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Speaker Bios

Dr. Amber Sergent

Dr. Amber Sergent
Dr. Amber Sergent

Dr. Amber Sergent started teaching American and European history almost twenty years ago. She received her bachelors in history and government as well as her masters in secondary education from Morehead State University, and she continued her studies at University of Kentucky, completing a masters and PhD in American History.  She taught at the university for a decade, worked at KET as an associate film producer, and has now taught in the Kentucky public high school system for almost a decade.   

Though her methods of pedagogy and classroom management have evolved, Amber has stayed rooted to a fundamental principle — she loves her students and she loves her field of study. Every class period provides a beautiful opportunity for one conversation, one lesson plan, or one project to change a day and to awaken a love for history.  This philosophy makes her rethink the learning experiences she offers students.  Over the years Amber has adopted gamification, technological, and brain-targeted research in her classroom, providing an environment that she hopes awakens the dormant explorer of history.  She speaks honestly and openly about her willful and persistent belief in her students. Each action is imbued with high expectations, a love of learning, and an unwavering confidence in her students. This is the joy of our profession, Dr. Sergent believes, and our students have shown the power to change the world.  Because they have changed her life.

Dr. Jason Glass

​​​​​​​​Jason E. Glass is commissioner and chief learner at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

Glass, a native of Brandenburg and a third-generation Kentucky educator, has been commissioner of education since September 2020. He previously was superintendent and chief learner of Jeffco Public Schools in Colorado since 2017 and was superintendent of Eagle County Schools in Colorado from 2013 to 2017.

A 1990 graduate of Meade County High School, Glass received a bachelor’s degree in political science and history in 1994, a master’s in political science in 1996 and a master’s in education in 2007 from the University of Kentucky (UK). He later received his doctorate in education leadership in 2011 from Seton Hall University and a certificate in advanced education leadership from Harvard University in 2019.

Glass began his teaching career at Hazard Independent Schools, working as a high school social studies teacher from 1996 to 1998. While still a graduate student, he already was serving as an instructor at UK and at Georgetown College.

From 2001 to 2006 he held progressively senior positions with the Colorado Department of Education, then worked as vice president of quality ratings for Qualistar Early Learning. He served briefly as senior director of human capital strategy for Ohio-based Battelle for Kids before Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad appointed him state Director of Education. Glass served as Iowa’s chief state school officer from 2010 to 2013 and was superintendent of Eagle County Public Schools in Colorado from 2013 to 2017. 

In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Glass to the National Board for Education Sciences. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2019 Frank D’Angelis Inspiration Award, Christian Science Monitor’s 8 School Chiefs to Watch, 2018’s #1 State Education Chief to Watch and 2021 Kentucky Teachers In the Know Decision Maker Award. 

Glass has led efforts to build a vision for the future of public education in the Commonwealth based upon input from students, families, educators, business owners and community members from across the state. Called United We Learn, this vision builds around three big ideas: creating a more vibrant experience for every student, encouraging innovation in our schools – especially when it comes to assessment – and creating a bold new future for Kentucky’s schools through collaboration with our communities. Currently, the Kentucky United We Learn Council – comprised of a broad range of education and community stakeholders – is housing the design and development activities under this project.

Glass has positioned Kentucky to lead the nation in providing deeper learning opportunities for students. Under his leadership, Kentucky joined the Deeper Learning Dozen, a community of practice dedicated to transforming school districts to support equitable access to deeper learning experiences and outcomes for all students. Kentucky is the first state-level team to join the Deeper Learning Dozen.

He and his wife, Sarah – who works as a teacher in Fayette County Public Schools – have two elementary-aged children who attend Kentucky public schools.

Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins

Elizabeth Dinkins is Dean of the School of Education & Associate Professor at Bellarmine University. She received her doctorate in English Education from the University of Virginia and her Master’s in education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Before beginning her career in higher education, Dr. Dinkins taught middle school language arts and coordinated school-wide literacy instruction. Her research interests include the instructional use of young adult literature, approaches to school-wide literacy, and how critical literacy can be used to help students read and write their world. 

Dr. Roger Cleveland

Dr. Roger Cleveland is a transformational leader and groundbreaking researcher in the fields of diversity, equity, inclusion and academic innovation. Cleveland has dedicated his life to empowering businesses, public institutions and schools to embrace diversity and inclusion. His unique experience as a results-driven educator and revolutionary thought leader makes him a sought-after lecturer, teacher and academic consultant. 

