Making Schools Work Conference Keynote and Featured Speakers

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Making Schools Work Conference Speakers

Opening General Session – Keynote Speaker

2:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Pedro Noguera
Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

 Pedro Noguera, UCLA, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies

Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, Dr. Noguera served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at New York University (2003 – 2015), Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and the University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000).

He is the author of eleven books and over 200 articles and monographs. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations and appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and other national news outlets. His most recent books are Excellence Through Equity (Corwin 2015) with Alan Blankstein, School for Resilience: Improving the Life Trajectory of African American and Latino Boys with E. Fergus and M. Martin (Harvard Education Press 2014), and Creating the Opportunity to Learn with A. Wade Boykin (ASCD, 2011).  Dr. Noguera appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio and other national news outlets.

From 2009 – 2012, Dr. Noguera served as a Trustee for the State University of New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations including the Economic Policy Institute, the Young Women’s Leadership Institute, The After School Corporation and The Nation Magazine. In 2013, he was appointed to the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and in 2014, he was appointed to the National Academy of Education. He recently received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences/Sage for outstanding achievement in advancing the understanding of the behavioral and social sciences as they are applied to pressing social issues, the National Association of Secondary Principals for distinguished service to the field of education, and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed at fighting poverty.

Closing General Session – Keynote Speaker

3 p.m., Thursday, July 9, 2020

Anna Nixon
Co-Founder, STEM4Girls

Anna Nixon, Co-Founder, STEM4Girls

Anna Nixon, co-founder of STEM4Girls, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people to pursue opportunities and learning in STEM fields, is an award-winning roboticist, speaker, teacher and leader. In her public talks, Anna discusses the importance of technical education, technology trends, encouraging girls to pursue STEM, and generational changes caused by technology and education.

When Anna was in second grade, her father brought home a small robotics kit. They spent hours in the garage, building and programming robots to complete simple challenges like following lines or escaping mazes. Anna loved the feeling of accomplishment that came with getting a robot to work, so she joined FIRST Robotics and has been participating in it ever since.

In elementary school, Anna learned about the engineering process, working as a team and presenting her ideas effectively. In middle school, she started her own robotics team. In high school, she became the software lead and vice president of her high school robotics team, deepened her understanding of programming and learned mechanical and electrical skills.

These experiences helped her design projects that won accolades from the Ant-Man Microtech Challenge, MIT Think and the Junior Humanities and Science Symposium.

In 2017, Anna decided to cofound a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring other girls and youth to pursue opportunities and learning in STEM fields. STEM4Girls works with local organizations to showcase technology in fun and exciting ways, host workshops for youth and provide funding and mentoring for FIRST Robotics teams.

Also in 2017, Anna was invited to speak about technology and innovation at Audi’s Mobility Quotient Summit alongside speakers like Steve Wozniak, David Rowan, Mo Gawdat and more.

In 2018, Anna shared a TedX talk on inspiring students with the right kind of educational experiences: “The value of schooling lies in the critical thinking skills that allow us to solve a variety of problems. By showing students the real-world applications of what they’re learning, they’re more likely to stay engaged.”

Now a sophomore computer science major at the University of Pennsylvania, Anna continues to pursue hands-on learning experiences through project-based courses and as a lead member of the university’s Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team, Penn Electric Racing, where she applies her engineering skills to build electric race cars.   

Featured Speakers

We’re expanding our line-up of exciting featured speakers every week – visit this page often to see who will be joining us in New Orleans.

Craig J. Boykin

Craig Boykin, Craig Boykin LLC

Motivational speaker, author and mentor Craig Boykin offers an inspiring message of hope to educators and the at-risk students they serve. Boykin’s highly regarded speeches, seminars and workshops focus on helping educators engage, support and motivate young people who struggle with the effects of poverty and trauma.

Boykin’s personal story informs his work. Born into poverty to a teenage mother, Boykin continued the family cycle of dropping out of high school and began engaging in dangerous behaviors that ultimately led to jail. After his release, Boykin enrolled in the Job Corps, where he earned both his G.E.D. and a diploma. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army — an experience he credits with helping him develop the integrity and discipline he needed to pursue higher education.

