At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference

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Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, LTC (ret)​

Born and raised in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch had to overcome poverty, discrimination and a legacy of illiteracy. Although she grew up without material wealth, Consuelo was taught by her immigrant parents that she was rich in culture, tradition, values and faith. After graduating from college, she entered the U.S. Army as an officer and served for two decades – breaking barriers to become the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in Combat Support. Lieutenant Colonel Castillo Kickbusch was selected out of 26,000 candidates to assume a command post, which would have put her on track for the rank of general. She respectfully declined and retired – to fulfill her mother’s dying wish that she return to her roots. In realizing that dream, she founded Educational Achievement Services with the mission of preparing tomorrow’s leaders. Consuelo has been interviewed in Soledad O’Brian’s Living Latino in America and featured in HBO’s The Latino List.

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Robert Jackson

Robert Jackson is the author of The No More Excuses Curriculum featuring No More Excuses: Black Men Stand Up!, No More Excuses: The Workbook, No More Excuses: Solutions to Educating  Black and Latino Males and No More Excuses: Put a Stop to Bullying. A national speaker and consultant, Robert works to reverse the dropout rates of black and Latino males and to create positive change in school systems across the country and abroad. His goal is to bridge the gap between teachers, parents, administrators and students. Among his awards, Robert was awarded the Key to the City of Miami after his keynote address at the 5000 Role Models Scholarship Program where 45 black and Latino males received both a laptop computer and a full scholarship to any Florida university.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference

Kim Johancen

Kim Johancen, M.A., LPC is a Denver-based author and therapist who has developed specialties that include working with people at risk of suicide, survivors of suicide loss, and individuals struggling with self-injury. She has worked extensively with both adolescent and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her ability to work with people who have experienced grief and loss extends throughout her career and she remains committed to helping people resolve their post trauma symptoms along with the events that fuel them. Over the last several years she has developed a passion for working with families through divorce. She utilizes a variety of approaches including Internal Family Systems, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Kim is at heart a strengths-based therapist. She has presented her work on self-injury at Harvard University and her work with suicidal patients at Stony Brook University in New York. She recently co-authored a book for educators entitled Traumatized Students: School-Based Interventions for Reaching Under the Surface.

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"Stand Tall Steve" Bollar

Steve Bollar, aka “Stand Tall Steve” is an educational thought leader and master motivator. He works with forward-thinking organizations to generate new ideas, improve climate/culture and maximize leadership skills. His quick wit, experience, and in-depth knowledge make him an in-demand speaker. Steve has experienced first-hand the importance of a healthy school culture as teacher, principal and superintendent. He is a member of the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame and was named one of South Jersey’s Top 20 Men of the Year. Steve is the author of Ideas, Ideas, Ideas, which has helped schools throughout North America improve their culture.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference

Ernesto Mejia

Supportive Discipline Innovator, Creator of Responsibility-Centered Discipline Full Bio Coming Soon!

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference

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Dr. Christopher Emdin

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Columbia University, where he also serves as Director of the Science Education Program and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education. He is an alumni fellow at the Hutchins Center at Harvard and has served as STEAM Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and Minorities in Energy Ambassador for the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Emdin is a social critic, public intellectual and science advocate whose commentary on issues of race, culture, inequality and education have appeared in dozens of influential periodicals including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. A much sought-after speaker, he is the creator of the #HipHopEd movement, and an advisor to numerous international organizations and school districts. He is the author of Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation and The New York Times bestseller For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll Too.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference

Heather Forbes

Heather T. Forbes, MSW, LCSW, is the founder of the Beyond Consequences Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Heather has worked in the field of trauma and healing since 1999. She is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, the impact of trauma on the developing child, adoptive motherhood, and self-development. Her books include the international bestseller Help for Billy, The Trauma-Informed School, Beyond Consequences, Logic or Control and Hand in Hand. Coming from a family of educators, Heather has a heart for children in the classroom and for finding ways to teach the child who seems "unteachable." Her signature style is to bridge the gap between scientific research and real-life application to equip parents, educators and therapists with practical and effective tools. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct mothering experience of her two adopted children.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference

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Ron Clark

Known to many as "America's Educator," Ron Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times Bestselling author, the subject of a television movie and the founder of The Ron Clark Academy. Ron is regularly featured on network and cable television and was dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as her first "Phenomenal Man." Early in his career, Ron pioneered innovative projects in rural North Carolina working with minority students in a low wealth area. His highly effective programs garnered national attention and led to a White House invitation. After watching a television piece chronicling low test scores and the lack of teachers in inner-city New York, Ron packed his car and moved to Harlem. Ron prepared himself by visiting the home of each student before the first day of school. He involved his students in projects in the city and state, and his "low achievers" soon began to excel; by the end of the year, their scores were higher than the "gifted" classes in his district. In 2003, Ron Clark released the New York Times Bestseller, The Essential 55, which includes his 55 expectations of students – as well as all individuals – young and old. Obviously, Ron Clark did not stop there. In 2006, Ron Clark founded The Ron Clark Academy, an inner-city school serving students from across metro Atlanta. The privately funded institution is unique for its innovative teaching methods and curriculum based on worldwide travel. Each year the students apply their in-class lessons to international adventures. By the time of graduation, each child will have visited six of the seven continents. Almost 50,000 educators, teachers and administrators from around the world have visited the Academy to observe the innovative and "outside-the-box" methods for achieving student success. In 2011, Ron Clark released The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck--101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers. This New York Times Bestseller brought to light 101 innovative and classroom-tested ways for improving America's schools and leading children to greatness in his most recent release, Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life.

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Baruti Kafele

One of the most sought-after education speakers in America, Baruti Kafele is impacting America’s schools! An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is a leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined “The Attitude Gap.” As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, including being recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s best high schools. A prolific writer, he is the author of eight books which include his national bestsellers Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life, The Principal 50 and The Teacher 50. His 9th book, Is Your School Better BECAUSE You Lead It? is forthcoming. Principal Kafele is the recipient of more than 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, and induction into the East Orange, NJ Hall of Fame.