Keynote and featured speakers for the 2013 Connections conference

Willard Daggett
March 13, 2013
  • Opening Keynote Speaker - Megacenter - 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - Preparing Students for the 21st Century -- Lessons Learned from Our Nation's Most Rapidly Improving Schools
  • Broadway B & C - 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - Preparing for the Challenges and Opportunities of the Common Core State Standards
  • Theater - 12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - CTE at a Crossroads

Willard R. Daggett, Ed.D., Founder and Chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education, is recognized worldwide for his proven ability to move pre K-12 education systems towards more rigorous and relevant skills and knowledge for all students. He has assisted a number of states and hundreds of school districts with their school improvement initiatives. Dr. Daggett has also collaborated with education ministries in several countries and with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, and many other national organizations. He serves on several advisory boards, including:

- NASA Education Advisory Board - 2008 to present
- USA Today (national newspaper) Education Advisory Board

Before founding the International Center for Leadership in Education in 1991, Dr. Daggett was a teacher and administrator at the secondary and postsecondary levels and a director with the New York State Education Department, where he spearheaded restructuring initiatives to focus the state's education system on the skills and knowledge students need in a technological, information-based society.

Dr. Daggett is the creator of the Application Model and Rigor/Relevance Framework, a practical planning and instructional tool for determining the relevance of curriculum and assessment to real-world situations. Dr. Daggett's Rigor/Relevance Framework has become a cornerstone of many school reform efforts throughout the United States.

Dr. Daggett is the author of numerous books about learning and education, textbooks and research studies, reports, and journal articles.

Dr. Daggett has spoken to hundreds of thousands of educators and education stakeholders in all 50 states. His enlightening, entertaining, and motivating messages have helped his listeners to look at education differently by challenging their assumptions about the purposes, benefits, and effectiveness of American schools. Dr. Daggett inspires his audiences both to embrace what is best about our education system and to make the changes necessary to meet the needs of all students in the 21st century.

Dr. Daggett has been recognized as a distinguished alumnus by both Temple University and the State University of New York at Albany.

Dr. Daggett has a special commitment to individuals with disabilities. He and his wife, Bonnie, volunteer their time and lend their support to Wildwood Programs in upstate New York. Wildwood serves the needs of people of all ages who, like their daughter Audrey, have neurological impairments/learning disabilities or autism, by enabling them to become the best that they can be.

For more information on the International Center and Bill Daggett please visit or contact Karen Wilkins at 518-723-2057.

Jonathan Edison
March 14, 2013
  • Closing Keynote Speaker - St. Charles Ballroom - 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - How To Stay Motivated in Challenging Times Designed to Help Individuals, Businesses and Organizations Cope with and Conquer Change and Challenge
  • Theater - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Make Your Own Magic Designed to Motivate Individuals, Employees, Leaders and Managers

Jonathan Edison, M.Ed., is a talented teacher and motivator with the proven ability to inspire. Using a combination of life experiences, education and old-fashioned high-wattage charisma, Jonathan empowers his audiences with success-centered strategies that not only help them through difficult times, but rebound to even greater heights.

Jonathan knows what it takes to bounce back from adversity. Born into poverty in Detroit, Mich., by the age of five Jonathan's mother was removed from their home due to drug and alcohol dependency. Three years later his father moved out. He was raised by his grandmother until she passed away when Jonathan was only 13. His high school years were spent living in the basement of his aunt's house, working full-time as a dishwasher at a restaurant so he could pay $50 a month in rent. Not surprisingly, he graduated from high school with a GPA of 1.63 and completed his first year of college with a GPA of only 0.86 before dropping out.

With the odds stacked against him, instead of submitting to failure Jonathan found the strength, determination and resiliency to rise above his circumstances. Caring mentors helped him realize he was worthy of success and he went on to complete four college degrees in Education and Leadership Supervision. At age 27, Jonathan became the youngest assistant principal in the history of Detroit Public Schools. In 2002, he was named Wayne County Spokesman for Success. He also owned a successful personal training business.

Then, along with hundreds of other dedicated educators, Jonathan was laid off. He faced this setback by bouncing back to launch Edison Speaks International, a motivational and training development company, in 2004. Since then, Jonathan has spoken live to more than 300,000 people and been lauded for his dynamic and uniquely engaging presentations.

- Several Television Appearances
-A live appearance in front of millions of viewers on C-Span - Outstanding Communicators Award 2004
- The 35 Under 35 Award by Power Brokers International
- Columnist for the Michigan Chronicle and Michigan FrontPage newspapers

Jonathan lives in a suburb of Detroit with his wife Karen, and their three beautiful children.

