We are lucky to have the support of these distinguished leaders in childhood learning from the international community.
Gustavo Borba is Director of the Institute for Innovation in Education and Dean of the Creative Industry School at Unisinos University, Porto Alegre, Brazil. He is an expert in strategic design for social innovation and works with design-driven innovation to reshape learning spaces and improve teachers’ competencies to engage students in their learning process. His research shows how spaces could improve the connection between teachers and students, and the role of curriculum and spaces to change the way we teach, considering the characteristics of the students, especially Gen Z students. He is the author of many books on Design and Education and a former TEDx Ambassador for Brazil and has given three talks at TEDx events related to Design and Education.
Richard Louv is a journalist and author of ten books, including Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder; The Nature Principle; and Vitamin N. His most recent book is Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs. Translated into 22 languages, his books have helped launch an international movement to connect children, their families and communities to nature. He is co-founder and chair emeritus of the nonprofit Children & Nature Network. In 2008, he was awarded the Audubon Medal, presented by the National Audubon Society. Prior recipients have included Rachel Carson, E. O. Wilson, and President Jimmy Carter. Among other awards, Louv is the recipient of the Cox Award, Clemson University’s highest honor, for “sustained achievement in public service.”
Pak Tee Ng is a Singaporean educator who is deeply involved in the development of educational leaders for his country. An associate professor at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, his main work is in educational change, policy and leadership. He is the author of Learning from Singapore: The Power of Paradoxes, which includes discussion of how a system could pursue creativity and innovation within contexts of large-scale assessment. Government organisations, professional networks and media often seek his views or advice regarding educational change. He has been invited to speak at many events globally, discussing concepts such as Teach Less Learn More, Joy of Learning and Teacher’s Heartbeat.
Nicola Ngarewa affiliates to the iwi (tribes) of Ngāti Ruanui and Ngā Rauru. Nicola has taught in all sectors of education from Early Childhood to Tertiary, including in the New Zealand’s Prison system. She was the Principal at Spotswood College and the Chairperson of The Teaching Council of Aotearoa NZ. Nicola is now the Chair of the Te Kura (New Zealand’s largest school for early childhood to secondary. She is passionate about disrupting the educational norm through transformative leadership. In 2013, Nicola received a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award as a result of transformative work at Tamatea High School. In 2016 she was the recipient of the Taranaki Daily News Person of the Year for transformative work at Patea Area School (with the school receiving the National UNESCO award for Education - Global Citizenship 2018). Nicola has served on a number of national education boards in New Zealand, including the He Kakano advisory committee for Māori achievement, Network 4 Learning, connecting schools safely across the country, and the Toi Foundation, a philanthropic trust.
Danette Parsley, EdD, is a principal and chief executive officer of Marzano Research, an organization working at the forefront of practitioner-centered, evidence informed education improvement in the US. An expert in school system improvement, professional learning networks, rural education, research-practice partnerships, and out-of-school-time programs, Danette has worked for more than two decades with schools, districts, and state education agencies to improve student opportunities and outcomes. She conceptualized and worked with a steering committee to create the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) Network, a nationally recognized initiative that brought together isolated rural educators from predominantly high-poverty, underserved communities in five states to collaborate in cross-district professional learning communities. Danette is a board director for the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement and chair of its standing committee for Generational Renewal, Inclusion, and Diversity.
Kate Robinson is a passionate advocate for imagination and creativity in education, and the essential roles they play in releasing the talents that lay within all young people. With her late father, Sir Ken Robinson, Kate is the co-author of his manifesto: Imagine If: Creating a Future for Us All which inspires and empowers those within (and outside) of the education system to change the world through imagination. Kate is also the co-founder of the SKR Legacy Collective Fund, and We Imagine If, a not for profit dedicated to encouraging the diversity of talents and skills our human eco systems depend upon to thrive, which culminates each year in a festival of human potential. Kate sits on the board of the Goldie Hawn Foundation UK, and their signature programme MindUP, which equips young people with the skills and knowledge they need to regulate their stress and emotion, form positive relationships, and act with kindness and compassion.
