitive skills and academic success, an intersection of issues that has increasingly gained traction in the world of education policy, particularly via the research of James Heckman. Tough also draws attention to the less tangible effects of income inequality and fills in some of the gaps in our understanding both of failure and of what children need to be successful. In his other writing, too — which includes “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” a book about the Harlem Children’s Zone — Tough offers insight into the current state of education, poverty, politics, and parenting in America.

What His Background Is

Along with his two books and his work as a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Paul Tough has written for the New Yorker, Slate, GQ, and Esquire. He has also worked as an editor at The New York Times Magazine and Harper’s, and as a reporter and producer for the radio program This American Life.

What May Surprise You

After dropping out of Columbia during his freshman year, Paul Tough bicycled alone from Atlanta to Halifax.

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Audrey Watters

Freelance education technology writer at Hack Education

Watters

What She's Doing

After opting not to pursue an academic career and completing a brief stint in education technology nonprofit work, Audrey Watters became a freelance writer and education technology journalist. She was, in her own words, "frustrated by the lack of coverage of education technology — by both technology and education publications." Her writing has appeared in Edutopia, Inside Higher Ed, the Huffington Post, and The Atlantic. Her personal publication is Hack Education.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Watters is a perennial critic of technological evangelism. Her writing deals with issues commonly left out of the discourse on education reform and technological change, such as identity politics, sexism, the commoditization of personal data, corporatism, and others relating to power and social justice. Voices like hers present crucial cautionary notes amid the sometimes-myopic technocratic zeal of the education technology and reform movements.

What Her Background Is

Watters was an academic, educator, and student of comparative literature for more than a decade. She is, as she writes on her personal website, “an education writer, a recovering academic, a serial dropout, a rabble-rouser, and ed-tech’s Cassandra.” Watters earned her B.S. at the University of Wyoming and her M.A. at the University of Oregon, where she also began pursuing a Ph.D. before leaving the world of academia.

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Lois Weiner

Professor, Coordinator of M.A. in Teaching/Learning in Urban Schools at New Jersey City University

Weiner

What She's Doing

When Lois Weiner published The Future of Our Schools, many teachers erupted in uproarious applause. The book calls for a teaching revolution and for an alliance among teachers, parents, and the community. Weiner takes an active part in cultivating this supportive community every day by managing the Urban Teaching program at New Jersey City University. In addition to her book, Weiner has published essays in Jacobin Magazine and is on the editorial board of New Politics.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Like Diane Ravitch, Weiner rallies for teachers’ rights. She points to the recent trend of criticizing or delegitimizing teacher unions, and pushes her readers to analyze the foundation of anti-union arguments. Weiner believes in the power of public education, and she decries “teaching to the test,” instead calling for more play and openness in classrooms.

What Her Background Is

Weiner holds a B.A. from the University of California–Berkeley, M.A. from Columbia University Teachers College, and Ed.D. from Harvard University.

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Higher Ed

Kaushik Basu

Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, C. Marks Professor of International Studies and Professor of Economics at Cornell University

Basu

What He's Doing

As Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank — a role for which he is taking a temporary leave from his faculty position at Cornell — Kaushik Basu oversees a 300-person staff and advises World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on development research and policy, among other things. Having recently served as Chief Economic Adviser in India's Ministry of Finance, Basu has experience with policymaking in the developing world. He is also a leading expert on welfare and child labor.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Basu is a prolific scholar whose research is informed by his policymaking, and vice versa. His service extends into multiple sectors; he is, for instance, the president of the Human Development and Capabilities Association and a fellow of the Econometric Society. He was one of the creative forces behind Arthapedia, an online portal aimed at helping Indian citizens understand their government’s economic policies. His academic contributions are wide-ranging and ongoing; a notable one in game theory is Basu's formulation of the traveler's dilemma.

What His Background Is

Born in Kolkata, Basu did his undergraduate degree at St. Stephen's College in Delhi, and then completed his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, where he studied under Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. He has since held appointments at many of the world's leading universities. In 2008, he was honored with the Padma Bhushan award, one of India's highest civilian honors, in recognition of his service to the country.

What May Surprise You

Basu invented Dui-doku, a version of Sudoku for two players.

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Jonah Berger

James G. Campbell Associate Professor of Marketing at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

Berger

What He’s Doing

Through his extensive research on marketing and trends, Jonah Berger has helped the public understand what leads us to be influenced — from demonstrating that polling locations can affect how votes are cast to exploring the correlation between hurricane names and popular baby names. His massive body of work, which explains some of our most intriguing (and sometimes counterintuitive) collective habits, is available both as studies and as articles featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Currently, Berger teaches at the prestigious Wharton School and is a visiting professor at Cornell Tech.

How He’s Changing the Ed Space

Berger is an expert at making his research understandable and fascinating to his audience, no matter their background. His most recent book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, explores the power of word-of-mouth and social transmission, and, more importantly, teaches readers how to leverage behavioral trends to make their content or message all the more engaging. These lessons aren’t only valuable to those in the world of marketing or business, but also to educators, who can harness practical skills to make their research and lessons accessible to wide audiences.

What His Background Is

Berger earned his B.A. in human judgment and decision-making and Ph.D. in marketing from Stanford University. He has been teaching at Wharton for more than eight years. Berger has also won dozens of awards for his impact on the field of marketing and for his dynamic teaching, including the MBA Teaching Commitment and Curricular Innovation Award and the Iron Prof award, which is given to a Wharton Professor who presents his research to MBA students in the most enthralling way.