Lois Barnes
March 13, 2013
  • Salon V - 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - Using Literacy to Teach CTE Program Area Content
  • Salon V - 12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Higher-level Questioning with Socratic Seminars
  • Salon V - 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Literacy Professional Development Aligned to the Common Core

Lois J. Barnes is Director, State Services for School Improvement with the Southern Regional Education Board's High Schools That Work, where she has also worked as a school improvement consultant in several school districts through the Urban Initiative of HSTW. Prior to SREB, Lois had over twenty-five years in public education as a middle and high school social studies teacher, assistant principal, director of secondary schools, and assistant superintendent for K-12 curriculum and instruction. She also worked for the Kentucky Department of Education implementing aspects of Kentucky's Education Reform Act and as an adjunct professor at The University of Kentucky. She has had articles published in educational journals and has critically read textbooks for three publishing companies. Lois was the National Endowment for the Humanities Teacher-Scholar from the state of Kentucky, and she has received numerous awards for teaching and international study, including a Fulbright-Hays fellowship. Lois has presented at national and state conferences, including national workshops for High Schools That Work.

Thurman Bridges
March 14, 2013
  • Theater - 8:15 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - Building Teacher Capacity for Creating Culturally Responsive Learning Environments
  • Theater - 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Building Teacher Capacity for Creating Culturally Responsive Learning Environments

Dr. Thurman L. Bridges III is an Associate Professor of Teacher Education at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. His career started in education as a middle school social studies teacher in Richmond, VA. Prior to classroom teaching, Thurman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Teaching degree from the University of Virginia. He later completed his doctoral studies at the University of Maryland, College Park in Curriculum and Instruction within the Minority and Urban Education graduate program. His research explores the social context of urban education, African American male teacher identity, and hip-hop pedagogy. His recent work analyzes the social, educational, and cultural experiences of African American male K-12 teachers who have been effective in addressing the academic and social needs of African American boys, and how the practices and pedagogy translate to all teachers meeting the needs of this group of students. He also conducts participatory action research (PAR) with marginalized youth and seeks to contextualize the school experiences of students who have trouble in K-12 schools to inform curriculum, instruction, and school policy. Bridges' research has helped conceptualize and create teaching and learning environments that increase the capacity of all teachers to effectively teach diverse student populations, particularly in urban schools.

Nicole Brock
March 13, 2013
  • Salon III - 10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - Continuing to Unlock Doors with HSTW's 10 Key Practices
  • Salon III - 12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Continuing to Unlock Doors with HSTW's 10 Key Practices

Nicole Brock has been a member of the administrative team at Corbin High School for the last 4 years and taught mathematics for 14 years. Nicole earned her Bachelor's degree and Rank I from Eastern Kentucky University in Mathematics Education and her administration certification at the University of the Cumberlands. Nicole has shared how Corbin High's high expectations of all stakeholders have increased student success with educators at regional, state, and national conferences including Model Schools conferences and HSTW conferences. Nicole resides in Corbin, KY with her husband, Scott, and their three children, Taylor (12), Will (10), and Zoe (2).

Daniel Girard
March 13, 2013
  • Salon IV - 12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Combining Best Practices for First Time Instruction and Student Interventions in Small Learning Communities
  • Salon IV - 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Combining Best Practices for First Time Instruction and Student Interventions in Small Learning Communities

Daniel Girard graduated from University of North Florida in Jacksonville with a B.A. in mathematics education and later from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton with an M.Ed. in Educational Administration.

Mr. Girard's teaching experience has been both at the high school and collegiate level, where he has taught for ten years in schools with a majority of minority and free/reduced student populations in both North and South Florida. Mr. Girard's first administrative position was at Pahokee Middle Senior High School in Pahokee Florida where he began the academic transformation of the school by implementing the IB MYP program.

As a principal, Mr. Girard transformed a comprehensive 5A high school in El Paso, Texas, into a career themed based academy model by using the High Schools That Work framework grounded in the Ten Key Practices. Within a year at Bel Air High School in El Paso, under Mr. Girard's guidance, school ratings went from missing AYP and 'Unacceptable' to meeting AYP and double digit increases in all areas as well as being recognized in US World News.

Most recently, Mr. Girard has been serving as the principal at Akins High School in Austin, Texas for the last six years. After accepting the position at Akins, Mr. Girard continued the similar redesign work that he started in El Paso along with High Schools That Work. While Mr. Girard has been at Akins High School, State assessment results, attendance rates, enrollment and graduation rates have dramatically increased as school discipline has plummeted. During the third year of Mr. Girard's tenure, Akins HS received state 'Recognized' status.

Mr. Girard's two children are graduates of Akins High School (2009) and his wife is a Language Arts curriculum specialist who works with all high schools in AISD. Mr. Girard was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada.

Bob Greenleaf
March 13, 2013
  • Preservation Hall A - 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Formative Assessment
  • Preservation Hall A - 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. - Brain Based Teaching: Making Connections for Long-Term Memory & Recall
  • Preservation Hall A - 8:15 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - Brain Based Teaching: Making Connections for Long-Term Memory & Recall
  • Preservation Hall A - 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Creating and Changing Mindsets ~ Movies of the Mind

Robert Greenleaf was formerly a professional development specialist at the Education Alliance at Brown University. Having taught in all grades K-12, he has 20 years experience in public education ranging from superintendent of schools to assistant superintendent of schools, elementary school principal, teaching principal, teacher, and special education assistant. He served as adjunct professor at Thomas College in Maine.

