Please continue to check this page as we are currently organizing the 2018 School Climate & Culture Forum.

If you would like more information on becoming a speaker at any of our conferences please email us at


There is Power in being an Educator. During this interactive keynote address, educators will learn how to activate that power to inspire all students to be success stories.  Educators will be challenged to self-evaluate their day to day routine. Strategies will be given to build positive relationships and cultural awareness with students and staff. Who are you as an educator? We must understand our roles to positively impact our students. There are several factors that affect our view of our children that will be mapped out during this keynote also. We must recharge our batteries and renew our minds daily so our students receive our best. Educators will leave this keynote recharged and empowered to do their jobs more efficiently.


According to Principal Kafele, school climate and culture are inextricably linked to student achievement. In this high energy keynote address, Principal Kafele will provide a framework for the role of school leaders toward ensuring that the school’s climate and culture are conducive to high academic performance.


Date: March 25, 2017

Time: 8:30 am – 9:30 am

Location: Caribbean IV & V

Plagued by severe undiagnosed ADHD and reading difficulties, I began disrupting class in 4th grade.  I believed my peers would laugh at me for being “dumb” so I made sure they laughed at me for being “bad” instead.  I was defiant, disruptive, and relatively unmotivated. I was “that one kid” that drove my teachers crazy.  By sixth grade my academic skills were so below grade level that I was pulled out of school.

Two weeks later in a brand new school I had one teacher dramatically change my life.  He did in about five minutes what nobody had done between kindergarten and 6th grade.  And the amazing thing is that it is something any of you can do with any of your students immediately!  Do you want to know what he did?  Do not miss this featured session!

When a student can’t read, we teach him how. When a student struggles with algebra, we give her skills to help. When a student has trouble behaving, what do we do?

Self-Regulation skills can be taught. Not all students have the same ability to regulate emotions, behaviors and responses to difficulties. And those who have not mastered Self-Regulation can be very disruptive to instruction time. When educators include lessons on Self-Regulation as part of the curriculum, everyone can benefit from the training on how to recognize triggers and how to manage responses to them. Rather than trying to modify behavior and/or removing the stimuli that results in unacceptable behavior, Self-Regulation training gives students control over their responses.

During this insightful session Brad Chapin will share strategies that have helped students develop skills necessary for success in academic performance, relationships and overall wellness.  Brad will demonstrate that personal responsibility for behaviors and self-discipline are stronger predictors of academic success than IQ.

Learning Objective:

        – Engaging approaches to use with individual students and the entire class that you can employ immediately

        – How to give students the tools to manage their behavior by recognizing triggers and  controlling  how they respond

         – The 3 skill-training areas

         – To target the core and address a broad spectrum of behaviors and performance issues

         – How Self-Regulation skills affect social interactions, academic and athletic performance, aggressive behaviors, physical wellness and future happiness and success

         – How to incorporate Self-Regulation training into your classroom curriculum.


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Session A: 8:00am – 11:00am

Technology and social media plays an increasingly large role in the social development of our kids today.  Studies show that the average child (ages 7-17) spends up to 10 hours a day in front of a screen or device.  Social media platforms have become a staple for young girls in their effort to stay connected to peers and parents. As girls spend more time trying to stay “connected” on-line, they actually become more disconnected.  Studies show a correlation between the amount of time spent on social media and personal life dissatisfaction.  Girls create elaborate identities and personas on-screen; but do you ever wonder what is going on behind the screen? As girls experience the turbulent times of childhood and adolescence they often turn to social media to cover their fears, confusion and anxiety from the outside world.  If left untreated, girls are twice as likely as boys to develop an internalizing disorder such as depression or anxiety by mid-adolescence.  The better we understand what is hidden behind the screen of “mean girls” the more effective we become in promoting the healthy development of confident, strong and happy girls.


  • Learn how social media affects brain development
  • Develop an understanding of how social media can impact mental health.
  • Discover Strategies to teach Netiquette: Send means Said
  • Create a plan for effective communication in the digital and real world
  • Apply Aggressors Anonymous: Tools to Address Social Media Addiction

About the Presenter:

Steph Jensen, MS, LPC is an award-winning author and international speaker recognized for her insight and understanding of relational aggression. She combines 15 years of practice in the fields of education and counseling with research, practical strategies and humor to address challenging behaviors and build positive relationships with kids. She has held positions as classroom teacher, education consultant and international speaker. She holds a master’s degree in clinical counseling, focusing her efforts on adolescent and family issues.

