Keynote and featured speakers for the 2014 Connections conference

Courtney Anderson
March 12, 2014
  • Opening Keynote Speaker - Megacenter - 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - Creating an Educators' Eden in a Challenging Environment!
  • Theater - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - They transfer the 'Problem' student situations into my class... and I love it! - How to Utilize Modern Management Techniques to Solve the Most Difficult and Demanding Student Problems!

"Courtney E. Anderson, J.D., M.B.A., M.S., is a leading global business strategist and thought leader known as "the Workplace Relationship Expert". She was awarded the 2011 Strategic Leadership Award at The World Human Resources Development (HRD) in Mumbai, India. Ms. Anderson founded (and serves as CEO of) the International Institute for Practicing the Joyful Art of Business which integrates non-traditional methods for ensuring emotional ROI in addition to (and conjunction with) economic ROI in professional endeavors. She also holds a full time appointment as a Professor in the MBA program at The Graduate School at the University of Maryland, University College (UMUC).

Professor Anderson is a leading workplace relationship policy expert who has advised various domestic and international entities including Boeing, Eastern Kentucky University, Cirque du Soleil, Garland (Texas) Independent School District, Johns Hopkins University, SUNY - Orange, The United States House of Representatives, Alamogordo (New Mexico) Municipal School District, and Wal-Mart.

Ms. Anderson has served as a business and legal expert for numerous media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, CNN International, BusinessWeek, and The Wall Street Journal. She researches and writes about workplace relationships that impact organizational outcomes (between management and staff, between peers, etc.), entrepreneurship, and other related issues.

Professor Anderson received the 2013 UMUC Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award for The Graduate School and the 2012 UMUC Teaching Recognition Award for The Graduate School. Professor Anderson previously taught undergraduate business law at the University of Texas at Austin, McComb's School of Business and served as an adjunct at several other universities over the past two decades. Ms. Anderson is a member of the Academy of Legal Studies.

Professor Anderson holds a JD from The University of Texas School of Law, a MBA and MS (Master of Science in Liberal Studies with emphasis is Psychology, Criminal Justice and Human Resource Management) from Tarleton State University/ Texas A&M University System and a BA from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas.

Ms. Anderson is an attorney and has owned her own law firm since 1998 and her own consulting firm since 2000. Ms. Anderson is also a mediator and arbitrator. In 2011, Ms. Anderson was selected to serve as a Certified Hearing Examiner for the Texas Education Agency. In this capacity she acted as an administrative judge and presided over cases (issued orders, conducted hearings and rendered decisions) when a public school educator had proposed action to terminate an employment contract.

Ms. Anderson currently hosts a radio show/ podcast and television show, "Solutions with Courtney Anderson!" available on iTunes and other outlets around the world (including

For More Information: Courtney Anderson, C/O Julie Efaw, Capitol City Speakers Bureau, 1620 South Fifth Street, Springfield, IL, 62703 Phone: 800-397-3183 Fax: 217- 544-1496 Email: julie@capcityspeakers. Web: or"

Juan Ortiz
March 13, 2014
  • Closing Keynote Speaker - St. Charles Ballroom - 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Run! Don't Walk to Your Goals!
  • Theater - 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Why Can't You Be More Like... Like Me!

Juan Ortiz is a man who has discovered the blessings in adversity. As a child, each day he would face the challenges of his father's verbal and physical abuse fueled by the use of drugs and alcohol.

As the eldest of six children, Juan became a support for his mother and a father figure to his siblings. Desperate and filled with despair, Juan looked at life as a teenager with no hope for the future. He decided it was not worth going on with life. If it were not for the example of courage and strength of his mother, and the leadership of a few good friends, Juan would not be alive today.

Today Juan is a husband, a father, and a successful businessman who is dedicated to teaching others how to succeed in life. His belief and attitude that "anyone can win in life, if they are willing to change," is the reason he is a speaker sought after by organizations and companies again and again. Juan's combination of humor, honesty and compassion is absolutely captivating and life changing.

Steve Barkley
March 12, 2014
  • Salon III - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Teaching and Leading with Questions
  • Theater - 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. - Planning With the End in Mind
  • Theater - 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Teaching and Leading with Questions
  • Theater - 3:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. - Planning With the End in Mind

Stephen G. Barkley leverages both his education expertise and business acumen in his role as Executive Vice President of PLS 3rd Learning, and as a member of the PLS 3rd Learning Board of Directors. Mr. Barkley began his career in education 40 years ago as a New Jersey elementary school teacher. For the past 30 years he has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. His dynamic energy and focus in providing leadership training, coaching skills, and establishing teacher professional development goals have led to his becoming one of the most respected, esteemed and sought-after motivational speakers in the field of education.

