Communities, Schools and Learning


Join a panel of world-class educators as they discuss how the ways in which we create communities of learners can have a profound effect on the way we teach and learn.

The panel will be in the SLA cafe with a reception on the 2nd floor to follow.


  • Val Brown, Professional Developer for Teaching Tolerance and Founder of the #ClearTheAir Twitter Chat
  • Chris Johnson, Founding Principal, SLA@Beeber
  • Pam Moran, Former Superintendent of Albermarle County Schools and Co-Author of Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools
  • Sabia Prescott, Learning Technologies Project at New America


Val Brown, Professional Developer for Teaching Tolerance and Founder of the #ClearTheAir Twitter Chat

Val Brown is a professional development trainer for Teaching Tolerance. Her role primarily includes designing, facilitating and evaluating anti-bias professional development for educators across the country.

In December 2016, Val founded #ClearTheAir. #ClearTheAir is a body of educators who believe that community, learning, and dialogue are essential to personal and professional growth. Val believes education is a vehicle for social change and encourages educators to engage in public discourse about critical topics because it allows them to learn with and from others.

For 14 years prior to joining Teaching Tolerance, Val worked in the public K-12 education and higher education sector as a teacher, instructional coach, district administrator and professional learning specialist. Her other professional interests include instructional coaching, teacher leadership and educator pathways.

During her teaching career, she was named the Seminole County District Teacher of the Year (2013) and was honored by the White House Initiative of Educational Excellence for African Americans in Teacher’s Edition (2015) for her work inside and outside of the classroom. In 2015 her work, specifically around teacher leadership, granted Val the opportunity to serve on two panels with Melinda Gates of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2016 she was the part of the largest class of Emerging Leaders for ASCD.

Val received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Florida and holds an M.Ed. from Florida Atlantic University and an M.A. from the University of Central Florida in Multicultural Education and Education Leadership, respectively. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education at the University of Florida.

She is also a wife and mother. You can read about her family’s antics on Twitter.

Chris Johnson - Founding Principal, SLA @ Beeber

Christopher Johnson became the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber during the 2012 – 2013 school year. Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber is the second campus to the original Science Leadership Academy, an Inquiry School, founded by Christopher Lehmann.

Mr. Johnson has served at many levels of public education in Philadelphia. Starting as a substitute teacher, he has risen through the ranks as an elementary, middle and high school teacher; Regional Office Director; Assistant Principal at the elementary and middle school levels; High School Principal, Central Office Special assignments and Deputy of Climate, Culture and Safety.

Pam Moran - Former Superintendent of Albermarle County Schools and Co-Author of Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools

Dr. Pam Moran is recognized nationally as a leading advocate for contemporary progressive education. In an educational career spanning four decades, she has promoted shifting learning power from teachers to young people, amplifying student voice, agency, and influence. Pam spent her childhood wandering fields and swamps on her family farm and merged college ecological studies and a love of the natural world with a lifelong passion for and career in education. She is a former teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools who is recognized as a leader in the national maker education movement, as an advocate for SEL, arts and libraries, and for her belief that constructivism makes learning real for children.

She was selected by her peers across the Commonwealth as Virginia’s 2016 Superintendent of the Year and subsequently was one of four statewide superintendents of the year to be selected as a finalist for the National Superintendent of the Year. Today she serves on the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development.

She writes for numerous educational publications, blogs regularly, hangs out with amazing educators on twitter, posts mostly nature pics to Instagram, keynotes conferences, and has been featured in Tedx Talks across the country.

Her recent coauthored book Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-based Thinking Change Schools is a change narrative documenting the work of contemporary educators and young people in her former school district and beyond.

Sabia Prescott - Program Associate, New America

Sabia is a program associate with the Learning Technologies Project at New America, where she writes about using open educational resources to advance LGBTQ-inclusive teaching and learning. Prior to joining New America, she served as the media policy fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Global Communication Studies and as an English annotator at the Linguistic Data Consortium. She holds a BA in linguistics from the University of Mary Washington and is currently pursuing a Master's of Public Administration the George Washington University.