Keynote Speakers 

*All Times are Eastern StandardTime*

Friday, February 12  - 4:00  - 5:30 PM - Crystal Byrd Farmer

Friday, February 12  - 6:30  - 8:00 PM - James Ford, Heather Kostell, Peter Rawitsch, Aixa Rodriguez

Friday, February 12  - 10:15  - 11:45 PM - Je'anna Clements

Saturday, February 13 - 2:00 - 3:30  AM - Wobayila Amos Wesimika

Saturday, February 13 - Saturday - 7:00 am - 8:15 am - Dr. Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli

Saturday, February 13 - 8:30 - 10:00  AM - Lea Jovy-Ford, Hannah Miller, Jenn Sutherland

Saturday, February 13 - 1:00 - 2:15 PM -  Ndindi Kitonga & Scott Stubbe

Saturday, February 13 -  ​4:15 - 5:30 PM  - Naim Sanders

Saturday, February 13 -  ​6:30 - 8:00 PM - Heather MacTaggart

Saturday, February 13 - 8:00 - 9:30 PM - Jerry Mintz and Peter Berg

Crystal Byrd Farmer

Crystal Byrd Farmer is the founder of Gastonia Freedom School, an Agile Learning Center. An engineer turned educator, she speaks and writes about ways communities can be more welcoming to people of all kinds of backgrounds. She also serves as a board member with the Foundation for Intentional Communities and website editor for Black & Poly. Crystal is passionate about encouraging people to change their perspectives on diversity, relationships, and the world. -

James Ford

James Ford is the Family and Community Support Coordinator for the Lewiston Public Schools. He is the former Restorative Practice Coordinator at Lewiston High School. He is a Black male who can trace his lineage to the middle and an owner of land in Georgia where his ancestors were slaves. He has lived in Maine for 40 years and has dealt with many layers of Affirmative Action, discrimination, racism, segregation and implicit bias. He has been doing work on race, or the subject of race all of my life. He loves the Lewiston High School; its diversity and its willingness to shift behaviors to work with the current student population. He sees his role as helping to facilitate that shift…finding ways to bring the school closer to the community. “Let’s open our doors to our parents, businesses and our neighbors.”

Heather Kostell

Elementary Educator, Parent, Artist, and a kid at heart, Heather Kostell is an advocate for children’s rights and joyful learning. Being labeled by her deficits at an early age, Heather endured years of wounds at the hands of the school system. These negative experiences were the catalyst that pushed her to become a teacher. While teaching, she made it her mission to create a space where children were valued for their strengths, passions, and natural talents. Currently, Heather is exploring self-directed learning with her husband and two children and using her art to express her beliefs in education.

Aixa B. Rodriguez

Aixa B. Rodriguez (born in Bronx, NY) is a Puerto Rican educator and education activist. Rodriguez has been a teacher of English Language Learners in the NYCDOE since 2005. She is the founder of Bronx Educators United for Justice, which hosts community events on a variety of intersectional topics related to public education. A graduate of Fordham University with a BS in Psychology and Latin American studies, she followed a stint in Japan teaching English as Foreign Language, by obtaining a Masters of Science in TESOL. She has served on the steering committee for MORE the Movement of Rank and File Educators for 2019-2020. Since realizing how education reform initiatives are preying on young idealist teachers and experimenting on public school students for profit, she has taken on activism and advocacy as part of her role as a public educator. Her issues include the abuse of standardized testing to usher in privatization of public schools, charter school co-locations, scarcity of services used to deny rights and services to ELLs and students with disabilities, push out of veteran teachers of color, whole child education and quality rich and culturally representative, responsive and respectful curricula.

Wobayila Amos 

Founder of Harlon Schools, Uganda Kulika Africa and is a dedicated International Philanthropist in social global challenges across all stages including Early Childhood Education support measures.

