ILLINOIS21: OUR TEAM

James Bellanca

James A. Bellanca is internationally recognized as a practical 21st century skills and deeper learning innovator who provides educators with the how-to knowledge to make project- and problem-based learning ready to go on the next school day. He is a senior fellow with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and founding editor of their innovative online P21Blogazine. He is the 2013 recipient of the Malcolm Knowles Award for lifetime contribution to the field of self-directed learning from the International Society for Self-Directed Learning.

With his extensive experience as a classroom English and language arts teacher, alternative school director, professional developer, intermediate service center director, business owner, and not-for-profit executive, Jim has developed expertise for transforming mandates, such as the Common Core State Standards, into practical classroom tools that enrich instruction and engage students.

Jim has worked with educational leaders in Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York, Illinois, West Virginia, New Jersey, Michigan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and Israel. His specialty is the application of group investigation and inquiry models of learning as the primary methods for assisting school leaders and teachers adopt 21st century models of instruction. His aim is to assist school districts to design, implement, and assess programs that promote 21st century skills to increase academic performance among all children, including high-risk student populations.

Kathleen Bellanca-Kidric

Kate Bellanca-Kidric has dedicated her career to working directly with districts, schools, families, and other helping professionals to assist them in affecting change in students learning. Bellanca-Kidric has been in charge of the development and distribution of state-wide practical Graduate Level Courses, Professional Development Models, and customized School Change models. She has written multiple articles and papers on her models for Proactive Professional Learning (PPL) and Personalized Learning Experiences (PLE) as well as Dynamic Assessment.

Kate has extensive experience working with students, families and educators across the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East to enhance student’s learning. As a developmental psychologist, she advocates and consultants to work collaboratively with schools and families to deliver the best education possible for students.

Bellanca-Kidric completed a 3-year internship at the globally acclaimed Feuerstein Institute (ICELP) in Jerusalem, Israel, under the direct apprenticeship of Nobel Prize Nominee Dr. Reuven Feuerstein along with his colleagues Dr. Louis Falik, and Dr. Steven Gross. She was one of Reuven Feuerstein’s last interns prior to his passing in 2014.

As one of the top Dynamic Assessors in the United States, Kate has more than 17 years of experience working and applying the Feuerstein Method. Kate prides herself on the development of the latest educational research-based ideas, concepts, and tools necessary to address effective instruction and immediate classroom application. Her passion is the full success of every individual she works with. Kate lives in Lake Villa, Illinois with her husband Gary Kidric and is the proud owner of their Olde English Bulldogs, Sadie and Winston.

Debra Ezparsa

Deborah Rosalea Esparza is a retired teacher, principal, and district administrator. In her years as a practicing school leader, Deborah advocated for culturally responsive instruction for all students in a 21st Century Learning framework. As an Area Education Officer in Chicago she guided her schools in the implementation of Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment program even as her district lead the city in high achievement scores. She has lead several all-district implementations of the MindQuest21 transformation model.

Craig Maki

Craig Maki joined Asian Human Services as its CEO in 2015, bringing a creative, compassionate leadership style and vast organizational knowledge. He most recently served as COO of Christopher House in Chicago. Prior to that, Dr. Maki founded Maryville Jen School, offering a therapeutic learning environment for students with emotional, behavioral and cognitive disabilities, and served as its Director of Educational Services. Dr. Maki currently serves on the board of the Illinois Consortium for 21st Century Schools.
 

He is committed to making the State of Illinois and its teacher’s national leaders in the 21st Century Skills teaching movement. He received his Doctorate in Education from National-Louis University, Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his undergraduate degree from Hope College. Dr. Maki lives in Chicago with his wife Raquel Flores-Maki and is the proud father of daughter Isabella.