Our Keynote Speaker

For a printable list of Keynote Speakers and Workshop Presenters please use the following link LIFT-NL Workshops and Presenter Biographies


Larry Swartz

Larry Swartz has been a classroom teacher and university instructor in literacy and drama education for forty years—and he’s still publishing, creating and energized.  He is a much sought-after speaker and presenter at literacy conferences all over the world, sharing his contagious love of life, love of learning and love for laughter in classrooms and beyond.   Larry has published many books about literacy, graphic novels, poetry, drama education and lifelong learning and his newest book is entitled "Take Me To Your Reader." His website larryswartz.ca has numerous recommendations, professional development opportunities and wonderful ideas.  We are so thrilled to have Larry captive in Newfoundland for LIFT-NL’s first conference—we might just kidnap him and keep him here!

Our Workshop Presenters


Gail Boushey

Gail Boushey is a passionate educator, author, and speaker. Throughout her career, her vision and focus has been: to find a replicable, reliable way to teach children how to be independent lifelong learners, starting in their early years. Gail is co-author of the best-selling books The Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades; and The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment and Instruction; more than a dozen professional development DVDs; established The Daily CAFE and CCPensieve websites as a resource for educators and has continued to develop the knowledge base ever since.

Gail started her teaching career in North America and now works with teachers and students throughout the world. She is an elementary teacher with experience in grades PK-6 and in Special Education. In addition to being a classroom teacher, she also worked as an Instructional Coach.


Sue Jackson

Sue Jackson, an enthusiastic and inspirational speaker is presently a National Literacy Consultant for Scholastic Education Canada, providing professional learning opportunities for teachers, administrators and school districts across Canada. She is a passionate advocate for empowering teachers and students and is able to ground pedagogy in authentic and practical classroom applications.


Don Sawyer

Don Sawyer is an educator and writer. He is the author of several children's books, including The Meanest Teacher in the World, two quick-read detective novels for adults, and the illustrated Lunchbag Chronicles. He has also authored a series of novels for beginning adult readers as well as numerous curriculum guides and manuals. He started his career in Musgrave Harbour, NL, and wrote about his adventures as a beginning teacher in Tomorrow Is School and I Am Sick to the Heart Thinking about It.


Greg Woolgar

Greg Woolgar is a two time National Award winning teacher who has based his 25 year career on working drama and fine arts into the everyday curriculum. Greg is a graduate of Memorial University as well as the University of Central England with a Diploma in Fine Arts. Greg holds Masters degree in Leadership also through Memorial.

Greg continues to make curriculum connections to all areas of the elementary program and has given presentations around the arts and outcomes across most grades. Greg has been an itinerant teacher for gifted students, taught in all elementary grades, as well as in several multi-grade setups, and has been both a presenter and lecturer on several occasions at Memorial University and with various school boards. Presently, Greg teaches grade five at St. Matthew's School.


Leigh Borden

Leigh Borden has been teacher librarian at Holy Trinity Elementary in Torbay, NL, for the past 11 years. Over the past three years she has been heavily involved as a mentor teacher librarian in a school library learning commons pilot organized by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. She began her teaching career at Pierre Laporte Middle School in the Toronto District School Board. Leigh is a graduate of the Master of Teaching program at OISE and holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto and a BA (Hons) from Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Carolyn Clarke

Carolyn Clarke is principal at New World Island Academy, Summerford.  She has been an educator in Newfoundland and Labrador for more than 20 years with experience as a Primary and Elementary teacher, Literacy Program Specialist, Elementary Program Specialist, Vice Principal, and Senior Education Officer.  She also teaches part time for the Faculty of Education, Mount Saint Vincent University. Her Ph.D. is in Literacy Education and her primary research interest includes: homework, critical literacy, social justice, and using children’s literature to teach in high school classes.


Dennis Barrow

Dennis Barrow has 23 years experience in the NL education system. A former classroom teacher and administrator, he is currently a K-6 Program Specialist with NLESD- Central Region.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker has a career that spans 14 years, three provinces and one territory. She is a graduate of both Mount Allison University and the University of NB where she obtained her B.Ed. with a focus in Literacy. Her classroom experience includes teaching in a variety of settings including elementary, junior high and high-school, distance education through the virtual classroom, and multi-age/combined grades. She is currently teaching Grade 5 French Immersion at J.R. Smallwood Middle School in Wabush, Labrador.