Dr. Cleveland has spent more than 20 years in K-12, and higher education. His teaching expertise has allowed him to educate students at Morehead State University, The University of Kentucky (part-time), Middle Tennessee State University, and Eastern Kentucky University. Cleveland has published several education-related peer reviewed research articles. He has hosted hundreds of diversity and inclusion workshops and lectures nationwide. Additionally, Cleveland is a founding member, and Assistant Director, of the nationally recognized Black Males Working Academy; a program focused on college and career readiness through academics, social-emotional learning and student achievement. 

Cleveland’s work and service have earned him various awards and recognitions. In 2014 he was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Cleveland was named Professor of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Blacks in Higher Education. He has also received the P.G. Peeples Equity and Excellence Achievement Award. As a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, Dr. Cleveland was dubbed one of the “Teachers Making a Difference.” 

Cleveland earned his Doctor of Educational Foundations from the University of Cincinnati in 1998. He also holds a Master’s in the Sociology of Education from Union College, and a Bachelor of Communications from Morehead State University. 

Dr. Cleveland is currently a full professor in the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University. He resides in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife Audra and three children. Maya, Taylor and Dorian.

Audrey Gilbert

Audrey Gilbert is a senior at Frankfort High School and an education advocate. She is the school climate audit co-lead and the Measurement, Assessment, and Accountability lead for the Kentucky Student Voice Team. She has served as an Educators Rising National Student Ambassador, founded the chapter at her school, and now serves as the state president for Kentucky. Audrey will attend Bellarmine University in the fall as a Bellarmine Honors Scholar where she will work toward a degree in middle or high school English education in order to help students develop their critical thinking skills and learn about the world around them. In her free time, Audrey loves to read, crochet, watch tv, and play with her dogs.

Alicia Konichek

Alicia Konichek is a senior at Bullitt County High School and Kentucky Educators Rising Vice President of Communications. She is involved in many organizations at school, including Educators Rising and FFA. Alicia plans to attend Western Kentucky University in the fall and major in agricultural education. She can’t wait to officially become an educator. 

Janae Allen

Janae Allen is from Louisville, Kentucky and has been an active member of Educators Rising since her freshman year. She is currently a junior,  completing her third University of Louisville dual credit course within the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Pathway at Ballard High School. She aspires to become a high school social studies teacher, and has a long-term goal to become United States Secretary of Education. Janae is also a competitive runner and competes in varsity track events for her high school. Janae’s leadership activities include membership in National Honors Society, Student Ambassadors, Dance Maroon, Amped, Black Achievers, Women of Worth, and the Principal Advisory Committee. Janae has participated in a variety of programs where she’s been trained in providing individualized support and tutoring for students with disabilities, impairments, and learning differences. In Janae’s spare time, she maintains her health through recreational exercise and enjoys crocheting and sewing.

Lilly Hibbs

Lilly Hibbs is a sophomore at Union County High School and Vice President of Membership for Educators Rising Kentucky. In addition, she serves at the district level as the Social Media Manager. You can catch her on a basketball court or football field dancing for the high school dance team. She’s an active member of the Beta, Pep, and FISH clubs and is currently helping create an Interact Club at her school, which revolves around public service opportunities.  Recently, she was named HOBY Ambassador and is looking forward to serving in this leadership role. A fun fact about Lilly is that she will be a fourth-generation teacher. Not only are both of her parents teachers, but her grandparents and great-grandparents were as well.  She loves Educators Rising because it allows her to interact with other students that are just as passionate as she is about the educational system. 

John Paise

John Paise is the State Advisor for Educators Rising Kentucky and is beginning his third year with the Kentucky Department of Education. Now in his 15th year in education, John has been a passionate supporter of Career and Technical Education Programs and has taught CTE courses in Foods and Nutrition, Culinary Arts, and Career Exploration. He believes that Career and Technical Education gives students the opportunity to develop their leadership and other transferable skills as well as apply theory learned in academic classes to real-world applications. John has grown Educators Rising back to its former size and strength prior to COVID and has further developed the Teaching and Learning Career pathway having grown dual credit partnerships from 6 to its current 14 dual credit partners offering students the opportunity to earn college credit with an Education Preparation provider prior to entering an Education Preparation program.

Prior to his career in education, John spent several years in food service management as a Chef and has worked at several properties including the Boulders Resort and Spa, Hilton Hotels, Arizona State University Karsten Golf Course, and the University of Idaho and several independent restaurants throughout the country. A native Californian, John grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but in 1996 moved to Nashville, TN where he met his wife Michele and they have lived around the country eventually settling in Morehead, KY. John’s wife Michele is a Professor of Music Education at Morehead State University. They have been married for 23 years enjoy their life with their dog Georgina.  

