Rick Wormeli

Rick Wormeli

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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Vernita Mayfield

Vernita Mayfield

Dr. Vernita Mayfield is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on research proven instructional and leadership practices, culturally responsive practices, and innovative school improvement. Prior to founding her consulting firm, Leadervation Learning, Vernita served as a classroom teacher, middle and high school principal, an executive director of schools and successfully managed school improvement grant programs in two state education agencies. While Vernita’s research and experience is grounded in increasing academic success for culturally and linguistically diverse students, she is equally adept in helping schools design innovative approaches for addressing the diverse needs of all students. As the former host of an internet radio program, Vernita interviewed trailblazing people and organizations on the forefront of innovation. The lessons learned from CEO’s of innovative organizations helped her design a research based framework of innovation for schools. Vernita brings a high level of energy, wit, and active participant engagement to her delivery of research proven strategies and has presented at numerous national and international conferences as a keynote and featured speaker.

Vernita holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, an Ed.S. in Educational Administration, and a MBA in Business Administration.

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Ruby Payne

Ruby Payne


  • Professional educator since 1972—from high school teacher, principal, and central office administrator to educational consultant
  • Provides training in how to work effectively with individuals from all economic classes
  • Has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals since 1996
  • Has certified more than 7,000 trainers in A Framework for Understanding Poverty (see book of same name below)
  • Mission: to positively impact the education and lives of individuals in poverty throughout the world
  • Ph.D., educational leadership and policy studies, Loyola University, IL; M.A., English literature, Western Michigan University; B.A., Goshen College, IN


  • Expert on poverty and mindsets of economic classes
  • Accessible, engaging style using humor, stories, and mental models
  • Message relevant to business leaders, educators, and community and social service workers
  • Helps find creative and practical solutions to challenges of working across socioeconomic lines and building sustainable communities
  • Speaks extensively, with engagements including Australia Conference on Thinking and Learning; European League for Middle School Education; United Kingdom Department for Children, Families, and Schools; China and U.S. Conference on Educational Leadership; PBS; Harvard's Summer Institute for Principals; SCERT (Delhi, India); Tasmania Teacher Training; New Zealand; Slovakia; School Leadership Center of Trinidad and Tobago; National Conference of State Legislatures (U.S.); Annual Conference of Southwest Foundations; New York Superintendents Association; and Chief Officers of State School Departments (U.S.)


  • A Framework for Understanding Poverty, foundational work, 1996; 5th revised edition, 2013
    • Has sold more than 1.5 million copies
    • Teaches the hidden rules and mindsets of economic class
    • Teaches specific, resource-based strategies for overcoming poverty's obstacles
  • From Understanding Poverty to Developing Human Capacity, 2012
  • School Improvement: 9 Systemic Processes to Raise Achievement (co-author), 2010
  • Research-Based Strategies: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Under-Resourced Students, 2009
    • Two handy charts provide easy access to more than 50 research-based strategies
  • Under-Resourced Learners: 8 Strategies to Boost Student Achievement, 2008
    • Assesses student resources to determine best strategies and interventions
    • More proven, practical strategies that can be used immediately
  • Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities (co-author), 2001, 2006
    • Has led to a model for building sustainable communities
  • Has writtten or co-authored more than a dozen books surrounding issues of poverty in areas of education, social services, business, communities, churches, relationships, and leadership

Business Owner

  • Founded aha! Process, Inc. (formerly RFT Publishing) in 1995; current CEO
  • Employs 25 full- or part-time staff; has a team of 50 consultant presenters
  • Has published more than 125 books and video/DVD products; offers 45 workshops

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Janet Vernon

Janet Vernon

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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Ruthie Smith Stevenson

Ruthie Smith Stevenson

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.

Listen to a podcast interview of Ruthie Smith Stevenson:

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Debbie Silver

Debbie Silver

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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Juan Rodriguez

Juan Rodriguez

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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Sharon Faber

Sharon Faber

Sharon Faber has more than 40 years of experience as a teacher, building and district administrator, university professor, consultant, and author. She is the author of How to Teach Reading When You’re Not a Reading Teacher, How to Teach Academic Vocabulary, three staff development guides on literacy and leadership, reading, and discipline with the brain in mind, and joint author of Interactive Learning.

An internationally known speaker, Faber has delivered keynote presentations and conducted workshops for educators at all grade levels throughout the United States and Canada. She has presented at ASCD conferences and conferences of many other national organizations. She is noted for her high energy, sense of humor, and the practicality of her presentations.

Faber is president of Faber Consulting and a member of the AMLE and ASCD faculties. She received a bachelor's degree in English and Education from Midwestern State University, a master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Virginia.

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Bobb Darnell

Bobb Darnell

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.

Listen to a podcast interview of Bobb Darnell:

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Judith Conk

Judith Conk

Judith Conk is an educator who has taught and administered at all levels of education from preschool to graduate school in a career that spans almost 40 years. Working in both urban and suburban settings, the school systems she has led as a principal, assistant superintendent, and for 16 years, superintendent, have won recognition for their outstanding educational programs that recognize the individual in each student. She presently heads her own educational consulting firm, Consulting for Results, with varied national and international partnerships spanning PreK-University level education and concentrating on leadership, teaching and learning, middle grades, and the arts. She also serves as an adjunct professor for University of Massachusetts - Amherst.

A frequently requested speaker, author, professional developer, and school coach, Mrs. Conk has spoken and written on a variety of topics. She has worked extensively with schools in the area of curriculum development for the 21st century. She served on the national selection committee to select the Disney Teacher of the Year. She was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Service Award for Educational Leadership from the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, following a similar award at the county level. Mrs. Conk also received a Governor’s Award in Arts Education as Outstanding Superintendent of the Year.

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