Making Schools Work Conference Keynote and Featured Speakers

Overview

See Our 2024 Keynote and Featured Speakers

Michael Bonner

Did you know that 99.6% of attendees at the 2023 Making Schools Work Conference rated the speakers as good or great?

The 2024 speakers are just as impressive. Check out this page to see our keynote and featured speakers. More will be added soon. 

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Michael Bonner
Keynote Speaker

Michael Bonner

Michael Bonner is a renowned leader, innovator and performance booster, who is a trailblazer in leadership development and organizational culture. He is a dynamic keynote speaker as seen on The Ellen Show, NBC Nightly News, and Time for Kids. He is the CEO of Bonnerville, a business that promotes the value of self-care, and a highly respected team member at the famed Ron Clark Academy.

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Shannon Buerk
Keynote Speaker

Adam Welcome

Shannon Buerk has emerged as an industry thought leader of organizational culture, helping educators to utilize the tools of performance-based professional coaching and intentional design to elevate the performance of public school districts nationwide. Passionate about equity of the learner experience, Shannon believes that neighborhood schools are the heart of a free, thriving society, and she is committed to ensuring that they are the first choice for all families.

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Robert Jackson
Special Friday Session Speaker

Robert Jackson, Robert Jackson Motivates

For every problem, there is a solution is Mr. Jackson’s motto.  He began his teaching career 27 years ago in Indianapolis Public Schools with a No More Excuses teaching approach with all of his students after being cut from the NFL Minnesota Vikings. He set high expectations for his students and expected them to do well by teaching and coaching them how to use their circumstances as steppingstones into their futures. Those same students went from low performing to successful pastors, lawyers, school administrators, teachers, pharmaceutical sales reps, business owners, pro athletes, entertainers and more.

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Baruti Kafele
Special Friday Session Speaker

Baruti Kafele

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader.

As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year and New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist.

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Marck Abraham

Marck AbrahamMarck Abraham is the founder and CEO of MEA Consultants, LLC, a fast-growing consultancy he designed to help poorly performing schools and organizations increase achievement for all students, especially young men of color.

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Craig J. Boykin

Craig Boykin

Craig J. Boykin has made a name for himself speaking nationally with his unapologetically REAL approach to systemic poverty and trauma. Craig doesn’t mind speaking the hard truth. He is a seven-time author and decorated army veteran. Craig’s self-made success comes from his hustle, his grit and his relentless desire to never give up.

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Nicole Cobb

Nicole Cobb

Dr. Nicole Cobb is a professor in the College of Education at Vanderbilt University.  Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, she served as Executive Director of School Counseling for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.  She has worked in education for 25 years as a teacher, school counselor and administrator.  Her research and field-facing work examines how schools structure student support systems including MTSS, SEL, restorative practices, and small-learning community frameworks.

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Steph Jensen

Steph Jensen

Steph Jensen joined Boys Town in 2003 after holding positions such as middle school teacher, district reading specialist and school consultant.  In her 21 years with Boys Town, she has been overseeing the implementation of external training contracts nationally and internationally.  She has worked closely with organizations ranging from psychiatric hospitals to schools to parenting programs.  Steph applies her education knowledge and experience to work around the world. Steph is the author of four books addressing behavior and social skills.

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Bob Kucher and Alayna Cate

Bon Kucher and Alayna Cate

Bob Kucher, Chief Officer of Partnerships and Programs, and Alayna Cate, Director of Partnerships, represent PENCIL (Public Education Needs Community Involvement & Leadership), a Nashville non-profit linking community resources to Metro Nashville Public Schools. For the 2022-23 academic year, PENCIL leveraged the power of 700+ business partnerships which provided $7.3M in community investment to MNPS.

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Tommie Mabry

Tommie Mabry

Dr. Tommie Mabry is a renowned international speaker, nationally acclaimed educator and published author, authoring books like “A Dark Journey to a Light Future: A Memoir.”

His story of the trials, success and service has inspired millions around the world. News of Dr. Mabry’s achievements instantly went viral, breaking national headlines. Dr Mabry has appeared on USA Today, PBS Network, BET Soul and many more.