Keynote and featured speakers for the 2015 Connections conference

Murray Banks
March 25, 2015
  • Opening Keynote Speaker - Megacenter - - RECHARGE, REENERGIZE, REFOCUS - At Our Best So Our Students Can Be At Their Best
  • Theater - - But the Trouble With the Future Is, It's Not What It Used To Be!

Murray has been a speaker and trainer since 1984 creating a niche with custom tailored keynotes. While all speakers aspire to personalizing their presentations, Murray developed that skill as an educator, teaching at every level from grade school to graduate school! His ability to identify the needs of each student and zero in on best practices for their learning have served him well for researching an organization, reading his audience and creating an interactive presentation.

Murray was a passionate teacher. In 1982 he was honored as Vermont's Teacher Of The Year for Physical Education and in 1983 received the Outstanding Educator Award from the national association, AAHPHRD. He taught in a city school district, a small rural school and a major university; coached teams that won state championships and teams that never won a game; and 40 years later is still coaching youth sports in his community.

At the same time he was achieving educational honors, Murray was winning his first of four National Championships in the Triathlon. He took a sabbatical in 1984 to train and race internationally, work on an advanced degree in educational leadership and co-author a textbook. Two times he has been one of the top finishers in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. This break from public education enabled Murray to blend two passions - racing at the highest levels and teaching outside the structure of a classroom. His audiences now get the best of both worlds . . . a dynamic, interactive teaching style and focused, world class mindset.

As his speaking career became more demanding, Murray retired from triathlons but kept his hand in athletics with ski racing. At age 50, racing the finest skiers from Europe and Scandinavia, Murray won the masters World Championship in cross-country skiing. Now in his early 60's, he still competes among the top in his age division at the masters skiing world championships.

Murray has been married to Janie for more than 40 years and they live in the beautiful Green Mountains of Vermont. Their rustic post & beam home, nestled in the shadow of Mt Mansfield, is in stark contrast to Murray's international travel schedule, but offers the balance he often incorporates into his presentations.

Janie and Murray have raised two sons who are elite mountain guides based in Chamonix, France and Crested Butte, Colorado. Jeff and Steve are among a handful of Americans with the IFMGA/UIAGM international guiding license so Murray enjoys ski mountaineering expeditions with them that often find their way into his presentations. The elements of risk, adaptability and toughness are natural connections to Murray's message as organizations work through these tough economic times.

Successful speakers are skilled storytellers. Murray draws on his teaching skills, athletic success and business savvy to engage an audience and weave a message that is easily applicable to their own work and personal lives.

Mark Mayfield
March 26, 2015
  • Closing Keynote Speaker - St. Charles Ballroom - - Momma Told Me There'd be Days Like This

It's seldom that you find a really funny, clean comedian and it's seldom that you find a really good, captivating speaker. It's nearly impossible to find one who is both. Mark Mayfield is one of the rare individuals in the world who is equally accomplished at performing comedy shows or delivering high content keynote speeches.

Known as "The Corporate Comedian", he has merged together his corporate background as a lobbyist and his comedy background as a nightclub performer to create an extremely unique and comedic presentation style. He has received rave reviews sharing the stage with a wide variety of celebrities like Paul Newman, Peter Frampton, Colin Powell, and Bob Newhart and has introduced the President of the United States on a live, nationwide television broadcast.

Raised on a farm in Caney, Kansas, he received two degrees from Kansas State University and served as National President of the Future Farmers of America. He has spent time as a high school teacher, a corporate lobbyist, was partner of an innovative golf instruction facility, was a professional model and spokesperson in print and television commercials, and owned a top rated nightclub. He obviously struggled with holding down a job.

Mark is author of the popular book, Mom's Rules, a comedic yet poignant look at those things Mom said to us as kids, and he makes nearly 100 presentations annually to a wide variety of corporations, conventions, and trade associations. He has received two degrees magna cum laude from Kansas State University and is a recipient of the "Certified Speaking Professional" designation from the National Speakers Association. He has also been inducted into their "Speaker Hall of Fame".

He is happily married to Terry, Grandpa to Delaney, Archer, Reid, and Everett, and the proud father of two amazing daughters, Leah and Lindsay. His hobbies are golf, basketball, and music and he was voted one of the top five funniest people in his family.

From comedy shows to seminars, Mark's philosophy is simple . . . . Say it with humor and people will take the message home.

A national convention planner recently called Mark "one of the very few, really funny, inspiring men in America today." Mark's mom also said that once after a small bribe.

Lois Barnes
March 25, 2015
  • New Orleans Ballroom - - Counseling for Careers: The New Paradigm
  • New Orleans Ballroom - - Educating About Changes in the Workforce and the Connection to Quality CTE
  • New Orleans Ballroom - - The New High Schools That Work Priorities

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.

