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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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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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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Allen Seed

Allen Seed

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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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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Michael Chirichello

Michael Chirichello

Michael Chirichello, Ed.D., served as a district superintendent, principal, vice-principal, and teacher in urban and suburban districts in the New York City and New Jersey public schools for 30 years. He was a visiting professor at Northern Kentucky University and taught in the university's doctoral program. Prior to that, he was a professor, chair, and program director at William Paterson University in New Jersey. He taught graduate courses that prepare teachers for supervisory and principal licensure. Currently, Michael is a well-respected international consultant. His educational career spans five decades.

Listen to a podcast interview of Michael Chirichello:

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