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Morning Keynotes

A photo of Nicole Goodman

Nicole Goodman

Nicole Goodman is the Superintendent at Scuola Vita Nuova Charter School. She earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from Simpson College, a Masters in Administration from Lindenwood University, a Masters in Reading from Concordia University, and an Ed.S. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in superintendence from the University of Central Missouri. She has experience as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent. Nicole has served in an urban setting for all of her 25 years in education. She knows that education is the key to eliminating systemic barriers, which motivates her pursuit of equitable learning. 

A photo of Tysie McDowell

Tysie McDowell

Tysie McDowell is the Superintendent of Crossroads Charter Schools. She earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in School Administration from Baker University. She has served as a teacher, principal, Chief Academic Officer, superintendent, and adjunct professor. In 2015, she earned the Urban Hero Award from the Downtown Council, and in 2019 received the National Charter School Leadership Award in D.C. Ms. McDowell is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association and serves on the board of Global Association for Multicultural Education. 

Lunch Keynotes

A photo of Jennifer Collier

Dr. Jennifer Collier

Kansas City Public Schools Interim Superintendent

Interim Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier has served as an educator in Kansas City Public Schools for 22 years. She’s been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, Chief Human Resource Officer, and Deputy Superintendent. Dr. Collier earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a Master’s of Arts in education from Avila University, and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UMKC in 2018. A life-long learner, Dr. Collier has completed the National Institute of School Leaders (NISL) program and is a certified NISL trainer. In this role, she has provided training for educators and school leaders across the state of Missouri. She also received a certificate from the Harvard University School Turnaround Leaders Institute in 2019. Additionally, Dr. Collier is Professional Human Resources (PHR) certified.

Dr. Collier comes from a family of educators, and education has always played an integral role in her life. She is very passionate about education and believes that all children deserve access to a rigorous, equitable, and culturally responsive education, as it has the power to unlock doors of experience, access, and opportunities that would otherwise be closed. One of Dr. Collier’s most urgent academic goals is to ensure that KCPS students are proficient readers. She believes that literacy is a social justice issue and every child, no matter their race, social-economic status, zip code, or education level of their parents, has the right to learn to read. It is a moral imperative, as competence in literacy will either serve as a gatekeeper or a passport to a promising future. With a laser-like focus on literacy, math, and culturally responsive practices, KCPS will be on our way toward fulfilling our mission of every child thriving socially, emotionally, and academically.

Dr. Collier has built long-lasting relationships during her tenure with the district. A classically trained vocalist, she taught music at Northeast High School for a decade before stepping into building leadership roles. Later, as principal of Border Star Montessori, Dr. Collier and her staff dramatically improved English Language Arts scores and school attendance. As Chief Human Resource Officer, she established a recruitment/retention team to attract and hire top certified talent to KCPS. During her tenure as CHRO, KCPS was also able to increase the number of teachers of color serving in our schools and classrooms. Under Dr. Collier’s leadership, the HR team also made improvements to the district’s evaluation program, onboarding process, and Leadership Continuity Plan for executive- and building-level administrators.

As KCPS Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Collier managed the academic, social-emotional, and operational functioning of schools, overseeing the Departments of School Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Development, Student Support, Equity and Inclusion and Human Resources. Under her leadership, KCPS launched Project “Support Our Schools,” an initiative to help schools address pandemic-related staffing shortages. Currently, she is leading her departments in a culturally responsive curriculum audit ahead of the 2022-23 school year and overseeing academic vision work as part of the district’s Blueprint 2030 future planning process.

Dr. Collier delights in the opportunity to lead the district that she loves and has served over the last 22 years. She believes that KCPS’ best days are yet to come!

A photo of Kayla McClellan

Kayla McClellan

2022 KCPS Teacher of the Year and 2023 Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year

Kayla McClellan is a Kansas City native who teaches middle school Advancement Via Individual Determination, a career readiness course, and American History at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy Middle School in Kansas City, Missouri. She is a product of the Kansas City Public School system, where she attended J.S Chick Elementary School, Lincoln Middle, and University Academy Middle and Upper Schools.

Before devoting her career to teaching, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in History from Grambling State University and a master’s degree in History from Mississippi State University. She returned home to Kansas City as a 2018 Teach for America Corps member to teach in the Kansas City Public School District and has remained in the district ever since.

Kayla has successfully created lasting community partnerships, received multiple grants, and designed innovative programs, such as annual girls’ night lock-ins and career days. By mentoring teachers in her building, she has had the opportunity to contribute to a positive culture. She has served as a grade-level leader, content leader, and member of the building leadership team. She has hosted and co-hosted a number of clubs and coached cheer and track and field. One of her greatest accomplishments is being recognized as one of the Kansas City Public Schools Education Foundation 2022 Teacher of the Year at the middle school that she was demitted from in the 8th grade. Throughout her teaching experience, she has been able to truly model the attributes and work ethic she teaches her students to value and exemplify. 

