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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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 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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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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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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- 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
- 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
Bring Ruby Payne to your school!
Chris Toy has spent 30+ years serving as a teacher, principal, university instructor, consultant, presenter, cooking instructor, and writer. In addition to being a certified Apple consultant, he has worked internationally with dozens of school districts, hundreds of schools, and thousands of educators providing exceptional workshops on leadership, teaching, and learning, resulting in greater student engagement and academic achievement. His interactive style reflects his belief that teachers and leaders must model what they expect from students, colleagues, and faculties.
Listen to a podcast interview of Chris Toy:
Bring Chris Toy to your school!