Peter Rawitsch

Peter Rawitsch got his calling to become an early childhood educator at the age of 15 when he read the book Summerhill by A.S. Neill. He brought his enthusiasm for the Arts into his 1st grade classroom for 38 years in upstate New York. His goal was to teach a little more like Mr. Rogers and a little less like Sesame Street. He remembers when 1st grade had a block corner. Today he is a public school activist who speaks (and occasionally sings) at School Board meetings in Wilmington, North Carolina about safety, equity, and developmentally appropriate practices.

Je'anna Clements

Je'anna Clements walked out of a conventional Masters degree in Philosophy of Education when she realised that no existing course could meet her learning needs. For over a decade she self-directed her studies in Self-Directed Education, applying her learning in practice by experimenting with several startups, culminating in co-founding Riverstone Village (RsV), a Sudbury-inspired facility in South Africa, in 2017, after joining the AERO School Starters group. In addition to being staff at RsV she now writes about the theory and practice of SDE and supports adults in gaining their confidence to facilitate SDE effectively.

Dr. Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli

Dr. Putri Afzan Maria Zulkifli - Qualified and dedicated Early Childhood Education lecturer, trainer and practitioner with 7 years of experiences living in the UnitedvKingdom, gaining loads of experiences from the UK classroom settings, ways and methods in relation to Early Childhood practices. She is passionate about contributing to the Intellectual, Social, Emotional
and Physical development of young children. A job creator she is from the very beginning, to date, she has created PlayLeaders, PlayCarers, PlayWorkers, Mediators, Play Companions and Learning Facilitators. She designed a Play Conference to educate the nation. She initiated
the StoryMaker Apprentices, to train undergraduates and inspire them by being her apprentices. She designed books, train apprentices to produce children’s books and publish them. She appears on televisions, radios, newspapers and magazines to advocate and now
slowly shifting towards becoming a Child-Parent Mediator to support emotional development in adults and children.

Hannah Miller

Hannah is a third-generation worldschooler, jack-of-all-trades creative leader and education hacker who has been defying norms and forging her own path from early on. She is wildly passionate about travel, creative arts, and education.Hannah started her first business (in cookie sales) at age 7 and by 16 had begun an online career in content management and design. As a teen, she traveled full-time in close quarters with her family of six and by 19, her online business had grown to the point where she could sustainably live and travel anywhere in the world. After graduating with distinction and at the top of her program from Queens University, in Canada, she turned down a job in her field to do just that.

Jenn Sutherland

CEO of Beyond School, Jenn has over 20 years of experience in supporting families to build world class educations for their children outside the four walls of a classroom - beyond school.

In addition to successfully homeschooling her own four children, from birth to university entrance while traveling the world, full time, for over a decade, Jenn has a degree in education and has worked with hundreds of families as a consultant and educational coach.

Naim Sanders

Naim Q. Sanders earned his bachelor's degree from Butler University and a master's degree from the University of Dayton. He has served children and families in the field of education for over 20 years as a teacher, principal, charter school developer and education consultant. In addition to his professional experiences in K-12 education he has worked for the Ohio Department of Education, adjunct professor for Notre Dame College and faculty supervisor for student teachers and future principals at Grand Canyon University. Naim is the author of several books including:

The Beautiful Struggles Of Coming Of Age
The Beautiful Struggles Of Teaching
The Beautiful Struggles Of Teaching Workbook
A Sacred Place For Learning: Teaching, Leading & Culture

Lea Jovy-Ford

Lea Jovy-Ford - COO of Beyond School, Lea has been at the forefront of the location independent / digital nomad movement since 2006 and has helped thousands of people become location independent – she’s been a business coach/mentor for almost two decadeLea has a blended, multi-racial family with four children, 2 sons and 2 daughters, and her wife, Becky. Lea has home educated her two children from birth and all 4 are now home educated together.

Ndindi Kitonga & Scott Stubbe

Ndindi Kitonga, Scott Stubbe, Angeles Workshop School co-founders Ndindi Kitonga Ph.D. and Scott Stubbe discuss the philosophy and praxis developed in their revolutionary secondary school in Los Angeles.

