Free Your Mind: A HIP HOP Education STEMposium brings Hip Hop as critical pedagogy (HHCP) and STEM together in an exploration of innovative educational practices that seek to enhance the engagement and achievement of all students. This dialogue between HHCP and STEM also seeks to critique traditional educational methodologies that fail to connect to students and prepare them to engage with the world around them in critical and meaningful ways.

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Organizing Committee

Ramon "Rugged" San Vicente is an educator, emcee, and author who has spent years writing, performing and living Hip Hop as a member of the group UBAD. As an educator he has brought Hip Hop to the classroom through core curriculum, after school programming, and his M.Ed. work. Ramon currently works as an vice-principal in the Toronto District School Board.  Ramon is also the lead author of Rhymes to Re-Education a Hip Hop Curriculum and on the organizing committee of Canada's first Hip Hop STEMposium: Free Your Mind.  Connect on Twitter at @ramonsanvicent2

Donielle Norville is a TDSB elementary teacher and recent graduate from UOIT’s B.Ed program where she obtained the Technology Award for the elementary panel. As an educator, she looks for current ways to engage her students and seems to have found it by acknowledging two things the youth are deeply passionate about: Hip Hop and Technology. Donielle is on the organizing committee of Canada's first Hip Hop STEMposium: Free Your Mind @ms_norville

Chelsea Takalo has been an advocate for marginalized youth and committed to fighting for social justice and equity for youth. She has worked in a counselling capacity with gang-involved youth for 8 years, and has worked in the TDSB's Equitable and Inclusive Schools Department since 2010. Chelsea is also an author of Rhymes to Re-Education a Hip Hop Curriculum and part of the organizing committee of Canada's first Hip Hop STEMposium: Free Your Mind.

Brandon Zoras is a science teacher within the TDSB. Having completed his Masters in Urban Education, he has looked at new ways to engage youth in science. Hip hop has been a major part of his life and Brandon feels that critical hip hop pedagogy is a powerful means of learning. Brandon is also an author of Rhymes to Re-Education a Hip Hop Curriculum and part of the organizing committee of Canada's first Hip Hop STEMposium: Free Your Mind. Connect with Brandon at @brandonzoras or 

Janis Castle Jones is a K to 12 Learning Coach with the Toronto District School Board. She is privileged to work alongside educators and partner with parents to enhance equity in education and create inclusive spaces where all students are valued contributors in a learning community. Janis is passionate about collaborating with educators who are interested in integrating technology and social innovation through an inquiry framework in order to ignite a spark and empower students to contribute solutions to local and global issues.

Gail Bedeau is a kindergarten to grade 12 Learning Coach within the TDSB. In her role as coach she collaborates with a diverse number of schools through various initiatives. She also is in leadership roles on the Early Years and Math Summit Committee. Previous to her current role she taught as a Full Day Kindergarten teacher through the lens of Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy for many years. Her pedagogy and teaching practice is grounded in critical, culturally relevant principles and Equitable Education.

Lanya Lewis currently works as a Vice Principal in the Toronto District School Board. She is passionate about working closely with parents, students and educators to support student success. Previous to her current role, she was a K-12 Learning Coach, who worked alongside educators to implement best practices and create inclusive spaces that value and respect students and families as partners in education.

TDSB Staff and Learning Coaches thank you to all the amazing TDSB staff if it is your first year or third year helping with the event. The countless community volunteers, teachers, coaches, central staff and administrators who support the event are essential to the success of the event each year. 

Past Members

Jamile Garraway is an elementary teacher within the TDSB who can attest to the power culturally relevant and responsive programming has to engage and motivate students. Hip Hop has played an integral role in shaping both his personal philosophy and his pedagogy. @_MisterGee