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Andy Hargreaves

Thomas More Brennan Chair of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College

Hargreaves

What He's Doing

Andy Hargreaves is a writer, speaker, researcher, teacher, and political adviser. He has authored or edited more than 30 books, many of which deal with the challenges posed by rapid social and technological change in the 21st century. He is also a critic and skeptic of many in-vogue educational reform initiatives, and an advocate of autonomy, trust, and novel approaches to the professionalization of teaching.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Many U.S. education reform initiatives have become fraught political fights between reformers and teacher unions. Hargreaves reminds us that these arguments may lead us to forget that the end-goal of reform is to prepare students to thrive professionally and personally in a world in which knowledge and technological literacy are at a premium. This ultimate objective, he suggests, cannot be accomplished without either the support and commitment of teachers or the placement of trust in teachers to execute their jobs well.

What His Background Is

Hargreaves was the co-founder and co-director of the International Centre for Educational Change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Earlier this year, Education Week ranked him as one of the scholars with the most influence on education policy in the United States. Hargreaves is an alumnus of the University of Sheffield and the University of Leeds, and he holds an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University.

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Catharine Bond Hill

President of Vassar College, lecturer, economist

Hill

What She's Doing

Since Catharine Bond Hill became the president of Vassar College in 2006, the school has been nationally recognized for its staggering efforts to make tuition more affordable. In the last nine years, the percentage of freshmen with Pell grants nearly doubled from 12 to 23 percent, as did the school’s budget for financial aid, which increased from $27 million to $56 million. Hill has made a targeted effort to ensure that this prestigious university is more accessible to students from all backgrounds, extending her recruitment efforts to include veterans (through the Posse Foundation) as well as first-generation college students.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

With college tuition increasing at a faster rate than inflation, paying for higher education has been at the forefront of American public discourse. Under Hill’s leadership, Vassar is raising the bar for elite universities to use their budgets creatively to make college more affordable. Hill has researched and written about the importance of opening up higher education opportunities through financial aid, including making recommendations about how other university presidents can achieve the same results she has. Vassar’s approach to garnering a diverse student body has gained widespread recognition. Recently, for instance, the university won the inaugural $1 million Jack Kent Cooke Prize for Equity in Educational Excellence.

What Her Background Is

Hill has been recognized for her research and work by a variety of institutions, including the Brookings Institute and the American Council of Learned Societies. Before starting at Vassar, Hill served as provost at Williams College, her alma mater, for seven years. She also holds a B.A. and M.A. from Oxford College in politics, philosophy, and economics and a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.

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Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

Associate Professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, Noodle Expert

Immordino

What She’s Doing

As an associate professor at the renowned Rossier School of Education, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang does groundbreaking research on the ways that students’ social interactions and emotional reactions play an essential role in how they learn. Her forthcoming book, "Emotions, Learning, and the Brain: Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience” — you can read an excerpt here — explores how a student’s emotions are critical to the learning process, and how educators can leverage this understanding to create an environment in which learners can achieve success. In addition to carrying out field-changing research, Immordino-Yang also advises several school districts in Los Angeles, acts as associate editor for various journals (including the award-winning Mind, Brain, and Education), and directs content development for Annenberg Learner, a free professional-development site for teachers.

How She’s Changing the Ed Space

Immordino-Yang’s research is helping educators understand how the world a student comes from, and the emotional learning that takes place in that world, can play an integral role in the classroom. She designs methods to observe concepts that we consider abstract, such as feelings and daydreams, and makes tangible conclusions about how these may be affecting children. More than that, her research suggests how teachers can adapt their pedagogical practices in light of their students’ perspectives and needs. For instance, in her most recent research paper, Rest Is Not Idleness, Immordino-Yang and her team of researchers observe the cognitive benefits of letting minds wander, and they advocate for a classroom that balances “external attention and internal reflection.”

What Her Background Is

Immordino-Yang earned her B.A. at Cornell University and her Ed.M. and Ed.D. at Harvard University. She has won various awards for her impact on neuroscience and psychology, including the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Education. Education Week has also lauded Immordino-Yang for her influence on education discourse.

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Maria Klawe

First female president of Harvey Mudd College

Klawe

What She's Doing

Maria Klawe became the first female president of Harvey Mudd, the renowned STEM-focused college, in 2006. Shortly after assuming this position, she implemented a strategic plan for the university to encourage diversity in STEM fields, become globally engaged, and contribute to community-building through service. As one of the first women to reach a high-level position in the male-dominated areas of mathematics and computer science, Klawe has dedicated her life to encouraging people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds to consider computer science; within four years of assuming her position at Harvey Mudd, the enrollment of women in the college’s computer science major rose from ten to 40 percent.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

STEM is a rapidly-expanding field that offers students job security and a chance to make cutting-edge contributions to the world. In recent years, increasing emphasis has been placed on diversifying STEM fields. Klawe highlights the importance of teamwork in STEM, emphasizing that more perspectives yield better ideas, which in turn benefit everyone. Klawe puts this philosophy into action in her own work and at her university.

What Her Background Is

Klawe spent eight years at IBM doing research and managing teams before moving on to academia, where she served as a dean at the University of British Columbia and then at Princeton. In addition to her notable contributions to the fields of discrete mathematics and engineering, Klawe has received several honorary doctorates and awards, including the BC Science Council Champion of the Year and the A. Nico Habermann Award. Klawe received her B.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Alberta.

