Meet the 2020-2021 KQED Media Literacy InnovatorsMeet the 2020-2021 KQED Media Literacy Innovators

Meet this year’s KQED Media Literacy Innovators cohort! These educators successfully integrate critical thinking about media and media-making skills into their classrooms, or to the teachers they coach or lead. They are leaders from across the country who collaborate with KQED to create and share the best professional development and classroom resources on media literacy. Follow them throughout the year via #KQEDInnovators on Twitter.

Jim Bentley
Math, ELA, Science, History, Computer Tech
Foulks Ranch Elementary School
Elk Grove, CA
Jim Bentley teaches 5th and 6th grade in Elk Grove, California. He integrates research, reading, and writing with filmmaking, civic action and environmental literacy in a project based learning classroom. Bentley is a National Faculty Member for PBLWorks and a National Geographic Society Fellow and Explorer. As National Faculty, he leads professional development on implementation and refinement of Gold Standard Project Based Learning. As a Fellow, he's reviewed and refined National Geographic's Geo-Inquiry Process materials, trained teachers at national institutes, and worked on developing an online Geo-Inquiry course. As an Explorer, Bentley and students are researching and mapping how plastic moves from suburb to sea. Bentley graduated Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in social sciences and cross-cultural studies emphasis.

Cameron Castaneda
ELA/ELD; Technology
Placentia Yorba Linda School District
Placentia, CA

Cameron Castaneda is serving as a 6-12 ELA/ ELD Instructional Coach for Placentia Yorba Linda School District in Southern California. She taught English Language Arts for 17 years and is a Young Writers Instructor at University California, Irvine. She is a 2004 UCI Writing Project fellow and was PYLUSD's teacher of the year in 2015 as well as nominated for the California League of Middle Schools teacher of the year. She considers herself a lifetime learner and is proud to be a KQED Media Literacy Innovator.

Merek Chang
William Workman High School
City of Industry, CA

Merek Chang is a chemistry and engineering teacher who currently teaches at Workman High School in Industry, California. He received his B.S from UC Davis in Food Science and Technology and worked full time in the food industry prior to entering education. It is his desire to incorporate technology into his lesson plans whenever applicable and, if possible, through the lens of food or in partnership with stakeholders in the local community.

Kara Clayton
Digital/Visual Arts
Thurston High School
Redford, MI
Clayton is a high school video production educator as well as an instructional technology coach in the South Redford School District. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Rhode Island. An award-winning educator, she teaches students to use video as a tool for effective communication and empowerment. Kara presents regularly at state and national media and digital literacy conferences, is a graduate of the inaugural class receiving the University of Rhode Island Graduate Certificate in digital literacy (2014), and holds a masters degree in adult education with a specialty in digital literacy from the University of Rhode Island (2016). She launched Kara Clayton Digital in 2018.

Rachel Collay
Westwood High School
Mesa, AZ
Rachel Collay is a high school English teacher, amateur environmentalist, and estate sale junkie. Born and raised in Arizona, she relishes sharing her passion for literature, music, art, and sustainability with her students. Teaching with technology allows her to help students master the content standards while learning meaningful ways to present their work to a larger audience. Educational technology can also build connections across the classroom, the community, and the globe. Building off of the obvious appeal of media to young people, she works to find the intersection of English Language Arts standards and modern literacy modes so that reading and writing skills are authentic and relatable. For the last ten years, she has taught students to analyze protest music and write songs of their own based on the headlines. Currently, she is the co-chair of the English department at Westwood High School, a 9th grade Arts Inquiry Success Team teacher, and sponsor of the Earth Club and Slam Poetry groups at her high school. She lives in Mesa, Arizona with her husband, two sons, two “daughters-in-law” and two hound dogs. She spends her spare time writing, sewing, listening to music, and camping. Onward!

Ricardo Elizalde
ELA, History/Social Studies, Health/Physical Education
San Francisco Unified School District
San Francisco, CA

Dr. Ricardo Omar Elizalde, Sr. honed his craft of teaching for 18 years in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). A lifelong learner, Ricardo started to experiment with multimedia projects early in his teaching career as an English and English learner teacher. From puppet shows to film festivals, Ricardo enjoyed creating a classroom community of storytellers and media-makers. Currently he works as a teacher on special assignment in SFUSD trying to weave content and technology into powerful learning environments. He is a doctor of education in learning technologies. His dissertation blends language learning with multimedia making and sharing across digital platforms.