Lynn FitzPatrick

Lynn FitzPatrick is an Education Program Consultant with Let's Talk Science (NL), an award-winning, national, charitable organization focused on education and outreach to support youth development. Let’s Talk Science creates and delivers unique learning programs and services that engage children, youth and educators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Lynn has worked as an elementary, intermediate and secondary science, technology and math educator, a District K-12 Program Specialist for science and technology, and as a Senior Education Officer


Renée Dinnerstein

Renée Dinnerstein has over 50 years experience as an early childhood educator. She has taught both in Italy and the United States and has spent eighteen years as an early childhood teacher at P.S. 321, and was the teacher-director of the Children's School early childhood inclusion annex. She worked  as an Early Childhood Staff Developer in the New York City Department of Education, Division of Instructional Support, where she wrote curriculum, led study groups and summer institutes, and helped write the New York City Pre Kindergarten Standards. Renée, a past member of the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project Early Childhood Reading ‘think tank’, taught in the project’s summer institutes and presented calendar days for kindergarten and first grade teachers. She received the Bank Street Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award in 1999. Her book Choice Time: How to Deepen Learning Through Inquiry and Play was published by Heinemann in August, 2016. Renee's blog, Investigating Choice Time: Inquiry, Investigation and Play, is a popular resource for anyone involved with young children.


Dr. David Tranter

Dr. David Tranter has been teaching and working in mental health, well-being, and education for over 30 years. As a researcher, professor and the Scientific Director for the Centre for Relationship-Based Education, he works widely with educators to support students at all grade levels to reach their highest potential. He is a dynamic, thought-provoking, and entertaining speaker, who has challenged educators across the country to think differently about their role, and to understand the needs of students on a deeper level. He is the co-creator of the Relationship-Based Approach to Education, a pedagogical framework that promotes both student well-being and academic achievement. His book, “The Third Path”, published by Nelson is now available. More information about his work can be found at www.relationshipbasedschools.com.


Cecilia Bungay

Cecilia Bungay possède de l’expérience considérable dans le domaine de l’éducation, en tant qu’enseignante et conseillère pédagogique. Elle travaille présentement comme consultante du programme d’éducation avec « Parlons sciences »; là, elle collabore avec l’équipe responsable de l’expérience des enseignants afin de concevoir, d’élaborer, de mettre en œuvre et d’évaluer les ressources en STIM destinées aux éducatrices et aux éducateurs, en plus d’offrir des séances d’apprentissage professionnel, en se concentrant sur les besoins du personnel enseignant de langue française


Cecilia Bungay has extensive experience in the field of education, as both a teacher and a program specialist. She now works with Let’s Talk Science as an Education Consultant, where she collaborates with the Educator Experience team to create, provide and evaluate STEM resources for educators, as well as to offer Professional Learning opportunities, focusing specifically on the needs of French language educators.

LIFT-NL-Final Store

Brad Gynn

Brad Glynn has been an educator for over a decade, teaching from Gr. 1 to Gr. 12 in that time. He believes that authentic learning occurs when safe communities are created that allow honest questions and discussions to occur. Brad has a passion for finding ways to address issues of social justice in his classroom with children of all ages.


John Barron

John Barron is the Provincial Coordinator for Brilliant Labs, a not-for-profit company bringing maker education to schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. A retired technology education teacher and university instructor, John has a passion for experiential and authentic learning experiences


Cathy Baker

Cathy Baker is a teacher from central Newfoundland. She is Reggio inspired and passionate about creating spaces and experiences for children that ignite curiosity and creativity.  


Beth Maddigan

Beth Maddigan is the Head of the Education Library & Commons at the Faculty of Education, Memorial University. She is the lead author for three books focused on Family and Community Literacy


Leigha Chaisson-Locke

Leigha Chiasson-Locke is the Children’s Services Librarian for Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries. In this role she oversees the purchase of the books for children and teens that fill each of the library shelves as well as provincial literacy programming for youth. Before she was a professional librarian, Leigha taught middle grade and senior high school for ten years in her hometown of Halifax, NS.


Sherra Robinson

Sherra Robinson programs Itinerant for Safe and Inclusive Schools at NLESD, is currently a EdD student at the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in the field of Educational Leadership with a focus in School Leadership in International Contexts. An English/Drama/Technology Teacher, Sherra is an Educational Advocate/Researcher with a particular interest in the areas of Restorative Practices, Social Equity, Mental Health, Comparative Education, Inclusion, and Indigenous Education. She is a proud ALLY.


Jamie Powers &
Colleen Powers

Jamie Powers and Colleen Powers live in Paradise, Nl and have been teaching for over 36 years combined. They both teach in phase one schools on the Avalon Peninsula.  After having worn many hats along the way, they believe that none have been more important than that of a team player and student advocate.  Jamie and Colleen take teamwork to the next level in this session as they tackle the newly implemented Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and walk participants through how to successfully implement the UDL model within a school and classroom setting.  

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