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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Marlena Gross-Taylor is the founder of #EduGladiators as well as a district EdLeader for Maury County Schools, Tennessee, with a proven track record of improving educational and operational performance through vision, strategic planning, leadership, and team building. A Nashville transplant originally from southern Louisiana, Marlena's educational experience spans several states allowing her to have served K-12 students in both rural and urban districts. She has been recognized as a middle school master teacher and innovative administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Because of her sound knowledge of both elementary and secondary education, Marlena has broad-based experience creating and implementing dynamic interactive programs to attain district goals while leveraging her flexibility, resourcefulness, and organizational and interpersonal skills to foster learning through a positive, encouraging environment.
Marlena's professional development expertise has garnered both state and national attention. She has also leveraged her past experience in corporate management to include corporate training and leadership coaching in her repertoire of consulting services focused on culture, engagement, and increased productivity. Marlena is a seasoned presenter keynoting conferences and delivering dynamic professional development sessions.
As a proud Louisiana State University alumni, she is committed to excellence and believes all students can achieve. Follow Marlena on Twitter @mgrosstaylor or visit her websites marlenagrosstaylor.com & edugladiators.com.
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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.
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Ruthie Smith Stevenson, Ph.D., is a professor and coordinator of the doctoral program in educational leadership K–12, at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. She is a member of the Mississippi Board of Examiners (NCATE), an AMLE Institutes for Middle Level Leadership faculty member, and president of the Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. She has been a junior high school teacher, assistant principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, executive director of middle school programs, and director of school improvement services for Mid South Middle Start. She has presented at AMLE, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas middle level conferences, and Fordham Principals' Institute. She was nominated in 2010 and 2011 by the School of Education as Distinguished Professor at Mississippi College.
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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.
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A native of rural North Carolina and a product of public education in four states, Dave Shepard brings experience, common sense, and practicality to any educational gathering. He has dealt with middle and high school students for all of his 40 years in education. His experience includes teaching, coaching, curriculum and program design, and administration. Since his retirement in 1999, he has devoted his time and energy to helping schools become more efficient and effective for all teachers and students.
Dave currently manages his own educational consulting firm, "The Middle Matters and More," in Lexington, Kentucky. He works actively with SREB, AMLE, KMSA, and many state departments of education.
Known primarily as a practitioner, he has presented at more than 40 state and national conferences. He has assisted school districts in 47 states and two foreign countries in developing and refining their educational programs by providing quality professional development and teacher in-services.
Dave has been recognized as Coach of The Year, Principal of The Year and most recently received his highest honor, The President's Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Kentucky Middle School Association.
He has authored or co-authored articles for the NAESP web page, NASSP's Principal Leadership publication, The Committee for Children, and the Virginia Journal of Education. He most recently co-authored a book with Sherrel Bergmann and Judy Brough for Eye on Education publishers about improving parental support in schools.
The programs Dave delivers are characterized by a high-energy format, a simple yet practical style, a down to earth sense of humor, and an easy-going manner. These elements make the programs both informative and digestible.
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Allen Seed teaches middle level education and curriculum courses at the University of Memphis. Prior to his work in higher education, he taught grades 4-8 for more than 18 years. He enjoys working with middle schools and is currently involved in implementing a new middle school licensure program that includes a year-long residency. He has presented and written extensively about middle school improvement including flexible block scheduling, collaboration, and experiential education. One of his lifelong goals is to make learning fun for middle school students and workshop participants.
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Juan Rodriguez from Framingham, Massachusetts had been a Principal of elementary and Middle schools in urban and suburban schools for 27 years. He has served as a member of AMLE's Leadership Institute Faculty since 2006. Juan was the Massachusetts Middle School Principal of the Year in 2005. His middle school had been designated a Spotlight School, a Compass School and the top performing middle school for ELL learners. Juan completed the National Institute of School Leadership program (NISL) and has been a mentor of principals. He has presented at national and state conferences on ELLs, Leadership, School Safety and middle level organization.
Juan was the Coordinator of the Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure program at Framingham State University. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Administrators Association Middle Level Committee and the Education Professional Standards Committee at FSU. Juan was recognized as a distinguished alumni and is currently serving as the Vice President of Framingham State's Alumni Board of Directors.
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Dr. Howard Ormond provides outstanding services to schools, school divisions, administrators, students, and parents about the effect of a positive learning environment and the role they play in making school a success for all students. He provides motivational insight about the importance of positive attitudes, behaviors, and communication with each other to help middle level teachers and staff grow so they can help students.
He is currently involved with the Effective School-wide Discipline Program in the state of Virginia and serves as a coach to administrators in the state. He has been a keynote and featured speaker at many conferences.
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Dr. Bobb Darnell is president of Achievement Strategies, Inc. and an advocate for high student achievement and daily professional growth. He served as director of staff support for more than 1,700 staff members in a northwest Illinois school district and taught for more than 25 years. Bobb has served on the board of trustees for the National and Illinois Staff Development Councils, Illinois International Branch of the Dyslexia Association, and has been a member of numerous national and state task forces and committees. He is the author of ASCD's 2002 action tool kit—A Guide for Instructional Leaders, and has written four staff development guides for Wavelength's award winning educational comedy videos. Bobb's work on the 21st Century Instructional Leader is featured in ASCD's 2010 PD Quick Kits.
Dr. Darnell is an internationally known speaker who has delivered keynote presentations and conducted workshops for educators at all grade levels. Bobb's high-energy workshops are filled with "edutainment" and practical ideas about Common Core State Standards, formative assessment, data-driven instruction, literacy improvement, and intervention strategies. He helps administrators and teacher leaders fine-tune their knowledge and skills for leading school improvement initiatives. Teachers and administrators can easily sense his enthusiasm for continuous improvement, job satisfaction, and lifelong learning. He is truly committed to helping teachers build high performance classrooms and develop responsible and self-directed students.
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