About Me

Leigh Ellen Ray  | Educator

I am passionately committed to maximizing individual student success through culturally responsive teaching, to engaging in visible teaching and learning practices, and to creating a learning environment that supports students’ reading achievement.

Distinguished Accomplishments

* Teacher Leader, Presenter, Coach (technology integration, coding, robotics, 3D printing, personalized & blended learning, LMS integration)
* ELA Curriculum Standards Alignment expert, District Innovation Committees, School Technology Committees
* School Testing Coordinator (AMP, KITE, PEAK, Aimsweb, NAEP)
* FIRST Lego League coach and Team Administrator
* Canvas (LMS) and PowerSchool advanced user
* Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Google Apps expert
*  TEFEL,  TESOL certificates
*  Differentiation Through Leveled Grouping and Response to Intervention (RTi)
*  Project- and Problem-Based Learning through integrated STEM
*  Student enrichment through Genius Hour (engineering, coding, creativity)
*  After-School and Summer Reading & Math tutor
*  Manager, after-school coding club
*  Culturally Responsive Teaching
*  Cooperative Learning with engagement strategies (Kagan)


STEM Certificate (expected graduation May 2023), East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN

Higher Education and K-12 Blended Learning Design (2015), certification, Quality Matters, MarylandOnline (MOL) consortium

Graduate Teacher Licensure Program (May 2010), Elementary Education, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Computer Technician (2001), certification, North Carolina State University, Computer Training Unit

Bachelor of Arts ( December 1999), Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dean’s List, Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society, Golden Key National Honor Society

Associate of Arts (June 1982), Bryn Athyn College, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania


Program Manager, America Reads Challenge, East Tennessee State University (August 2021 present)

Rehability, LLC (November 2019 – present), Database Administrator, Ticket-to-Work Customer Service [online], part time (includes General Security Clearance with United States government)

VIPKid HK Limited (March 2019 – June 2021), Online English Language Learners teacher (Levels 1-7, phonics, Pre-K)

Homeschool Support (Summer 2020 – Spring 2021) I tutored four elementary-aged homeschooled children. I mainly support ELA. (references available upon request)

Johnson City Schools (2017 – 2018), ELA Classroom Teacher, Indian Trail Intermediate School, Johnson City, TN

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (2011 – 2017), Primary Classroom Teacher, Seward Elementary School, Seward, AK

Boys & Girls Club, (June 2011), DaVinci Summer Camp Leader, Science Teacher. View news article (click here) and video (click here).

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (2005 – 2011), Substitute Teacher Seward High, Middle, and Elementary Schools, Seward, AK

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (August 2009 – May 2010), Student Teacher Seward Elementary School, Seward, AK

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (Nov. 2007 – May 2009), ELL Tutor Seward High, Middle, and Elementary Schools, Seward, AK

Durham Herald-Sun (Jan. 1998 – 2003), Freelance Reporter, Durham, North Carolina

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (1997 1998), media/public relations intern, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I have also owned and operated three businesses over the years:

  • Rayword IT Professionals, Inc., Seward, Alaska, 2005 to 2017 (software development, web authoring, small business marketing). I authored websites for small businesses and created their business cards and brochures.
  • Raysong, Inc., 2005 to 2010, Seward, Alaska (Bed & Breakfast Inn). I ran (and owned) an 18-bed guest inn during the tourist season for five years. This involved gourmet breakfasts, bookings/reservations, customer service and guest entertainment, cleaning and decorating, marketing, overseeing employees, and more.
  • Martz Communications, Inc., 1999 to 2005, Durham, North Carolina (marketing consultant). I created marketing materials for small business and assisted with websites.

