SREB is excited to announce that our 2021 Making Schools Work Conference opening keynote speaker will be Kim Bearden, the co-founder, executive director, and language arts teacher at the highly acclaimed Ron Clark Academy, an innovative middle school and educator-training facility in Atlanta.
SREB is excited to announce that our 2021 Making Schools Work Conference closing keynote speaker will be Anna Nixon, co-founder of STEM4Girls, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people to pursue opportunities and learning in STEM fields.
Doug Major is superintendent and CEO of Meridian Technology
Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the president-elect of ACTE,
the Association for Career and Technical Education, the member
association of CTE educators in the United States.
Major began his career as an agriculture education student in
Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Through his membership in FFA, he had the
opportunity to serve both as a local and state officer, which
helped shape his decision to enter the teaching profession.
After earning his bachelor’s in agriculture education at Oklahoma
State University, he taught for two years at Anadarko High
School. In 1987, Major had the opportunity to join the Oklahoma
CareerTech system as an administrative intern at Meridian
Technology Center and worked there 13 years in various
administrative capacities. During his tenure at Meridian, he also
completed both his master’s and doctoral degrees from OSU. In
2000, Major was selected as the Superintendent/CEO of Pioneer
Technology Center. He held this position before returning to
Meridian Technology Center in November 2008 as
Throughout his career, Major has participated on many local
boards as well as state and national associations. He has held
offices in the Oklahoma Technology Center Superintendents’
Association, the Oklahoma Council of Local Administrators, the
Oklahoma Association of Career and Technical Education and the
National Council of Local Administrators for Career and Technical
Education. Major was selected to participate in the first
National Leadership Institute sponsored by the National Centers
for Career and Technical Education and is a past president of the
Association for Career and Technical Education. Major is a
graduate of Leadership Stillwater and Leadership Oklahoma and was
appointed by Governor Henry to serve on the Oklahoma Employment
Security Commission. In 2012 The Journal Record honored Major as
one of Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs. In 2017, he received the
Francis Tuttle Career Excellence Award recognizing a career
devoted to the development of excellence in people through career
and technology education.
Dr. Major and his wife, Sandy, have four children and reside in
Mary Hemphill is North Carolina’s first state director of K-12
Computer Science and Technology Education. With over 15 years of
professional experience as a teacher, administrator, state
director and university professor, Hemphill understands the
importance of fusing education, empowerment and leadership as she
works with communities as a leadership expert and coach and
inspirational speaker. She has reached over 25,000 individuals
with a message of transformation and innovation, self-empowerment
In her role as state director for computer science, Hemphill is
leveraging support and leadership around CS initiatives through
the development of the #IAmCS campaign. #IAmCS
aims to move the needle on equity-focused strategies to
strengthen the North Carolina CS landscape for all students.
She has presented at such
conferences as the Model Schools Conference, All Things Open, The
Future of Tech is Female and the NCASA Conference on Educational
Leadership. In 2018, Hemphill was named Regional Principal of the
Year for the Sandhills Region of North Carolina. She is the
co-founder of a 501c(3), Rebrand NC
Education, which helps North Carolina school leaders shatter
the status quo and shift the conversation around public
Hemphill holds a Ph.D. in leadership studies from North Carolina
Agricultural and Technical State University.
Cheri Dedmon, Teaching Channel Account Manager, provides
solutions to challenges faced by both large and small educational
organizations throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
Dedmon has been an active member of the education community for
over 43 years, having served in the role of classroom teacher,
high school principal, district staff and member of the National
School Reform Faculty.
Dedmon also launched a local teacher residency program in
Tennessee supported by the Public Education Foundation. She
serves as an academic coach to new teachers at a local urban STEM
charter school for girls in her community.
Alan Marnett, Founder and CEO of BenchFly, is an action-oriented
problem solver with over 25 years experience as a Ph.D. scientist
and business owner. He believes that innovation originates at the
intersection of science, education and technology.
BenchFly was founded in 2009 out of Marnett’s frustration as a
chemist in finding access to expert instruction. Streaming video
— relatively new at the time — had the potential to democratize
access to insider knowledge by enabling scientists to share video
techniques with each other directly, fundamentally changing the
way scientists around the world were trained.
As researchers and labs continued collaborating via the platform,
BenchFly expanded its platform to help current scientists train
the next generation of scientists — high school students. To that
end, Marnett and his colleagues worked with teachers, students
and the National Science Foundation to redesign and expand the
platform to support student-to-expert collaborations.
BenchFly now facilitates collaborate between students and experts
across unlimited career fields, not just science. The
personalized feedback students get though video and data
analytics makes classroom experiences more real and helps
students see how their education relates to the real world.
Deb Page is president of the International Society for
Performance Improvement and founder of the The Institute for
Performance Improvement, which trains and certifies school
improvement facilitators, including school and district leaders,
academic coaches and state and regional education agency staff.
