Keynote Speakers

Profile Photo: John Meehan

John Meehan

Wednesday, July 21 - 8:00 am MDT
Day 1 Opening Keynote: "Playing with Purpose"

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. His first book, EDrenaline Rush, was published in June of 2019 by Dave Burgess Consulting, and offers a game-changing look at student engagement strategies inspired by theme parks, mud runs, and escape rooms. In July of 2020, Book Authority ranked the book among the top 20 titles on their list of the “100 Best Teaching Books of All Time.” John is the host of Talk to Mee in the Car, a weekly professional development podcast, and he shares a wealth of free instructional resources at

John began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. In March of 2019, he created the #EggDashChallenge – a classroom activity that became a viral video, racking up 75K+ views in less than one month’s time, and spawning hundreds of classroom videos in 40 US states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 8 countries. He is a past presenter at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races.

Profile Photo: Mandi Torrez

Mandi Torrez

Wednesday, July 21 - 11:45 am MDT
Midday Spark: "Falling Up"

Mandi Torrez’s first work with children was while volunteering at an ESL after-school program in a low-income housing community while in college. It was her first look at the achievement gap, and it continued to motivate her classroom practices throughout a 10-year teaching career in the classroom.

Nine of Torrez’s years were spent in New Mexico classrooms with Bernalillo Public Schools. In 2019, while a third grade teacher at Placitas Elementary, she was named the Bernalillo Public Schools Teacher of the Year. In 2020, she was named the New Mexico Teacher of the Year, in part because of her commitment to culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in Journalism and a master’s degree from Boston’s Wheelock College in Integrated Elementary and Special Education.

Torrez currently serves as the Teacher Liaison for the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Profile Photo: Alex Kajitani

Alex Kajitani

Wednesday, July 21 - 3:20 pm MDT
Day 1 Closing Keynote: "Back to Their Futures: Moving Forward with the Lessons We've Learned"

Back to MESD by popular demand! Alex Kajitani is the 2009 California Teacher of the Year, and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year. He is the author of several highly acclaimed books, including Owning It, which was named “Recommended Reading” by the U.S. Department of Education.

A highly sought-after speaker, Alex is a leading authority on training teachers to teach online and in-person. During the Covid-19 shutdown, he created “Wacky Math Hour,” a free, weekly online class that attracted thousands of students. He is also the creator of the wildly popular online program,, and his “Rappin’ Mathematician” songs and videos have received hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

He is an acclaimed speaker, author, and was featured on The CBS Evening News, where Katie Couric exclaimed, “I LOVE that guy!” (and you will too!)

Profile Photo: Nyree Clark

Nyree Clark

Thursday, July 22 - 8:00 am MDT
Day 2 Opening Keynote: "Grow from Where You Are"

Nyree Clark is a Curriculum Program Specialist in Technology PreK-6 for the Colton Joint Unified School District. Her journey in education began in 1998 and has been referred to as her “Dream Job” thereafter. She has been a Reading Recovery Teacher, Gifted and Talented Education Certified Teacher, Reading Specialist Teacher on Assignment, and has earned multiple certificates and ambassadorships in the field of Educational Technology. She has taught Kindergarten to fourth grade and currently works at the District Level to support teachers, students, and staff in the integration and implementation of technology to increase student achievement and productivity. She is a member of the African American Parent Advisory Committee ( which focuses on amplifying the voices of the African American students and parents in the school district.

Professionally, Nyree, was awarded the Technology Innovator of the Year 2020 through Inland Area CUE affiliate and is a TOSAChat moderator which supports Teachers on Special Assignment worldwide. She is a Co-Founding member of Equity In Action CA ( which is a group of educators researching and implementing ways to diversify Technology Conferences and Professional Learning settings. She has been appointed to the Instructional Coaches Advisory Board for Future Ready Schools Organization which seeks to lead through innovative professional practices. She excels in making connections with people across the globe and states, “I love this new technology-rich world and the tools in which we are able to amplify the voices of the unheard.”

Profile Photo: Dr. Joe Sanfelippo

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo

Thursday, July 22 - 11:45 am MDT
Midday Spark: "Changing the Narrative"

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo is the Superintendent of the Fall Creek School District in Fall Creek, WI...home of the Fall Creek Crickets. The Fall Creek School District was named an Innovative District in 2016 and 2017 by the International Center for Leadership in Education. Joe holds a BA in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, an MS in Educational Psychology, an MS in Educational Leadership, and a Ph.D. in Leadership, Learning, and Service. Joe co-authored The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story, Principal Professional Development: Leading Learning in a Digital Age, and Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students, and Parents Love. He was selected as 1 of 117 Future Ready Superintendents in 2014 and 1 of 50 Superintendents as a Personalized Learning Leader by the US Department of Education in 2016. Education Dive named Joe 1 of 5 K-12 Administrators to watch in 2018 and their National Superintendent of the Year in 2019.

Profile Photo: Michael Matera

Michael Matera

Thursday, July 22 - 3:20 pm MDT
Day 2 Closing Keynote: "Explore: How an Adventurous Spirit Can Unlock Greatness"

Michael Matera (@MrMatera) is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based sixth grade teacher and the author of eXPlore Like a Pirate: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your Learners. He is an engaging, fun, and inspiring nationwide speaker delivering keynotes, workshops, and small group PD. Michael is a 2015 ASCD Emerging Leader with over a decade of teaching experience using interactive play, passion and purpose-driven learning to transform the classroom in international, public and private schools. He helps teachers focus on finding joy in the journey of life, both professionally and personally.

As a gamification guru and moonshot thinker, Michael transforms the traditional classroom into a high-energy environment where active student engagement is paramount. Michael is an energetic trainer who broadly shares his research, teaching methods, and technological applications for the advancement of learners, teachers, and administrators. He is also the founder and host of the Hive Summit, a free annual virtual PD that has helped tens of thousands of educators all around the world.

As a consultant, he works with educational institutions and businesses to define needs and build solutions that inspire and lead to effective change. Discover his most recent pioneering endeavors by visiting his website,, listening to his podcast Well Played, or having a look on his YouTube channel - you are encouraged to reach out and connect!