Professional Memberships

  • International Literacy Association (present)
  • Literacy Association of Tennessee (present)
  • Gilbreath Reading Council (present)
  • The Reading League (present)
  • International Society for Technology in Education (present)
  • Alaska Society for Technology in Education (former)
  • International Association for K-12 Online Learning–iNACOL, now the Aurora Institute (former)

Certifications & Awards

  • TEFL Certification (awarded June 2021)
  • State of Tennessee Teacher Certification (July 2017 to present), Highly Qualified K-6
  • State of Alaska Teacher Certification (June 2010 to July 2021), Highly Qualified K-8,  Journalism K-12
  • TESOL International Association, Advanced Program for Teaching English Online certificate (awarded 2020)
  • Western Governors University Excellence Award, 2016
  • BP Alaska Teacher of Excellence Nominee,  2017, 2015, 2014, & 2013
  • Microsoft Partners in Learning Winner & participant in Bellevue, WA, August 2012. Winning project: “Seward, Alaska: Through Young Eyes”
  • ETS Recognition of Excellence for an outstanding score on The Praxis Series, Elementary Education: Content Knowledge, Nov. 15, 2008
  • National Writing Project/Alaska State Writing Consortium Mini-Award (2009)
  • Heart Journalism Award, in-depth writing (1999)
  • Heart Journalism Award, feature writing (1999)
  • Golden Key National Honors Society member
  • Kappa Tau Alpha member (national society dedicated to the recognition and promotion of scholarship in the field of journalism)

Professional Involvement

  • 2021: Literacy Association of Tennessee 50th Annual Conference, presenter, Murfeesboro, TN
  • 2018: Teacher Leader Cohort III, Johnson City School District, Johnson City, TN, member.  This District cohort is charged with assisting teachers during implementation of technology for learning in the classroom as well as leading a summer technology camp (2019). To accomplish this, cohort members attend professional conferences and trainings, collaborate regularly, and become Google Certified Educators.
  • October 2018: iNACOL Symposium, Nashville, TN, attendee (highlights)
  • June 2018: ETSU STEM & Education Conference, Johnson City, TN, attendee (Agenda)
  • August 2015 to May 2017: Innovation Committee, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, member.  This District committee, comprised of principals, teacher leaders, and administrators, is charged with creating a plan for implementing personalized learning in all schools within the next five years. To accomplish this, committee members must develop professional development guidelines and opportunities; purchase technology to support blended learning, competency-based learning, and project-based learning; and  create policies to shift academics, curriculum, and school structure in the district.
  • February 2017: Alaska Society for Technology in Education, presenter, Anchorage, Alaska. Blended Learning in Elementary
  • October 2016:  West Homer Elementary School, presenter and workshop, Homer, Alaska. Blended Learning and Canvas Integration. Worked one-to-one with several teachers during the morning hours to help them develop Canvas courses and modules. In the afternoon, led a workshop for 12 teachers that allowed them to experience the blended learning model first-hand. At the end of the afternoon workshop, teachers worked on Canvas courses with my assistance.
  • August 2016: KPBSD District in-service, presenter, Soldotna, Alaska. Blended Learning in Elementary. More than 100 teachers participated in an online, interactive 2-hour class that detailed creating a blended learning classroom.
  • May 2016: Leadership Academy, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, presenter, Soldotna, Alaska. Showcase of Blended Learning in an elementary classroom.
  • February 2016: Alaska Society for Technology in Education Symposium, Anchorage, AK, attendee. Where Technology and Education Converge. Promoting access to technology, connectivity to information resources, and technology integration for all Alaskan learners.
  • November 2015: iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium, Orlando, FL, attendee. I attended this symposium as a member of my district’s 2015/16 DTi cohort. iNACOL’s annual conference is the industry’s leading event for K-12 online, blended and competency-based learning. Experts, practitioners, educators, policymakers, and researchers gain access to expertise, analysis, and trends in online, blended and competency education.
  • August 4, 2015: Youth Mental Health First Aid, certification course, Seward, AK. An 8-hour public education program intended for adults that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.  Mental.Health.First.Aid.Certificate
  • June-July 2015: International Society for Technology in Education Conference & Expo, Philadelphia, PA, attendee. Pushing the boundaries of education by harnessing the power of technology to advance learning and teaching; connecting with other innovative educators; taking my skills to the next level by participating in the world’s largest and most comprehensive ed-tech meeting of the minds.
  • Summer 2015: Rural Alaska Communication & Culture – Cultural Immersion Camp participant, through the University of Alaska Anchorage
  • June 2013: Leadership Academy, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Soldotna, Alaska, attendee

