At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference Atlanta Featured Speakers

Erin Gruwell

Erin Gruwell is a teacher, an education activist, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students. She maintains a steadfast commitment to the future of education, and her impact as a change agent runs deep. By fostering an educational philosophy that values and promotes diversity, Gruwell transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions, and ultimately re-chart their futures. With Gruwell’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers, and catalysts for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers” -in homage to civil rights activists The Freedom Riders – and published a book. Inspired by Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic (who lived through war-torn Sarajevo), Erin and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Through poignant student entries and Erin’s narrative text, the book records their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” In early 2007, Teach With Your Heart, Erin’s powerful memoir and call to arms was published. While Erin has been credited with giving her students a “second chance,” it was perhaps she who changed the most during her tenure at Wilson High School. She decided to channel her classroom experiences toward a broader cause, and today her impact as a teacher extends well beyond Room 203. Erin founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. Recently, Erin’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Proceeds from the sale of all books directly fund the Freedom Writers Foundation. Erin and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, Barbara Walters’ The View, and Good Morning America, to name a few. Erin and the Freedom Writers have earned them dozens of awards including the prestigious Spirit of Anne Frank Award. Erin is a graduate of the University of California Irvine, where she received the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials from California State University Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.

Steve bollar at risk students conference

"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.

Dr. Dave Schmittou

Dave Schmittou is a beach bum/educational pirate, an energetic speaker, and the author of Making Assessment Work, Bold Humility and It’s Like Riding a Bike. Dave is currently a professor of Educational Leadership at Central Michigan University, a former elementary and middle school principal, assistant principal, coach and teacher. He is the winner of the 2014 Michigan Administrator of the Year award and the 2018 College Educator of the Year award.

at risk struggling students conference best education conference Tommie mabry

Dr. Tommie Mabry

Tommie Mabry grew up in poverty in Jackson, Mississippi. With no one to serve as a model for mainstream success, Tommie turned to life in the streets. He was expelled from numerous schools and by age 11, he was serving time for burglary. Things started to change for Tommie when he joined an AAU basketball team that traveled around world. Although he was shot in the foot during his senior year in high school, he received a full basketball scholarship to Missouri State University. After completing his undergraduate studies at Tougaloo College, he taught school in the same district where he had been expelled numerous times. Subsequently he has served as Director of Enrollment at Tougaloo College before founding the company that bears his name. He earned his Ph.D. from Jackson State University and has published two books, A Dark Journey to a Light Future and If Tommie Can Do It, We Can Do It.

Larry Thompson

A recognized thought leader on supportive and non-exclusionary discipline practices, Larry Thompson, M.Ed., is often called upon to deliver keynote presentations for state and national education conferences because of his knowledge, humor and passion for assisting today’s students. He has helped thousands of educators and schools throughout North America break away from their traditional discipline models to a model that creates a responsible climate and responsible students. Larry has served in a wide variety of roles in education – from special education teacher to alternative and traditional high school principal. As creator of the Responsibility-Centered Discipline program, Larry understands that systems must be created that can be realistically implemented and sustained. He is the author of Give 'em Five (Elementary & Secondary) and Roadmap to Responsibility.

Tracie Berry-McGhee

Tracie Berry-McGhee founded the SistaKeeper Empowerment Center in St. Louis 12 years ago with the mission of inspiring and developing the mind, body and spirit of young women. SistaKeeper has since spread to other locations within the United States and several other countries. Tracie also continues to serve the community via her private counseling practice, which specializes in women and teen girl issues. She is often called upon to speak on topics such as conflict resolution, delaying with low self-esteem and bullying. Tracie is the author of SistaKeeper Poetry for the Soul, I’m a Keeper and OWN your NOW.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference Las Vegas Featured Speakers

Dr. Pedro Noguera

Dr. Pedro Noguera is currently Dean of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. A sociologist, he is an expert on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as demographic trends. He is the author, co-author or editor of 13 books, including his most recent publications: The Crisis of Connection: Roots, Consequence and Solutions and Race, Equity and Education: Sixty Years from Brown. He has published more than 250 research articles, book chapters and editorials in major newspapers. He serves on the boards of numerous national and local organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute, the National Equity Project and The Nation. Dr. Noguera appears as a regular commentator on CNN, MSNBC, NPR and other media outlets, and his editorials on educational issues have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News and Los Angeles Times. Prior to being appointed Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education, Dr. Noguera served as a Distinguished Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. He has also served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed chairs at NYU, Harvard and Cal Berkeley. Dr. Noguera was recently appointed to serve as a special advisor to the governor of New Mexico and advises the departments of education in Washington, Oregon and Nevada. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and the Phi Delta Kappa honor society and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds seven honorary doctorates from American universities.

Dr. Michael Gurian

Michael Gurian is a marriage and family counselor in private practice and the New York Times bestselling author of 32 books published in 22 languages – including Boys and Girls Learn Differently, The Minds of Boys, The Wonder of Girls and Saving Our Sons. As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations and public policy. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research, launches pilot programs, and trains professionals throughout the world. One of the world’s foremost gender experts, Michael travels extensively to provide keynotes and consulting. His engaging and presentation style, along with the use of case studies, visual aids such as PET and SPECT scans, and interactive demonstrations help audiences better understand the needs of both sexes and all genders, and most effectively work with children and adults from birth through adulthood. Michael has spoken for the United Nations on violence against women; provided information on boys’ and girls’ educational needs to the White House; and briefed members of Congress on the boy crisis in America.