Lisa Ernst
Ancient Studies, Language Arts, STEAM
Alice Fong Yu K-8
San Francisco, CA
With over thirty-two years of teaching middle school students, Lisa teaches at the First Chinese Immersion Public School in the Nation, Alice Fong Yu K-8. She has developed an integrated content approach through a Makerspace. In order to create the culture of learning, Lisa has written and secured over $40,000 for the classroom. Her vast commitment as a lifelong learner, has enabled her to participate in various fellowships from NASA, Department of Energy, the Yale National Initiative, Exploratorium, the 1990 Institute, to the Strategic Education Research Partnership with Stanford. With these experiences, Lisa has co-developed a vast assortment of curriculum which includes the San Francisco Unified School District Science NGSS in Middle School Science. Leading to a variety of presentations and speaking events from the NSTA, Donors Choose,1990 Institute, CUE, CSTA, CABE, to Sino-USA in Shanghai. Through all of these experiences, she was honored to receive the Sylvia Shugrue Award from the National Science Teacher Association.

Mariana Garcia Serrato
San Jose, CA
Mariana Garcia Serrato is a STEM teacher at AdVENTURE, a STEM program from the Oak Grove School District in San Jose, California. She currently teaches science and engineering in grades five through eight. She is a Google Certified Educator, Edmodo Ambassador, MT for, Globaloria Teacher of the Year (2013), SCCOE/TI STEM Teacher of the Year (2014) and a certified PBS Media Literacy Educator. Her goal of making STEM relevant to her students has inspired her to create a fully gamified, PBL classroom. She enjoys sharing her ideas in her blog, Teaching Above the Test, and connecting with other educators using the Twitter handle @MarianaGSerrato.

Mia Gittlen
ELA, History/Social Studies, Technology
Union Middle School
San Jose, CA
Mia teaches middle school English Language Arts, Social Studies, and a Minecraft elective at Union Middle School in San Jose, CA. Her 15 years of experience in education include teaching in middle and high schools in Massachusetts and California as well as three years as an instructional technology teacher on special assignment. She is also an HP Teaching Fellow and serves on the East Bay CUE Board of Directors. Mia is passionate about amplifying student voice, media literacy, and maker-centered learning. In her spare time, she enjoys bullet journaling and reading young adult fiction. 

Jeremy Hyler
ELA, Science/Engineering, Creative Writing
Fulton Middle School
Middleton, MI
Jeremy Hyler is a middle school English and science teacher at Fulton Middle School in Middleton, Michigan. He is a teacher consultant for the Chippewa River Writing Project and is a Community Ambassador for NCTE. Hyler has co-authored Create, Compose, Connect! Reading, Writing, and Learning with Digital Tools (Routledge/Eye on Education) with Dr. Troy Hicks, From Texting to Teaching: Grammar Instruction in a Digital Age, and Ask, Explore, Write: An Inquiry- Driven Approach to Science and Literacy Learning. Jeremy is also a MiddleWeb blogger. His column is called Create, Compose, Connect.

Bob Kelly
History/Social Studies
Minarets High School
O'Neals, CA
Bob Kelly teaches U.S. history, government, economics and psychology at Minarets High School outside Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. Bob has taught for over 20 years in all sorts of social studies content areas and school settings including Palo Alto, Mariposa and the Central Valley. He loves blending new and old school understandings and approaches to the world we live in. He is a well-experienced teacher trainer in both history and technology integration and has been an AP reader for the U.S. history exam as well as a AP U.S. history consultant for the College Board, a Google Apps for Education Certified Innovator and a PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator. Bob was also a football coach for over 25 years.

Mary Kate Lonergan
Social Studies
Eagle Hill Middle School
Manlius, NY
Mary Kate has taught 8th grade students to critically engage with media and information in the social studies settings for twelve years and has made media literacy the heartbeat of the social studies curriculum. Mary Kate believes that media literacy is a civic necessity. Media literacy empowers students to think critically, ask questions, reflect, create and use their voice to take informed action. Mary Kate serves as board member on the Central New York Council for the Social Studies and works as an educational consultant with the News Literacy Project. She also serves as an educator collaborator with Ithaca College's media literacy organization Project Look Sharp. She has presented workshops and sessions at the National Council for the Social Studies and National Association for Media Literacy Education conferences as well as at state and local social studies conferences. Mary Kate has also developed and implemented professional development courses for integrating media literacy skills and practices across different content areas. Mary Kate holds a Masters in the Science of Education from SUNY Cortland and is working towards a Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy from the University of Rhode Island.

Samantha McMillan
History/Social Studies, Science/Engineering
San Jose, CA
Samantha McMillan is a teacher at AdVENTURE, a small public STEM program in the Oak Grove School District in San Jose, California. She currently teaches 5th-8th grade social studies and a 8th grade engineering elective. Her experience includes the IDEO Teacher’s Guild Design Thinking Teacher Fellowship (2017/2018), IREX Teachers for Global Classrooms (2016/2017) and SCCOE TI STEM Teacher of the Year (2017). She is a certified California Naturalist and member of the UC Berkeley/SCCOE Informed Action Civics Teacher Research Group. She is passionate about developing social studies curriculum that emphasizes design thinking, global issues and civic action. She enjoys sharing her learning and what’s happening in her classroom on Twitter (@emergingedu).

