2020 Presenters

Summer Spark had looked forward to welcoming the following keynote and featured presenters for Summer Spark 2020, prior to its cancelation due to COVID-19. Each year, we strive to have the best and most innovative educators present at Summer Spark, and we are eager to share our 2021 presenters in the months ahead.

Keynote Speakers

A.J. Juliani

Summer Spark is excited to have A.J. Juliani open our 2020 conference by sharing his message of student empowerment and innovative leadership. A.J. has worked at all levels of the K-12 spectrum and has the lens of a parent (of four crazy kids) as well. He will encourage educators to not only be intentional about innovation, but also focus on how our practice needs to always be centered on the student experience.

A.J. Juliani serves as Faculty for the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (PLN) and former Director of Learning and Innovation for Centennial School District. As an English teacher, football coach, and K-12 Technology Staff Developer, A.J. has worked towards innovative learning experiences for schools in various roles. A.J. is also an award-winning blogger, speaker, and author of multiple books, including the best-sellers Empower and Launch

Featured Presenters

Starr Sackstein

Starr Sackstein is a dedicated, innovative educator continually pushing to learn more while modeling the importance of making mistakes and moving forward with grit for all students. Using the right mix of passion and skills to communicate through writing and conversation, she always seeks to change the world one mind at a time. She is an author of multiple books on assessment, student centered learning, leadership, and other educational topics. Starr is also a popular educational blogger, a host and guest on multiple podcasts, and a constant presence on educational social media.

Starr started her teaching career at Far Rockaway High School more than 14 years ago. She spent nine years as a high school English and journalism teacher at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, New York, where her students ran the multimedia news outlet WJPSnews.com. She is a certified Master Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and served at the New York State Director to JEA to help advisers in New York better grow journalism programs. She currently is a full-time educational consultant with the Core Collaborative.

John Meehan

John Meehan is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. His first book, EDrenaline Rush, offers a game-changing look at student engagement strategies inspired by theme parks, mud runs, and escape rooms.

John began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. In March of 2019, he created the #EggDashChallenge – a classroom activity that became a viral video, racking up 75K+ views in less than one month’s time, and spawning hundreds of classroom videos in 40 US states, 6 Canadian provinces, and 8 countries. He is a past presenter at educational conferences throughout the United States. John is also an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races.

Tiffony Jacobs

Tiffony Jacobs is an original Freedom Writer. She co-authored the #1 New York Times bestselling book The Freedom Writers Diary with 149 classmates, then graduated from Wilson High School in 1998, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Training and Development from California State University, Long Beach in 2006.

After the book turned into a movie featuring Hilary Swank, Freedom Writers (2007), Tiffony went on to organize and facilitate teacher workshops while coaching, speech writing, and leading a Charted Toastmasters Club to develop members into keynote speakers. She has been integral in training over 600 educators around the world to bring socio-emotional learning and diversity into their classrooms. She currently speaks to audiences about the resilience of humanity, financial literacy, college planning.

The Teach Better Team

Co-Founders Chad Ostrowski (@ChadOstrowski) and Jeff Gargas (@JeffGargas) built the Teach Better Team from the ground up on one major premise - “to help educators be better today than they were yesterday and be better tomorrow than they were today. It's not about the comparison to the teacher down the hallway or who you may follow on your favorite social networking platform. It's about a pursuit of better.” WIth team members Tiffany Ott (@TechieTeachOtt) and Rae Hughartn (@RaeHughart), the TBT offer innovative ideas and support in a variety of educational areas, including their own Grid Method and Progressive Mastery Learning systems. Their recent book, Teach Better, is an educational best seller, and the team hosts a popular Teach Better podcast and MasteryChat twitter chat.
Prekindergarten (age 3) - Grade 12 • Independent • Coeducational
© 2021 University School of Milwaukee
2100 W. Fairy Chasm Road, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53217 • 414.352.6000