What May Surprise You

Klawe loves watercolors and is known for painting during meetings because it allows her to focus more.

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Donna Linderman

University Dean for Student Success Initiatives at City University of New York

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What She's Doing

Donna Linderman directly oversees CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), widely praised — most notably by President Obama — as one of the most successful community college programs in the country. ASAP requires students to enroll full-time and meet frequently with an adviser. It also offers significant support in the forms of financial aid, tutoring, and career services. Students take block-scheduled first-year courses, participate in cohort-based learning by major, and are encouraged to take courses in the winter and summer.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Low-income CUNY students enrolled in ASAP are nearly twice as likely to earn a degree as students who are offered standard programs and services. According to a recent study, 40 percent of ASAP students completed their degrees in three years, as compared to 22 percent of their peers in typical programs. The program is set to expand in the CUNY system — from 4,400 students in fall 2014 to 13,000 by fall 2016. It will also be implemented in Ohio, where three community colleges plan to try the ASAP system.

What Her Background Is

Linderman has previously overseen several other initiatives related to student success at CUNY, and has taught at Brooklyn College, Lehman College, and Bard College. She holds a B.F.A. in drama from the University of Southern California and an M.F.A. in theater from Brooklyn College.

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Carlos McCray

Division Chair and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Administration, and Policy at Fordham University, Noodle Expert

McCray

What He's Doing

McCray's research interests include multiculturalism, leadership, urban education, and the achievement gap. In 2011 he co-authored Cultural Collision and Collusion: Reflections on Hip-Hop Culture, Values, and Schools. He currently teaches courses in social justice/ethics and strategic thinking, planning, and implementation.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Demographically, the United States is transitioning to a majority-minority country (in which the number of Latino, African-American, and Asian individuals is becoming greater than that of non-Hispanic whites), and by some accounts, the entering kindergarten class of 2015 already is majority-minority. At the same time, education degrees yearly are overwhelmingly awarded to whites, and to women. McCray's research delves deeply into race, class, and gender dynamics between educators and students, and explores how embracing cultural diversity and pluralism can improve outcomes.

What His Background Is

McCray has an Ed.D. from Bowling Green State University. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Alabama State University.

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Ben Nelson

Creator of the Minerva Project

Nelson

What He's Doing

Ben Nelson is the founder of the Minerva Project, which, in a partnership with the Keck Graduate Institute, created Minerva Schools at KGI. This new, WASC-accredited university is meant to disrupt the higher-education space by providing students with small, rigorous online seminars (with only 19 people in a class) for $28,000 (a figure that includes both tuition and living expenses) — a fraction of the cost of an elite university. Throughout the four-year degree program, the university will send its students to different cities around the world, including Buenos Aires and Berlin. Instead of being graded on papers and exams, students will receive grades based on observations that professors (who hail from leading academic institutions) make as they re-watch recordings of class.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

This is the Minerva Project’s first year, and the initiative has gleaned much attention from a variety of outlets, including The Atlantic and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Nelson has combined the best qualities of various modes of learning — the accessibility of MOOCs and the seminar structure of traditional higher ed — in a revolutionary way. In a space where many companies have attempted to create an affordable and democratic college experience, Minerva is turning heads with its inventive approach; venture-capital firms have shown their staunch support by investing $95 million in the project.

What His Background Is

Nelson is most famous for being the former CEO of Snapfish, a startup that was eventually sold to Hewlett-Packard for $300 million. Nelson became interested in education as a student at the University of Pennsylvania, where he felt disenchanted with the structure and priorities of elite universities.

What May Surprise You

Nelson wrote a paper during his freshman year about changing higher education, and elements from that assignment have found their way into the Minerva Project.

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Pedro Noguera

Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings (IGEMS)

Noguera

What He's Doing

A former public school teacher and sociology Ph.D., Pedro Noguera studies how schools in urban settings are drastically affected by social, local, and economic conditions. In his 200+ pieces of scholarly research, not only does Noguera consider the present conditions of schools, but he also proposes realistic solutions to closing the achievement gap. His most recent (co-authored) book, Schooling for Resilience: Improving the Life Trajectory of Black and Latino Boys, evaluates the best practices of seven schools that serve Latino and African-American males, who are among the most vulnerable populations in today’s education system.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Pedro Noguera’s scholarly work is not only thorough, thoughtful, passionate, and permeating, but it also compels American audiences to look critically at the disquieting truth about inequality in public education. Noguera emphasizes the importance of considering schools not within a vacuum, but as part of an ecosystem of communities and characteristics that students bring with them to class. His thought-provoking research has been featured in The Nation, Huffington Post, and The New York Times, and he regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.

What His Background Is

Noguera’s educational background is in sociology, a subject in which he earned his B.A. and M.A. from Brown University as well as his Ph.D. from the University of California–Berkeley. He has received various awards for his work, including the Whitney Young Award of Leadership in Education and the Centennial Medal from Philadelphia University.

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Ted O'Neill

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago, Lecturer at University of Chicago, Noodle Expert

oneill

What He's Doing

Ted O'Neill is currently a teacher, writer, and researcher at the Humanities Division faculty of the University of Chicago, where he commonly teaches undergraduate writing and humanities courses. This semester, he is teaching Human Being and Citizen, a core-curriculum course that uses seminal works in Western philosophy and literature to examine ideas of community and citizenship. Before this, O’Neill served as Dean of Admissions, a role in which he was recognized for his inspired application essay prompts and colorful welcome addresses. He remains an active member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC).

