United We Teach Virtual Summit Presenters and Sessions

Our hand-picked presenters are ready to share fresh insights, tools, and strategies to increase student engagement through virtual classroom connections. Learn more about each presenter and session below.

Katie Gourlay
4th grade teacher
Formerly at Stough Elementary in Wake County, NC

Local is Global: Creating Classroom and Community Connections through the Sustainable Development Goals

Developing global citizens and creating a sense of self in an increasingly globalized world is an incredibly important part of the educational journey. From connecting through local water pollution issues, to growing sustainable foods, creating numeracy connections, and leading the way in local community initiatives, global issues can be integrated into curriculum and connections in so many ways. Join Katie to learn more about how the Sustainable Development Goals can be used as a powerful tool in the classroom, in developing global citizens, and in making the connection that local really is global and global is local.


Katie Gourlay is currently a Primary 4 teacher in Glasgow, Scotland and part of Participate Learning’s ambassador alumni network. A former Participate Learning Teacher of the Year, she has a strong passion for global learning and has spent time teaching across three continents.

Manfredo De La Cruz
2nd and 3rd grade teacher
Cape Hatteras Elementary School in Dare County, NC

Inviting Famous Special Guests into the Classroom: Three Lessons Learned

Inspiring stories always motivate students and awaken their interest in learning. Join Manfredo as he shares his experience with boosting student engagement by inviting a famous guest into the virtual classroom. Learn how he made the connection, extended the invitation, and planned the agenda for this special event with Maity Interiano – an Emmy winner and bilingual journalist who is truly passionate about the Hispanic community in the United States. Come prepared to be impressed and inspired by the student reactions and the impact this virtual visit had on the lives of the dual language learners in Dare County.


Manfredo De La Cruz is a Participate Learning ambassador from Guatemala who is currently in his second year of teaching 2nd and 3rd Grade in the Participate Learning dual language program at Cape Hatteras Elementary School in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He is passionate about traveling and seeks to bring knowledge from his travels to life in the curriculum and within the walls of his global classroom.

diego rodriquez moreno

Diego Rodriguez Moreno
Middle school Spanish teacher
Oberlin Magnet Middle School in Wake County, NC

Oberlin-Ciudad Latina Project: Cooperative Learning through Cultural Exchange

Are you interested in learning about an inspiring project that connected students from two schools, one in Colombia and one in the United States? Join Diego as he shares how he formed this partnership, designed the exchange, and ultimately created a virtual environment rich in cooperative learning through language and cultural interaction.


Diego is dedicated to creating real-world learning experiences for his students through cultural exchange projects. Originally from Colombia, he received his Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in Australia. Diego taught Spanish in Participate Learning’s Conexiones program and is now a Spanish world language teacher in Wake County, N.C.

Maggie Murphy
4th grade teacher
Piney Creek Elementary School in Alleghany County, NC

The Power of a Postcard

Purposeful, powerful, and postcards from around the world! In this session, you will learn about a global project that started small and turned into the greatest learning experience of the year. From happy mail to class speakers, this project exceeded all expectations! Join Maggie to hear more about how it could work in your classroom and the impact it could have on your students.


As part of the Participate Learning global leaders program, Maggie Murphy teaches all core subjects and enhances each of them with rich, global content to ensure engaging real-world learning for her students. Maggie’s efforts with students and her dedication to sharing her experiences and expertise with others have earned her the titles of Participate Learning Teacher of the Year, Teacher of the Year at both her school and district, and the 2020 Northwest Regional Teacher of the Year.

adriana rueda

Adriana Rueda
Middle school teacher
International School at Gregory in New Hanover County, NC

Best Practices to Incorporate Global Competencies and SDGs through Virtual Connections: Model UN

How can you develop academic vocabulary in a second language while also fostering global competence? And how can you do so in an effective way that engages and impacts students? Join Adriana as she shares her experience of facilitating a Model UN style debate between her students and their peers at a school in Colombia.


Adriana Rueda Otalvaro, originally from Colombia, is a two-time ambassador teacher with Participate Learning. As part of Participate Learning’s Conexiones program, she uses a cross-curricular approach to language instruction that supports her students in becoming both bilingual and biliterate.

Yanela Ferrer
Elementary school teacher
Marvin B. Smith Elementary in Alamance County, NC

Raising Citizens of the World Through LIVE Virtual Travel

We could all agree that traveling inspires people and that it also impacts both our personal and professional development. When we travel, we acquire a better perspective about our own place in this world. So, if traveling is so powerful, how can we best use it to excite and engage students in our classrooms? Traveling can challenge learners to see the world differently, expose them to different cultures, and provide them with new perspectives. And the best part? You can do this for free and without passports, thanks to a wide variety of virtual options! During Yanela’s session, you will learn tips for making your global teaching experience more engaging and effective even when real traveling is not an option, yet we know it is a must.


Yanela Ferrer was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and currently teaches in the Participate Learning dual language program at Marvin B Smith Elementary in Alamance County (North Carolina). Yanela considers herself a life-long-learner and a globally-minded educator who is open to technology and innovation in order to connect her own learning and teaching experiences with people around the world.

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