Our Team

We are a growing group of professionals committed to raising awareness (and respect) for educators and education through the voices of teachers, parents and students.

Anne Ostholthoff

President and Executive Producer/ Anne Ostholthoff

Anne is a known leader and advocate in the field of education in Georgia who is the driving creative force behind and the host of The Ignite Show. She is President of Teachers Ignite, LLC , a consulting enterprise and official owner of the show.

  • 9 years in Communications working with BBDO, J. Walter Thompson, Saatchi & Saatchi.
  • 20+ years training teachers to bring creativity, authenticity and project based learning into their classroom practice as Founding Executive Director of the non-profit Creating Pride/aka-ArtsNOW. (Grew from 1 school in Cabrini-Green neighborhood of Chicago, IL to serving 18 school systems, 120,000 students and 4000+ teachers in Georgia.)

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Co-Executive Producer/ Brian Pirkle

Brian  is the lead producer of The Ignite Show, directing a team of professionals in concert with the Georgia Public Broadcasting team in Atlanta, GA. He manages all aspects of creative development and production as CEO of Velocity Productions. Velocity is a full-service production and event management company that focuses on innovative content and content delivery systems. He has served a variety of clients that include: Delta, Chick-fil-a, American Bible Society, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, North Point Community, and Orchestrate Experience.

Jemelleh Headshot (3)Educator in Residence / Jemelleh Coes

Jemelleh is  2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year and a Special Education English Language Arts teacher at Langston Chapel Middle School in Bulloch County where she has spent her entire 6 year career. She teaches her students that IQ is not as important as “I will” and that being hardworking, positive, and knowledgeable about different aspects of life can prove to be a highly regarded quality in our society.  She serves as a consultant for the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, member of the Department of Education Teacher Advisory Board, Board member for the Georgia Partnership of Excellence in Education, and has been recently appointed to Georgia’s Network for Transforming Educator Preparation Advisory Council .



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Teacher Voice Director / Katherine Bassett

A 26-year middle school librarian and NJ State Teacher of the Year 2000, Katherine Bassett is Executive Director of  NNSTOY. We gain from her expertise in teacher leadership as she advises on activity of The Ignite Show to engage teachers in the show’s teaching and learning segments and in general, strategic development of the show. Bassett has served as Director of Policy and Partnerships for the Center for Educator Effectiveness at Pearson, working to support research into educator practice and self-efficacy, and to building partnerships with like-minded organizations to support education. Katherine has deep experience in working with standards, having facilitated the work of a consortium to develop model standards for teacher leadership and served on the committees that revised the InTASC standards and defined learning progressions for those standards.  In addition, she led a team of educators in interpreting two sets of National Board standards into assessments.  http://www.nnstoy.org/

Director of Professional Learning / Sonja Hollins-Alexander


Dr. Sonja Hollins-Alexander has been in the field of education for 23 years with 16 of those being in educational leadership at the school, district and higher education levels. She lends her leadership to us as we develop tools and resources for teachers from content we develop on The Ignite Show. She is currently Senior Consultant for Insight Education Group where she provides customized professional development services that support Teacher and Leader Effectiveness. She is also President of Learning Forward Georgia. Sonja has also served as a school social worker, teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant director and director of professional learning for DeKalb County School District in Metro Atlanta. She is the author of “Online Professional Development through Virtual Learning Communities” – Corwin Press (2013). She has presented at numerous National Conferences on this and other topics and has direct management experience in many areas including Strategic Planning, Policy Development, Instructional Design, Curriculum Development and Implementation, Facilitator of Adult Learning, as Quality Assurance Team Member for AdvancED and fully engaged in the development and use of Online Collaborative/Instructional Software.

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Student Voice Director / Zak Malamed

Zak, a Long Island native, is a sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park where he is creating his own major in Social Engagement. Zak is co-founder of Student Voice, Inc. and advises on activity of The Ignite Show to engage students in co-production and development of the show. Zak  founded the #StuVoice Twitter chat in his senior year of high school, which has grown into the most active weekly international student engagement platform and has engaged students with everyone from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Dell Inc. As a result of the chat’s success, Malamed worked with 40 students from across the world to create Student Voice Live! .  The event was the first-ever student-led event that positioned students to share their voices with the influential stakeholders in education. With 22 satellite events across six continents, the event’s success encouraged the students to form a not-for-profit called Student Voice that services to amplify, aggregate, and accelerate student voices everywhere. “We know that dropout rates, student achievement, and workforce readiness will be improved with student voices in the classroom and in society – research shows this. We also believe that student voice can reduce absenteeism, enhance school climate, promote civic engagement, and build character among all students.”


pta logoParent Voice Director / Elizabeth Rorick

Elizabeth (Beth) is Deputy Executive Director, Government Affairs and Communications of the National PTA. She advises on activity of The Ignite Show to engage parents as participants on the show, and in the general, strategic development of the show.