How He's Changing the Ed Space

During his time as Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago, O'Neill pioneered the institution's signature UnCommon Application and urged admissions officers to look beyond obvious metrics to seek students with relentless intellectual curiosity. O'Neill's admissions method serves as a model for how an institution can stay true to its unique academic culture in the midst of competing pressures to maximize application rates. He is a critic of the commercializing effect that U.S. News and other rankings purveyors have had on college admissions, instead promoting practices that encourage to think creatively about their own achievements and their fit with a school.

What His Background Is

O'Neill first became a member of the University of Chicago community as a graduate student in English Language and Literature. He taught, tutored, and advised before joining the University of Chicago's Office of College Admissions and eventually becoming its dean in 1989. O'Neill earned his B.A. at Michigan State University.

What May Surprise You

He's practically a memetic presence in the University of Chicago community.

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Trevor Packer

Senior Vice President of Advanced Placement and College Readiness at the College Board

Packer

What He's Doing

Since 2003, Trevor Packer has supervised the College Board's Advanced Placement and SpringBoard programs. The AP curricula seek to prepare high-achieving students for higher education by offering college-level courses and even potential college credit for high exam scores. The SpringBoard program offers customizable online content — aligned with college and career readiness standards — for students in grades six through 12.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Through the college credits offered by the AP program, it is calculated that in 2013, students saved more than $2 billion on college tuition. In addition to managing this initiative, Packer has been an advocate of expanding access to college-level classes among a greater number and diversity of schools. Under Packer’s leadership, the exams have also undergone significant revision over the past decade, with creators critically reflecting on the content taught in each course. For instance, the AP U.S. History exam recently changed, reflecting an updated curriculum that focuses less on American exceptionalism and more on minority experiences in the United States.

What His Background Is

Packer holds a M.A. and B.A. in English from Brigham Young University. Before beginning his work with the College Board, Packer taught composition and Victorian literature at a variety of institutions, including his alma mater and the City University of New York.

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Jonathan Plucker

Endowed Professor at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, Noodle Expert

Plucker

What He's Doing

Jonathan Plucker’s insightful research, for which he has received more than $30 million in grants and contracts, focuses on the conditions and education policy associated with high-achieving students. For instance, his most recent book, Intelligence 101, which he co-authored with Amber Esping, focuses on the history of how we categorize, measure, and conceive of intelligence. Among the 200 articles and reports that Plucker has written is Mind the Other Gap: The Growing Excellence Gap in K–12 Education, a report that examines the alarmingly large gap between high-achieving white and affluent students and high-achieving minority and low-income students. This report figures prominently in the important conversation about reforms that can create a level playing field for all students.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Plucker’s study on the excellence achievement gap, which he has further examined in new research, became the predecessor of many similar reports that have sought to explain what Plucker and his team so starkly presented. In this report, as in his other writings, Plucker outlined key education-reform measures, including focusing equally on minimum competency and excellence as well as addressing poverty. Eloquent as well as inspiring, Plucker is often asked by universities to speak during their freshmen orientation events and conferences for high school students.

What His Background Is

Plucker earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Connecticut, where he now teaches. He initially studied chemistry before going on to get his M.A. in educational psychology. He also holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Plucker has received many accolades for his work, including two awards from Mensa and the Rudolf Arnheim Award for outstanding research by a senior scholar.

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Steven Strogatz

Mathematician, Writer, Professor at Cornell University

Strogatz

What He's Doing

Steven Strogatz is a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University. His research tackles some of nature’s most beguiling phenomena — from crickets that chirp in unison to the geometry of supercoiled DNA to patterns in the human sleep-wake cycle. He is also an educator who relishes making math accessible, and who, through his writing and contributions to programs like RadioLab and Science Friday, hopes to deepen the public’s understanding of (and appreciation for) math. His series of columns on math in The New York Times eventually led him to write his latest book, The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math from One to Infinity, which explores the intersections between math and philosophy, science, art, business, and everyday life.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Strogatz is not only recognized as an exceptional educator — he is the recipient of MIT’s highest teaching prize, among many others — but also as a researcher and writer whose work, in the words of the Harvard Business Review, serves as “a model for how mathematics needs to be popularized.” Unlike many top scholars, Strogatz focuses on removing jargon from his writing and making it accessible to people outside of his field.

What His Background Is

Before going to Cornell, Strogatz was a mathematics professor at MIT. He is a graduate of Princeton University, Trinity College, Cambridge (where he was a Marshall Scholar), and Harvard University.

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K–12

Seth Andrew

Founder of Democracy Prep Public Schools

Andrew

What He's Doing

Seth Andrew founded the Democracy Prep charter school network, which expanded from the flagship Democracy Prep Middle School in Harlem, NY to fifteen schools on the East Coast. He also founded Democracy Builders, an organization that seeks to engage and organize parents to advocate for excellent public schools. After advising Secretary Arne Duncan as the Department of Education's first Superintendent in Residence, he now serves as Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer of the United States at the White House.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Andrew implemented an enhanced "no excuses" model that also emphasizes civic engagement, the education of English-language learners and students with disabilities, and the use of public funding for schools. Democracy Prep's results are incomparable: 100 percent of graduates are college-bound (two college acceptances are required for graduation); 95 percent pass the Regents exams; and the schools are leaders in urban charter turnaround (with Harlem Prep skyrocketing from the third to the 96th percentile from one school year to the next).