Steve Elza
March 25, 2015
  • Marsalis Ballroom - - Teaching Today for Tomorrow's Careers

William Fremd High School Applied Technology Teacher Steve Elza was named the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education. Mr. Elza began his District 211 teaching career in 2007, at Fremd High School. He teaches several areas of study in automotive technology, and also is a curriculum coordinator for the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). Outside of the classroom, Mr. Elza is heavily involved in Fremd High School's extracurricular activities, sponsoring the Automotive Club, Ford/AAA and Hot Rodders of Tomorrow Engine Challenge, the school's Safety Committee, and is a part of the Viking Advisory Mentoring Program (VAMP).

In addition to teaching at Fremd High School, Mr. Elza is an adjunct professor of automotive technology at the College of DuPage. Prior to coming to District 211, he was an automotive technology teacher at the Technology Center of DuPage for four years and began his teaching career as a training instructor at the General Motors Training Center in Hindsale, Ill., in 2003.

Mr. Elza earned his bachelor's degree in automotive technology from Southern Illinois University in 2002. He earned a master's degree in workforce education from Southern Illinois University in 2008, and a second master's degree in educational administration from Northern Illinois University in 2010.

Bob Greenleaf
March 25, 2015
  • Salon VI - - The Origins of Impact on Student Learning and Achievement
  • Theater - - The Origins of Impact on Student Learning and Achievement
  • Theater - - Micro-feedback Formative Assessment®: Linking Teacher Practice Directly to Student Achievement
  • Theater - - Micro-feedback Formative Assessment®: Linking Teacher Practice Directly to Student Achievement

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, micro-formative assessment, and brain-based learning. His last 6 years of work directly in schools has yielded double digit improvement in student learning outcomes using the micro-feedback formative assessment process he has developed. Struggling schools have transformed from 60% proficient on standardized assessments to 90+% proficient!

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.

Tammy Jones
March 26, 2015
  • Theater - - Four Opportunities for Effective Questioning to Build Deeper Understandings
  • Salon V - - Writing across the Curriculum: Chronicling a Students' Journey through the use of a Notebook
  • Salon V - - Math in CTE
  • Theater - - PARCC Assessment Documents: A Roadmap for Mathematics Success

An educator since 1979, Tammy has taught students from 1st grade through high school. A lifelong learner, Tammy is an active member in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and its Tennessee affiliates as well as a T3 Instructor for Texas Instruments. Having served on the Mathematics Feedback Group for the Common Core Standards Tammy has a unique perspective on the development of the CCSSM and the implementation of them.

As a teacher Tammy's goal was that all students understand and appreciate the mathematics they were studying; that they could read it, write it, explore it, and communicate it with confidence; and that they would be able to use mathematics as they need to in their lives. She believes that problem solving, followed by a well-reasoned presentation of results, is central to the process of learning mathematics, and that this learning happens most effectively in a cooperative, student-centered classroom.

Currently, Tammy is consulting with individual school districts in training teachers on effective techniques for being successful in the classroom, supporting instruction, and STEM integrations. Tammy is co-author on the recently released series from Eye On Education/Routledge-Taylor & Francis Group, Strategies for Common Core Standards for Mathematics: Implementing the Standards for Mathematical Practice (Grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12) with Leslie A. Texas. They are currently working on another series: Strategic Journeys for Meeting Rigorous Standards.

Meg Ormiston
March 25, 2015
  • Preservation Hall A - - Paper-Trained Teachers in a Video-Game World
  • Preservation Hall A - - Engaging Students in Digital Rich CTE Classrooms
  • Preservation Hall A - - Engaging Students in Digital Rich CTE Classrooms
  • Preservation Hall A - - Power Googling for Educators

For over twenty-five years Meg Ormiston has been involved in professional development that focuses on changing instructional practice in the classroom. Meg marries her passion for technology with a deep curriculum background and over twelve years as a classroom teacher.

Meg has served as a curriculum coach, school board member, keynote speaker, professional development specialist and grant facilitation specialist. Meg has also authored five books, written numerous articles, collaborated on professional videos and participates in many personal learning communities.

Meg brings all of this to each professional development session, with a dynamic presentation style and a great sense of humor. When she is not on the road, Meg can usually be found at a sporting event of her boys along with her husband and golden retriever, Napa.

Dave Shepard
March 25, 2015
  • Salon II - - Educational Administration VS Instructional Leadership
  • New Orleans Ballroom - - Don't Blame Me - The Teacher Started It
  • Salon II - - Don't Blame Me - The Teacher Started It
  • New Orleans Ballroom - - Why Can't We Be Friends?
  • Salon II - - Why Can't We Be Friends?

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 forty three years in education. His experience includes teaching, coaching, curriculum and program design, and administration. Since his retirement, 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's Departments of Education. Dave has also worked with the Kentucky Department of Education, the University Of Kentucky and over 100 school districts across the country.

Known primarily as a practitioner, he has presented at more than fifty state and national conferences. He has assisted school districts in 47 states and two foreign countries, to help develop and refine 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 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.