Non-Degree Coursework & Experiences

  • Instructional Design(2016 to 2017)Western Governors University (non-degree graduate work)
  • Rural Alaska Teacher Immersion Experience, (July 2016) near Allakaket, Alaska, at an indigenous base camp along the Yukon River.
  • Rural Alaska Communication & Culture, Summer 2015: ED 541P, University of Alaska Anchorage (non-degree graduate work)
  • A Deeper Understanding of Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, Spring 2015: EDUC 58168, Alaska Pacific University (non-degree graduate work)
  • Exploring Prince William Sound: Chugach National Forest  (Summer 2014) with Chugach National Forest Wilderness Manager Tim Lydon.  Alaska Geographic & UA Southeast (3 credits, graduate level). This six-day course took place in the scenic heart of western Prince William Sound via kayak. Emphasis was placed on exploring the area’s human and natural history, with the human relationship to nature as a central theme. While camping and traveling by kayak in the Wilderness Study Area in western Prince William Sound, the group explored the area’s Alaska Native history, early Euro-American activities, evolution of the Chugach National Forest, 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the local effects of global climate change. Topics also included flora, fauna and glaciers. Immersed in wilderness travel and themes, participants discussed new ways to incorporate the natural world into teaching methods.
  • Motivating and Engaging Students, (Winter 2014) EDUC 58106, Alaska Pacific University (non-degree graduate work)
  • Instructional Strategies: Cooperative Groups (2012-2013, 15 Contact Hours)
  • Technology Academy, KPBSD, May 2012
  • Write Tools 101 Training, December 2011
  • Power School Train-the-Trainer seminar, trainer, Fall 2011
  • National Science Teachers Association, A Framework for K-12 Science Education, 1.5 hour NSTA Web Seminar, July 26, 2011
  • Alaska Alive! with Father Oleksa, Spring 2011, Alaska Pacific University (non-degree graduate work). Also watched Father Oleksa’s “Communicating Across Cultures” DVD series.
  • Teacher Practicum in rural Alaska, sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. February 7 – 13, 2010. Location: Newtok, Alaska
  • Small Schools Curriculum Design, ED F631, Summer 2010, UAF, Prof. Ray Barnhardt (non-degree graduate work)

Education-Related Volunteering

  • Vello Volunteer for the Greater Philadelphia School District. (2019 participant) Vello is an innovative, 1:1 tutoring program from United Way that matches tutor teams with local classrooms for guided reading support. As a volunteer, I scheduled classroom reading time with individual students in Philadelphia public schools.
  • Granny Cloud Volunteer. (2019 participant) As a volunteer, I interacted with groups of children in remote villages of India, engaging them in conversation and in activities of various kinds, such as reading, telling stories, and exploring big questions.
  • Advisory Committee, Alaska Environmental Literacy Plan, 2011-2012. Final Document (online, updated)
  • Alaska Division of Forestry, UAF, School of Education, Summer 2010, created two PowerPoints for elementary schools about wildfire (grades K-3, 4-6)
  • Cultural Bias in Standardized Tests Advisory Committee, Department of Education, Summer 2010