Dr. Tiffany Anderson

Dr. Tiffany Anderson, a long-time Kansas resident, has been a public-school educator for over 26 years, with most of that time as superintendent. Dr. Anderson has been nationally recognized as one of Education Week’s 16 Leaders to Learn From. She has improved achievement and closed achievement gaps for students of poverty in rural, urban and suburban public-school districts. In 2016 she became the first African-American female superintendent of Topeka Public Schools, in Topeka, Kansas. In 2019, the Governor appointed Dr. Anderson to the Postsecondary Technical Authority as part of the Board of Regents and in 2020 Governor Kelly also appointed Dr. Anderson to co-chair the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. Since Dr. Anderson arrived in Topeka, the district has earned three national Magna Awards, one of which is for their work in equity. Dr. Anderson serves on numerous boards in Topeka which include the Topeka Community Foundation, Rotary and The Greater Topeka Partnership. Prior to Kansas, as superintendent, Dr. Anderson led Montgomery County School District in Virginia and Jennings School District to full accreditation resulting in recognition from the Governor in the respective states. Since leading Topeka, ACT participation has increased, numerous new programs and schools have opened, academic performance has increased and partnerships offering expanded exposure to careers and college courses have increased. Dr. Anderson is a fierce advocate for equity. There are several documentaries and articles that have been produced about Dr. Anderson's leadership, and the Washington Post referred to her as, “The Woman who made schools work for the poor.” Dr. Anderson earned her undergraduate degree, and later her doctorate, from Saint Louis University in 2001. Dr. Anderson received her second doctorate, the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Eden Theological Seminary, for her service to community and society and her Masters in Divinity will be completed in 2021 at Nazarene Theological Seminary. Dr. Anderson has served as adjunct faculty at various universities in Missouri and she is adjunct faculty for ASCD (Association for Schools and Curriculum Development). Some of the recognitions Dr. Anderson has received include the Lifetime Achievement Award for volunteerism from President Obama; the Salute to Excellence for Women awarded by the Urban League; the Stellar Performance Award by the St. Louis American, the 2020 Kansas Icon in Education by Ingram, and she was honored at the 2017 Oscars for the People with Purpose Award. Most recently, she was named Woman of the Year by USA Today.

Dr. Tom Maglisceau

Tom Maglisceau is the proud Superintendent of the Celina Independent School District in the Dallas Metroplex. He served previously as a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent in the Highland Park, Dallas and Rockwall districts in Texas. He earned his doctorate in Public Policy and Public Affairs after completing his research on social capital as it relates to family structure and childhood outcomes. Dr. Maglisceau continues his research in the areas of neuroplasticity of the adolescent brain, adverse childhood experiences and adolescence in the age of abundance for presentations in schools and conferences throughout Texas and across the nation. In addition to his work in public education, he serves as a Key Implementer and national professional developer for AVID. Dr. Maglisceau co-founded Together Texas, an organization dedicated to championing the “Better Together Mindset” in schools and communities.

Erin Glenn

Erin Glenn is a Secondary Schools Induction Specialist in Hamilton County Schools. As a National Board Certified Teacher, she was named the National Council for the Social Studies Outstanding Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2017. Serving as a Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program Content Developer, Ms. Glenn wrote statewide standards for eighth grade Social Studies, and was one of nine educators chosen to serve as a standardized assessment advisory member for the Tennessee Department of Education. During her career, she’s led professional learning for educators on a local, state, and national platform and was rated a “Top 25 TNCore Presenter” while serving as a TNCore Coach for the state department. Her professional affiliations include the Student Collaborative on Reforming Education where she served as a Tennessee Educator Fellow and founding board member for the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance (TECA) to support the recruitment and retention of educators of color. Her teaching experiences continue as an Adjunct Professor for The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she provides instruction for secondary pre-service teachers in their residency program.

Mike Paget at risk students

Mike Paget

Mike Paget currently works as a consultant to schools throughout North America to help them better teach challenging students. As a state consultant for students with severe emotional and behavioral problems, he worked with ODD, CD and other special needs students for more than 25 years. Mike is an innovator of effective approaches for working with extremely challenging students and has conducted seminars across the U.S. and Canada on creative techniques for managing classroom behavior, student aggression and crisis intervention. He is co-author of Aggressive and Violent Students and Defying the Defiance. His newest book is High on the Spectrum: Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism & Related Personalities.

Brad Chapin

Brad Chapin is a masters level psychologist and a recognized thought leader in the area of Self-Regulation. He is also Director of Clinical Services at a large regional medical center. The author of four books including Helping Young People Learn Self-Regulation, Brad is the creator of the Self-Regulation Training System. He is an international speaker, blogger and consultant on utilizing engaging, creative interventions from an evidence-based framework to help children succeed.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference San Antonio Featured Speakers

Salome Thomas-EL

Salome Thomas-EL, Ed.D. is an award-winning teacher and principal, and internationally recognized speaker and educator. Principal EL believes that resilient leaders make courageous decisions, take risks and challenge the status quo. He says transformational leaders shift mindsets and inspire others to effect change. Principal EL shares how to change school culture and foster positive school climate so teachers and leaders can focus on the protective processes that build resilience in students. Principal EL is currently a K-8 school leader in Delaware and speaks to groups around the world. He has addressed more than 100,000 educators, students and parents in North America, Nigeria, Trinidad, England, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. and frequently appears on The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, and NPR radio. He was honored as an “Inspiring American Icon” by Reader’s Digest. Principal EL is the author of four books including the best-sellers I Choose to Stay and The Immortality of Influence.

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.

robert Jackson at risk students conference

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.

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.

Steve bollar at risk students conference

"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.

Ernesto Mejia

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