What His Background Is

A graduate of the NYC public schools, Andrew earned his B.A. from Brown University and Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. He’s taught in settings as varied as South Africa, South Korea, Massachusetts, and New York. In addition to founding Democracy Prep, he also worked in the network’s schools in roles ranging from teacher to principal to superintendent.

What May Surprise You

Democracy Prep requires students to pass the U.S. citizenship exam before they graduate.

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The Blocks

Co-Founders of BASIS Schools

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What They're Doing

The co-founders of BASIS Schools, a network of charter and private schools, Michael and Olga Block originally sought to create educational institutions that combined the rigors of Asian and European schooling with the American system’s emphases on creativity and originality. After their first Tucson charter school was ranked the nation’s sixth-best high school by Newsweek, the Blocks went on to found BASIS.ed, a management company that operates 12 BASIS Schools around the country, with two additional BASIS Independent (private) schools to be opened in Brooklyn, New York and San Jose, California.

How They're Changing the Ed Space

The Blocks are dedicated to producing excellent outcomes and replicable results. The BASIS schools’ approach is unique, and the Blocks seek to be a disruptive force in American K–12 education. The BASIS model emphasizes extraordinarily high expectations for students, expert instruction, and preparation for standardized tests. The schools are also well-known for their cost-effectiveness. Students from BASIS have consistently attained high scores on standardized tests — even matching scores from Shanghai students on the PISA test — and several BASIS schools are ranked among America’s Most Challenging High Schools by the Washington Post. BASIS has sometimes been criticized for allegedly selecting students who will earn high test scores, but the schools’ results are impressive — and demand for slots in BASIS schools continues to soar.

What Their Background Is

Both economists by training, the Blocks are unusual charter school founders. He is a former University of Arizona economics and law professor with a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford; she is a former Charles University associate dean who completed an engineering degree at Prague Economics University and pursued an economics Ph.D. at Cornell. They established the first BASIS charter school in Tucson as a response — and an alternative — to the mediocre public education that their daughter was receiving.

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Michael Brown

CEO and Co-Founder of City Year

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What He's Doing

Michael Brown co-founded City Year in 1988 with the hope of lowering the nation’s rate of high-school dropouts. The idea was to mobilize young leaders and have them serve as mentors, tutors, and guides at public schools, where they could keep students on track to graduate. City Year corps members serve for a full year, working with a small group of students and a small group of other mentors to develop a powerful community built on civil engagement and person-to-person inspiration. Every year, nearly 3,000 members work with schools across the United States as well as in South Africa and the U.K.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Through the devoted work of its members, City Year’s influence led students to spend 14,600 more hours at school in a single year, all while further engaging in the classroom — 78 percent of teachers at partner schools agreed that the City Year participants helped improve the behavior of the students they worked with. With about 29 million hours of service work pledged since its inception, City Year became the model for President Clinton’s AmeriCorps program. In fact, President Clinton asked Brown to help him strategize to build the program, which paved the way for a new generation of civil service, via the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993.

What His Background Is

Brown attended both Harvard University and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor for the Harvard Law Review. Brown has received several honorary doctorates and awards, including the Reebok Human Rights Award.

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Geoffrey Canada

President of Harlem Children's Zone, Education reform advocate

Canada

What He's Doing

Geoffrey Canada has spent the last 30 years as the head of Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit organization that provides social and educational services to thousands of children and adults in a 97-block area of Central Harlem. HCZ’s programs support children from birth through college and include classes for new parents, early childhood education, community health initiatives, after-school programs, and college planning.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

HCZ’s unique, holistic approach to fighting poverty has drawn national attention. Most notably, HCZ served as a model for President Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods program, implemented in 2010, which offers grants to fund similar programs in various communities across the country. Recognized as a thought leader in the field of education reform, Canada was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011.

What His Background Is

Raised in a poor, often violent neighborhood in the South Bronx, Canada excelled academically, ultimately earning a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has served as co-chair of New York City’s Commission on Economic Opportunity, as well as on the New York State Governor’s Council of Economic and Fiscal Advisors.

What May Surprise You

Canada is a third-degree black belt and has taught karate in Harlem.

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Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin

Founders of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)

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What They're Doing

The founders of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin have built a network of rigorous charter schools that emphasize a college-prep curriculum and a “no shortcuts” mentality.

How They're Changing the Ed Space

With more than 160 schools across the United States, KIPP is one of the largest national charter networks. KIPP has had a big impact in helping underserved communities — 88 percent of enrolled students are eligible for federally-subsidized lunch — and a large proportion of those students (80 percent) go on to pursue higher education. This high success rate is often attributed to the continued support from college counselors that students receive even after graduating.

What Their Background Is

Feinberg is a University of Pennsylvania alumnus, and Levin graduated from Yale. In 1994, after three years of teaching elementary school in Houston through Teach for America, the pair decided to apply their classroom experience to a new approach to education — and thus KIPP was born. Feinberg and Levin have won several awards for their contributions to the field of education, including the Presidential Citizen’s Medal. The character development philosophy they created was also featured in the book “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character,” written by Paul Tough (also on our list).