Dr. Veda Stewart

Dr. Veda Stewart is a native of Owensboro KY and the daughter of Donald and Loretta Goodwin. She has been married to her husband Keith Stewart for thirty-seven years and is the mother of four (two sons and two daughters). She is also the proud Gmomma of four beautiful granddaughters and has three darling grandsons. She resides in Lexington, Ky. She is a graduate of Midway University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. She received her Masters in Library Media Science at Eastern Kentucky University, Rank 1 in Educational Leadership from Western Kentucky University and her doctorate in Education Policy and Leadership from Eastern Kentucky University. She is a former teacher, media specialist, family and community engagement liaison and principal. She has been in the education field for over 25 years. She currently serves as the Director for Educator Recruitment and Development for the Kentucky Department of Education. She believes in service to her community and serves as a board member for Radio Lex, Black Males Working Academy, Lexington Leadership Youth Program and is an Advisory Board member for the Kentucky Collaborative for Families and School. She also serves as Vice Chair for the Board of Directors for the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning and is a member of the Black Writer’s Collaborative. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and serves as Chaplain for the Graduate Chapter of Beta Gamma Omega. 

Her hobbies include traveling, reading, writing (plays and poetry) and experimenting with new recipes. She believes in the power of hard-work and dedication to family and community. One of her favorite African proverbs is “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

Elly Gilbert

Elly Gilbert grew up in  West Liberty, Kentucky, and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English/Secondary Education from Morehead State University, her Master of Arts in Education from Georgetown College, and National Board Certification as a literacy specialist. She spent twenty years in the classroom as a middle and high school English teacher, reading interventionist, and gifted and talented specialist before coming to work at the Kentucky Department of Education in 2019 as a communications consultant for the GoTeachKY campaign. She is excited to take that work to the next level as the new Assistant Director of the Division of Educator Recruitment and Development. 

Elly, her husband, John, and three teenage children, Audrey, Jack, and Sam, live in Frankfort, Kentucky, and are active members of First United Methodist Church, where she teaches elementary Sunday School, serves on the Outreach committee, and is the communications officer for United Women in Faith at both the church and district levels. She is still active with the Chi Omega fraternity where she is currently the House Corporation Vice President for the Morehead State University Epsilon Theta Chapter. Elly also belongs to Alpha Delta Kappa (Kentucky Xi chapter) international honorary organization for women educators, volunteers with Cinderella’s Closet of Central Kentucky, and participates in the Lexington Emmaus Community. She also enjoys writing, serves as the secretary of the Louisville chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, and has her first novel coming out in August 2023. She loves to read, watch great British television shows, crochet, and snuggle her rescue dogs, Gus and Charli. 

Hannah Edelen

Miss Kentucky 2022 Hannah Edelen is a first-generation college graduate. She attended Northern Kentucky University where she studied Communications and History. During her time at NKU, she served as the Student Body President and member on the Board of Regents. Following NKU, she received her Masters in Education in Education Policy from the University of Kentucky while working as a 6th Grade Social Studies and English Teacher through the Teach for America Program. 

 Hannah believes every child deserves an excellent education and uses her current platform as Miss Kentucky to advocate and promote education in addition to her work with “Read Ready Kentucky”. Through her program, she has partnered with national and statewide organizations to make an impact!

Jacqueline Coleman

Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman is an educator, basketball coach, writer, founder of a non​​​profit and the fifty-eighth lieutenant governor of Kentucky. She is wife to Chris, mom to Evelynne, adopted mom to Emma and a bonus mom to Will and Nate. Her family lives in Frankfort.

Public service is a way of life for Jacqueline and her family. She was raised on a farm in Burgin, where her family owned a small business. This experience taught her to offer a hand up to those in need and, as a result, she has devoted her personal and professional life to serving her community. She is a tireless advocate for public education and a strong proponent of young women stepping into leadership roles.

As a high school basketball coach, Jacqueline led her teams to five consecutive record-breaking seasons and one appearance in the KHSAA Sweet 16. She earned regional Coach of the Year honors in 2015.

Jacqueline’s leadership doesn’t end in the classroom or on the court. Her experience as an alumna of Emerge Kentucky drove her to found her own nonprofit, Lead Kentucky, in 2013. Lead Kentucky ensures Kentucky’s college women are prepared, encouraged, and empowered to seek leadership positions on their campuses and later in their professional fields. Since its inception, Lead Kentucky has empowered 50 campus ambassadors with 29 different majors on more than a dozen college campuses.

Most recently, Jacqueline served as an assistant principal at Nelson County High School. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky.

As the commonwealth’s highest elected woman, Jacqueline is focused on education, rural​ economic development, agritech, and student mental health, and she is determined to build a better Kentucky for everyone.

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