30 K–12 IT Influencers to Follow in 2022
There is no innovation without innovators.
This year, EdTech sought out the IT innovators and collaborators who are making meaningful changes in K–12 education. Their work is driving the next iteration of educational technology and digital transformation.
As K–12 leaders struggle to find balance with the right technological tools, the achievements and challenges in education, and a sustainable path forward, it may feel as though school districts are at a precipice. Yet, in the face of these difficulties, ed tech leaders around the world are using their expertise and their influence to drive education forward. From creating resources to cultivating discussions, these influencers are forward-thinking and solutions-focused. We’re excited to highlight the work, mindset and innovation of 30 such leaders in this space. If you’re featured among the 2022 K–12 IT influencers to follow, be sure to share the good news, support your fellow influencers and grab an IT influencer cover image for your own social media profiles or websites.
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Alfonso “Fonz” Mendoza, instructional technologist at Sharyland Independent School District in Texas, uses social media to share educational technology tips and information. He also gives great advice on his podcast, My EdTech Life, where he interviews experts and educators about their accomplishments and challenges with ed tech. Mendoza worked as an educator before transitioning to his IT role.
Amanda Jones, a teacher and librarian at Louisiana’s Live Oak Middle School, was named the state’s school librarian of the year in 2020. In 2021, she was named the School Library Journal librarian of the year. She actively engages with peers and students on social media and also presents at ed tech conferences, with her next scheduled appearance being ISTE 2022.
Amber Teamann is an IT leader, author and creator of the blog Technically Yours, Teamann. There, she shares information and advice with ties to personal and real-life anecdotes. Her work as the director of technology and innovation for Crandall Independent School District in Texas allows her to combine her passions for technology and leadership.
Bart Epstein is the founder and CEO of the EdTech Evidence Exchange, an organization that keeps educators and administrators informed about ed tech. The organization hosts webinars and creates resources in addition to sharing resources from the community. Epstein’s goal is to support K–12 IT leaders in making smart decisions when choosing and implementing educational technology.
Recognized frequently as “Coach Ben,” Ben Cogswell discusses activities and insights from his kindergarten classroom in Alisal Union School District in California, while supporting educators across the country. His website, Kinder Rockets, has resources for parents and students to support learning at home.
Chantell Manahan is the technology director for the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County and a board member of the Indiana CTO Council, a state chapter of the Consortium for School Networking. Follow Manahan for CoSN and K–12 CTO-specific updates and resources, as well as lessons learned from her district’s work on data, interoperability, cybersecurity and more.
A Chicago native, D’Andre J. Weaver now works in Washington, D.C., as the first chief digital equity officer for Digital Promise, a nonprofit authorized by the federal government to spur innovation and opportunity in education through technology. Weaver previously worked as a superintendent in two Texas districts, after serving as a principal in Chicago Public Schools.
Danielle Boyer, an indigenous educator, activist and robot creator, began pursuing robotics in high school. She founded The STEAM Connection the year after she graduated, pursuing her goal of making STEAM education more accessible to all kids, regardless of income, race or gender. Boyer designs and manufactures robots she gives for free to minority students and is working on projects — such as a wearable language-learning robot — to further equity in her community.
Through his podcast, Focus on EDU, Douglas Konopelko connects with educators and IT leaders in K–12 and higher education spaces to bring meaningful conversations to his audience. In addition to building a network of ed tech experts, Konopelko works as the esports lead for CDW•G, helping education leaders across the country build and equip their esports teams.
Technology Integration Specialist Eric Curts inspires educators using content on his ed tech blog, Control Alt Achieve, which he frequently turns into episodes for his podcast of the same name. His posts champion successful technology integration in K–12 classrooms. He promotes current and relevant events via an updated calendar on his blog, and he keeps a curated page of digital resources.
Co-hosts Sallee Clark and Jeni Long combine their names and ideas on The Jenallee Show. Working together outside of the show as instructional technologists with Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District, the two run a blog and a YouTube video blog as part of The Jenallee Show. They share short videos — typically under three minutes — that help educators meaningfully engage with technology. Clark and Long also speak at conferences and last fall released a Microsoft Teams playbook.
Jennifer Hall is an ed tech specialist at Atlanta Public Schools. On her blog, Tech Tips 411, she creates and shares visually engaging tips to help educators advance their ed tech skills. Typically, these span a variety of media, including live sessions, recorded videos, articles and more.
Karina “Cue” Quilantán is a library media specialist for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District who advocates for the use and availability of online resources. The videos she creates for her district help English- and Spanish-speaking students understand instructions, and she uses e-books to make reading more accessible for her middle schoolers. She also helped develop a Microsoft EDU course for librarians and shares many other digital resources on her Twitter account.
An expert in computer science, education and user experience, Khalia Braswell is the founder of INTechCamp for Girls, a nonprofit that encourages girls to innovate in the technology field.