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Miriam González Durantéz

Founder of Inspiring Women, International trade lawyer

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What She's Doing

Miriam González Durántez, an international trade lawyer, is the leader behind Inspiring Women, a U.K.-based organization dedicated to empowering young girls to explore new career paths by providing one-hour mentoring sessions. Her campaign has been immensely successful. In just 18 months, the organization has signed up 15,000 mentors to talk to young women about their jobs and career paths; collectively, the mentors aim to reach 250,000 young women.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Inspiring Women aims to encourage young women to aspire to a wide range of career options. Noting that three-quarters of women end up in the “five C’s of employment” — caring, catering, cashiering, cleaning, and clerical work — the organization seeks to expose students to a variety of paths by introducing them to role models and by broadening their personal networks. By doing all this free of charge, Inspiring Women plays an active role not only in helping the young women it directly serves, but also in creating options for the young women whom they in turn meet — ultimately making the future workforce more egalitarian.

What Her Background Is

González Durántez was born in rural Spain to two educators. She studied law at the University of Valladolid and received her master's degree at the College of Europe in Bruges. She is married to the current U.K. deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, with whom she has three sons.

What May Surprise You

González Durántez and her sons have a cooking blog.

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Greg Green

Principal of Clintondale High School, First user of the flipped classroom model

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What He's Doing

While principal of a public high school in a financially-disadvantaged part of Detroit, Greg Green had the idea to flip the typical classroom model. Students would watch teachers' lessons at home; then, homework would be done in the classroom, with instructors’ guidance. This innovative model proved successful, and his strategy received national attention. Green's work has been profiled on media outlets such as CNN and Fast Company, and he has also been a TED speaker.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Determined to address the shortcomings of his school — and, more broadly, a model of education that clearly was not resonating with his students — Green took a huge risk that fortunately paid off. Within a year, ninth-grade failure rates dropped by 20 to 30 percent in most subjects. Green's work to implement a flipped classroom model throughout an entire school — and be able to demonstrate that it resulted in improved test scores and college readiness — paved the way for a nationwide discussion about the efficacy of the current classroom structure.

What His Background Is

Green has been the principal of Clintondale High School for nearly 20 years. For his innovative use of the flipped classroom model, Green has been asked to advise several organizations, including the Harvard Mazur Group and the TechSmith Corporation. Green earned an M.A. in special education and teaching from Saginaw Valley State University and completed his undergraduate studies at Central Michigan University and Michigan State University.

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Aileen Hefferren

Chief Executive of Prep for Prep

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What She's Doing

Aileen Hefferren is the Chief Executive of Prep for Prep, a New York–based organization that aims to encourage diversity in leadership positions by academically supporting high-achieving students of color and helping them enroll in top independent and boarding schools in the Northeast. Of the 6,000 fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-graders nominated by NYC public schools, 225 are admitted into Prep for Prep’s rigorous 14-month academic program, which is designed to help prepare students for success in independent schools. Once placed, Prep students continue to receive support in the form of counseling and financial aid for college and graduate degrees. Prep for Prep doesn’t charge its students or take public funding — the program is completely subsidized by the private schools that accept Prep for Prep students.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

The Prep for Prep program has been astoundingly successful at giving students of color opportunities for leadership: Of their 2,546 college graduates, 91 percent have received their degrees from the most competitive schools in the country, with Wesleyan, Harvard, UPenn, Yale, and Columbia as the five universities most often attended by the program’s alumni. Of those students, hundreds go on to pursue graduate or doctoral programs, while others gain employment with top companies including Google, Disney, and J.P. Morgan.

What Her Background Is

In addition to leading the Prep for Prep initiative since 1992, Hefferren has served as Director of Individual Gifts at NYU and is currently part of the executive committee of the board of Kenyon College, her alma mater.

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Sheldon Horowitz

Director of LD Resources and Essential Information at the National Center for Learning Disabilities

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What He's Doing

Sheldon Horowitz is an expert in the field of learning disabilities who has led many National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) projects and programs. His work centers on research and advocacy geared toward ensuring that learning disabilities are better understood, and that those with learning disabilities have access to equal rights and opportunities in the classroom and beyond. Every Wednesday at noon, Horowitz also leads the Twitter #LDChat, a forum that allows people to ask important questions about learning disabilities and to build a supportive community.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

Horowitz actively works to destigmatize learning disabilities by disseminating information in the media and through programming at the NCLD. His expertise touches on many facets of learning disabilities, including diagnostic assessments and evaluations, the parenting of children with learning disabilities, and learning disabilities throughout life. Not only does Horowitz’s work provide families and schools with tools to help students of all abilities thrive, but his openness and activism in spreading knowledge about learning disabilities also creates awareness that, in turn, results in greater inclusiveness.