Boykin earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Auburn University at Montgomery and master’s degrees in theology and criminal justice from Faulkner University. He is currently working on his doctorate in adult education and continuous learning.

Kristen Cassidy

Kristen Cassidy, Truth, Facts & Lies

Kristen Cassidy is a co-creator of the Truth, Facts & Lies education program, with Kari Hankins, a licensed professional counselor-supervisor and a national certified counselor.

Cassidy also has a private practice in Jennings, Louisiana, where she provides counseling to adults and children in both individual and family settings.

As an employee of Family & Youth in Lake Charles, Louisiana, from 2007 to 2013, Cassidy facilitated social skills groups for the Autism Support Alliance, conducted forensic interviews for the Children’s Advocacy Center and provided counseling for the Shannon Cox Counseling Center and Performance Employee Assistance Program, two programs at Family & Youth.

Cassidy holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from McNeese State University.  

Rodney Flowers

Rodney Flowers, Inspirational EndeavorsRodney 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 resilience trainer.

Thomas Glanton

Thomas Glanton, The Education Company

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.

Thomas holds a doctorate from the University of Georgia.

Kari Hankins

Kari Hankins, Truth, Facts & Lies

Kari Hankins is one of the co-founders of B Curriculum, LLC; the Truth, Facts & Lies education program; and the Southwest Louisiana Youth Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

In 2010, Hankins started an adolescent GYN program at a local pediatric practice. While working with teen girls, she recognized a need for nonjudgmental, factual information and education for that age group. In response, in 2016, she and her partners Susan Couch and Kristen Cassidy created Truth, Facts & Lies, a seven-session, evidence-based, social emotional learning curriculum for middle grades and high school students that addresses human trafficking, online solicitation, bullying, social media safety, relationship abuse and addiction.

Hankins has presented at multiple conferences and in-services for medical professionals, social workers, educators and counselors. She also serves as a guest lecturer for the local nursing school.

She hosts regular parent education programs to help arm parents with the knowledge they need to help their teens safely navigate a rapidly changing world. In 2018, she was awarded the Pinnacle of Light & Hope Award for her work with youth in her community.

Hankins holds a bachelor’s of science in nursing from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans and a master’s in nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

Joe Hendershott

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 residential facility.

An in-demand speaker at international and national conferences, Hendershott offers training and professional development on understanding and working with wounded students, the effects of trauma on learning and behavior, emotional literacy, leadership, empathy, esteem, inclusive communities and combating compassion fatigue.

Hendershott is the author of two books, Reaching the Wounded Student and 7 Ways to Transform the Lives of Wounded Students. He has a third book in press, Supporting the Wounded Educator: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Self-Care.

Hendershott holds a bachelor’s degree in education from The Ohio State University. He also earned a master’s in school administration and a doctorate in leadership studies from Ashland University.

Robert Jackson

Robert Jackson, Robert Jackson Motivates

Robert Jackson began his teaching career over 20 years ago in Indianapolis Public Schools 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. 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.

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.

Baruti Kafele

Baruti Kafele

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 the Year.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the turnaround of four New Jersey urban schools, including Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report recognizing it as one of America’s best high schools. He is also the author of 10 books, including his national best-sellers, The Principal 50, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It? and The Aspiring Principal 50.

Principal Kafele is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998, as Baruti Kafele Day.

Dave Shepard

Dave Shepard, The Middle Matters and More

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 schools.

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 Association.

Barbara Turner Windhorst

Barbara Turner WindhorstBarbara Turner Windhorst is a retired superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School System in Louisiana and was the first lay president of the Ursuline Academy of New Orleans, the oldest continuously operating girls’ school in the United States, founded in 1726.  She currently serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Greater New Orleans, as a founding member of the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way, on the board of directors of The Catholic Foundation and the St. Louis Cathedral Old Ursuline Convent Catholic Cultural Heritage Society, and as education committee chair of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation.

Windhorst has also served on the board of trustees for State Colleges and Universities and served as chair for three years.  She was Governor Buddy Roemer’s nominee to the “superboard” for higher education and was interviewed and confirmed by the Louisiana State Senate. She was also one of the founding members for the Louisiana Center for Women in Politics and is a graduate of the New Orleans Regional Leadership Training Institute.