Kim Bearden is the cofounder, executive director
and language arts teacher at the highly acclaimed Ron Clark
Academy, an innovative middle school and educator-training
facility in Atlanta. More than 80,000 educators from around the
world have visited Kim’s classroom and have attended her
workshops to learn better ways to engage students, promote
academic rigor and create a climate and culture that promote
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, Nixon discusses the importance of technical education, technology trends, encouraging girls to pursue STEM, and generational changes caused by technology and education.
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.
Robert Balfanz is a research professor at the Center for the
Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University School
of Education, where he is co-director of the Talent Development
Secondary reform model and director of the Everyone Graduates
Balfanz published widely on secondary school reform, high school
dropouts, early warning systems, chronic absenteeism, school
climate and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools.
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.
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.
Self-described “Brand Sherpa” and leader of DK Brand Strategy, Pam Daly was
instrumental to the success of the Academies of Nashville
initiative, which now enjoys world-wide recognition. Based on
Daly’s work, Nashville was designated a “Best in Practice”
example of urban school reform branding and marketing by the U.S.
Department of Education.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Along with her administrative role as co-founder of Hope 4 The
Wounded, LLC, Dardi Hendershott is a certified
health and wellness coach, a trained and formerly licensed
therapeutic foster/adoptive parent, and an advocate for
professionals working with children of trauma.
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.
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
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.
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.
Christian Moore is an internationally-renowned speaker, licensed
clinical social worker and advocate for youth. He is also the
author of The Resilience Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning
Adversity into Action.
Moore found his passion in social work and created the WhyTry
Program, a social-emotional learning program that delivers tools
and training to help educators change students from unmotivated
to engaged, from failing to graduates, and from hopeless to
resilient. WhyTry has been implemented in over 25,000
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.
Founded in 2012, The Institute for Performance Improvement works
in collaboration with the International Society for
Performance Improvement to train and certify performance
improvement facilitators from across all sectors to neutrally
guide collaborative coalitions for performance improvement and
Aaryn Schmuhl is Vice President for Program Development &
Innovation at GLISI (the Georgia Leadership Institute for School
Schmuhl began his career teaching and coaching middle school in
Henry County Schools in McDonough, Georgia. He helped open Luella
Elementary School in 2005 as its assistant principal and served
as principal of Luella Middle School from 2005-2011. He accepted
the position of Assistant Superintendent for Learning and
Leadership Services in Henry County in 2011 and led the
district’s 2020 Vision for Personalized Learning in 50 schools.
The district reorganized in 2017 and he stepped into the role of
Chief Leadership Officer.
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.
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 self-taught programmer, he started college as a computer
science major but quickly got bored. Much to his parent’s
chagrin, he changed his major to psychology to pursue a
fascination with the human mind and understand why he couldn’t
retain information like his peers. This unlocked his perspective
on combining the logic of programming with the chaotic nature of
After graduating, Nai created KP Education Systems with the dream
of combining his passion for video gaming with education. He
created the world’s first fully multimedia-driven Culinary Arts
curriculum and started applying gamification themes to his
products. Later, he invented a formative mastery assessment
system that allows students to “level up” their knowledge.
Students loved it.
Today Nai is working on a new project to help at-risk youth use
all the tricks of gamification without creating a video game.
This new methodology gets students to practice math in an
unprecedented volume, making it feel like Fortnite. He hopes that
the Math Fluency Project
will help kids who are disinterested in school build their
confidence, lift their emotional spirits and bring them into “the
Zone of Proximal Development.”
Frederick Yeakey is Interim President at 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.