Rodney Flowers, founder and president of Inspirational Endeavors,
LLC, inspires, motivates and encourages individuals to reach for
their hopes and dreams with earnest expectations regardless of
their limitations or challenges.
After a traumatic high school football injury, Flowers was
paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Despite an unfavorable
prognosis for recovery, he spent the next 18 years regaining his
ability to walk and making a positive impact on the world.
Today, Flowers is an
internationally respected writer, communicator, influencer,
thought leader and change agent for overcoming life’s adversities
and maximizing individual achievement and success.
Flowers is a three-time international Amazon bestselling author,
keynote speaker, CEO, entrepreneur, transformational leader and
Joe Hendershott, co-founder of Hope 4 The Wounded, LLC, has an
extensive background working with at-risk and wounded youth as a
teacher, coach and administrator in traditional, alternative and
correctional education settings.
Hendershott has served as a high school assistant principal, head
principal, alternative school principal and principal at a
Phyllis Donatto is the founder and CEO of FTH Dimension
Solutions. A first-generation college graduate, she holds a
bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s in reading,
a master’s in theological studies and a doctorate in curriculum
and instruction. She is certified in school administration and is
also a reading specialist.
Donatto’s K-12 and postsecondary experiences include serving as a
leadership development strategist, educational consultant,
assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, PK-16+
coordinator, campus improvement specialist, administrative intern
(assistant principal), Title I compliance coordinator and
She provides leadership to
organizations in the areas of career, executive and life
coaching, strategic planning, team growth and organizational
climate. Donatto has presented internationally, nationally,
statewide and locally on topics ranging from cultivating culture
and climate to effective teaching and learning strategies.
Donatto is a certified Paradigm 360 Executive Coach and enjoys a
reputation as a “Hopeologist.” She is an active member of Alpha
Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Nai Wang is
founder and president of KP Education Systems.
As a child, Nai struggled in public education, even failing a
math class. Growing up in an immigrant family that ran a
restaurant, Nai and his family couldn’t afford medical treatment
for his ADHD. That’s when he fell in love with video games, a
medium that stimulated his mind at the pace he needed.
A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over 20 years,
Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher
and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school
teacher in East Orange, New Jersey, he was selected as the East
Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of
the Year, and he was a finalist for New Jersey State Teacher of
Leslie Hazle Bussey is CEO and Executive Director of GLISI (the
Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement), a nonprofit
serving and growing over 1,500 school leaders annually in 50+
districts across Georgia.
Now in her 10th year at GLISI, Bussey leads a team of skilled
facilitators, designers, and researchers of adult development
experiences to bring to life GLISI’s mission, which is also their
theory of action: Uplift school leaders, transform mindsets
and action, create vibrant cultures of innovation and build
excellent and equitable schools.
GLISI’s approach to leader development recognizes that leaders
need more than technical skills to successfully build vibrant
school cultures that disturb the status quo and engage every
child – and adult – in meaningful learning experiences connecting
them to a choice-filled future.
Prior to GLISI, Bussey was Director of Research in the Learning
Centered Leadership group at SREB. She began her career over 25
years ago as a teacher of middle grades students in Lusaka,
Bussey holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Saint Louis
University, an M.Ed. in Educational Media and Technology from
Boston University, and a B.A. in English Literature from the
University of Washington.
Marck Abraham is the founder and CEO of MEA Consultants, LLC,
which he designed to help poorly performing schools and
organizations increase achievement for all students, especially
young men of color.
As a thought leader for men of color, author and motivational
speaker, Abraham has presented to various education audiences and
school districts in New York and across the country. His most
recent article, “Culturally Proficient Leadership: Improving the
High School Graduation Rate for Black Males,” appeared in the
February issue of Principal Leadership.
Abraham’s strategies for increasing
graduation rates for males of color has been featured in SREB’s
Promising Practices Newsletter, the Buffalo News and on local
radio. He was also recently recognized by the mayor of Buffalo,
New York, as one of the top principals in the city of
Buffalo. McKinley High School, where he was principal, was
cited by New York State Education Department for having one of
the highest graduation rates for males of color in New York.
Abraham is currently offering online webinars for principals and
school teams across the country to participate in live
discussions of practical strategies for increasing graduation
rates for males of color.
Abraham completed his doctorate at St. John Fisher College.
Steph Jensen is the director of community contracts for Boys Town
National Community Support Services.
Jensen joined Boys Town in 2003. She has been in the educational
field since 1995, holding positions from middle school teacher,
district reading specialist and school consultant, speaker and
In her 15 years with Boys Town, Jensen has overseen the
implementation of external training contracts nationally and
internationally. She has worked closely with organizations
ranging from the Japanese Child Welfare Department to Chicago
Public Schools Office of School Improvement.
