One of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in America, Rick brings innovation, energy, validity, and high standards to his presentations and his instructional practice, which includes 30 years teaching math, science, English, physical education, health, and history, and coaching teachers. Rick's work has been reported in numerous media, including ABC's Good Morning America, Hardball with Chris Matthews, National Geographic, and Good Housekeeping magazines, What Matters Most: Teaching for the 21st Century, and The Washington Post.
With his substantive presentations, sense of humor, and unconventional approaches, he's been asked to present to teachers and administrators in all 50 states, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Australia, the Middle East, and at the White House. He is a seasoned veteran of many webcasts, and he is Disney's American Teacher Awards 1996 Outstanding English Teacher of the Nation. He won the 2008 James P. Garvin award from the New England League of Middle Schools for Teaching Excellence, Service, and Leadership, and he has been a consultant for National Public Radio, USA Today, Court TV, and the Smithsonian Institution's Natural Partners Program and their search for the Giant Squid.
He lives in Herndon, Virginia with his wife and two children, one in high school, one in college, where he is currently working on his first young adult fiction novel.
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Erik M. Francis, M.Ed., M.S. is an author, educator, and speaker who specializes in teaching and learning that promotes cognitive rigor and postsecondary (college and career) readiness. He is the author of Now THAT'S a Good Question! How to Promote Cognitive Rigor Through Classroom Questioning (ASCD). He is also the owner of Maverik Education LLC, providing academic professional development and consultation to K-12 schools, colleges, and universities on how to develop rigorous teaching learning environments and deliver inquiry-driven educational experiences that engage and encourage students to demonstrate higher order thinking and communicate depth of knowledge.
Erik has been an educator for more than 20 years, working as a middle and high school teacher, a site administrator, and an education program specialist in the Title I Unit and Office of English Language Acquisition Service in the Arizona Department of Education. He received his Master in Education Leadership degree from Northern Arizona University and his Master of Science degree in Film and Television Production and Management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Communication and English from the University at Albany. Erik lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with his wife and two daughters.
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Dru Tomlin is the principal of Heritage Middle School in Westerville, Ohio and is proud and passionate to serve his students, staff, and families every day. Dru was formerly the director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education, and in that role, demonstrated a commitment to educational improvement and a passion for teaching, learning, and middle school. He began his work in the middle grades as a young adolescent at Lynnhaven Junior High School in Virginia Beach, trying to fit in with other kids while also playing tuba in the marching and concert bands. In 1994, Dru began his formal career in education as an English teacher at Harrisonburg High School in Virginia and then, in 1998, he discovered the joys of middle school in Georgia as a language arts, reading, and social studies teacher and then as a school administrator. He has also been a school system staff development trainer and a faculty member for AMLE's Leadership Institute, believing firmly in the power of professional learning. For his work, Dru has been recognized as a school system Teacher of the Year and as Georgia's Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. He holds a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning and a M.S. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University, a B.A. in English/Secondary Education from James Madison University, and a Certificate of Perfect Attendance from Lynnhaven Junior High School.
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Katie Powell began teaching in 2005, first in special education and later in Title 1. This focus on providing interventions for struggling students led to the development of strategies that leverage curiosity and fun to engage students while driving learning deeper. Now also serving as an instructional coach, Katie has fine-tuned these strategies to be easily deployable in virtually any instructional setting without sacrificing teachers' already-limited time or money. In addition to presenting at local conferences in her home state of Indiana, Katie has presented her popular Worksheet Busters and Taming the Grading sessions for AMLE. Katie believes in respecting the expertise of teachers and shares her creative process so they can address engagement and depth in their classrooms within their own teaching styles and content. Let's reclaim the wonder of learning!
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Mandy Stalets is an author, presenter, and Middle School math teacher at Thomas Metcalf Laboratory School in Normal, IL. In 2010, Mandy helped to introduce standards-based learning and grading to her K–8 school through a one-year trial in her classroom. The success of the trial led to a school wide initiative the following year and the elimination of letter grades three years later. Through her consulting work, Mandy has worked with teachers, undergraduate students, and school districts to improve assessment and grading practices to maximize communication and student success. She is passionate not only about healthy assessment and grading practices, but changing the culture of the classroom from one of compliance to one of rich learning.
