Our Canadian Branch is a team of passionate and dedicated educational leaders who volunteer their time to create connections-based learning opportunities for Canadian teachers and students.
Canadian Partnership Director
Leigh Cassell loves kids. She is an adventurer, innovator, and partner in learning with teachers and students around the world. Leigh works full-time as an AMDSB Teaching and Learning Coach and she is the Founder & President of the Digital Human Library. Driven by her passion to inspire in others a love of learning, Leigh’s expertise is grounded in why and how we integrate technology to build relationships (#Learn2Connect and #Connect2Learn), develop 21st Century Competencies, shape new literacy skills and prepare students to succeed as next generation learners. Leigh is an Apple Distinguished Educator, certified Google Educator, SMART Certified Interactive Teacher, Founder of the Ontario Edu Students’ Twitter Chat and Co-Founder of A Kids’ Guide to Canada.
Director of Research
Dr. Daniel G. Krutka is an Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education at the University of North Texas. He was previously a high school social studies teacher for six years and the middle level/secondary social studies program chair at Wichita State University. His research interests concern citizenship education and the role participatory media might play in cultivating more democratic and educational experiences. He can be found on Twitter @dankrutka. His research can be found on ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and Google Scholar.
Canadian Research Team
Dr. Ken Carano is an associate professor of social studies education in the Division of Education & Leadership at Western Oregon University and the co-coordinator of the Center for Geography Education in Oregon. He is a former high school social studies teacher and returned Peace Corps Volunteer in Suriname, South America where he taught elementary students and ran an after-school program. Ken is co-author of the book When the Lion Roars Everyone Listens: Scary Good Middle School Social Studies. Additionally, he has written numerous articles and book chapters on such topics as using educational technology, graphic novels, and music in the social studies classroom to facilitate critically literate students in an increasingly interconnected world. He can be found on Twitter @caranowou.
Melissa Lavoie began teaching in 2006, and was employed by the Northeastern Catholic DSB from 2007 – 2017. For the last 2.5 years, she served all schools in NCDSB as an Education Technology Special Assignment Teacher. Working alongside a network of Ed Tech Champions, the team led a Board-wide move to the G Suite for Education platform to promote collaboration and cloud computing for the academic community. She also supported innovation projects involving 360′ photography, and founded Walk With Us – a digital storytelling / photography and mapping project for Indigenous students, partnered with Google Earth Outreach. Currently, she is employed by Mushkegowuk Council as a GIS-Education Specialist and is a graduate student at UBC in the MET, Educational Technology program. Learn more about Melissa here: Twitter and/or LinkedIn
Karin Davidson-Taylor joined Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in 2006, coming with 17 years’ experience teaching both adults and children. She has been responsible for establishing RBG as a Canadian leader in the world of interactive videoconference-based virtual field trips. She develops and delivers distance education programs to students (young and old) across Canada and around the world, reaching over 45,000 students to date. The interactive programs promote awareness of our connection to plants, the natural world and the importance of biodiversity. @RBGVC
Ontario Provincial Library Curators
Joel Krentz has been a Teacher Librarian for 14 years at three different schools from K-8 at the Toronto District School Board. He is an AQ (Additional Qualification) facilitator at OISE, currently teaching the Teacher Librarian course. Joel is a regular presenter at the Ontario Library Association’s annual Super Conference speaking on topics of technology, social justice and inquiry. He has been involved with the OLA as co-chair of the Red Maple Steering Committee and, most recently, OSLA planner for Super Conference in 2015 and 2016. Joel has also volunteered with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre as a reviewer for their Best Books for Kids and Teens publication. His latest project is reinventing his learning commons to make room for a maker space. His personal and professional lives often meet when he finds himself at the intersection of community, social justice and digital learning wondering how to make it all work. You can follow Joel on Twitter @joelkrentz
Aretta Blue (Biography coming soon!) @InspireLearners
Alanna King is a Teacher-Librarian and eLearning teacher at Upper Grand District School Board. She is a TVO Regional Councillor and Ontario School Library Councillor. @banana29
Melanie Mulcaster is an elementary Teacher Librarian in the Peel District School board. A life long learner and maker, she is passionate about inspiring and empowering modern learners to discover, connect, innovate and explore. @the_mulc
Rick van Pinxteren is a Teacher Librarian with the Thames Valley District School Board with experience in technology, robotics, languages and health. Rick is a graduate of Western University with a Major in History and a Teaching degree from the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing with teachables in History and French Second Language. Rick is a lifelong learner who enjoys embracing 21st Century skills in the classroom, presenting his knowledge regularly with colleagues at conferences and professional development sessions. Rick enjoys sports, travel and taking on new challenges, bringing his experience and knowledge into his teaching to help students use the library as a gateway to explore and discover their passions. @rvanpinx
Dawn Telfer is a Learning Technologies & Library Learning Commons Coordinator at the Thames Valley District School Board. @DawnTelfer
Jennifer Casa-Todd is a wife and mom to two teens and family is her first priority. Jen is currently a Teacher-Librarian at Cardinal Carter CHS in Aurora. Before that Jennifer was the Literacy Consultant for the York Catholic District School Board, as well as one of the lead learners in a District-wide initiative to build 21st century competencies using technology. Jen is also a Grad student at the University of Ontario Institute for Technology. She is passionate about connecting students to each other and to the world, and Jen believes that technology has the potential to transform learning in ways we can only imagine! With awesome power, comes awesome responsibility! Jen believes we need to think critically about issues of equity, access, privacy, and safety.
Aniya Kaeja is a recent graduate of Lakehead University’s Bachelors of Arts and Science and Bachelors of Education programs. She first began working with with Digital Human Library and A Kids’ Guide to Canada in 2016 through an internship as a mandatory component of her educational degree. Upon the completion of her undergraduate degrees, she was offered a position as a National Committee member.
Rola Tibshirani is a French Immersion Junior Teacher at the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Rola is passionate about students’ taking ownership of their learning by creating and applying integrative and designing thinking processes to embrace challenges. She participated in Ontario Education Ministry projects on assessment (edugains.ca), technology (Learning Connections) and in the Global Initiative New Pedagogies For Deep Learning (6 Competencies). Rola connects her students with projects from around the world and fosters students’ collaborative inquiry through Global Partnerships. @rolat
Erin O’Rourke lives in the Ottawa area with her husband and two children, and teaches for the Upper Canada District School Board. She enjoyed two years as a Student Work Study Teacher from 2013-2015 and has since returned to the classroom. Erin loves reading, learning, gardening and photography. She is currently diving in the Maker world in an effort to have her students learn a second language through their work in a Maker Space.
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