Keynote Address: “Creating a Culture of Thinking Right From the
Start: 10 Things to Say Every Day to Your Students … and Why They
Ron Ritchhart is a world-renowned educator, researcher and
author. For over 25 years, Ritchhart served as a Senior Research
Associate and Principal Investigator at Project Zero at the
Harvard Graduate School of Education where his research focused
on understanding how to develop, nurture and sustain thoughtful
learning environments for both students and teachers. Ritchhart’s
interest in creating cultures of
thinking has led him to conduct research in such
areas as intellectual character, mindfulness, thinking
dispositions, teaching for understanding, creativity in
teaching, how teachers’ beliefs and values shape their practice,
and the development of communities of practice. He believes that
teaching is a complex art and science that must be understood in
context. Consequently, a strong theme of learning from best
practice runs throughout all of Ritchhart’s research and writing.
Keynote Panel: “Cultivating An Explorer’s Mindset Through Storytelling”
Join us for a Keynote Panel of National Geographic Explorers! Learn about their experiences working in their respective fields to illuminate and protect the wonders of our world while inspiring the next generation of change-makers.
Moderated by lifelong educator Fay Gore, senior director of Strategic Partnerships and Grants at the National Geographic Society, this lively panel will explore three questions:
What does it mean to have an Explorer’s Mindset?
How can we help students develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge of a National Geographic Explorer?
How can we cultivate this Explorer’s Mindset through the power of storytelling?
Fay Gore — life-long educator, former classroom teacher and education consultant — currently leads strategic partnerships and grants work for National Geographic Society’s Education Division. In this capacity, she works to transform the teaching and learning experience by introducing educators and learners to free National Geographic resources experiences and Explorers. She also helps lay the foundation for the next generation of National Geographic Explorers.
This session is proudly sponsored by the National Geographic Society, a global nonprofit organization committed to using the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. They invest in a diverse global community of Explorers who investigate, test hypotheses, innovate, stretch their creativity and push the boundaries of traditional thinking in ways that fundamentally change our world. Through the lens of education, they work to inspire educators, youth and future Explorers by providing resources and experiences that enable them to learn about, care for and protect our planet.
Visit the National Geographic Booth
National Geographic is transforming the learning experience for youth and the educators who reach them with resources that help students think and act like Explorers. Visit the National Geographic Society booth (#s 204-210) in Education Marketplace in the Grapevine Ballroom to discover how you can invite National Geographic Explorers into your classroom for a virtual video call, browse our free resources and more! Dive into digital storytelling by enrolling in a Storytelling for Impact course — free online professional development for students and educators! Then journey with us to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to discover Into the Depths, a new six-part podcast series that explores the complex history of the global slave trade.
Keynote Address: “Just One Educator Can Completely Alter the
Trajectory of a Child”
A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for more than 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 was a finalist for New Jersey State
Teacher of the Year and recipient of the New Jersey Education
Association Award of Excellence.
Marck 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
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 book, What Success Looks Like: Increasing High School
Graduation Rates Among Males of Color, provides school
leaders with practical steps to increase student performance for
one of the country’s most marginalized student groups. Abraham
has also published several articles in the National Association
of Secondary School Principals magazine.
Educational consultant and author Craig Boykin is known as one of
the top minds on systemic poverty and trauma in America. A
seven-time author and former decorated Army veteran, Boykin’s
self-made success comes from his hustle, his grit and his
relentless desire to never give up.
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.
Irene Hasenberg Butter is a
well-known peace activist, Holocaust survivor and Professor
Emerita of Public Health at the University of Michigan. Butter
and Anne Frank lived in the same neighborhood in Amsterdam and
had an encounter in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp shortly
before Anne died.
Butter is a frequent and inspirational speaker about her
experience during World War II, stressing the importance of
“Never A Bystander” and that “One Person Can Make A Difference.”
Kristy Custer, vice president of
Educational Innovation at High School Esports League, writes
turn-key esports curricula that schools can use to teach students
essential STEM, leadership and college and career readiness
As a public school educator for over 24 years, Custer served for
12 years as an administrator for at-risk students, leading her
school to two National School of Character awards as well as the
National Dropout Prevention Crystal Star Award.
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.
Phyllis Donatto is the founder and
CEO of FTH Dimension Solutions, LLC, an executive leadership
coaching and consulting firm specializing in empowerment
solutions for team and personal growth. Her life’s work is to
equip and empower leaders to lead by building cohesive teams
while cultivating a thriving culture that impacts and inspires
others to be their best selves.
Mona Elleithee, an award-winning National Board Certified Teacher leader and diversity trainer, is the founder and school equity strategist for Renewed Harmony, an organization committed to helping school leaders concerned with student disparities, school climate and teacher attrition learn how to retain, empower and revitalize their teachers by confidently facilitating the teacher-led implementation of equitable strategies.
Allison Krache Giddens worked for
small business manufacturer Win-Tech, an aerospace precision
machine shop, for 14 years before buying the company with her
business partner, John Hudson, in 2020. She now leads as
President for business operations.
In April 2020, Giddens founded and hosted the first Advanced
Manufacturing Virtual Internship, created as a response to the
pandemic and the inability to bring students on-site. In January
2021, she partnered with Parallel, Inc., and industry colleagues
to bring AMVI to the neurodiverse community.
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.
Mary Hemphill, director of the North Carolina Department of
Public Instruction’s Academic Standards Division, was the state’s
first 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 and leadership.
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.
Douglas Major began his career as
an agriculture education student in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Through
his membership in FFA, Major 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, Major taught for two years at Anadarko High
School. In 1987, Major had the opportunity to join the 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 Superintendent/CEO.
Hans Meeder, co-founder and
President of the National Center for College and Career
Transitions (NC3T), an organization that provides coaching and
technical assistance for schools and communities involved in
launching a college and career pathways system. NC3T also shares
the urgency and benefit of the career pathways model and develops
the capacity of local leaders to take action on a pathways system
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
LaQuanta M. Nelson has served in
education as a mentor, motivational speaker, teacher, assistant
principal and principal over the last 17 years. She currently
serves as Principal of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point,
Mississippi. Nelson believes in empowering scholars and all
educators on their journey to greatness.
Michael Russell, vice president of
Curriculum & Esports Integration at High School Esports League,
created the first for-credit gaming course in the nation.
Building on the success of that first course, he and co-author
Kristy Custer wrote the
Gaming Concepts course that is now being used across the
U.S. and in several countries around the world.
Russell and Custer saw Gaming Concepts as a way to take
something that students loved and turn it into an educational
opportunity that would motivate and engage both high-level
achievers and apathetic learners.
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.
Meaghan Timko is the founder of
Parallel, an international consulting agency that focuses on
strategic transition planning and neurodiverse workforce
development. Timko is an innovator who works directly with
families, schools, communities and businesses to build
sustainable solutions that address the complex societal problem
of neurodiverse unemployment.
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.