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María Derner is a middle school Spanish teacher in Harrisonville, MO at Harrisonville Middle School. She has 30 years of experience and is passionate about teaching and providing all students with a high-quality education. Through her lessons, Maria instills a sense of respect and acceptance of other cultures. Maria nurtures diversity in her classes by establishing real-life connections with Spanish speaking cultures outside her classroom. She believes that every student can learn and succeed when provided with a safe and empathetic environment. Maria loves integrating technology in her classroom to engage her students and to bring authentic experiences to them. She is a National Board Certified teacher with several degrees, certifications, and awards, including Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year 2020.
Laura Gilchrist is a teacher turned consultant and ParentCamp Vice-President on a mission to help every Family-School-Community connect, strengthen and collaborate as ONE TEAM for kids! In that mission, Laura and ParentCamp focus on two things. First, as practitioners, they organize weekly Virtual ParentCamp experiences for family, school and community from across the nation. Secondly, they train family-school-community engagement teams to become fluent in designing Virtual ParentCamps for connection and collective efficacy around their own kids and communities. Laura taught the most amazing and beautiful middle schoolers for 20 years in Kansas City and proudly considers herself a teacher above all else. Laura was a 2014 Missouri State Teacher of the Year State Finalist and she received the 2014 Christa McAuliffe Pioneer in Education Award from Northland Chamber of Commerce.
Chris Holmes is a secondary teacher with 19 years of experience that includes English, Journalism, Gifted/Talented, Special Education, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Dropout Prevention. After 16 years in the Clayton and Hazelwood school districts, Chris left public education to help found Miriam Academy, a private school for students who learn differently. This fall, he is returning to public education this in a special education role. His specific interests/expertise revolve around autonomous motivation. In 2009, Chris was selected as the Governor’s Council on Disability Educator of the Year; in 2015, he was selected as Missouri Teacher of the Year. Last year, Chris traveled to 48 states, interviewing 235 people (mostly adolescents) about academic apathy and motivation, and he is currently writing about the relevance of student voice.
Albert Sanders has been a teacher for 20 years, 16 of which have been in Pre-K at Adams Elementary in the St. Louis Public School District. In 2019, he was the St. Louis Public School District Pre-K teacher of the year, Emerson Excellence in teaching recipient, as well as Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year. He currently serves on the SLPS Recruitment and Selection Fellowship, Missouri’s Grow Your Own Committee and the Missouri Educational Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Group. He also a Tomorrow Builder Fellow through the WEPOWER program whose focus is on providing equitable and quality early childhood education in the St. Louis region. He believes all students can meet high expectations with support from caring and quality educators. He received his Educational Doctorate in Educational Practice from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in December 2019 with a focus on Making the Neighborhood School the Number One Option.