At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference San Antonio Featured Speakers

at risk students conference atlanta ron clark

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.

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.

Dr. Luis Cruz

Luis F. Cruz, PhD, is an advocate for helping English Language Learners succeed in school and in life. A former principal of Baldwin Park High School near Los Angeles, he has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle and high school levels, earning both Teacher of the Year and Administrator of the Year awards. He and the leadership team at Baldwin Park received California's prestigious Golden Bell Award for significantly closing the achievement gap between the general student population and students learning English as a second language. As a recipient of the Hispanic Border Leadership Institute's fellowship for doctoral studies, he earned a doctorate in institutional leadership and policy studies from the University of California Riverside. Dr. Cruz is co-author of Time for Change: 4 Essential Skills for Transformational School and District Leaders.

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. 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.

At-Risk & Struggling Students Conference New York Featured Speakers

Michael Bonner

Michael Bonner

Seen on The Ellen Show and NBC Nightly News, educator, speaker, and author Michael Bonner is an energizing voice in education. Michael has presented to more than 200 education conferences, school district meetings and leadership development audiences across the U.S. & Canada to share his "lessons learned" from teaching in a Title I school with children that experience high levels of trauma and adverse situations. Mr. Bonner's candid, enthusiastic seminars challenge listeners to create diverse, inclusive education plans "where students can see themselves within the lessons and assessments" as a means to increase student success rates. He empowers his audiences to build genuine relationships with their students because "you can't demand a withdrawal from someone you have never invested in." Administrators and educators alike leave Mr. Bonner's presence ready to make an impact that affects eternity. He is consistently seen as a visionary leader who strives to create a positive mindset among all of his students. His students come to class each day with diverse backgrounds, strengths, needs, and challenges. Therefore, he identifies strategies to ensure their growth socially, emotionally, academically, and psychologically. Due to his educational approach, students leave more hopeful, challenged, inspired, and forever a part of Bonnerville. Today, Mr. Bonner lives in Atlanta, Ga. where he is thrilled to teach fourth and sixth grade English at the famed Ron Clark Academy.

Dr. Shaun Woodly

Dr. Shaun Woodly has dedicated his professional career to education. He is a decorated K-12 teacher, University professor and author whose deep passion and research have allowed him great success as an educator and speaker. Dr. Woodly has received multiple honors including being named teacher of the year, receiving a district inspiration award, and several commendations of distinction for outstanding teaching and leadership. He is the architect behind the educator movement “Teach Hustle Inspire”, and has written the best-selling book MC Means Move the Class: How to Spark Engagement and Motivation in Urban and Culturally Diverse Schools.

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.

Dr. Luis Cruz

Luis F. Cruz, PhD, is an advocate for helping English Language Learners succeed in school and in life. A former principal of Baldwin Park High School near Los Angeles, he has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle and high school levels, earning both Teacher of the Year and Administrator of the Year awards. He and the leadership team at Baldwin Park received California's prestigious Golden Bell Award for significantly closing the achievement gap between the general student population and students learning English as a second language. As a recipient of the Hispanic Border Leadership Institute's fellowship for doctoral studies, he earned a doctorate in institutional leadership and policy studies from the University of California Riverside. Dr. Cruz is co-author of Time for Change: 4 Essential Skills for Transformational School and District Leaders.

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 Orlando Featured Speakers

flink

David Flink

David Flink is a social movement leader on the front lines of the learning rights movement. David was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD at a young age. In 1998 as a student at Brown University, David founded Eye to Eye. It has since become known as the only national organization run for and by people with learning and attention issues. David holds a master’s degree in dis/ability studies in education from Columbia University. His first book, Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities, was published by HarperCollins. He has served on national nonprofit boards including Swanee Hunt Alternatives Foundation, Generation Citizen, CAST, and the New Profit Reimagine Learning Advisory Board. In 2015 David found himself celebrated in the pages of GQ as Man of the Year alongside fellow dyslexic, Mark Ruffalo. Most recently, David was named a Top 10 2021 CNN Hero.

Sanchez

Horacio Sanchez

Horacio Sanchez is the President and CEO of Resiliency Inc., an agency leader in helping schools improve school climate, instruction, and discipline. Horacio is recognized as one of the nation’s prominent experts on promoting student resiliency and applying brain science to improve school outcomes. The Maladaptive Council (Academy of Science) recognizes him as a leading authority on emotional disorders and resiliency. He is a highly sought-after speaker and has keynoted many national conferences. Horacio has been a teacher, administrator, clinician, mental health director, and consultant to the Department of Education in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and other states. His diverse education and background have helped him to merge research, science, and practice. Horacio sits on the True Health Initiative Council of Directors, a coalition of more than 250 world-renowned health experts, committed to educating on proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. He has authored several articles and books on the topics of resiliency, closing the achievement gap, and applying neuroscience to improve educational practices and outcomes. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Education Revolution published by Corwin Press, which applies brain science to improve instruction, behaviors, and school climate.

Jessica Sinarski

Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH is a clinical supervisor, consultant, author and educator, who is a thought leader in connecting neuroscience with practice in adult-child relationships. Jessica has trained thousands of parents and professionals across the country and maintains a private practice in Delaware, incorporating neurofeedback and attachment-based therapeutic models. Jessica founded BraveBrains to help others experience the hope and healing that is possible with a deeper understanding of the brain. She has created a framework, based on the concepts introduced in her children’s book, Riley the Brave, that is improving outcomes for those affected by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma. These principles and accompanying resources, rooted in the latest brain science, are empowering parents, teachers and community professionals all over the world. Jessica is a therapist and clinical supervisor at A Better Chance for Our Children in Delaware and serves on the board of directors at Cardinal McCloskey Community Services in New York. She is currently partnering with school districts and child welfare agencies across the country to better incorporate trauma-sensitive practices into their work. Compelled by her work with foster families in the South Bronx, Jessica became a Certified Adoption Therapist and founded an adoption therapy program at her local agency.

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

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.