Teacher Talks

When Teachers Talk

We Listen

Teacher Talks is an annual event that uplifts and celebrates the voices of educators in our community. Each year, CMS educators take the stage in front of a live audience to deliver powerful and inspiring talks based on their ideas and experiences in the classroom.

The Teacher Talks event is open to the public, providing a unique learning experience for the entire community. We invite you to explore previous talks below.

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upcoming event

Join us for Teacher Talks 2023!

Date: March 9, 2023

Location: CPCC's Halton Theater
1206 Elizabeth Avenue, Charlotte, NC

Reception: 5:00 PM

Talks: 6:00 PM

teacher talks 2023

Explore Teacher Talks









Explore Teacher Talks









Explore Teacher Talks









Presented By
teacher talks 2022


The CMS Foundation hosted Teacher Talks 2022: Surge on March 17, 2022. Teacher Talks is an opportunity to elevate the voices of educators in our community and honor their dedication to supporting students during unprecedented challenges. This was an incredible evening. Thank you to everyone who participated.

The Surge Protectors

James O'Neal

Piedmont IB Middle School

Why I Want Respect

Kimberly Tuttle

Levine Middle College High

Old "Devil" Dog Learning New Tricks

Ken Lowman

Coulwood STEM Academy

Creating a Culture of Error

Monica High

Cato Middle College High

Intentional Living = Better Living

Larenda Denien

Eastway Middle School

Surge: Teacher Talks 2022

Watch the Full Event

March 17, 2022

CMS Foundation: Transforming Lives, Together

Surge: Teacher Talks 2022

Event photos

March 17, 2022

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Reception Sponsor
With Support From
teacher talks 2019


We Learn Not for School, but for Life

Eboné Lockett

Cato Middle College High School

As a middle school student, Eboné Lockett was introduced to a phrase that would impact her for the rest of her life: "Non Scholae Sed Vitae Discimus," translated as, "We learn not for school, but for life." Now a high school language arts and composition teacher, she continues to live by that mantra and encourages others to never stop learning. Eboné teaches at Cato Middle College High School in Charlotte, NC.

Epigenetics and the Curious Journey Into Education

Eli Davis

Lincoln Heights Academy

James Baldwin said “We carry our history with us.” Kendrick Lamar has rapped about the experiences inside his “DNA.” In this talk, Eli Davis connects their words and more to epigenetics and asks us to consider whether this field of science may be relevant to the classroom. Eli is a high school special education teacher at Lincoln Heights Academy in Charlotte, NC.

Expectations For All

James O'Neal

Piedmont IB Middle School

Students live up (or down) to our expectations of them. In this talk blending spoken word and story-telling, James O'Neal tells how one teacher's expectation changed his life, and how that experience now impacts his students today. James teaches math at Piedmont IB Middle School in Charlotte, NC.

The Struggle Is Real: Depression In The Classroom

Kari Rhoades

Mallard Creek High School

Nearly 7% of U.S. adults experience depression, and “the struggle is real” for educators managing major depressive disorder. In this talk, Kari Rhoades courageously discusses what it's like teaching with depression and how others can be supportive of people who may be struggling. Kari teaches biology and biomedical sciences at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, NC.

More Than My Curriculum

Justin Parmenter

Waddell Language Academy

Academics are important, but maybe our students need more from us. In this talk, Justin Parmenter shares what happened when he moved beyond the curriculum to help students learn something else: Kindness. Justin is a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at Waddell Language Academy in Charlotte, NC.

Lessons I've Learned

Danny Jarrett

Retired / Social Studies

Students can be the greatest teachers. During his 18-year teaching career, former high school social studies teacher Danny Jarrett has learned important lessons from his students about the power of building caring relationships. In this gripping talk, Danny shares stories of students who helped him become a better teacher and explains how building relationships in the classroom can be life saving.

We C.A.N. be the Refuge

Alisha Escobar

Druid Hills Academy

For many students new to the U.S., not understanding English can make the journey toward the American dream feel like a nightmare. As a teacher of English language learners, Alisha Escobar understands the challenges facing these students as well as the educators who teach them. In this talk, Alisha reassures teachers that they C.A.N. be a refuge for their students, even when language may be a barrier. Alisha is a spoken word artist and teaches at Druid Hills Academy in Charlotte, NC.

teacher talks 2019


Back on Track

Kelsey Anselmi

Crestdale Middle School

Teaching in a school that didn't have textbooks forced Kelsey Anselmi to learn new teaching strategies, and a product suggestion on Amazon changed the way she saw the education system. In this thought-provoking talk, Kelsey challenges school systems to rethink the traditional model of tracking and view every student as a high achiever. She teaches math at Crestdale Middle School in Matthews, NC.

Reinvent Your Routine

Kevin Brawley

Torrence Creek Elementary

After a career in music, Kevin Brawley decided to become a teacher. A few years in, he found himself growing comfortable in his teaching role and was disturbed by the predictability of his routine. A lesson learned from a legendary drummer forever changed the way he approached his work. Kevin now asks, "What if the routine never became routine?" and challenges us to never let good enough be good enough. Kevin teaches music at Torrence Creek Elementary in Huntersville, NC.

Connecting with Nature: Learning in the Outdoor Classroom

Charlotte Fletcher

Park Road Montessori

How often do we walk through nature without appreciating its power and all that it can teach us? In this talk, Charlotte Fletcher discusses the importance of connecting students to nature and explains how educators can use the outdoor classroom. Charlotte is the Experiential Science Curriculum Assistant at Park Road Montessori in Charlotte, NC.

teacher talks 2017


Light in the Heart

Jordan Todd

Idlewild Elementary

In education, doing the “head work” is important, but it’s the “heart work” that can really change lives. Jordan Todd explains why she teaches and what can happen when educators become a light in the hearts of their students. Jordan was named Teacher of the Year for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2016. She now teaches third grade at Idlewild Elementary in Charlotte, NC.

Finding Your Joy in Education

Peter Panico

Rama Road Elementary

For Peter Panico, building a strong support network helped bring joy to education. In this talk, Peter shares his experience of becoming a Discovery Educator and encourages others to find community in education. Peter is a fifth grade teacher at Rama Road Elementary in Charlotte, NC.

I Teach Screenagers

Melissa Ligh

North Mecklenburg High School

Technology has become an integral part of everyday life and has changed the way students learn. In this talk, Melissa Ligh discusses the “screenager” and encourages teachers to embrace technology in the classroom. Melissa is an English teacher at North Mecklenburg High School in Huntersville, NC.

Creating Active and Healthy Schools

Doug Smith

McKee Road Elementary

Physical activity not only supports a healthy body, it also stimulates the brain and has a positive impact on learning. Physical Education teacher Doug Smith challenges teachers to incorporate more physical activity into the classroom and to rethink the role of physical activity in education. Doug teaches at McKee Road Elementary in Charlotte, NC.

Grit: Passion and Perseverance

Katie Weed

Lake Wylie Elementary

When Katie Weed was 18, doctors discovered a lemon-sized tumor in her brain that would change the course of her life. Inspired by Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Katie explains the power of saying “Yes, I will try,” and encourages educators to nurture passion and perseverance in their students. Katie is a Talent Development teacher at Lake Wylie Elementary in Charlotte, NC.

Independent Learners Classroom

Mary Soliman

South Mecklenburg High School

Teachers light the way, but they should not be the sole source of illumination in the classroom. Mary Soliman argues that teachers must help students become independent learners so that students can manage their own learning and be better prepared to respond to challenges. Mary is a mathematics teachers at South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, NC.

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