Darcy Baker is a special education teacher who has been in the field of special education for 13 years. Her most recent teaching position was as a structured learning teacher at Maize High School in Maize, Kansas. Before her position at Maize High School, she held a number of special education positions with all levels of students with disabilities in the Kansas City area: interrelated teacher for grades 9-12 in Kearney School District, interrelated teacher in Piper School District for grades 9-12, autism teacher in Leavenworth School District for grades K-5, autism teacher at the ABCD Autism Center in downtown Kansas City for ages 18 months to grade 5, special education and autism teacher at Kansas City Autism Training Center for grades Pre-K through 5, and an interrelated teacher for the Gardner Edgerton School District grades 6-8. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in special education in 2005 and a master’s degree in special education in 2008, both from Pittsburg State University. In addition, she completed her Education Specialist degree in administration from Northwest Missouri State University in 2014. She has been consulting with The Master Teacher since 2016.

Stephen Allen is currently a ninth-grade teacher at Oaks Christian School in California. He was previously the Head of School at Hillcrest Christian School (CA) and the Superintendent at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools (CA). He has been writing for The Master Teacher for 16 years.

Dr. Brian Benzel is a former superintendent in Washington State, including Spokane Public Schools, the state’s second largest school district. He was a national finalist for Superintendent of the Year in 1993. His background in public policy and school finance included work at the state’s superintendent office, serving as a school district CFO and was Vice President for Finance and Administration at Whitworth University. He currently serves on the governing board of Inspirus, a statewide credit union, and PEMCO, a multi-state mutual insurance company. He teaches public school finance at Whitworth University and is a regular contributor to The Master Teacher’s publications. He is co-author of The Superintendent and the CFO: Building an Effective Team (2015).

Dr. Lovett was superintendent of schools for the White Bear Lake Area Schools in Minnesota from 2008-2017. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining White Bear Lake Area Schools, Dr. Lovett was assistant superintendent for the Minnetonka Public Schools, and before that an administrator in Intermediate School District 917, the State Department of Education, and the Forest Lake and Hopkins districts in Minnesota. He began his teaching career in New York. Since his retirement from his superintendent position in the summer of 2017, he has been an adjunct instructor at both the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas and serves on several nonprofit boards.

Nancy Blade served as a middle school teacher for 11 years. She was an elementary principal at three schools and a high school principal. She has served at the district level as the Coordinator of Special Projects overseeing state and Federal programs and grants. She currently serves as the Director of Personnel in the Placentia Yorba Linda Unified School District.

Dr. Jeff Smith has led a distinguished career in education as a teacher, principal and district office administrator for 32 years. He is currently Superintendent of the Balsz School District in Phoenix, Arizona where he lives with his wife and three children. He graduated from Arizona State University with Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Elementary Education and Administration. Dr. Smith was selected as Arizona Superintendent of the Year in 2012 and was recognized in 2013 as a Diversity Champion by the Phoenix Business Journal. Jeff is an accomplished author having published numerous articles in Galileo for Superintendents and North Star for Principals through The Master Teacher. He has been featured in District Administration Magazine, is a book reviewer for The School Administrator Magazine and has received numerous awards for innovation and leadership.

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