Jensen applies her education knowledge and experience with school
reform and transformation to schools across the country, helping
them create healthy learning climates that focus on the social
and emotional needs of students.
Thomas Glanton, Jr., is president and lead consultant for The
Education Company, a national educational consulting company
specializing in school improvement and the art of school
leadership. Under his leadership, the company has served over
200,000 teachers and administrators in public, private, and
charter schools across the U.S.
Glanton works directly with school and district leaders to
develop their capacity to create school climates that are
conducive to student success by focusing on operations,
instructional leadership, data analysis and school performance.
An Atlanta native, Glanton has decades of experience in public
school education, having served as a high school English teacher,
a high school principal and an elementary school assistant
principal. His application of a comprehensive discipline
management program transformed a Title I school and earned him
accolades as a Georgia PTA Principal of the Year.
Glanton also served as the director of leadership development for
the DeKalb County School System, one of the most culturally
diverse counties in the nation. Glanton speaks widely at national
and regional education conferences and is an active member of
various civic organizations and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Catherine Guimarães, Regional Director for Teaching Channel since
2015, supports districts in using Teaching Channel Plus – a
video-enabled learning management system – and adopting
personalized professional learning. She believes educators are
powerful influencers and leaders in making a better
Prior to her work with Tch, Guimarães led a team in designing
online learning courses, served as an assistant principal at
Girls Prep Middle School, led educators across New York City in
the transition to the Common Core, and taught in middle schools
in Boston and Washington, D.C.
Guimarães holds a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public
Policy from Columbia University.
Dave Shepard manages his own educational consulting firm, The
Middle Matters and More, in Lexington, Kentucky. As a former
teacher, coach, curriculum and program designer, and
administrator, Shepard has worked with middle grades and high
school students for more than 40 years.
Since 1999, Shepard has devoted his time to helping schools
become more efficient and effective for all teachers and
students. he has presented at dozens of state and national
conferences and assisted districts in 47 states and two foreign
countries in developing and refining their programs by providing
quality professional development and teacher in-services.
He has authored or coauthored numerous articles and a book with
Sherrel Bergmann and Judy Brough on improving parental support in
Shepard has been recognized as Coach of The Year and Principal of
The Year. He received his highest honor, the President’s Award
for Lifetime Achievement, from the Kentucky Middle School
Robert Jackson began his teaching career almost 25 years ago in
Indianapolis Public Schools after being cut from the NFL’s
Minnesota Vikings with a “no more excuses” teaching approach that
set high expectations for his students and challenged them to not
let their personal circumstances define their futures.
Jackson’s goal is to teach educators and administrators how to
use their power more effectively to educate, activate and
motivate all students to be successful. His own students have
gone on to become successful pastors, lawyers, school
administrators, teachers, sales reps, business owners, pro
athletes, entertainers and more.
As a highly sought-after speaker,
Jackson delivers keynotes and workshops nationwide to educators,
administrators, parents and students on such topics as cultural
diversity, restorative practices, social and emotional learning,
working with students who have experienced trauma and educating
Black and Latino males.
Jackson has written and published numerous books and articles,
including Black Men Stand Up, A Boy’s Guide to
Manhood, A Young Woman’s Guide to Womanhood,
Put a Stop to Bullying and Solutions to Educating
Black and Latino Males.
His newest book, Becoming the Educator They Need: Strategies,
Mindsets, and Beliefs for Supporting Male Black and Latino
Students, won the Gold Excel Award for Technical Writing in
Jackson has received numerous awards for his work, including the
NOBLE Justice by Action Youth Award, the Key to the City of
Miami, Florida, and the 2019 National Motivational Educator of
the Year Award by the Alpha Foundation.
He is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and the
NFL Players Association.
Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology from
Western Kentucky University.
Frederick Yeakey is vice president of Providence Cristo Rey High
School in Indianapolis, as well as an educational consultant and
speaker who has delivered keynotes and workshops on culture,
diversity, mentorship, character development, purpose and equity
to educators, administrators, parents and students.
Yeakey began his educational career over 14 years ago as a
director of an after-school program and summer program for “The
100 Black Men of Indianapolis,” with a mission to empower those
who are often forgotten about. In his 14-year teaching career,
Yeakey has taught at public, charter and private schools. For the
last six years, he has served in an administrative role.
Yeakey has received national
attention for his work with a male mentoring initiative, “The
Barbershop,” which was featured in a recent issue of SREB’s
Promising Practices Newsletter. By offering free haircuts, Yeakey
encourages and empowers male students to stay on track to
graduate and make impact in the communities that they serve. He
sets high expectations for his students and believes they should
never allow their circumstances to shape their future — or to
feel sorry for themselves.
Yeakey received a B.A. in Public Administration from Kentucky
State University and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Building
Level Administration Certificate from Marian University.