As a proponent of Wiggins and McTighe's "backwards planning" approach to education, Mr. Barkley's books, lectures, keynote speeches, and customizable professional development presentations have shifted the process of teaching practices, coaching, and professional staff development in significant, comprehensive and measurable ways across the United States and around the world, including Canada, Egypt, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member for several colleges and universities, including Northern Illinois University, University of South Florida, and Western Oregon University, among others.

Lois Barnes
March 12, 2014
  • Broadway A - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Differentiated Instruction for All Classes
  • Broadway A - 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. - Signature Features of High-Quality Career Technical Programs
  • Broadway A - 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Ensuring Positive Student Transitions from Middle Grades to High School: Illinois Students' Experiences
  • Theater - 8:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - CTE Assignments That Impact Student Success

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.

Craig Blum
March 13, 2014
  • Broadway B - 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - Universal Design for Learning and Response to Intervention
  • Broadway B - 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - Universal Design for Learning and Response to Intervention
  • Broadway B - 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Universal Design for Learning and Response to Intervention

Craig Blum, Ph.D. is an associate professor of Special Education, at Illinois State University. He has co-authored Effective RTI Training and Practices: Helping School District Teams Improve Academic Performance and Social Behavior and Instructional Technology in Early Childhood Education. Dr. Blum publishes in peer-reviewed journals, and presents nationally and internationally on technology integration and universal design for learning. His primary work focuses on practical technology integration models and readily-available technology in both special and general education settings. He has worked as part of numerous grant projects in areas ranging from positive behavior support, response to intervention, and preparation for teacher education Dr. Blum is especially interested in universal design for learning, meaningful use of apps, and other digital technologies in educational settings.

Thomas Guskey
March 12, 2014
  • Salon III - 1:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Practical Solutions for Serious Problems in Standards-Based Grading.

Dr. Guskey is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Kentucky. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he began his career as a middle school teacher, served as an administrator in Chicago Public Schools, and was the first Director of the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, a national educational research center. Dr. Guskey served on the Policy Research Team of the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, on the Task Force to develop the National Standards for Staff Development, and was recently named a Fellow in the American Educational Research Association - one of the Association's highest honors. He is the author/editor of 20 award-winning books and more than 200 book chapters and articles that have appeared in prominent research journals as well as Educational Leadership, Kappan, and School Administrator. He co-edited the Experts in Assessment Series for Corwin Press and was featured on the National Public Radio programs "Talk of the Nation" and "Morning Edition." In his work with educators throughout the world, he helps bring clarity and resolution to some of education's most challenging problems.

Joe Hendershott
March 12, 2014
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Reaching the Wounded Student
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. - Lessons from the Back of the Classroom
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 2:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. - 7 Ways to Transform Wounded Students

Joe Hendershott, who resides in Ashland, Ohio, is a graduate of The Ohio State University and is currently in the dissertation phase of his Ed.D. in educational leadership and plans to graduate Summer, 2014. His career spans more than twenty years as a teacher and school administrator.

Joe has an extensive background dealing with difficult and troubled youth in the school system. He has been a high school assistant principal, head principal, alternative school principal and principal at Boys' Village School (residential treatment facility). Joe is currently the Director of Field Experiences at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio.

As president of his own consulting firm, Joe has presented at national educational conferences as well as staff trainings in the area of alternative education and reaching the wounded child. His workshops are designed to educate and empower anyone working with children that are wounded and how to get them to achieve through various programs that include esteem building and emotional development.

Judith Irvin
March 13, 2014
  • Preservation Hall A - 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC): A Framework for Implementing the Common Core State Standards
  • Preservation Hall A - 9:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Implementing a Schoolwide Literacy Action Plan

Judith L. Irvin is a Professor at Florida State University and the Executive Director of the National Literacy Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving middle and high school literacy. Dr. Irvin's repertoire includes chairing the Research Committee for the National Middle School Association for six years and serving on the Commission on Adolescent Literacy of the International Reading Association. She has written and edited numerous books, chapters, and articles on adolescent literacy - most notably Reading and the High School Student: Strategies to Enhance Literacy (with Buehl and Klemp, 2007), Strategies for Enhancing Literacy and Learning in Middle School Content Area Classrooms (with Buehl and Radcliffe, 2007) and Teaching Middle School Reading (with Rycik, 2005).

