Ron grew up in a small rural town in North Carolina and started his teaching career at a challenging school. To engage its disaffected students, he rapped his lessons, dressed in costumes and stood on his head, doing everything he could to make learning exciting. Ron was named American Teacher of the Year and his experiences were turned into an Emmy-nominated movie, “The Ron Clark Story”. He also wrote a book, “The Essential 55”, about the character-building rules that he teaches his students. With the royalties from the book, his income from speaking engagements and a lot of donations he set up his own demonstration school in Atlanta, a project that he had dreamed of for a while. His school delivers exceptional education outcomes and has hosted over 30,000 educators who come to learn his approach and techniques.

Dr. Victor Rios is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Dr. Rios has worked with local school districts to develop programs and curricula aimed at improving the quality of interactions between authority figures and youths. Using his personal experience of living on the streets, dropping out of school, and being incarcerated as a juvenile—along with his research findings—he has developed interventions for marginalized students aimed at promoting personal transformation and civic engagement. These programs have been implemented in Los Angeles, California (Watts); juvenile detention facilities; and alternative high schools. Dr. Rios has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ted Talks, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and National Public Radio. His Ted Talk “Help for kids the education system ignores” has garnered over 1 Million views.

Dr. Todd Whitaker is a professor of educational leadership at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, and he has spent his life pursuing his love of education by researching and studying effective teachers and principals. Prior to moving into higher education he was a math teacher and basketball coach in Missouri. Todd then served as a principal at the middle school, junior high, and high school levels. He was also a middle school coordinator in charge of staffing, curriculum, and technology for the opening of new middle schools.

One of the nation's leading authorities on staff motivation, teacher leadership, and principal effectiveness, Todd has written over 30 books including the national best seller, What Great Teachers Do Differently. Other titles include: Shifting The Monkey, Dealing With Difficult Teachers, 10 Minute Inservice, The Ball, What Great Principals Do Differently, Motivating & Inspiring Teachers, and Dealing With Difficult Parents.

Immediately after graduating college, Sean worked as a juvenile probation officer for 2 years, before realizing that he wanted to help on the other side of the fence - BEFORE kids stray from their chosen path in life. He earned a masters in education and served as a middle and high school math teacher for 7 years. Upon the birth of his first child, he decided he wanted to spend more time at home and entered the world of entrepreneurship, causing him to confront all of his own internal fears, limiting beliefs and conflicts. He’s been teaching as he learns ever since.

A. J. Crabill, TEA’s Deputy Commissioner of Education for Governance, is responsible for supervising the agency’s work regarding school improvement, charters, governance, complaints management, system support & innovation, investigations, school discipline/safety, waivers, and districts of innovation. Prior to joining TEA, Crabill served eight years on the board of the Kansas City (MO) Public Schools. As a result of his efforts, grade level proficiency in literacy and numeracy rose markedly throughout the district.

Additionally, the district’s financial situation was placed on solid fiscally conservative footing. Crabill has also served on the board of the Missouri School Boards Association and the executive committee of the Council of Great City Schools, currently chairs the 2017 annual conference for the International Policy Governance Association, and has provided governance training to school districts nationwide to help refocus school board members on the core mission of improving student outcomes.