Aspen Mock
Forest Hills High School
Sydman, PA
Dr. Aspen B. Mock is an English language arts educator at Forest Hills Junior-Senior High School in Sidman, Pennsylvania. Dr. Mock’s educational philosophy and approach is to provide a creative, collaborative educational environment and writing community with a focus on 21st century skills, service-learning and critical thinking. She currently teaches composition 9 and AP Literature & Composition 12, is an ACE adjunct instructor for Pennsylvania Highlands Community College, and is a member of the Leader In Me leadership team. She holds the following certifications: PBS Media Literacy Educator Certification, K-12 Principal Certificate, National Geographic Certified Educator, Nearpod Certified Educator, Flipgrid Certified Educator, Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator, Google Certified Educator, Apple Teacher, Newsela Certified Teacher and Trainer, Symbaloo PD Certified Teacher & Trainer, SAS Integration Trainer (PA Dept. of Ed.) and Common Sense Educator. She connects with other educators using the Twitter handle @AB_Mock.

Peter Paccone
History/Social Studies
San Marino High School
San Marino, CA
Peter Paccone is a San Marino High School social studies teacher with 30 years of teaching experience. He is a member of several teacher advisory committees (iCivics, Global Flipped Learning, PBS, Better Together California Teacher Summit, etc.). He writes frequently for several education-related online publications (ITC, Edutopia, PBS’s Teacher Lounge, etc.) and he has given a TED-Talk style presentation at the 2015 and 2016 California Teachers Summit and at the 2016 Arcadia Innovative Teacher Summit. In addition, he has produced two TED-Ed Lessons and is the host of the Titan Talk podcast.

Nicole Pfaff
Notre Dame High School
San Jose, CA
Nicole Pfaff is a sophomore and senior English teacher at Notre Dame High School in San Jose, California with 15 years of classroom experience. She is a certified PBS Media Literacy Educator, and is pursuing National Board certification. Nicole also volunteered with 826 Valencia and the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation. She loves to travel and spoils her three cats and husband.

Dan Rosales
Science/Engineering, Math
America Canyon High School
Pope Valley, CA
Dan Rosales is an experienced educator who currently teaches physics and computer science at American Canyon High School in Napa, California. He is also a former SWAT Team member in the USAF, a former EMT II (ACLS), and a former Cardiac Monitor Technician for an ICU/ CCU hospital with a BSEE and M.A. in physics. These experiences have given him a unique, renaissance view of the world and of how to teach science and technology. He has used this perspective to incorporate KQED Learn into his lesson plans to present scientific content.

Patricia Russac
History/Social Studies, Information, Media and Digital Literacies
Buckley Country Day School
Roslyn, NY

Patricia Russac is the director of the Library Learning Center and a history teacher at Buckley Country Day School. She is a TED Educator, PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator, KQED Media Literacy Innovator, Common Sense Educator, NAIS Teacher of the Future and iCivics Educator Network. Her passion for promoting ethics and social good inspired her to reimagine curriculum to intentionally expand the opportunities for student agency to take action by thinking beyond the classroom walls. She routinely presents at national conferences on instructional design, digital humanities and the visual classroom. She co-authors The ASIDE Blog to promote her ideas and best practices as well as maintains several websites including Social Entrepreneurship, The Visual Classroom and Buckley Codes. She actively connects with others using the Twitter handle @BCDS_History_56, shares on Instagram @BCDS_History_56 and publishes student work on her class YouTube channel.

Belinda Shillingburg
James Denman Middle School
San Francisco, CA
Belinda Shillingburg is an 8th grade English teacher and a School Site Instructional Leader in San Francisco, California. She comes to the Bay Area having taught in Online, Hybrid and Brick-and-Mortar school environments from Elementary to University. She is currently pursuing PBS Media Literacy Educator Certification and is passionate about helping students ground themselves in the District's Graduate Profile as digitally literate and critical readers, writers and thinkers. She enjoys keeping up with EdTech innovations and best practices in teaching and learning via Twitter @britlitlover91.

Sara Stewart-Lediard
Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology
Reno, NV
Sara is a science teacher at Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno, NV. She has held a variety of roles during her 21 years in education, including instructional coach, technology specialist, online learning specialist, teacher-librarian and science educator.  She is excited to integrate media literacy into her science classroom and working directly with students again. Sara continues to support teachers across Nevada as an online learning facilitator and Nevada Department of Education Digital Engineer. She is a PBS Certified Media Literacy Educator and a National Board Certified Teacher. She is always interested in connecting with others and growing her professional learning network. You can find her on twitter @edtechmuse.