Kim Collazo, a digital integration facilitator at North Carolina’s Moore County Schools and a STEM-instruction advocate, brings hands-on and engaging K–12 STEM projects to her Twitter followers. She has also written a children’s STEM book titled Emersyn Blake and the Spotted Salamander. This book introduces environmental science to young students through an engaging and relatable character. Collazo’s work allows her to inspire elementary students to get involved with science, technology, math and engineering programs.
A special education teacher, blogger and podcaster, Kyle Anderson embraces ed tech in many areas of his life and work. A published author, Anderson also attends ed tech conferences, particularly when they’re local to Nevada’s Clark County School District, where he works. Anderson was featured in EdTech’s first Watch & Learn reaction video, where he shared his interest and appreciation for using advanced technology in special education classrooms.
Kyle Berger, CTO for Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, recently received the Best Overall Implementation of Technology award from Tech & Learning for his district’s digital transformation during the pandemic. In addition to sharing his district’s tech achievements, Berger also takes to Twitter to highlight the work of Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s esports team and new arena.
Leslie Fisher shares her knowledge of the educational technology landscape with eager audiences at conferences. She is the founder and director of Fisher Technologies, through which she offers schools guidance and professional development pertaining to educational technology.
As the executive director of digital learning at San Francisco Unified School District, Lindsey Blass is very involved in bringing online learning experiences to her students and staff. In addition to being an ISTE author and a CoSN emerging ed tech leader, she has also been named the CUE 2020 Tech Innovator of the Year and the 2021 CUE San Francisco Admin of the Year. She shares her knowledge at conferences and engages frequently with ed tech experts and IT leaders on Twitter.
Michelle Bourgeois serves as the CTO for St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado. She promotes security best practices to K–12 IT and district leaders to help them protect their networks from rising cyberattacks. Last fall, Bourgeois spoke with EdTech for a roundtable on cybersecurity.
Through her social media accounts and her Class Tech Tips blog, Monica Burns shares her years of experience in technology integration and innovative classroom design. She advocates for the integration of ed tech into pedagogy and instruction. Burns has also written three books on educational technology and hosts a podcast bursting with advice and activity ideas.
Follow Moriah Stephens on Twitter for a window into her world. Stephens teaches students with disabilities at Minnesota’s Intermediate District 287, where she constantly celebrates her students and the goings-on in her classroom. She shares forward-thinking assistive technology tips on social media to promote inclusivity in all its forms.
Quinta Brunson is the creator, executive producer, writer and lead actor on ABC’s television show Abbott Elementary, a comedy series that reflects on the educator’s experience and has resonated with many teachers and K–12 professionals. In the show’s first season, a tech integration episode reflected many of the conversations being had in the ed tech space.
As the vice president of Garden State Esports in New Jersey, Regina Schaffer keeps her Twitter followers up to date on the growth and digital transformation of K–12 esports. Schaffer engages frequently with her Twitter community to uplift others’ voices and spread tips and resources. She also works as an instructional tech specialist for the Middletown (N.J.) Township Public Schools Board of Education.
Stephanie Howell, an instructional tech coach at Pickerington Local School District in Ohio, contributes resources and inspired conversation in her role and on Twitter. She is also the founder and CEO of the educational consultancy Gold EDU, which she originally created as a space for educators and ed tech leaders to share resources, ideas and expertise. The organization now helps educators implement technology in their K–12 classrooms and lesson plans through resources, training, one-on-one sessions and more.
Susan Bearden oversees Project Unicorn, Educating All Learners Alliance and Open Source Data Schema in her role as the director of digital programs for InnovateEDU. The nonprofit is focused on digitally transforming learning models to eliminate the opportunity gap in K–12 education. Bearden brings her expertise to the team from her time at the U.S. Department of Education and as CoSN’s former CIO. She is well versed in educational technology, sharing all manner of ed tech news and information with her Twitter followers.
Thomas Murray, director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, is a well-known conference speaker and a former teacher, principal and CIO. He provides his educational technology tips and resources through speaking events, published books, online courses and more. Murray has worked alongside the federal government, including the Department of Education, to bring innovation and student-centered learning to K–12 institutions.
Tyler Rablin delights followers with classroom moments and ed tech advice on Twitter, capturing for the rest of the world what it’s like to work as an educator in today’s classroom. Rablin, an instructional technology coach and English language arts teacher at Washington’s Sunnyside School District, also participates in modern learning discussions with his peers, inviting others to join the conversation. He hosts additional stories and tech tools on his blog, Teacher Trotter.
Victor Hicks, known to many as “Coach Hicks,” is the founder and director of Coding with Culture. This program exposes students to HBCUs and digital skills such as coding, word processing, digital design and more. Hicks created the program to bring his computer science lessons to more Black children and to show them a STEM-focused path to higher education and careers. He now works as a STEM teacher at St. Thomas More Catholic School in Decatur, Ga.