Keynote Speakers

2024 Annual Conference Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers at WSSDA’s Annual Conference are known for inspiring and motivating attendees with their unique perspectives and expertise. This year’s keynote speakers are committed to developing authentic connections and share a belief that each of us can practice compassion and empathy in our daily lives to create a better world, especially in our education spaces.

Jeff Utecht

Jeff UtechtJeff Utecht is a highly regarded educator, consultant, and author who has dedicated his career to exploring the intersection of technology and education. With over 20 years of experience working in the field, Jeff is widely recognized as an expert in digital literacy, educational technology integration, and innovative teaching practices. He is also a sought-after speaker and presenter, having delivered keynote addresses and workshops at conferences around the world. Jeff’s work has helped to shape the way that educators think about technology and its role in the classroom, and his insights continue to inspire educators to embrace new technologies and pedagogical approaches in their own practice.
“Speaking at the WSSDA Annual Conference is not just an honor; it’s a call to action. It’s about challenging the status quo and inspiring a collective commitment to education that equips our students for the realities of tomorrow.”

Teacher of the Year
Blair Penry

Blair PenryBlaire Penry is the 2024 Washington State Teacher of the year. She is an Instructional Specialist and electives teacher for grades 6-12 for the Auburn School District. With nearly a decade of experience in education, she has led in the creation of student equity groups, developed and facilitated professional developments nationwide, and committed to working with local leaders to make sure all students are prepared for the future that they choose. Passionate about empowering students, she uses her lived experiences and activism work to boldly shape the culture of the learning community. She readily tackles challenges and embraces innovative technologies that enhance and prepare her students for the global workforce. She understands that every student comes in with a wealth of knowledge and life experiences and she makes it a priority to encompass their stories and passions into the curriculum. Featured in podcasts and articles for outlets such as the League of Education Voters, The Recess, NPR, and others; Penry testifies to the power of building engaging, student-centered learning communities, providing consistent and caring guidance, and elevating students’ positive sense of self. Penry earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Arizona and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Texas Woman’s University. When not in the schoolhouse, Penry can be found with her husband, 5 year-old son, and great dane mix exploring all the Pacific Northwest has to offer… or watching cozy British mysteries.
OSPI 2024 Washington State Teacher of the Year
“I am excited for the opportunity to come together with leaders ready to build a foundation for all our students to not only succeed, but to thrive.”

General session emcee – Erin Jones  

Erin JonesIn the realm of education in Washington state, Erin needs no introduction. She was the first Black woman in Washington state to run for statewide office in 2016. Erin garnered several awards during her many years as a teacher, including recognition as a “Champion of Change” by the White House in 2013.   As a highly accomplished athlete, educator, and equity champion, Erin now invests her talents and unique experiences to inspire others to examine education systems and practices to help them better serve all students.