Free 2 Learn Podcast
Free 2 Learn - Ep 7 - Katie Kimbrell

Free 2 Learn - Ep 7 - Katie Kimbrell

September 24, 2020

Next on the Free2Learn podcast, we talk to Katie Kimbrell, Director of Education at Kansas City’s non-profit Startland. 

Katie Kimbrell started as the Director of Education at Startland in early 2018.  Formerly the Kansas City Startup Foundation, Startland is a community building nonprofit focusing on developing a culture of innovation in Kansas City through talent, experiences and storytelling.  Startland believes that the entrepreneurial spirit strengthens communities and is a must in a thriving education system. 

While Katie was teaching English at a local Kansas City Charter school, Katie was exposed to Design Thinking as a way of problem-solving. This training provided her students with a much needed richer learning experience, empowering students to solve problems with their own ideas. Founded on empathy, problem solving framework and launching real solutions, Design Thinking transforms learning in classrooms.

Katie and Scott talk about how to build a culture of innovation and grow a thriving community for the future, imagining what the Kansas City education system could look like with students and educators who are proficient in Design Thinking. 

Before joining Startland a couple years ago, Katie Kimbrell started her education career in 2009 with Teach for America. After TFA, she moved home to Kansas City and taught English at a local charter school.

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Free 2 Learn - Ep 6 - Pauly Hart

Free 2 Learn - Ep 6 - Pauly Hart

September 9, 2020

On this week’s Free2Learn podcast we talk to Pauly Hart, Executive Director of Lead to Read in Kansas City, MO.

Starting in 2011, Lead to Read KC has grown into Kansas City’s largest literacy volunteer organization. Connecting with over 1,100 students through 50 urban classrooms across the metropolitan area. Each week volunteers join students for a half hour to meet with them to read. Thirty minutes of one on one reading may not sound like a lot, but this time makes a difference in each student’s reading skills.

Pauly Hart came to Lead to Read with a robust career including a background in education. In 2015 Pauly joined the Lead to Read team to help promote literacy in the Kansas City Metro area. In early 2020 when Covid-19 shut down the country, leaving organizations like Lead to Read the challenge of how to serve their students in a safe and effective way. Pauly and Scott talk about how to keep the momentum of the students reading skills? What are the challenges of mobilizing books to over 1,100 people? And can volunteers virtually reading be as effective as mentoring in the classroom?

Free 2 Learn - Ep 5 - Shawn Sotheran

Free 2 Learn - Ep 5 - Shawn Sotheran

September 2, 2020

During this episode, Shawn speaks to Scott about his transition to an administrator role and serving in a large, diverse school in the KC metro area. Shawn explores how counseling his students during COVID shouldn’t include only high-risk health students, but also those who are high-risk education students. In a district that has a robust trade program, can vocational programs be taught at the same excellence with limited classroom instruction and community involvement? Can schools gear up students for Higher Education with a clearly guided plan for their future? Most importantly, how do you combat racial injustices in our community and tackle those hard conversations with both students and staff?

Lastly, Shawn has served at various levels of education. Starting his career as a High School English Teacher in the Springfield, MO area, then as a Junior High School special education educator for Center School District in Kansas City, Missouri. Shawn now serves as Assistant Principal at Truman High School for Independence School District.

Free 2 Learn - Ep 4 -Jodi Owens

Free 2 Learn - Ep 4 -Jodi Owens

August 26, 2020

This week on the Free2Learn Podcast, we talk to Jodi Owens. Jodi is a 2019 Free2Learn Grant Winner and Special Education Department Chair for Wentzville School District in Eastern Missouri. 


In the fall of 2019, Jodi was awarded the Free2Learn grant to design a brand new classroom for her and her students. The changes that have come to her classroom allow for safe, comfortable and efficient learning. The newly designed room lends to everything having a purpose and a place. But most importantly, the transformation will allow her kids to have ownership of how and where they learn that is most comfortable for them.


Covid-19 has brought new challenges to teaching for Jodi Owens. In a special education, classroom environment is especially key to learning success for the children. How do teachers overcome the challenges of helping students adapt to the Covid procedures in the classrooms, while still using free seating and high touch stimulus to help them remain focused? Can you create an experience at home that will mimic the learning in a special ed classroom? 


Jodi Owens has devoted her twenty-one year career to the Special Education programs in the Wentzville School District. She has spent her education career  teaching all levels from Kindergarten to Seniors in High School. Wentzville is one of the fastest growing school districts in Missouri. And three years ago she helped open up a brand new elementary school name Wabash Elementary.

Free 2 Learn - Ep 3 -Jenny Selvidge

Free 2 Learn - Ep 3 -Jenny Selvidge

August 21, 2020

This episode features Jenny Selvidge, a multi-term lecturer at the University of Kansas.

Recently, Ms. Selvidge has been an English Language Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. The English Language Fellow Program fosters mutual understanding, promotes English language learning and enhances English teaching capacity abroad. Through projects sponsored by U.S. embassies, EL Fellows share their professional expertise, hone their skills, gain international experience, and learn about other cultures.  Ms Selvidge was serving a 2 year term as an advisor to the Tokyo, Japan Board of Education when the 2020 global pandemic took hold.  

Previously, Ms. Selvidge has specialized in classroom instruction for English Language Learning in secondary schools before transitioning to roles in higher education.

Jenny Selvidge on LinkedIn

English Language Fellows Program

Free 2 Learn - Ep 2 - Dr. Leslie Umstattd

Free 2 Learn - Ep 2 - Dr. Leslie Umstattd

August 20, 2020

This episode we welcome Dr. Leslie Umstattd, Director of Digital Learning at Park University in Parkville, MO.

Dr. Umstattd has served at various levels of education from elementary to higher education. She is an experienced classroom educator as well as a designer and instructor for online undergraduate and Master level courses.

As Director of Digital Learning, Dr. Umstattd oversees the design of Park University online courses and collaborates with her professional community providing training on campus as well as a conference speaker.  Dr. Umstattd's expertise in training faculty to enable student engagement in online classrooms through problem-based learning and innovative discussions is especially poignant for the challenges teachers are facing in 2020.


Dr. Leslie Umstattd on LinkedIn

From the Schoolhouse to Their House Workshop


Free 2 Learn - Ep 1 - Dr. Tim Gallagher

Free 2 Learn - Ep 1 - Dr. Tim Gallagher

August 19, 2020

Today is the day! Welcome to the Free 2 Learn Podcast! Our inaugural episode features Dr. Tim Gallagher, who recently retired from education.

In this episode, we address the upcoming challenges of the 2020-2021 school year from a school administration perspective.  How do school administrators adapt and navigate educating students, supporting parents and educators, while keeping everyone safe and healthy?  What’s the physical and people infrastructure needed to support in-person classes, virtual learning, or a mix of both?  How do we equip all students for online learning in a society that struggles to provide equal education to all?  In this talk with Scott, Dr. Gallagher offers his insight into these and other questions.

Dr. Gallagher previously served as Superintendent of the Sherwood Cass R-8 School District in Creighton, Missouri, middle school principal in the Fort Osage and Crest Ridge school districts and is a former president of the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals.

Free 2 Learn - Ep 0 - Coming Soon
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