Instructors | Online Learning for Teachers pursuing Continuing Education and Professional Development | The Connecting Link

 

TCL Instructors

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John has his Master of Education and brings to TCL more than two decades of experience. He has counseled, taught and coached at the middle school, high school and college levels. John developed and implemented a developmental guidance curriculum. He was recognized as educator of the year by the Norfolk County Teacher’s Association. 

In his free time John likes being active – working out, staying upright in his kayak, camping and fishing. He loves to cook and plays golf.


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Kirstin is currently a teacher and Instructional Coach at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange/Western Springs. She has been in the district for five years where she has played various roles. Kirstin currently teaches sophomores, but she has taught freshmen in the past. She has taught all levels of English at some point in her eighteen year teaching career.  

As an Instructional Coach Kirstin has the opportunity to help plan Professional Development for her district as well as directly work with 10-12 teachers one-on-one every year. The focus of the Instructional Coaching program is to create more student-centered classrooms through the use of standards and skills-based instruction while incorporating the formative practices. Kirstin has worked with her small team of coaches to bring the goals of the district to fruition in a range of classrooms. She has worked with teachers in some capacity from almost every department.  

As well as working at Lyons Township and The Connecting Link, Kirstin is a mother of two young girls. She lives in the city and is a product of the Chicago Public School System. Her daughters attend CPS schools, and Kirstin is committed to raising her children in the city. She also has two dogs, and she would have five more if her husband agreed. He doesn’t.


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“Teaching is the act of sharing the knowledge we have been given by others with hope that someday, by some way, it will again be passed on.” 

Shelly Fisher’s passion for teaching is never-ending. She presently has unlimited energy teaching 2nd graders, but also plays a huge role in her school building as a leader of the Positive Behavior Intervention System team and as a designee for her principal. Shelly holds her teaching degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Mathematics and a master’s degree in Educational Administration. 

Mrs. Fisher continually challenges herself and seeks ways to improve teacher effectiveness by meeting the needs of the ever-changing world of education, holding high accountability for the students in her K-5 building who range from ESL learners, Gifted Learners, children with Autism, children with learning disabilities, speech impaired children, to children with social and emotional issues. 

She also provides leadership to colleagues, student teachers, teacher’s assistants and teachers who explore her classes through The Connecting Link. She has been a TCL instructor since 1991 and continues to provide classes that are exciting, motivating and useful for teachers who are always trying to be the key factor in their students’ lives and success. Experienced with many different TCL classes, Shelly strives to keep them current and is always excited to hear when her students apply knowledge gained from her classes in their educational setting. She focuses on giving time for teachers and educational staff to share, compare, contrast and dig deeper into educational experiences and strategies.


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Throughout her tenure in education, Dr. Frey has enjoyed teaching and serving as an administrator in K-16 settings. She has a depth of experience in educational leadership, successful grant writing and educational policy development and implementation. Dr. Frey is a national and regional presenter on student development; program design and assessment; and, leadership in higher education.

Her areas of professional interest are: support and persistence of first-generation college students; leadership and social justice; and, multicultural education. Her active scholarship is the impact of positive psychology on pedagogical design and the vocational development of a college student. She has been recognized regionally for her support and advocacy of LGBTQ issues, and her work in student affairs.

Dr. Frey holds a Doctorate in Education from Seattle University; a Master of Education in Multicultural Education from the University of Washington; and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Pacific Lutheran University. Dr. Frey's passion is being a leader/educator and working in partnership with others to become their best selves. 


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Dr. Mike McGowan is currently a Technology Director and building administrator for Sunnybrook School District 171, a Pre-K to 8th grade district in Lansing, Illinois. He is also an executive board member for ICE (Illinois Computing Educators), the Illinois ISTE (International Society for Technology in Educators) affiliate. Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of St. Francis, a degree in Education with a focus on Teaching Computers and Business from Lewis University and a master's degree from Concordia University in School Administration. 

Mike started his career right out of college teaching Computer Basics classes at Joliet Junior College. He has taught everything from Pre-K up through high school. For the past 13 years he has been a Technology Director and administrator, helping school districts integrate technology into daily operations and curriculum for his schools. Mike is a firm believer that technology can be a vital enhancement to the learning experience so long as it is intended to supplement instruction rather than supplant it. 

Mike is also an international speaker on a variety of educational technology topics. He has spoken on topics including the use of interactive white boards in the classroom, free educational technology resources, use of coding to engage and enhance learning, more recently the design and construction of Makerspaces/STEM labs and the use of virtual reality in the classroom. Mike has had the privilege to speak at conferences all across Illinois and in Maryland, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as presenting in Canada and Germany. 

His true passion is making sure all students have access to available technology as they will likely have technology-related jobs. Engaging students to become proficient in computer-based skills now will better prepare them for those future careers. 


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Steve brings over thirty years' experience in K-12 education ranging from teacher, assistant principal, elementary school principal, administrator, project manager and executive coach. His graduate degrees are in Educational Administration and Supervision, and Music Education. Steve has designed professional development and workshops for teachers, directors, and parents on student assessments, 21st-century learning, Common Core Standards, Danielson Framework for Teaching and best practices. In his free time, he enjoys writing, listening to music, taking long walks, biking, and kayaking.


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Jill’s career began in 2002 as a licensed teacher in the areas of special education, reading, and health. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. While her role in education has recently shifted to curriculum and instruction, she fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of educators by providing meaningful, applicable, and research-based activities and resources to enhance professional practices. Jill lives in Wisconsin and enjoys traveling and exploring the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons. 


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Toni Schrage has been a teacher for 24 years. She currently teaches ESL in grades K-5 at Springfield School District 186 in Springfield, Illinois. She is also a reading skills teacher for Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois. Toni teaches online and blended graduate-level courses to educators seeking their ESL endorsements for the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. She has experience teaching in grades K-12, undergraduate students and master's degree-seeking students. Toni has worked with gifted students at the middle school level, and special education students at the elementary, middle school and college levels. 

Toni was born and grew up in Auburn, Illinois. She received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She moved to Arizona for her first teaching position and received her master’s degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language from Northern Arizona University. Toni enjoys providing educators with information that will enhance their teaching.  

Since Toni is constantly learning and seeking new ideas she hopes you will enjoy the flexibility of the programs that are offered at TCL.


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Mary Wolf has been working for The Connecting Link for eight years. She is a 5th grade math teacher in suburban Chicago, where she has been teaching for thirteen years. She began her association with TCL as a student and was intrigued by the varied course offerings and the multiple instructional delivery methods (in person, online, structured). Over the years she has met many outstanding educators through Connecting Link classes and looks forward to enhancing those and forging new ones!


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Paul has developed and written many of our most popular tech courses. Technology is changing the face and direction of education; however, Paul makes it a point in all of his courses to invoke the human side of the classroom. Technology should be a medium to reach students, but the teacher is what drives the learning and engagement.  Paul’s work experiences have taken him around the world to a variety of school districts and classrooms. He is eager to hear your experiences and shares his to reflect together on the art of teaching.

In his free time Paul travels around North America watching his son play hockey. His passion for teaching never stops and he even finds time to stop into local schools in the communities he visits to see what they are doing!


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