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Rick Herrig is a tireless advocate for quality educational practices. An educator for more than 33 years, Rick has served education as a teacher, principal, college adjunct instructor, and now as an educational consultant. His educational career includes both US and international experience. He has served as the Executive Director for the Iowa Association for Middle Level Education (IAMLE) and as North Region Trustee (2 terms) for the National Middle School Association and has spoken at numerous state, regional, provincial, and national conferences and forums. A certified national trainer with the Center for Teacher Effectiveness, he has led workshops and/or served as a school consultant in 14 US states, Canada, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). His message about the importance of helping each student reach academic success through the development of effective teaching practices has transformed schools.
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Patti Kinney began her career as an elementary music specialist and then taught 5th and 6th grade in an elementary school. She later taught 6th and 7th grade at the middle level when her district made the transition to middle school in the mid-80s. During this time she was also involved in staff development work for the district, taught a variety of instructional and management skills classes, and took a one-year sabbatical leave to teach in the education department of Southern Oregon University. As an assistant principal and later principal of Talent Middle School, she was highly involved in the process to transform this former 7-8 junior high school into a 6-8 middle school and in 2000, the school was recognized as one of “100 highly successful middle schools” in a national research study sponsored by NASSP.
Mrs. Kinney is a past president of the Association for Middle Level Education and of the Oregon Middle Level Association. In 2007, she was awarded the Oregon Middle Level Association’s first Distinguished Service Award that was also named in her honor. From 2007-2014, she served as Associate Director, Middle Level Services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) located in Virginia. In 1996, she was named the Oregon Assistant Principal of the Year and in 2003, she was selected as the Met-Life/NASSP National Middle Level Principal of the Year.
Patti has spoken, presented, and consulted on middle level issues at national and international level. She also has authored Voices of Experience: Perspectives from Middle Level Leaders (AMLE/NASSP); Fostering Student Accountability through Student-led Conferences (AMLE/NASSP); The What, Why, and How of Student-Led Conferences (AMLE); and regularly wrote for NASSP’s Principal Leadership magazine. She earned her B.A. in elementary education and M.A. in outdoor education from Southern Oregon University and her administrative license from the University of Oregon.
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Janet Vernon has served middle schools, teachers and students in many ways. In her various roles, including as an school principal, Janet has mentored other school leaders, supervised and supported faculty and staff, provided a climate and culture for school improvement, developed rigorous performance goals, and trained staff to use student achievement data to increase student success and create standards-based classrooms. She has also been an Executive Director of Secondary Schools, an Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, and has served AMLE as a board member as well as the board president.
Listen to a podcast interview of Janet Vernon:
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After earning degrees from Haverford College and the University of Chicago, Mr. Springer taught for 35 years at Radnor Middle School in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Early in his career, Mr. Springer developed and taught interdisciplinary humanities, creative writing, and American studies courses. He also co-directed the school’s gifted program for six years before creating, along with co-teacher Ed Silcox, the award-winning Watershed Program, which he taught for 12 years. In 1998, Mr. Springer pushed his student-centered philosophy even further by creating the Soundings Program, an integrative and democratic curriculum for eighth graders. He implemented this curriculum until retiring from the classroom in 2010.
Mr. Springer now serves as a consultant for schools across the United States and around the world. His audiences include private and international schools, as well as public school districts in the US, and he has presented workshops at annual conferences such as AMLE, ELMLE, and SRB. In addition, Mr. Springer has served as a faculty member with several professional development institutes, including five years with AMLE's Institutes for Middle Level Leadership, and 15 years with the Maine Association of Middle Level Educators' MLEI. In addition to other honors, Mr. Springer received AMLE's first Distinguished Educator Award in 2004.
Listen to a podcast interview of Judith Baenen:
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Debbie Silver is truly a "teacher's teacher"! She is an award-winning educator with 30 years experience as a classroom teacher, staff development instructor, and university professor. Her numerous recognitions include being named the 1990 Louisiana State Teacher of the Year and the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus from the College of Education at Louisiana Tech University.
Debbie is one of the most popular keynoters and in-service presenters in the United States. Audiences everywhere respond to Debbie's use of humor and sensitivity to remind them how important teachers are in the lives of children. Her insights into student and teacher behavior are extraordinary. Through research-based theory, poignant stories, and hilarious characterizations she connects with the souls of all who are involved in education.
Dr. Silver has been an invited author for several educational journals and has given keynotes at state, national, and international conferences in 49 states, throughout Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico, and Asia. She has been a featured teacher for the PBS OnLine Teacher Chat and several online teacher courses.
Listen to a podcast interview of Debbie Silver:
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