Cheryl Mizerny

Cheryl Mizerny

Cheryl Mizerny is a veteran educator with more than 25 years of experience–most at the middle school level. She began her career in special education, became a teacher consultant and adjunct professor of educational psychology, and currently teaches sixth grade English in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Cheryl writes about student motivation and engagement at The Accidental English Teacher and about teaching middle school in her blog "It's Not Easy Being Tween" for MiddleWeb.

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Erik Francis

Erik Francis

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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Katie Powell

Katie Powell

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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Mark McLeod

Mark McLeod

Known for his dynamic and motivating presentations, Mark McLeod is a rare speaker who can speak to the heart of an educator. He knows what it is like to "be in the trenches." Recognized as one of Mississippi's top school administrators, Mark has shared his expertise at state and national conferences and conducted many workshops and keynotes for schools and districts throughout North America.

As a lifelong educator, his educational experience includes teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal. He was twice selected as Teacher of the Year for Lumberton Public School District. In 2002, he was selected as Covington County School District's Administrator of the Year and Mississippi's Region Four Administrator of the Year. He is currently a full-time motivational speaker, professional development instructor, and educational consultant.

His enthusiastic and encouraging presentations leave participants inspired to plant seeds of success. He currently resides in Purvis, Mississippi with his wife, Kelli, and a daughter, Erin.

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Rick Herrig

Rick Herrig

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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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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Tara Brown

Tara Brown

Tara Brown is an award-winning educator, coach, author, and international speaker. She holds a Masters degree in Administration and Supervision and is a nationally certified personal trainer. Her professional journey has taken her from rural Florida to gang territory in California and to one of the largest high schools in Tennessee with over 40 countries represented. She worked extensively with under-resourced students from hard core gang members to hard core rednecks. Her international engagements have included Dubai and Beirut, training both educators and students. Tara received the Pioneer Award and ‘Teacher of the Year’ Award in 2006 for her work in developing a groundbreaking leadership development program in Nashville, TN. Known as the ‘Connection Coach’, Tara strongly believes that forming powerful connections between students and staff is a major key to academic success. She also is known for her ability to connect with educators on all levels with her humor, passion, and ability to ‘keep it real’ in trainings and keynotes. Tara is committed to providing cutting edge research-based presentations in a way that will inspire, engage, and educate. Whether your organization needs a long arm around their shoulder or a swift kick with her size 11s, she’ll make sure they enjoy the process, get the most out of it and leave ‘em wanting more.

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Tom Burton

Tom Burton

Mr. Tom Burton is currently the Associate Superintendent of Princeton City Schools located just North of Cincinnati. Tom has been in administration since 1995 with more than 12 years of service as a building principal. He is past-president of the Ohio Middle Level Association (formerly OMSA), and served on the Affiliate Task Force and as a School Improvement Assessment consultant for the Association for Middle Level Education. Since 2001, Tom has spoken to numerous audiences throughout the United States with passion and purpose on a multitude of topics. Additionally, Tom has written articles for publications both in Ohio and nationally. He is the winner of the NASSP/MetLife Ohio Middle School Principal of the Year, the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Slippery Rock University, and many other awards. Most recently he was selected as Ohio Educator of the Year by the Ohio Middle Level Association and was inducted in both the Cleveland Heights High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame and John Carroll University Athletic Hall of Fame. Tom is married to wife Franca, and they share the joy of raising three children, Cailey, Bryce, and Tommy.

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Patti Kinney

Patti Kinney

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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Joel Brodsky

Joel Brodsky

Dr. Brodsky's formal education culminated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from New York University (1992). He has received various honors including Supervisor of the Year in Special Education and Educator of the Year in Special Education. In addition, Dr. Brodsky has served as president of several professional organizations including the International Council for Learning Disabilities, Administrators Roundtable Association (New York University), New York State Council for Learning Disabilities and the Jericho Supervisors Association.

After a thirty-six year career in public education, primarily as an administrator at the middle school level in the Jericho School District, Dr. Brodsky became a scheduling consultant. In that role he has worked directly with over three hundred and fifty schools, around the country, helping them implement their educational philosophies. Currently he is working with the Executive leadership Institute of New York City as a Scheduling Consultant providing workshops, mentoring and coaching New York City administrators. He has also spoken at numerous conferences and seminars, including AMLE, NASSP, and NELMS on the topic of school scheduling.

In his work with school leaders, directly and through conferences and seminars, he has offered professional development and mentoring for the design and construction of cost-effective schedules built from the needs of each individual student and aimed at fostering the highest levels of achievement. He has also stressed the integration of students with special needs and the ability of staff to select varied models that best foster the success of their students. Finally, as evidenced in his presentations for AMLE and other organizations and in a visit to any of the schools he has mentored, his work continues to foster the belief that systemic change is essential and that school leaders can implement change in programs and schedules in order to maximize student growth.

Dr. Brodsky maintains that middle schools can foster the highest levels of student growth by moving to innovative scheduling models and stimulating the highest levels of teacher performance.

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