Dr. Irvin (with co-authors) wrote and published three books as part of a project funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York: Taking Action on Adolescent Literacy: An Implementation Guide for School Leaders (ASCD, 2007), Meeting the Challenge in Adolescent Literacy: Practical Ideas for Literacy Leaders (IRA, 2009), and Taking the Lead on Adolescent Literacy: Action Steps for Schoolwide Success (Corwin Press, 2010). She is a speaker and consultant to school systems and professional organizations throughout the nation. She spent eight years as a middle and high school social studies and reading teacher.

Greg Michie
March 13, 2014
  • Salon IV - 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - Same As It Never Was: Urban Schools in the Age of High-Stakes Reform
  • Salon IV - 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - Same As It Never Was: Urban Schools in the Age of High-Stakes Reform

Gregory Michie has spent the past 24 years working as a teacher and teacher educator in Chicago. Currently, he teaches 7th and 8th grade at Seward Elementary, a public school on the city's south side, and is Research Associate at the Center for Policy Studies and Social Justice at Concordia University Chicago. He is the author of Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and his Students (2nd edition, Teachers College Press, 2009) and, most recently, We Don't Need Another Hero: Struggle, Hope, and Possibility in the Age of High-Stakes Schooling (Teachers College Press, 2012). Follow him on Twitter at @GregoryMichie

John Nelson
March 13, 2014
  • Salon III - 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - Academic Skills in the Workplace: What Employers Say
  • Salon III - 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - Academic Skills in the Workplace: What Employers Say

John Nelson is the ACT Manager for WorkKeys and the NCRC, charged with helping Illinois educators connect learning to employment. His diverse career includes public television station, international workforce consulting, and developing safety nets for displaced workers. Born in England and a graduate of The Ohio State University, Nelson has been with ACT for 11 years.

Catherine Neumann
March 12, 2014
  • Preservation Hall A - 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Repurposing your Interactive Whiteboard (SMART Board, Promethean, Mimio, etc.)
  • Preservation Hall A - 3:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. - Repurposing your Interactive Whiteboard (SMART Board, Promethean, Mimio, etc.)

Catherine Neumann has been working in education for nine years. The first six years were as a Career and Technical Education Teacher at Bolingbrook High School. In 2011, she moved to the District Office to be the Instructional Technology Specialist. Catherine works with all district staff, primarily focused on Middle and High School, to promote technology integration across all areas of education. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Teacher Education from Illinois State University and a Master's Degree in Educational Administration from Lewis University. Catherine is also a SMART Exemplary Educator and Google Apps Education Qualified.

Dave Shepard
March 12, 2014
  • Salon II - 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. - Specific Tips for Improving Special Education Collaborative Classes
  • Salon II - 1:15 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. - Rules of Engagement: Winning the "This is Boring" War
  • Salon II - 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - What Is It That All "World Class" Teachers Do?
  • Salon II - 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - Using Walk Through Observations To Change Instructional Practices
  • Salon II - 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - What Is It That All "World Class" Teachers Do?

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 is involved with the Kentucky Middle School Association; currently serving as it's Vice President. 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 thirty five 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 and teacher in-services.

Mark Wilson
March 13, 2014
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. - How To Bring About Change (When Change Seems Hard to Bring)
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. - The Power of School Culture
  • New Orleans Ballroom - 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - How To Bring About Change (When Change Seems Hard to Bring)

Leading up to his recognition as National Principal of the Year (2009), Dr. Wilson spent the better part of two decades bringing groups of people together, inspiring them to action, and leading them to success. He has served in education as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal, working at both the middle school and high school levels. Through this process Dr. Wilson has seen his responsibilities grow and his commitments increase, however, he has never lost touch with his passion and deep mission to produce not only good students but, perhaps even more importantly, responsible and caring citizens. He has always led by example, continuing to serve his students and staff as a classroom instructor throughout his illustrious career.

As principal, Dr. Wilson found a way to connect passion to service and success. His expertise in school culture and climate has led him to work with hundreds of educators who have visited his school, or in schools he has visited. It is Mark's goal to carry that experience and vision to as many people and places as possible!

Dr. Wilson continues to share his inspirational journey from years of hard work to nationally-acclaimed administrator through powerful keynote addresses, insightful workshops and school/district consulting. His presentations inspire, educate, and challenge audiences to develop cultures within the four walls of schools that are meaningful and rewarding for all involved in the process.