top of page
Screenshot 2019-12-22 14.44.48.png


Hailing from different professional backgrounds and contexts, the Summer Institute faculty is committed to developing every participant’s potential as a digital literacy practitioner.


Mirko Chardin is Novak Education's Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. Before joining Novak, he was the Founding Head of School of the Putnam Avenue Upper School in Cambridge, MA. Mr. Chardin's work has involved all areas of school management and student support. He is also a race, diversity, and cultural proficiency facilitator and leadership coach for the Aspire Institute at Boston University's New Wheelock College of Human Development. In addition, Mr. Chardin is an active hip-hop artist and co-author with Dr. Katie Novak of the bestselling “Equity by Design: Delivering on the Power and Promise of UDL.“ Mr. Chardin's greatest experience and passion revolves around culturally connected teaching and learning, recruiting and retaining educators of color, restorative practice, and school culture. He encourages others to think more deeply about equity, social justice, Universal Design for Learning, and the power of personal narrative. Learn more about his work here:  


Equity by Design: The Power Promise of UDL


Every student deserves the opportunity to be successful regardless of their zip code, the color of their skin, the language they speak, their sexual and/or gender identity, their religion, and whether or not they have a disability.  In his keynote, Novak Education's Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, author, and active hip-hop artist Mirko Chardin will argue if we truly want to be inclusive in our learning environments, we must proactively plan for student variability and begin to see culture and diversity as an asset. This starts with examining our implicit biases, power, and privilege and tapping into students’ personal identities, creating a sense of belonging, and empowering them to co-create the education they are receiving. By using the best practices of Universal Design for Learning alongside culturally responsive teaching techniques, Mr. Chardin will guide us in emphasizing ways to provide an environment where all students have equal opportunities to learn, share their voices, and work toward meaningful, authentic, and relevant goals. By the end of the session, participants will walk away with practical examples of how to use the best practices of Universal Design for Learning and culturally responsive practices to elevate learner voice and help build more equitable learning environments.


Kristin Ziemke.png

Kristin Ziemke

Kristin Ziemke is a teacher, staff developer, and co-author of Read the World: Rethinking Literacy for Empathy and Action, Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom, and Connecting Comprehension and Technology. Recognized as an international expert in literacy, inquiry. and technology, Kristin works with schools and organizations around the world to develop learning experiences that are student-centered, personalized, and authentic. Currently serving as a resident teacher and innovation specialist for the Big Shoulders Fund, Kristin is an Apple Distinguished Educator, National Board Certified Teacher, and Chicago Council on Global Affairs Emerging Leader. Her work has been featured by Apple, EdWeek, Mindshift, and Scholastic.

  • Twitter
William Yang.png

William Yang

William Yang has been an educator for over twenty-five years as a classroom teacher, technology teacher, staff developer, and administrator in urban and suburban public schools. William is currently the K-12 Coordinator of Digital Learning and Literacy of the Scarsdale Public Schools and is also the co-Director of the Scarsdale Center for Innovation. Recently, he was assistant principal at Edgewood Elementary School in Scarsdale, New York and at Roaring Brook Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York.

  • Twitter

Kara Clayton

Kara was part of the first cohort to earn their Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy and later earned a Masters in Adult Education with a specialty in Digital Literacy from URI. With more than 28 years of secondary classroom experience in ELA, Media Literacy and Video Production, Kara is passionate about learners seeing the connection between what they read and the impact of what they can create with video. Kara co-teaches two courses in URI's Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy as an adjunct faculty member, and she is a PBS Certified Media Literacy Educator.

  • Twitter
Coiro Photo_edited.jpg

Julie Coiro

Julie Coiro is the Director of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy and an internationally recognized expert on inquiry in digital literacy & online reading comprehension. Julie has taught for over 35 years, first with PreK-8 students with learning disabilities and for the past 16 years as a professor of reading, research, and digital literacy in the School of Education at the University of Rhode Island. Julie’s research focuses on collaborative online inquiry while also working with educators to support their understanding of digital inquiry and online reading as part of comprehension strategy instruction. Julie loves to talk with classroom teachers about their own experiences building a culture of inquiry, and in 2019, she published her co-authored book From Curiosity to Deep Learning: Personal Digital Inquiry in Grades K-5.

Amanda Murphy_edited.jpg
Amanda Murphy

Amanda Murphy is a Social Studies teacher and department chair at Westerly Middle School in Westerly, RI. She collaborates with teachers throughout her school and district in developing digital literacy skills, with a focus on opportunities for students to "show what they know" in unique and engaging ways through digital technologies. Amanda's experience as a participant at the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy was transformative, which prompted her to complete the Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy in 2015. Amanda has been a member of the digiURI faculty ever since.

Screen Shot 2023-02-11 at 5.35.29 PM.png

Frank Romanelli

Frank Romanelli is an associate teaching professor of writing and education in the College of Education and Professional Studies at the University of Rhode Island. He coordinates the concurrent enrollment program for writing, presently serving almost 1000 students annually in 38 Rhode Island high schools. He is presently an assistant director at the Media Education Lab and he has also served as the director and Digital Pedagogy Specialist for the Writing and Rhetoric Production Lab and as coordinator of UnClassroom, a project-based learning initiative for the Harrington School of Communication and Media. Frank also enjoys being a successful singer/songwriter.

  • Twitter
Mike Spikes.png
Michael Spikes

Michael Spikes has been teaching, writing about, and developing curriculum on the subject of News Media Literacy and its production for more than 15 years. He has a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, where his research focus concerns connecting cognitive, social, and learning environmental design theories to news literacy pedagogy. Michael also headed up a branch of the Center in the state of Illinois, where he developed teacher training materials and curriculum as part of a new Civics course mandate in the state.

IMG_8634 (1).JPG

Charlie Coiro has 32 years of experience as a leadership instructor, facilitator, coach and consultant in the public and private sector. For the past nine years, Charlie has been the lead faculty member of the Tier 2 Leadership Strand of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. Charlie has developed more than 100 courses, workshops, and publications related to collaboration, leadership theory, facilitation, consulting, communications, conflict management, change management and self-awareness. In 1998 he helped establish the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development Center, where he currently works. 


Stephanie Branson

Stephanie Branson is an Assistant Professor of Literacy at Northern Arizona University. She was formerly an elementary teacher in Georgia and Florida, working in various K-5 positions. As a teacher, she helped support different technology initiatives, providing coaching and support to admin and colleagues and teaching video production, claymation, and website development to 3-5th grade students. She is passionate about young children’s literacy abilities and capabilities and how they enact digital literacy in and beyond the classroom. Stephanie was a former participant of the 2015 Summer Institute in Digital Literacy and was so inspired by the professional learning and the people around her, she kept coming back, completing all tiers and earning a Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy through URI.

  • Twitter
Charlie Coiro

Salome Apkhazishvili

Salome Apkhazishvili is a media education scholar from the country of Georgia. She is an experienced journalist and Fulbright communication graduate from the University of Southern Indiana. Her interests stand at the intersection of journalism and education, where media can be used as a tool of education and vice versa, education can be an important part of the media industry. She joined the Media Education Lab in summer 2020, as an Edmund S. Muskie summer intern. Salome is enthusiastic to help educators to effectively communicate with and about media. Contact Salome at

  • Twitter
bottom of page