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.