Pasi Sahlberg is a Finnish education expert and best-selling author who has lifelong experience in a wide range of education sectors. His research currently focuses on equity of education, digital wellness, and expanding children’s access to high quality play. Pasi is the recipient of the 2013 Grawemeyer Award in the U.S. for an educational idea that has potential to change the world, and the 2016 Lego Prize in Denmark. His work on children’s play, creativity, and innovation has roots in the highly valued culture of outdoor play in Finland. His recent book (with William Doyle) is Let the Children Play: How more play can save our schools and help children thrive”. Pasi is Professor of Education at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia.
Haydée Silva is head of the Language and Literature Didactics team at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She holds a doctorate in literary theory and degrees in didactics, translation, interpreting and game science. She is a member of the Mexican National Research System and has received various awards and distinctions. She is the leader of several international research projects and the author of nearly 130 articles as well as several individual and collective books. Her publications include Le Jeu en classe de langue (CLE International, 2008), Bien joué. Guide d’animation de la communication orale en classe de langue (Learning Unlimited, 2020) and Regards sur le jeu en didactique des langues et des cultures (Peter Lang, 2022). To date, she has conducted over 220 workshops in 18 countries, focusing on play in the language classroom.
Allison Skerrett is a Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Director of Teacher Education in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines literacy in the lives of young people from racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse and minoritized backgrounds. Prioritizing these populations, Skerrett’s work explores how youth use and develop multiple literacies for diverse purposes across various contexts of their lives, including for personal and academic development, play, and pleasure. Dr. Skerrett is a leader in the area of the literacy education of transnational students—students who live and learn across two or more nations—with a decisive contribution being her book, Teaching Transnational Youth: Literacy and Education in a Changing World. She serves in education research, assessment, and policy advisory roles to the US Government, Scotland, and regions in the Caribbean.
AnnMarie Thomas is a Professor at the University of St. Thomas (USA) in the School of Engineering and the Opus College of Business. She is the co-founder of the school’s Graduate Certificate in Engineering Education and teaches in the Education Leadership program. AnnMarie is the founder and director of the Playful Learning Lab, which explores ways to encourage children of all ages, to embrace playful learning. Her team is currently in residence at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, as well as collaborating with Metro Deaf School to create playful learning opportunities for Deaf and DeafBlind students. AnnMarie is the author of Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Education, the co-creator of Squishy Circuits, and the Executive Director (and co-founder) of OK Go Sandbox. She is the recipient of the 2020 LEGO Prize.
Shaneé Washington is an Assistant Professor of Justice and Equity in Education at the University of Washington. She is also a Banks Center for Educational Justice Affiliated Faculty and a consultant for Educurios. Her research explores Indigenous and, more recently, Black families’ and communities’ self-determination, engagement practices, and advocacy efforts towards more equitable, humanizing, and culturally sustaining/revitalizing educational experiences for their children in and outside of schools. Her recent publication, “An Indigenous community’s fight for cultural continuity and educational equity with/in and against a New England school district,” highlights this work with one Indigenous community. Shaneé’s commitments to amplifying the expertise and self-determining educational justice work of Indigenous, Black, and other communities who have experienced schools and society as sites of erasure and dehumanization stems from her own experiences as a Black woman, mother, and former middle school teacher of Black, Brown, immigrant, and bi/multilingual students.
Joel Westheimer is the project’s resident international adviser. He is professor of democracy and education at the University of Ottawa. He is an expert in the role of education in democratic societies, global school reform, and accountability movements. He was co-founder and executive director of Democratic Dialogue, a research collaborative dedicated to the critical exploration of democratic ideals in education and society, and currently co-directs (with John Rogers, UCLA) The Inequality Project, investigating what North American schools are teaching about economic inequality. Westheimer grew up in New York City where he taught in the New York City Public Schools. He has published more than 200 articles, book chapters, and books including the critically acclaimed What Kind of Citizen? Educating Our Children for the Common Good. He is also education columnist for CBC Radio. He is a firm believer that play benefits everyone of all ages and is playful enough to know that everyone includes university professors.
Yong Zhao was born in China’s Sichuan Province. He is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas and a professor in Educational Leadership at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education in Australia. He is an elected member of the US National Academy of Education and a fellow of the International Academy of Education. Yong’s work focuses on the implications of globalization and technology on education and on the potential or self-determined learning. He has published over 100 articles and 30 books, including World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students and Teaching Students to Become Self-determined Learners.