Extra-Curricular Educational Activities

  • First Lego League certified robotics coach for Indian Trail Intermediate School (August 2017 – December 2018).
  • Author of CANVAS modules for Johnson City Schools English Language Arts curriculum (February – June 2018), shared to Canvas Commons for 6th grade ELA teachers.
  • 2016-2017 Teacher Enrichment Pathway, Genius Hour in Elementary Education, by Leigh Ray and Susan Pfeiffenberger. The goal of this project is to create a database of resources and design a year-long course of instruction for elementary school teachers, which supports effective integration of Genius Hour, also called 20% time, in elementary classrooms. Genius Hour activities draw upon science, technology, engineering, and math.
  • Author of CANVAS modules for KPBSD English Language Arts Common Quarterly Assessments (August 2016), shared to Canvas Commons for K-6 teachers
  • Coordinator for the Hour of Code event, Seward Elementary School (2013 – 2016)
  • William H. Seward Elementary School Technology Committee (2013 to 2017)
  • English Language Arts Curriculum Committee for Standards Alignment, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (2013 to 2016)
  • Coordinator for Jump Rope for Heart, Seward Elementary School (2011 -2017)
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, DTi Cohort, Blended/Online Learning (2015-2016)
  • Co-Founder of the Seward Code Club, which has offered programs in Lego Robotics (both WeDo and Mindstorms) and computer programming both during school, after school, and during the summertime. (2013 to 2016)
  • First Lego League certified robotics coach. The team, Resurrection Bay Brainstormers, was part of the Seward Code Club and met after school once a week. Our team competed regionally. (2014-2015)
  • Seward Elementary Vision and Mission Committee (2013-2014)
  • Schoolyard Habitat committee (2012-2014)
  • Seward Schools Site-Based Council secretary (2012-2014)
  • Place-Based Social Studies: Seward Alaska Through Young Eyes (2012) – student projects tied to local chamber of commerce and tourism industry through brochures, website, podcasts, field trips, guest speakers, history studies
  • Alaska Environmental Literacy Plan steering committee (2012)
  • Bias & Sensitivity Review committee for the Alaska state assessment with Data Recognition Corporation (August 2010)

Community Service

  • Homeowner Association President, Johnson City (2019)
  • One Acre Café, Johnson City, volunteer (2019)
  • Seward Arts Council, a local non-profit, board member (vice president, 2013-2016)


  • International Literacy Association: Supporting Multilingual Learners With Translanguaging Strategies (Sep 14, 2021)
  • World Class: How to Build a 21st-Century School System (July 2018)
  • First Lego League Ask an Expert (October 2017)
  • Master Teacher Meetups through Better Lesson TeachCycle (2015-2016)
  • Future Ready Schools | 2015 School Leadership Summit, June 24, 2015 (8 hours)
  • Teachers Know Best: Making Data Work for Teachers and Students, June 3, 2015 (1 1/2 hours)
  • Environmental Education: Implementing Your State Literacy Plan Webinar, April 2012

Fun Stuff

  • I won $10,000 in computer hardware for our school through Code.org (Fall 2014).  Through this award, our school received a 3D printer (MakerBot), 28 Chromebooks, web cameras for every classroom, document cameras (8), mp3 players, and more.
  • I have had multiple Donor’s Choose projects for my classroom fully funded, worth thousands of dollars (2012 to present).  Through these projects, my classroom has gained 27 Amazon tablets for 1:1 learning activities, headphones, a conference webcam, ten mp3 players, 6 cameras, a complete non-fiction library (with bins), a complete fiction library (with bins), digital recorders (2), Jr. Great Books curriculum for 30 students, watercolor paper, hand sanitizer, wireless keyboard and mouse, microphone, SAM animation kit, craft supplies, and more.
  • Senior Honors Thesis, UNC-CH (1999): Media reaction to the JAMA 1998 issue on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Leigh Ellen Martz, aka Leigh Ellen Ray (PI)

Classroom Without Walls

  • Global Read-Aloud Project, Fall 2016, partnering with a second grade in Raleigh, NC
  • Global Project: Make This World A Little Better, led by Cheryl Arnett, a closed Facebook group
  • Global Read-Aloud Project, Fall 2015
  • Community Service: Thanksgiving Songs & Poems at Mountain Haven Elder Home, 2013-2016
  • Global Read-Aloud Project, Fall, 2014
  • ClassDojo Advertisement: professional filming at Seward Elementary, featuring my classroom and Mrs. Fabian’s classroom
  • Flat Classrooms Global Collaboration, 2013-2014
  • Thanksgiving Celebration: Skype Presentation for the Elderly, November 2013
  • Place-Based Social Studies: Seward Alaska Through Young Eyes (2012) – student projects tied to local chamber of commerce and tourism industry through brochures, website, podcasts, field trips, guest speakers, history studies