A photo of Rickina Rand

Rickina Rand

2022 Kansas City People’s Choice Award Educator of the Year

Educating children has always been a lifelong dream for Mrs. Rickina Rand.  Her career in education spans over 16 years.  She has earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and most recently earned a Master of Arts degree in Counseling. Currently, Rickina is a High School counselor for a Kansas City Charter School.  

Mrs. Rand has a true passion for working with our youth!! She is known for building positive relationships with scholars and their families. She is both humble and grateful to have the opportunity to work with our youth on a daily basis. In her free time, she enjoys music, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

A photo of Rasheedat Yahaya

Rasheedat Yahaya

2021 Brookside Charter School Elementary Teacher of the Year

Rasheedat Yahaya is currently the Kindergarten Team Lead at Brookside Charter School (’20-21 Teacher of the Year) and the Early Childhood Education Methods Instructor for the Kansas City Teacher Residency (’20-21 Mentor of the Year).  She obtained her Masters in Teacher Leadership-Urban Education from Park University.  Black educators are important because research shows that we are an asset to educational reform, the lives of our students, and we demonstrate that representation matters. My educational mission is to foster a love for learning in students of Kansas City, especially those of color, who deserve equitable education, support, and love by a teacher who believes in them, and to impact teachers who have the same desire. 

A photo of Richard Abram

Richard Abram II, Ed.S.

Ewing Marion Kauffman School Dean of Students

Mr. Richard Abram is blessed with an amazing wife of 15 years, Mrs. Dana-Mae Abram, and to be father of four children Allanah, Allen, Alliyah, and Richard III. As an advocate for youth and education, he firmly believes all students deserve equitable educational experiences and education is the most powerful tool for success. His life’s work has been serving youth and promoting academic achievement. He is experienced in working in schools and possesses a strong understanding of educational construct, youth development, and social-emotional supports. His desire is to teach students educational and social concepts that will prepare them to be contributing members of society. He has served in education and youth development for 17 years through various roles including Behavior Interventionist, College and Career Specialist, Youth Specialist, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City Site Director, and currently serves as a Dean of Students and School Psychologist Intern for the Ewing Marion Kauffman School. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Columbia College, a Master of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University, an Educational Specialist degree in School Psychology from Emporia State University, and he is currently completing an EdD in Higher Education and K-12 Leadership from Rockhurst University.

A photo of Michelle Aguirre-Hill

Michelle Aguirre-Hill

2014 Leading Educators National Student Impact Award Recipient

Michelle Aguirre-Hill was born and raised in Puerto Rico where she received her degree in teaching from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. She moved to Kansas City in 2008 and began her teaching career in the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) where she has filled multiple roles in various buildings over the past 14 years. She began her career as a physical education teacher and transitioned to classroom teacher in 2010 when she moved to her current building the Foreign Language Academy. 

During her time at FLA, Michelle has served as a classroom teacher, Grade-Level Chairperson, Literacy Specialist, and Professional Development Chair. She is currently serving as the Assistant Principal and International Baccalaureate Coordinator. In 2014, she was recognized by the organization Leading Educators with the National Student Impact award for her accomplishments in raising student achievement in literacy.

A photo of Kelle Ransom

Kelle Ransom

2013 Teach for America’s Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient

Kellee Ransom is an educator at University Academy approaching her 15th year serving children and families. Beginning her teaching career as a 2008 Teach for America Kansas City Charter Corps Member, she has an unwavering commitment to developing skilled and critical thinkers, but equally important, compassionate people of outstanding character. She spent time teaching in Harlem, New York where she was coached by pioneers in the education world. Kellee works to ensure that her students are intrinsically motivated and have an unshakable sense of self. Additionally, she works to empower parents and teachers to use their voices to advocate for the best policies and practices that will yield the greatest outcomes for students. Kellee is one of the 2013 inaugural national recipients of Teach for America’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching, a 2013 Semi-finalist for the TNTP’s Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, and a 2016 Honor Roll Recipient for the TNTP’s Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice. More recently, Kellee was awarded the 2022 Missouri Star Teacher Award and the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat Award. 

Closing Keynote

A photo of Chris Emdin

Dr. Christopher Emdin

Dr. Christopher Emdin is the Robert A. Naslund Endowed Chair in Curriculum Theory and Professor of Education at the University of Southern California; where he also serves as director of youth engagement and community partnerships at the USC Race and Equity Center. He is also Scholar/Griot in Residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. 

He previously served as Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education and Director of the Science Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Dr. Emdin is an alumni fellow at the Hip-hop Archive and Hutchins Center at Harvard University and was STEAM Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Dr. Emdin holds a Ph.D in Urban Education with a concentration in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; masters degrees in both Natural Sciences and Education and bachelors degrees in Physical Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry. 

He is the creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, Science Genius BATTLES, and the CREATE Accelerator. He was recently named one of the 27 people bridging divides in the United States by Time magazine and the Root 100 list of most influential African Americans. 

He is the author of numerous award-winning works including Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation and the New York Times bestseller, For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll too. His latest two books Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Excellence and STEM, STEAM, Make, Dream are currently available wherever books are sold.