President of Greenleaf Learning, a human resource development company he founded in 1987, Bob specializes in educational strategies for understanding behaviors, building esteem and achievement, and brain-based learning. Bob is the author of 8 instructional books, the creator of two double-sided albums and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter. He is the 1991 recipient of the "Outstanding Educator Award" from the Waterville Public Schools in the state of Maine. Bob holds a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University, a masters in educational administration from Southern Maine and a bachelor's degree from Nasson College in psychology.

A past member of the National Speakers Association and Toastmasters International, he won several area and district speech events in the 1980's.

Baruti Kafele
March 13, 2013
  • Theater - 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Transforming the Attitudes of At-Risk Students
  • Theater - 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. - Transforming the Attitudes of At-Risk Students

Award-winning educator, internationally-renowned speaker and best-selling author, Principal Baruti Kafele is on fire! He's on a mission to motivate, educate and empower educators, parents and children toward the elimination of the attitude gap, the world over.

A highly-regarded urban public school educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Kafele distinguished himself in the classroom and as a school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. He was also selected for Who's Who Among America's Teachers six times. As a middle and high school principal, he led the transformation of four different schools, including "The Mighty" Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education, and U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America's best high schools.

Currently, Principal Kafele is a highly sought-after educational consultant and motivational speaker which enables him to travel extensively throughout America and internationally, spreading his empowering message of attitude transformation. A versatile speaker, he regularly conducts conference keynote addresses, professional development workshops for educators, parental engagement seminars and student motivational assemblies. Recognized as one of America's leading authorities on professional development strategies for motivating Black males, he is the author of the best-selling book, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life. He is also the author of A Handbook for Teachers of African American Children, A Black Parent's Handbook to Educating Your Children (Outside of the Classroom) and his newest title, Closing the Attitude Gap, is forthcoming in 2013.

Principal Kafele is happily married to his wife Kimberley and is the proud father of his three children, Baruti, Jabari and Kibriya. He earned his B.S. degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University where he graduated summa cum laude, and his M.A. degree in Educational Administration from New Jersey City University. He is also the recipient of over one hundred educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award in 2009, the New Jersey Education Association Award for Excellence in 2011 and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Dave Shepard
March 13, 2013
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. - Avoiding Classroom Comas
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Manage Your Classroom - Manage Yourself
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. - Specific Steps For Improving Parental Involvement
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 8:15 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - Avoiding Classroom Comas
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - Manage Your Classroom - Manage Yourself
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Changing School Cultures: The Key Ingredient to School Improvement

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. Having dealt with middle and high school students for over thirty years, his experience includes teaching, coaching, curriculum writing, program design, and administration. Since his retirement in 1999, he has devoted his time and energy to helping schools become safer, more efficient, and more successful for all students. Dave currently manages his own educational consulting firm, "The Middle Matters and More," in Lexington, Kentucky. He works actively with SREB, NMSA and ION Educational Publishers. Since the passage of the Kentucky Educational Reform Act in 1990, Dave has also worked with the Kentucky Department of Education, the University of Kentucky and over thirty Kentucky school districts to help implement this reform. Known primarily as a practitioner, he has presented at over forty state and national conferences. He has also assisted school districts in over twenty states develop and refine their educational programs by providing quality professional development. Dave has been published in several educational journals and co-authored a book titled, Teach My Kid, I Dare You! An Educators Essential Guide to Parent Involvement.

Dr. Jose M. Torres
March 14, 2013
  • Salon II - 8:15 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. - U-46 STEM Equity Pipeline - Moving Forward with STEM
  • Salon II - 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. - U-46 STEM Equity Pipeline - Moving Forward with STEM

For the past four years, Dr. Torres has led U-46 through economic challenges-mainly due to the state's budget crisis-yet he also has implemented many new initiatives including the creation of Destination 2015, the district's five-year accountability plan that includes benchmarks and targets to ensure that U-46's 40,000+ students succeed. Accomplishments include increasing the numbers of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the students taking the courses, and the students taking the AP tests; establishing the AVID program at all middle and high schools to help students become prepared for college; increasing the rigor of courses in middle schools (e.g. adding world languages); working with the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce and business leaders to increase the number of high school students earning the National Career Readiness Certificate; expanding the Dual Language program for elementary school students; supporting teachers through the Teacher Effectiveness Initiatives department; increasing family and community engagement; creating new parent leadership programs for minority parents; and focusing on dropout prevention and eliminating the achievement gap.

Dr. Torres holds a Bachelor of General Studies, a Master of Education and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from the University of Maryland.

Dr. Jose M. Torres was named Superintendent of School District U-46 in 2008 and has served on the Equity and Excellence Commission of the United States Department of Education since February of 2011.

Prior to joining U-46, Dr. Torres served as a Regional Superintendent in the Chicago Public Schools. Before coming to Illinois, he had served in school districts in San Jose, CA; Baltimore, MD: Rockville, MD; Washington, D.C. and at U.S. Department of Defense schools.