What His Background Is

Horowitz has taught at the primary, secondary, and college levels. He has also worked as a consultant to school districts throughout the New York region. He holds a bachelors degree in elementary and special education from Brooklyn College, a master's degree in learning disabilities from Vanderbilt University, and doctorate in special education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, where he specialized in learning disabilities and neuroscience in education. Before coming to NCLD, Horowitz served as the associate director of the Learning Diagnostic Center at Schneider Children’s Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

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Ileana Jiménez

Founder and sole blogger of Feminist Teacher

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What She's Doing

Ileana Jiménez is creator of the Feminist Teacher website, which compiles and shares feminist teaching practices that encourage K–12 students to think about issues of social justice in terms of gender, race, sexuality, religion, age, and ability. Jiménez has also worked extensively with the LGBTQ community. She founded the New York Independent School LGBT Educators Group, which is designed to promote educator awareness of LGBTQ issues and to develop strong support systems for students. Jiménez currently works as an English teacher in a NYC high school; she also serves as an associate faculty member at Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

On her website, Jiménez explains that often, educational conversations about social justice and equity are limited to the higher-education sector, not making their way to the K–12 classroom. Jiménez works to remedy this situation, both by teaching her own students about pressing issues and by providing tools for fellow educators via her website and workshops. She recently developed a yearlong series for high school students called “Gender and Sexuality: What’s Next in the Conversation?”

What Her Background Is

A graduate of Smith College and Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English, Jiménez was awarded a Fulbright in 2010–11. Her research focused on the development of safe schools for Mexico City’s LGBTQ youth. She has been named one of the Feminist Press’s 40 Feminists Under 40, and she’s written for Feministing, the Huffington Post, and Ms. Magazine, among other publications.

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Wendy Kopp

CEO and Co-Founder of Teach for All, Founder of Teach for America

Kopp

What She's Doing

In 1989, Wendy Kopp founded the renowned Teach for America (TFA) teaching corps program, which places recent college graduates in some of the most underprivileged schools and neighborhoods across the country. After 24 years of leading the institution in this important mission, Kopp founded Teach for All (TFALL), an initiative that works with local entrepreneurs across the world to implement teaching corps programs in their own countries. The program has launched initiatives in 36 countries and continues to expand internationally. It also recently began offering a two-year fellowship for teacher-coaches interested in working with students who have learning disabilities.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Part of the mission of Teach for America is to give high-achieving college graduates, who are on their way to becoming future leaders of the nation, a thorough understanding of the education sphere that can lead them to influence students inside the classroom or through policy and reform. Of the 37,000+ TFA alumni, 65 percent work full-time in education. Kopp is using the successes of this organization as a model in working with leaders around the world to create a global community engaged in improving schooling.

What Her Background Is

Kopp graduated from Princeton University, where she proposed the idea for Teach for America as her undergraduate thesis. Kopp has been recognized as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people, and she has won a collection of distinctions for her service, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

What May Surprise You

Wendy Kopp has never been a teacher.

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Jamie Martin

Assistive technology consultant and trainer, Noodle Expert

Martin

What He's Doing

Jamie Martin specializes in analyzing and implementing assistive technology to help students with dyslexia excel at school. By using a variety of applications and devices, Martin opens up the world of education and schooling to dyslexic children, helping them find comfortable and safe places in their classrooms. Martin began this work when he developed customized AT programs for a specialized school for students with dyslexia, and after witnessing the success among those children, he decided to expand his efforts to other institutions.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

In his 20+ years in the field of education, Martin has not only helped students with dyslexia thrive academically, but he has also helped schools become more inclusive spaces. Martin consistently stays on top of the latest developments in the sphere of assistive technology, always providing teachers, parents, students, and readers with the most up-to-date tools and strategies for addressing learning needs.

What His Background Is

Martin received a B.A. in English and language arts teacher education from Hofstra University. He taught English at Ridgefield Academy before becoming the assistive technology coordinator at the Kildonan School and launching his successful consulting business.

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Eva Moskowitz

Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools

Moskowitz

What She's Doing

As the leader of New York’s largest charter school network, Eva Moskowitz is a vocal advocate for school choice as well as charter schools in New York’s education system. While some have been critical of Success Academy’s intense focus on test-prep, the school’s students consistently achieve impressive scores on their New York state exams, routinely outranking students from wealthy neighborhoods and prestigious private schools. Recently, Moskowitz won approval to add 14 more schools to the network of 32, allowing her to take strides toward her goal of opening 100 schools.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

With her Success Academy schools, Moskowitz strives not only to bring high quality education to underserved communities, but also to act as a catalyst for education reform nationwide. As a former New York City councilwoman and the leader of a network of schools larger than many public school districts, Moskowitz is in a powerful position to influence education policy.

What Her Background Is

Before founding Success Academy Charter Schools in 2006, Moskowitz worked as a teacher, college professor, and New York City Council representative. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate at Johns Hopkins University.

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Kyle Redford

Education Editor for the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, Teacher at Marin County Day School, Noodle Expert

Redford

What She's Doing

As the Education Editor for the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, Kyle Redford plays a critical role in helping the organization achieve its mission of bettering the lives of people with dyslexia. Redford spreads awareness about dyslexia through a variety of mediums. As a teacher, she accommodates students with different needs; as a writer, she blogs about the struggles that dyslexic student face; and as a part of the team that produced the 2012 documentary The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, she opened up about her family’s own challenges with dyslexia — and the lessons she learned from her experiences.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

With prevalence of dyslexia estimates as high as one in five students, educators need to be able to adapt their practices to meet students' needs. Redford has put dyslexia in the spotlight for both teachers and parents. Redford's work informs our expectations, attitudes, and approaches to dyslexia. As a parent to a child with dyslexia, Redford also openly discusses the ways in which a learning disability can affect an entire family. She is currently working on a survival guide for students with dyslexia and their families.

What Her Background Is

Redford has worked as a teacher for 25 years and holds a B.A. in political science history from University of Colorado Boulder an M.A. in history from Northwestern University. She serves on the advisory board of the Center for Supportive Schools, the Edible Schoolyard Project, the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, and World Savvy.

