Monday, May 8, 2017

Chief Program Officer to Focus on Equity and School Change

We are thrilled to announce a recent addition to our team effective July 1st-- Jennie Magiera has been appointed as our Chief Program Officer. In this role she will lead equity in education programs to support high needs schools, focus on underserved communities of students, and empower educators across the US and beyond. “We’re thrilled to have Jennie Magiera on the team… she excels at inspiring educators, her voice is well respected, and she has proven she can empower others to make lasting change in their schools,” says Mark Wagner, EdTechTeam Founder and CEO. “She will also lead our diversity initiative and our efforts to be more inclusive in our programs - and in our field.”

​Magiera joins EdTechTeam with more than 12 years of education experience. She began her career serving high-needs students in Chicago Public Schools as a classroom teacher and then district administrator, and most recently was the Chief Innovation Officer at Des Plaines School District 62. Magiera is the author of the book Courageous Edventures, published by Corwin Press, and is a TEDx speaker, international keynoter and a member of the Technical Working Group for the US Department of Education’s 2016 National Education Technology Plan. “I’m thrilled to be joining a team of educators whom I respect deeply and believe are already doing great work to inspire and empower educators. I look forward to the big dreams we will accomplish together on behalf of students everywhere,” said Magiera.

Question: How did you first get involved with EdTechTeam? What’s your origin story?

I had applied to present at the Illinois EdTechTeam Google Summit back in 2013. Molly Bennett (then Schroeder) saw me present a session on Google Scripts and during the presenter social that followed, we got to chatting. Six months later I found myself keynoting for EdTechTeam Korea Summit in my mother’s hometown of Seoul, Korea! The rest is history.

Question: You wrote a book, “Courageous Edventures,” and have a blog, Teaching Like It’s  2999. Can you tell us a bit about your book, blogging, and any words of inspiration to our guest bloggers and community members looking to get started writing?

Don’t underestimate your own story. As educators we have a tendency to downplay our experiences, value and voice. Model the confidence and empowerment you want your students to exhibit. Know that your story and path is unique - and by sharing it you might help inspire or encourage someone else. Some may say, “But I’m just starting out! I don’t have anything to say!” Neither did I! I began blogging when I was just starting out on the adventure of rethinking my instruction. I was so worried that I was too new, too inexperienced and had too little to share. However I quickly found that the beginning of the journey is often the most under-chronicled in this world of educational innovation. Too often we tune in after a success and that can lead to distorted expectations by those who follow. Instead, sharing the first steps towards change gives hope to those who don’t know how to begin - and shares how to set off on the same edventure yourself!

Question: What are you most looking forward to as you begin THIS edventure with EdTechTeam?

I can’t wait to engage with new and diverse schools across the world. One of the things I loved about working with EdTechTeam as consultant over the years was getting to know schools and systems so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I believe so strongly in the power of public education to create true equity in society. Visiting schools across the globe with different perspectives helped me to evolve my understanding of what’s possible and be a better advocate for all children.

Question: If you were any character on the Lion King, who would it be?

I’d love to say Timon or Pumbaa because they know how to have a great time, but they are vegetarians and I can’t say no to a steak. I guess perhaps Rafiki because he’s an old soul who likes to teach spirited young lions how to become the best versions of themselves. Also because he tells jokes to crack himself up that no one else seems to get.

Question: What is the number one thing you’ve learned working in Chicago Public Schools and Des Plaines School District 62, and how will this impact your new role with EdTechTeam?

The first step is always listen to students. Whenever I made a big decision - as a classroom teacher, or a district administrator, I’d go sit with my kids and ask them for their perspective. Oftentimes they saw something I didn’t or helped me to understand the problem in a new light. I also learned that I couldn’t assume I understood my students just because I’d gone to grad school, read a book or even spoken to their families. Every child is unique and so are their needs. The best way to learn about our kids is to talk with with them instead of at them. I believe that a main purpose of school is to give our students the tools to be empowered individuals who can create positive change. To accomplish this goal, we as educators need to truly understand them and then help them understand truly their own value.

Question: You’re keynoting ISTE 2017 this year in San Antonio. What can folks expect? What is your favorite thing about keynote speaking?

I’m still building out the message I want to share. I am so passionate about so many things when it comes to education that it is so challenging to whittle it down to one 45 minute talk! If anyone has anything they’d particularly like to hear about, feel free to tweet me at @MsMagiera :)! My favorite part about keynote speaking is sharing my students’ stories. I love being able to amplify their voices. I always share audience reactions and comments about the stories when I get back home. One of my students told me, “Ms. Magiera - I love that people get to hear about me all over the world. It makes me feel like I have wings.”

Jennie Magiera always knew she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. Throughout all of her roles starting as a Chicago Public Schools teacher to serving as the Chief Innovation Officer for Des Plaines School District 62, she always made teaching and supporting students her priority. A White House Champion for Change, Apple Distinguished Educator, Google for Education Certified Innovator and TEDx Speaker,  she advocates for empowering student voice and educational equity through innovative new practices. She is also passionate about transforming professional learning, which she’s personally championed through her work on the Technical Working Group for the US Department of Education’s 2016 National Educational Technology Plan and co-founding PLAYDATE and other new conference concepts.

Jennie shares her experiences and ideas around student agency, equity and professional growth as an international keynote speaker, having shared at such events as TEDxBurnsvilleED in St. Paul, the Digital Learning Show Asia in Kuala Lumpur, National FutureSchools Expo in Sydney, Tri Association: Annual Educators' Conference in Guadalajara and the Advania Technology Conference in Reykjavik. This June, Jennie is excited to take the stage as the Tuesday keynote at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio. In addition to the program leadership duties in her new role, Jennie will continue to share her voice and experiences as a keynote speaker through EdTechTeam.

Jennie has earned degrees from Phillips Exeter Academy, Columbia University and University of Illinois-Chicago. Aside from her students, Jennie's great loves in life are sci-fi, mashed potatoes, Tabasco sauce, her dog and her husband. You can find Jennie on Twitter at @MsMagiera and her book at

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