Speakers 2017

Dr. Mae Jemison
Astronaut and NASA’s first Science Mission Specialist
Leading voice for science, social responsibility and  education

Dr. Mae C. Jemison broke more than the sound barrier in 1992 when she climbed aboard the space shuttle Endeavour and became the first woman of color to travel into space. She was also NASA’s first Science Mission Specialist performing experiments in material science, life science and human adaptation to weightlessness. Dr. Jemison is a highly sought after speaker on issues of health care, social responsibility, technology, education and motivation. She is Founder and President of two medical technology companies and currently leading 100 year starship to assure human interstellar space travel to another star within the next century.


Katherine K. Merseth
Faculty Director, Teacher Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Katherine Merseth concentrates on charter schools, teacher education, mathematics education, and the case-method of instruction.  At Harvard, she founded the Harvard Children's Initiative, a university-wide program focusing on the needs of children as well as the School  Leadership and the Teacher Education Programs at the School of Education.
Internationally, she has edited two volumes of cases about classroom practice in South Africa and Chile. In addition to her Harvard doctorate, she holds a bachelor's in mathematics from Cornell University, a master's in mathematics from Boston College, and a master of arts in  teaching secondary mathematics from Harvard.


 Dr. Deborah Jewell Sherman
 Director of the Urban Superintendents Program
 Harvard Graduate School of Education

Dr. Deborah Jewell Sherman is a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Urban Superintendents Program and has built a reputation over the past decade as one of the most successful  urban district superintendents in the country. Prior to joining the  Harvard Graduate School of Education’s faculty, Dr. Jewell- Sherman served as Superintendents of  Richmond Public Schools with a track record of success that culminated in her being named Virginia Superintendent of the year 2009 by the Virginia Association of  School  Superintendents (VASS). During her appointment, 95 percent of Richmond’s lowest performing schools achieved full accreditation under Virginia’s Standards of Learning reform legislation. In addition, the district improved from 18 percent to 91.7 percent of all  schools meeting this standard as measured by the State Department of Education (2008). Currently, Dr. Jewell- Sherman serves as the Director of the Urban Superintendents Program and is the principal investigator for an initiative between the faculty of Harvard  Graduate School of Education and the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. In the fall of 2010, Dr. Jewell- Sherman will serve as a key faculty member for HGSE’s new Doctor of Education Leadership Degree (ED.L.D).


Dr. Mahmoud AL Batal
Renowned Author and Professor
University of Texas

Dr. Mahmoud AL Batal is Professor of Arabic in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. He is specialized in Applied Linguistics and teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL) and is coauthor of "AlKitaab" Arabic textbook  series (with Kristen Brustad and Abbas AlTonsi) published by Georgetown University Press. He has published numerous articles dealing with Arabic language pedagogy and Arabic Sociolinguistics and is developer of Aswaat Arabiyya “Arabic Voices”, a webbased project  for Arabic listening materials. Dr. AlBatal holds a B.A. in Arabic language and literature from the Lebanese University, Beirut, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Arabic Linguistics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Before moving to Austin in 2007, Dr. AlBatal served on  the faculty at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and was the director of Emory College Language Center and Arthur Blank Distinguished Teaching Professor. In addition, Dr. AlBatal served as the director of the Center for  Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), Associate Director & Chair of the Arabic Language Board in the National Middle East Language Resources Center (NMELRC), and Director of the Arabic School at Middlebury College.


Tom Schimmer is an independent education consultant from Vancouver, BC. Over the course of his career he has been a classroom teacher, school administrator, and district level leader. Tom is an internationally recognized leader and expert in the areas of assessment, grading, RTI, and educational leadership. He has delivered both keynote and workshop sessions at several national and international conferences. As well, Tom has worked directly with schools and school districts throughout Canada, the United States, Vietnam, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Qatar, India, the U.A.E., and Spain. He is the author & co-author of three books: Ten Things that Matter from Assessment to Grading (2013) and Grading from the Inside Out: Brining accuracy to student assessment through a standards-based mindset (2016), and Essential Assessment: Bringing hope efficacy, and achievement to the classroom (2017).