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The Sandefers

Founders of Acton Academy

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What They're Doing

The structure and ideology behind Acton Academy, the school that Laura and Jeff Sandefer created in 2009, is unlike any other. Students are taught that their individual education is that of a “hero’s journey,” a conception via which the Sandefers challenge students to learn through online game-based tools, group discussions, and projects that the school calls “quests.” Students are asked to lead one another — adults are called “Guides,” not “Teachers” — and to determine the design of their own learning. Guides are there to introduce cutting-edge technology into the classroom, and to ask questions of the learners; guides never lecture.

How They're Changing the Ed Space

Jeff Sandefer classified Acton not as part of the reform movement that is trying to adapt and change schools, but as part of a disruptive movement that seeks to rethink traditional education. Inspired by Sugatu Mitra’s Hole-in-the-Wall experiment, the Sandefers set out to create a self-motivated community of learners who could take their education into their own hands. With influencers in the education sphere criticizing the school system for not having significantly changed since the Industrial Revolution, the Sandefers are laying down a new foundation for what a more intentional education model could look like.

What Their Background Is

Jeff Sandefer earned his B.S. from the University of Texas and his MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was deeply affected by the use of the Socratic method, a cornerstone of the Acton philosophy. After teaching at the University of Texas for a few years, he decided to found his own MBA program that focused on experiential learning. The Acton MBA has expanded to include a program at the Guatemalan Universidad Francisco Marroquín.

Laura Sandefer serves as the Head of School at Acton Academy. She received a B.A. and Ed.M. from Vanderbilt University. Laura Sandefer worked in arts education at the Oklahoma Art Institute prior to founding Acton Academy.

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Rev. Timothy Scully

Co-Founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)

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What He's Doing

In 1993, Rev. Tim Scully, assisted by recent college graduate Rev. Sean McGraw, founded the Alliance for Catholic Education, a program that seeks to improve the quality of education in Catholic K–12 schools by comprehensively preparing young educators to teach at some of the most under-resourced schools. Since then, ACE has expanded its offerings, with several programs focused on professional development for teachers and administrators around the country and world. Fr. Scully still teaches and advises at the University of Notre Dame, where the ACE program continues to be based 22 years after its founding, despite its now international reach.

How He's Changing the Ed Space

ACE began as a 26-month teacher training program for recent college graduates, and nearly 2,000 teachers have since completed the program. Each cohort enrolls in a master of education course and studies for that degree while teaching at a Catholic school. It is calculated that the ACE program has affected more than 180,000 schools across the country, reaching 70 percent of the nation’s dioceses. The creation of ACE also led to the development of a task force that sought to understand the needs of Catholic education and that issued the comprehensive report Making God Known, Loved, and Served: The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States, which outlines 12 instrumental objectives that ACE and Notre Dame collaboratively meet as they continue seeking to improve Catholic schools.

What His Background Is

Fr. Scully is a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, where he lectures on Latin American politics and human rights. He has won multiple awards for his teaching, as well as national honors for his work, including the Presidential Citizens Medal. He holds a B.A. and M.Div. From the University of Notre Dame, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California–Berkeley.

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Randi Weingarten

President of the American Federation of Teachers, attorney, and teacher

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What She's Doing

Randi Weingarten serves as the current president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s primary labor union, which represents nearly 1.6 million teachers. Since her election to this role in 2008, Weingarten has led a series of projects, one of which was the creation of the AFT Innovation Fund, which supports education reform projects developed by teachers in collaboration with their local unions. She has also transformed the current model of teacher evaluations to better align performance feedback with tenure. Before this, she served as the president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), New York City’s pricipal labor union for public school teachers.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

As the leader of the largest group of teachers in the nation, Weingarten is well-positioned to effect change in the education space, and she consistently ensures that key issues remain at the forefront of American public discourse. She is a staunch supporter of public education, and she is known her her firm stance against charter schools, the Common Core, and high-stakes standardized testing. Weingarten is outspoken about equity and fairness for teachers, and her voice carries great influence in the world of education policy. Weingarten is an advocate of merit pay for teachers and successfully negotiated to increase NYC teachers' wages by 42 percent during her time as president of the UFT.

What Her Background Is

Weingarten's upbringing as the daughter of a New York City teacher and electrical engineer has informed her work with unions. She is a graduate of the Industrial and Labor Relations program at Cornell University and of the law program at Cardozo. In its 25th anniversary edition, the New York Observer highlighted her as one of the most influential New Yorkers.

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Angelina Zeller

President and CEO of Engaged Education

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What She's Doing

Angelina Zeller oversees Engaged Education, a full-service Educational Service Provider (ESP) that creates and implements curricula, grant proposals, student programs, and professional development opportunities, among other things. Engaged Education has gotten charter schools off the ground and developed innovative learning tools for students.

How She's Changing the Ed Space

Zeller is committed to cutting through red tape to make a difference in students’ lives. With a mandate to help people develop as human beings, Engaged Education works to support students in a variety of ways — from developing project-based learning curricula to training teachers in how to obtain funding.

What Her Background Is

The founder of LifeTech and Relevant Academies, Zeller has built successful schools from the ground up, managing human and capital resources as well as creating effective blended-learning environments. Zeller received her B.A. at Northwood University and her M.A. Michigan State University, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D.

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