Read about the members of the Texas Leadership Council here.
Justin Karkow – DE Account Manager
Justin Karkow began his educational career as a first grade teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina. He stepped out of the classroom and into the role of an instructional technology facilitator in Wake County, NC. Before joining Discovery, Justin traveled the country presenting to thousands of teachers on how to integrate technology into the classroom for the SAS Institute. Justin joined Discovery in 2008 as a Field Manager and now serves as the Discovery Educator Network Account Manager for the Central Region. Justin currently lives in Charlotte, NC area with his wife Pam and sons Jonah and Carson.
Elaine Plybon – Chair
Elaine is an educator with many hats. By day, she is either an Instructional Technology Specialist or a Chemistry teacher at the Jack E. Singley Academy in Irving ISD. By night, she teaches Chemistry at the Texas Virtual School. In her spare time, Elaine is also actively involved in the DEN in Second Life leadership council, as well as being the chair of the Texas DEN Leadership Council. At home, she is mom to five children (three boys and two girls, ages 8 through 17) and acts as an adult member of their various scouting organizations. Elaine is also a commissioned Stephen Minister at FUMC Hurst and was a founding member of a group that started a community computer lab to assist underprivileged women gain technology skills to increase their job skills and opportunities.
In addition to an occasional post to the Texas DEN Blog, Elaine maintains a blog for new teachers entitled Cruel Shoes, where she hopes to arm new teachers with knowledge that will help them stay in the profession. She also recently began writing for the Examiner as the Dallas area Educational Technology Examiner. She has presented locally, nationally, and in Second Life, including a presentation at NECC 2008. She is currently scheduled to present sessions at CAST 2009 in Galveston, and TCEA 2010 in Austin.
Linda Rush – Events Coordinator
Betsy Ruffin – Blog Coordinator
Currently an elementary librarian and technologist, Betsy Ruffin has had a varied educational career and seen many technology changes over her 30+ years of teaching. Starting with mimeograph machines and film strip projectors, she now works with online databases, laptop-projector setups, streaming video, and more, along with traditional learning resources.
In addition to her involvement with the Texas DEN LC, she helps teachers effectively use Discovery Streaming in their classrooms, is a field trainer for Thinkfinity, and works with librarians to integrate online learning and technology rich lessons into the curriculum, She has presented workshops on a variety of technology topics at Texas Library Association and Texas Computer Educator Association conventions and other Texas education locations.
She is involved with libraries and computers at her church as well and when she is not at school or church she enjoys being with her family and spoiling her two cats. Current technology in the classroom interests include web 2.0, information literacy, and teaching research skills via electronic as well as print resources.
Mary Carole Strother
Mary Carole Strother is a Library Media Specialist in McKinney, Texas. She serves as a lead LMS for her school district and provides leadership support for three Title 1 Bilingual Campuses in McKinney ISD. She has presented at NECC, TCEA and regional conferences in the Dallas area. She was a TCEA Texas Librarian of the Year and McKinney ISD Excellence in Teaching Finalist. She is the author of a children’s book entitled, Collin McKinney: Texas Patriot and Statesman. She is married with two sons. Her oldest son is a recent gradaute of The University of Texas in Austin, gainfully employed now, and her youngest son plays soccer at St. Mary’s Univeristy in San Antonio, Texas. In July, she had the opportunity to attend the Discovery National Institute in San Franciso.
Kelli Erwin is currently an Instructional Technology Specialist for Pasadena ISD and focuses on the integration of technology at the elementary school level. She has been in education since 2000 as a classroom teacher (K-2), technology applications teacher (K-5), enrichment specialist (GT: K-5) and a technology training specialist. She has presented at TCEA, TAGT, regional conferences in the Houston area and will be presenting at the ATPE state convention for 2010.
Kelli holds a BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University, an elementary educator certification (1st-6th grade), Master Technology Teacher certification (K-12), Texas GT Supplemental certification (K-12) and is a certified web instructor. She is currently working on her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Kelli’s family includes her husband, 2 sons and their dog. When they are not at the beach enjoying the ocean or fishing, they can be found at a ballpark either playing or watching baseball.
During the summer of 2009, Kelli had the opportunity to attend the Discovery National Institute in San Francisco and the Learning.com Teacher Innovator Camp in Portland, Oregon.
Hank Caruso is a recently retired teacher. Prior to retirement Hank taught technology at St. Monica Catholic School and All Saints Catholic School. He also worked with the Diocese of Dallas in establishing a yearly Diocesean Robotics competition.
Prior to his brief stint in education Hank served 8 years in the US Army where he earned the rank of Captain. Hank served in Vietnam where was awarded 3 Bronze Stars (one for Valor) and an Army Commendation Medal.
Following his military career he worked at Electronic Data Systems for 8 years as a Technical Instructor and System Engineer. Hank retired from General Electric where he spent 21 years as an Electronic Commerce Consultant.
Hank and his wife, Nita, have been married for 42 years and have two grown children and four wonderful grandsons.
In retirement Hank wants to continue to help in Discovery Education and develop his Digital Storytelling and movie making skills. He hopes to start backpacking once again and to continue making furniture and toys.
Carol Mayo is currently the Professional Development Coordinator for the Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools Office where she focuses on the infusion of technology into the new standards based curriculum. This past August the Diocese hosted its first teacher tech camp, STAR Camp, where stellar teachers were acquiring resources to integrate technology into their curriculum. There was such a tremendous response to the camp, that next summer we will be offering two weeks of camp instead of one.
Carol started in education in 78 in Tucson, Arizona. She left education for corporate work when she moved to Texas. In 94 she rejoined the world of education. She holds an MS from the University of North Texas and a BA in Education from the University of Arizona, go Wildcats!
Carol’s family includes her husband Bruce, his two grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and one new grandson, Connolly Michael Mayo. She is an avid dog lover and currently has a chocolate lab, Cabot. Carol and Bruce live on Cedar Creek Lake where they enjoy many outdoor activities. When she is not outdoors, she enjoys cooking, reading, and watching movies.
Howard works tirelessly to bring technology support to the classroom. Working with teachers and students, he brings his level of expertise with blogs, wikis, and Web 2.0 apps and his classroom experience to help develop a rich curriculum-centered classroom that takes good advantage of technology.
As a published educator, member of the Austin Student Digital Film Festival, committee member for the TCEA 2009 Student Film Festival, national conference presenter and father to the two greatest elementary students in Austin, Howard is committed to bringing technology training to the teachers and campuses his works with.