Keynote Information

Alex Kajitani

Sunday, July 14, 2024 | 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Hilton El Conquistador

Owning It: How to Ace & Embrace the Work We Do

Twenty years ago, Alex Kajitani was a new teacher in one of California’s poorest neighborhoods. His students seemed unmotivated, unengaged and uninterested in what he was teaching. Demoralized and desperate, he set out on a journey to turn his class, and his life, around. 

Today, Alex holds the title of California Teacher of the Year, and Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year, 2009, and is lauded for his motivation, innovation and “real talk” on what it takes to succeed in today’s world.

Alex’s journey – from frustrated new teacher to being honored at the White House – is one he now shares across the country, to inspire educators to new heights and fresh ways of thinking about the work we do and students we serve. A former restaurant manager who has worked closely with CTE programs, his message of “Owning It” resonates deeply, regardless of experience or job title, and hits hard at the heart of what it takes to succeed as a Career & Technical Educator today.


Alex Kajitani is the 2009 California Teacher of the Year, and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year.  He is the author of several books, including Owning It, which was named “Recommended Reading” by the U.S. Department of Education. A former restaurant manager with CTE experience, Alex is known around the world as “The Rappin’ Mathematician,” has a popular TED Talk, and was honored at The White House. He was also featured on The CBS Evening News, where Katie Couric exclaimed, “I LOVE that guy!” (and you will too!).

For more, visit