Ed Vittardi is a principal at Saint Albert the Great School. He is also works with Finding Leaders a group that finds and supports school leaders. Prior to retiring as superintendent of the North Royalton City Schools, he was principal of North Royalton Middle School. Ed made significant strides in his time as superintendent. One of his greatest accomplishments was leading the district in the development of the five-year strategic plan. More than 800 people came together to develop this strategic plan, which outlines the beliefs, vision, and mission of the North Royalton City Schools. Ed has served on numerous educational committees and boards at the local, state, and national levels, and he has given hundreds of presentations on a wide array of educational topics for teachers, administrators and school system personnel.
Ed has been recognized as the Ohio Middle School Association Educator of the Year, AMLE Distinguished Educator, and the Ohio State Principal of the Year, along with being a finalist for National Principal of the Year.
In addition to his passion for education, his greatest pride lies in his marriage of over 30 years to Jacqueline and his children, Holly and Eric.
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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.
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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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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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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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Santo Pino has spent a major part of his career working with schools and districts concerning how they implement the middle school model. His work as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, director of middle and high school programs, district trainer for principals, and various executive roles with AMLE makes Santo adept at helping with middle level school improvement. He has done tremendous work with AMLE's School Improvement Assessment and staff development focused on the results of the assessment. He has worked with district and building level administrators around the nation to improve their middle school models from the ground up. He has presented on middle level topics at state, national, and international conferences, including workshops for the Department of Defense Middle Schools in Italy, Germany, and Turkey. He was one of the original faculty members for the AMLE Leadership Institute from 2001 to 2011.
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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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Linda Hopping is the state director of the Georgia Schools to Watch Program, the chair of the National Forum's Schools to Watch program, lead trainer for the National Forum Early Warning Indicator project, and a school coach in California. She is a former middle grades teacher, assistant principal, principal, and middle grades staff development coordinator in Georgia. While principal at Crabapple Middle School, she established two multiage teams that were highly successful. Ms. Hopping has served on the board of trustees of AMLE as well as on the AMLE Foundation Board. She also has served as president and executive director of the Georgia Middle School Association. She is one of two authors and a lead consultant for the AMLE School Improvement Assessment. She has presented at state and national conferences and has worked as an educational trainer, lecturer, and consultant.
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Gail Heinemeyer has worked for the Ridley School District in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1972. She has been a classroom teacher, team leader, coach, assistant principal and principal of Ridley Middle School for 17 years. Currently she serves as Director of Support Services, with a variety of responsibilities including overseeing new teacher induction, gifted education, ESL services, counselors, nurses, and the student assistance program. Gail is also responsible for state reporting, child accounting, residency and enrollment. She also maintains the district website and cable TV system. Gail was a long time member of the Pennsylvania Middle Level Association State Board, serving two terms as president. Gail has presented at the state and national level and has been on the AMLE Institutes for Middle Level Leadership Faculty since 2004.
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Dr. Cedrick Gray is formerly the proud lead teacher of the Jackson Public School District. He was appointed superintendent by the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees in 2012. He is widely praised for leadership and guidance that have revived the District and given it a new focus. He’s known for an innovative and effective strategic direction process: "Wearing WIGs (Wildly Important Goals), having FITs (Focused Instructional Teams), and saying ABCs (Attendance, Behavior, Coursework)," which applies a research-based focus to school improvement and student achievement. Since being appointed superintendent by the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees in 2012, Dr. Gray has been acclaimed as an innovator, motivator, risk taker, outside-of-the-box thinker, and true educational visionary. His recent achievements include the following:
- Superintendent of the Year, National Association of School Superintendents, 2016
- Superintendent of the Year, National Alliance of Black School Educators, 2015
- Educator of the Year, Young Gifted and Empowered Awards, Savvy Life Magazine, 2016
- Outstanding Administrator Advocate, Mississippi Association of Gifted Children, 2015
Dr. Gray's career has been guided by his vision to embody breakthrough leadership by inspiring others to see the leader in themselves. He previously served as the superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools in Fayette County, Tennessee. Prior to becoming a superintendent, Dr. Gray was principal of Craigmont Middle School and Lester Pre-K-8 School, both in Memphis, Tennessee. Currently, he is the Director of Aspiring Principals for New Leaders – Southeast Region. Dr. Gray and his wife, Karen, are the proud parents of their daughter, Peyton.
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