Speakers and Sessions

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Keynote Speakers

Elena Aguilar

Elena Aguilar

Elena Aguilar is a writer, leader, teacher, coach, and podcaster. She is the best-selling author of seven highly acclaimed books: The Art of Coaching, (2013) The Art of Coaching Teams (2016), Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators (2018), The Onward Workbook (2018), Coaching for Equity (2020), The Art of Coaching Workbook (2020) and The PD Book: 7 Habits that Transform Professional Development (2022). Elena has taught tens of thousands of folks how to have conversations that build a more just and equitable world. Elena can be heard demonstrating these conversations on the Bright Morning Podcast. She is the founder and president of Bright Morning Consulting, and lives in Oakland, CA, with her husband, son, and two cats.

General Session: How to Make Every Conversation Count
Every coaching conversation can be one that creates more joyful, resilient, and equitable places of learning. In this keynote, Elena will first demonstrate, and then guide you through three strategies you can immediately integrate into your conversations to create connection, expand perspective and understanding, and cultivate critical thinking.

Gerry Brooks

Gerry Brooks

Gerry Brooks has been an educator for 25 years, beginning as a third-grade teacher in Palm Bay, FL. He earned his master’s in administration and has been an elementary principal for 12 years. Originally using humorous videos to encourage his staff, Gerry has become a national encourager for teachers through social media and speaking events. He is a voice for teachers, but his passion is leading others to be responsible for their own personal climate and culture in the workplace. His book, “Go See the Principal,” outlines strategies for taking on this responsibility. Gerry and his wife, Kelly, have 3 adult children and live in Lexington, KY.

General Session: Personal Climate and Culture… It’s Up to You
Gerry uses his videos to develop a strategy for making the workplace a pleasant place where faculty, administrators, and support staff all maintain mutual respect, regardless of personal differences, resulting in more efficient and fulfilled workers.

Robyn Jackson

Robyn R. Jackson helps school administrators turn their schools and districts into success stories with the people and resources they already have. Driven by her conviction that every student deserves to be successful Dr. Jackson developed the Buildership® framework, an alternative to traditional leadership models that helps school administrators build schools and districts where 100% of students can succeed. She then founded Buildership® University to mentor school administrators in using this framework to achieve their 100% visions in their schools. Dr. Jackson is an award-winning author of 11 books including the international best seller Never Work Harder Than Your Students and her latest, Stop Leading. Start Building. She also hosts the School Leadership Reimagined podcast where she helps school administrators develop the mindset and skills they need to achieve success for every student they serve. 

General Session: You Cannot Achieve 100% Success With an 80% Culture
We all SAY we believe that every child can succeed but do we really? Does our staff? Do our students? Unfortunately, the answer is often no. Every year, we accept that some students won’t make it and we settle for “good enough.” But what is “good enough” doing to your staff’s capacity to take on more challenge and ownership of the work? What message is it sending to your students? And, what is it doing to your own motivation? The good news is that there is a better way. In this keynote presentation, discover how to build a 100% culture where every staff member develops the belief and capacity to help 100% of your students achieve success. 

Dr. Salome Thomas-EL

Dr. Salome Thomas-El

Dr. Salome Thomas-EL lives in Pennsylvania with his family and has been a teacher and principal since 1987. He is currently a K-8 principal in Wilmington, DE and received national acclaim as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School in Philadelphia, where his students have gone on to win world recognition as Eight-Time National Chess Champions. Principal EL is the author of the best-selling books, I Choose to Stay (Movie rights optioned by Disney Films), and The Immortality of Influence, which stresses the importance of leadership, mentoring, parenting and service to others. He is also the co-author of 3 new books, Passionate Leadership, Building a Winning Team, and Retention for a Change. Dr. EL speaks to groups around the country and frequently appears on C-SPAN, CNN, and NPR Radio. Principal EL has studied at Cambridge University in England, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and holds a doctorate in Education Leadership from Wilmington University in Delaware. He has received the Marcus A. Foster Award as the outstanding School District Administrator in Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished Martin Luther King Award. Reader’s Digest Magazine recognized Principal EL as an “Inspiring American Icon.” Dr. EL was recently featured on Good Morning America and appeared on the Oprah Radio Network.

General Session: Resilient and Passionate Leaders: In Challenging Times
“Every child deserves someone to be crazy about them.” This is the mantra of Dr. Salome Thomas-EL, award-winning teacher and principal, and internationally recognized educator. Principal EL believes that resilient leaders take risks, make courageous decisions, and challenge the status quo. During the most challenging times, they are able to bounce back from adversity to become supportive, innovative and transformational to ensure all students are exposed to engaging and joyful classrooms, and effective teaching. Empathetic, compassionate, and passionate leaders also shift mindsets and inspire others to effect change. In his thought-provoking presentation, Dr. EL will share how we can change school cultures and foster a positive school climate so school leaders can focus on the protective processes that build resilience in all of our students. In his keynote address, Principal EL brings a powerful combination of passion, caring, and leadership to craft a refreshing, common-sense roadmap for teachers and administrators to help kids achieve their dreams, no matter the odds.

Featured Lunch Speaker

Jimmy Casas

Jimmy Casas

Jimmy Casas has been an educator for over 30 years, serving twenty-two years as a school leader. Jimmy currently serves as a leadership coach for school and district leaders across the country. Jimmy was named the 2012 Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year and was selected as runner-up NASSP 2013 National Secondary Principal of the Year. In 2014, Jimmy was invited to the White House to speak on the Future Ready Schools pledge. Jimmy is the author of nine books, including the best-selling books Culturize, Live Your Excellence, and Handle with Care. Jimmy’s newest release, Recalibrate the Culture, is already a top-selling book on Amazon. Jimmy is also the owner of ConnectEDD Publishing company, where he aims to give back to the profession by supporting educators to become published authors.

General Session: Recalibrate the Culture
Do you leave work every night exhausted from putting out fires all day long? Are you frustrated because you find yourself dealing with the same issues time and time again? You are not alone. It is time to recalibrate. Recalibrate our why. Our work. Our values. Ourselves. Educators must explore their inner selves to understand the role we each play in how we can impact the climate and culture of an entire campus when we are strategic and aligned in our practices. The classroom, building, and district levels must see themselves as one and must be intentional in replicating their processes, protocols, and frameworks to recalibrate and bring about system-wide change and cultivate a healthier culture for all members of their school community.