Heather McTaggart

Heather Mactaggart - Heather MacTaggart is a social entrepreneur, educator, author, innovator and consensus builder. She began her private sector career at Proctor and Gamble where, over the course of seven years, she held progressively senior marketing and management positions. She thereafter applied her expertise to establish a unique consulting hub. Through her leadership, Classroom Connections evolved from a grass-roots resource for schools to a social enterprise dedicated to educational transformation. Classroom Connections is now a respected source of leading edge, government sponsored, training curricula in use across Canada and around the world. Corporate sponsors include RBC and 3M. Along the way, Heather and her team also designed practical, life-changing programs to engage at risk
indigenous youth. Ultimately, Classroom Connections spawned the revolutionary Change It Up! platform, with
Heather on the front lines at First Nation reserves, providing self-development and employment skills to young women and men who had previously dropped out. This platform spawned the widely distributed CIU! Toolkit:
an easy-to-implement program based on a decade of practical field experience in the delivery of employment,
pre-employment and life skills training. As the Executive Director of Classroom Connections, and as the Canadian Deputy of The 21st Century Learning Initiative, Heather consistently inspired disparate groups to enthusiastically support innovative change in education. In 2010, she co-authored Overschooled but Undereducated with John Abbott in the UK. Her newest and most exciting venture is Unschooling School which, with the support of an international cast of diverse and free-thinking academics, promotes a quiet revolution which will permanently alter the systemic rigidity of schooling. Unschooling School unleashes the freedom to learn in a thoughtfully considered but bold encounter with stale and traditional teaching methods. Heather is a creative and dynamic change agent, fostering both growth and disruption in the learning environment. Her influence at the highest levels of government and business has made a meaningful
difference in the lives of marginalized young Canadians.
Going forward, Heather’s fierce commitment to fundamentally alter anachronistic methods of teaching is rapidly gaining traction in Canada and around the world.

Jerry Mintz

Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public and independent alternative school principal and teacher, he has also helped found more than fifty public and private alternative schools and organizations. He has lectured and consulted in more than twenty-five countries around the world. In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and since then has served as it’s Director. Jerry was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). In addition to several appearances on national radio and TV shows, Jerry’s essays, commentaries, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and magazines including The New York Times, Newsday, Paths of Learning, Green Money Journal, Communities, Saturday Review, Holistic Education Review as well as the anthology Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000). Jerry was Editor-in-Chief for the Handbook of Alternative Education (Macmillan, 1994), and the Almanac of Education Choices (Macmillan/Simon & Schuster, 1995). He is the author of No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education (AERO, 2003) and is editor of Turning Points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Story (AERO, 2010).

Peter Berg

Peter is The author of The Tao of Teenagers : A Guide to Teen Health, Happiness & Empowerment and the founder of Youth Transformations  where he works with youth as a board Certified Holistic Mental Health Coach. He is currently the Head of Counseling & Student Services at Second Start Alternative High School. Peter is a national trainer and an expert in and an advocate for alternative and integrated education. His work includes helping teenagers empower themselves so they can take charge of their health and happiness and be the masters of their own lives.   He holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and has written extensively on alternative, holistic, integrated educational theory and integrated health.  He serves as a faculty member in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at Southern New Hampshire University, as well as Antioch University and Graduate Institute for Transformative Learning. Peter organizes the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) representatives worldwide and helps with many other aspects of AERO. He has consulted on various start-up schools throughout the country and continues to offer consultations to national and international organizations, schools and individuals. He has written extensively on alternative, holistic, integrated educational theory and techniques and has founded and co-founded non-profit community and environmental-based organizations. Peter received his Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Education from Antioch University and his Doctorate in Education at Walden University, exploring the ties between school leadership and progressive and holistic education. Peter maintains partnerships and affiliations with organizations who promote sustainability, social and environmental justice, human rights and holistic health. Often this work entails bringing these organizations together to form partnerships and exchange ideas.