Prior to her position as deputy executive director, Elizabeth (Beth) Rorick served as the senior policy strategist at National PTA. In this capacity, she represented the PTA before Congress on a vast array of children’s education issues, including special education, early childhood and children’s behavioral health.



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Media Communications Director/ Jeff Jones

Jeff provides full service, media planning and buying communications leadership to The Ignite Show. With more than 20 years in the business, Jeff’s expertise as a media professional includes extensive experience in traditional and digital media. Jeff is currently Director of Media Services The McCulloch+Company and brings the full weight of his talented and seasoned team with him. Jeff has extensive experience guiding successful media campaigns and implementing plans that deliver results for his clients in multiple media types including: digital, television, radio, cable, out-of-home, transit, newspaper, magazine. For the Ignite Show, he also provides oversight to a team that includes social media and PR experts, as appropriate as we continue to develop the show!

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Marketing Communications Co-Directors/ Jerry Caggiano and David Thierry

Jerry and David provide communications leadership to The Ignite Show, fully responsible for all of our advertising and creative work. They are co-owners and Co-Chief Creative Officers of Rise Advertising, an independent advertising located in Chicago, IL. Together with the entire Rise Advertising team, they create smart strategies and “talked about” creative in social, digital and traditional media spaces giving brands a voice that commands attention and share of mind they deserve. They focus on brands and products that change people’s lives for the better. They have worked for small companies – as well as some of the biggest and best-loved companies in the world. From e-bay to Hallmark, Kellogg’s to Reebok this team understands the rigor of creating large scale national campaigns as well as the importance of simple messaging that speaks to the soul of the issue.

Chris Merrifield

Production Advisor/ Chris Merrifield

Chris is an experienced, award winning creative media professional experienced in the broadcast, film, music, entertainment, and advertising industries. He currently works as Executive Producer, Creative Writer, and Director for clients such as HBO, ESPN, Spike, The Syfy Channel, Discovery Channel, CNN, The Learning Channel, and Animal Planet among others.

  • 12 years as VP Creative Director & Producer with Turner Classic Movies



Sam Chaltain

Thought Leader in Residence/ Sam Chaltain

Sam Chaltain is a DC-based writer using his training and experience as a teacher to help individuals and organizations find and tell stories that capture the emotional center of an idea. As a “Learning Correspondent” in the field of education, Sam is committed to building capacity around the understanding and use of democratic principles, developing optimal learning environments, and helping people find their voice. He tells stories that bear witness to what’s really happening in education to both reaffirm teachers for the great work they do every single day, as well as inform to the hard work by leaders in support of great, student-centered teaching and learning experiences our children deserve. Sam taught high school English and History in the public school system of New York City, and at a private school in Brooklyn. He joined the Beijing Normal University as a visiting lecturer and undergraduate instructor of American History & Literature. A periodic contributor to CNN and Huffington Post, Sam is also the author or co-author of six books. http://www.samchaltain.com/blog


Vicki Davis

Thought Leader in Residence/ Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time teacher and IT director at Westwood Schools in Camilla. Her mission is to connect and encourage today’s teachers everywhere through her award winning blog, the Cool Cat Teacher blog (@coolcatteacher) and her podcast Every Classroom Matters on BAM Radio (which consistently trend as a top show on the K12 iTunes store.) Vicki is active on social media, particularly Twitter and was recently named one of the “10 Rockstar Teachers on Twitter” by Mashable. She has written two books Reinventing Writing and Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds and is known for her award winning global collaborative projects many of which have won distinguished honors. Vicki is an active contributor to Edutopia by the George Lucas Foundation with her post often garnering more than a thousand tweets and has been featured in various media including Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, Don Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital, Curt Bonk’s The World is Open and more. She is a freelance author and has written for the Washington Post and the Atlantic and more. Although she teaches in the classroom, she has keynoted more than 30 conferences in the US and abroad as a 21st century “connected educator” combining social media prowess with excellent teaching and use of technology in the classroom. http://www.coolcatteacher.com/

Strategic Collaborators:

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