Presenters

Meet Our KeyNote Speakers

LeVar Burton

Actor, Author and Educator

LeVar Burton launched his acting career while still a student at the University of Southern California. Cast in the groundbreaking role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark television series Roots, at 19 he found himself on the cover of Time magazine. A seemingly impossible act to follow, Burton managed to do so in dramatic fashion, achieving further global acclaim as Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge in the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and feature films. But it has been his role as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow that he is most proud of. Airing from 1983 to 2009, it was not only one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history, but also one of the most acclaimed, earning over 200 awards including multiple Emmys and a Peabody.

Always committed to improving children’s education through innovative uses of storytelling, in 2012 Burton launched RRKidz, a digital educational publishing company, co-founded with business partner Mark Wolfe. Together they hold the global rights to the Reading Rainbow brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED/Buffalo. Reading Rainbow was reimagined to combine today’s forms of media and technology with the goal of inspiring a new generation of children to love reading. The all-new Reading Rainbow is a digital reading service filled with over 500 children’s fiction and non-fiction books, newly produced video field trips and new content added every week. With over 16 million books and videos enjoyed since launch, Reading Rainbow is the number one educational app on iTunes and recipient of numerous awards.

Most recently, Burton turned to Kickstarter to bring Reading Rainbow to “Every Child, Everywhere” – especially to classrooms in need. The campaign met its 35-day goal of raising $1 million in less than 11 hours, and became the most popular Kickstarter campaign ever with over 105,000 backers and a final tally of over $6.4 million. As a result, in 2015 RRKidz will introduce Reading Rainbow EDU, complete with engaging supplemental learning content for teachers and students.

And in October, 2014, Reading Rainbow published Burton’s first children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, a powerful and uplifting story to help children cope with the difficulties of everyday life.

The honored recipient of 12 Emmy Awards, a Grammy and five NAACP Awards, Burton has demonstrated in his career that he can do it all —acting, directing, producing, writing and speaking. He is often invited as a keynote speaker at leading education and technology events, most recently speaking at NASA, ISTE, The National Headstart Association and many more.

And in 2014, with educational groups, business organizations and media clamoring to recognize him for the record-setting Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, Burton was named Geek of the Year in the annual Geekie Awards, was listed as one of Ebony magazine’s Power 100, and earned the World Tech Award for Education, awarded by the World Technology Network.

He now enters his fourth decade in the industry, with millions of fans throughout the world, and continues his mission to inspire, entertain and educate.

Michael Toth

CEO of LSI and Award-Winning Author

Michael D. Toth is founder and CEO of Learning Sciences International (LSI) and leads LSI’s Applied Research Center. He is the author of The Power of Student Teams: Achieving Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Learning in Every Classroom Through Academic Teaming with David Sousa; author of Who Moved My Standards? Joyful Teaching in an Age of Change; and co-author with Dr. Robert J. Marzano of The Essentials of a Standards-Driven Classroom, School Leadership for Results, and Teacher Evaluation that Makes a Difference.

Toth was formerly the president of the National Center for the Profession of Teaching, a university faculty member, and director of research and development grants. He is an expert in research-based school improvement models, shifting instructional methodologies, root causes analysis for school issues, and building 21st century skills in students; he gives public presentations and advises education leaders on these issues.

Robert Marzano

Author and Educator

Internationally recognized author of The New Art and Science of Teaching, Dr. Marzano will share practical translations of the most current research and theory into classroom strategies. Including thought-provoking aspects of rigor, their impact on types of work such as team-centered tasks that promote effective student collaboration and promote complex learning which are covered in his latest book, Understanding Rigor in the Classroom.

Dr. Marzano's practical translations of the most current research and theory into classroom strategies are widely practiced internationally by both teachers and administrators.