In recent years, Stephanie has applied her passion for adolescents to focus on the dynamics of relational aggression, social-emotional learning, and positive behavior interventions. She is the author of Thrive in the Hive: Surviving the Girl’s World of Good and Bad Relationship Bee-haviors, Mom’s Choice Award-winning Princess Priscilla and the Bully-Bee Day, Princess Priscilla and the Mood Ring Rainbow and her latest: Princess Priscilla and the Great Beezilla!

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Session A: 8:00am – 11:00am

Adolescents are more susceptible to adverse childhood experiences (psychological trauma) during what Erikson described as the identity versus role confusion stage. Pubescent brains are pruning; trauma or toxic stress can substantially disrupt brain development, changing how they respond to perceived threats. In schools, students’ trigger reactions (fight, flight or freeze) are categorized as disruptive, defiant, and/or disrespectful (D-Codes) resulting in more punitive disciplinary consequences.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Develop an understanding of how trauma imprints on the brain.
  2. Analyze how student responses can present as defiance/disrespect.
  3. Gain research/evidence-based, non-punitive disciplinary responses to subjective behaviors.

About the Presenter:

Catava Burton, M.S. is the Preventative Services Specialist for Henrico County Public Schools providing oversight to the Behavior Support Team and Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports. She possesses 19 years experience in psychology with a focus on mental health, trauma, and human development. Catava is also a certified trauma practitioner, blogger for The Mighty, and featured as a 2017 Human of Richmond.

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Session A: 8:00am – 11:00am

With today’s increased focus on academic success and measureable outcomes, how educators handle defiant, manipulative, apathetic or attention-seeking students can often be the difference between success and failure in a given classroom – or an entire school. The disruption to the classroom and the energy that the educator must expend to address behavioral issues can create serious roadblocks to learning. Situations with difficult students have a way of intensifying quickly.

This seminar will provide attendees with up-to-date insights and strategies for reaching and helping students who can evoke strong feelings of frustration and discouragement. Educators will learn a five-step responsibility-centered approach that has been proven effective in helping educators become masters of challenging moments with students.


In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Identify the underlying causes of difficult behaviors in students
  • Integrate key strategies for migrating from an obedience-focused approach to a responsibility-centered approach
  • Apply strategies for preventing the escalation of difficult behaviors

About the Presenter:                                             Author of Roadmap to Responsibility and Give ‘em Five, Larry Thompson, M.Ed., is often called upon to deliver keynote presentations for state and national education conferences because of his knowledge, humor and passion for assisting today’s students. He has helped thousands of educators and schools throughout North America break away from their traditional discipline models to a model that creates a responsible climate and responsible students. Larry has served in a wide variety of roles in education – from special education teacher to alternative and traditional high school principal. As creator of the Responsibility-Centered Discipline program, Larry understands that systems must be created that can be realistically implemented and sustained


Whether we are teacher leaders, instructional coaches or school administrators there needs to be a focus on learning and impact. Collaborative leadership: 6 Influences That Matter Most focuses on how educators can use 6 of John Hattie’s high effect influences on learning to foster growth in their school communities.

Participant Outcomes

  •        Participants will understand the importance of, and research behind, collaboration as a school leader
  •        Participants will learn why within school variance between teachers may be an issue to focus on because it is much wider than the variance between schools (PISA)
  •        Participants will learn how collective teacher efficacy is a way to minimize within school variance among teachers
  •        Participants will learn how/when to use tools such as the flipped model to build collaboration
  •        Participants will learn how there are at least 6 influences to increase your success as a collaborative leader

       Participants will walk out with numerous practical actions to use in their classroom or school regardless of whether they are a teacher, school, district or division leader.


Most entrepreneurs have the trait that is so misleadingly called ADHD. Dr. Hallowell renames it “The Entrepreneur’s Trait,” and shows how phenomenally beneficial it can be. A follow-up to talk # 1, this presentation shows how many different paths people with the entrepreneurs trait have followed, and what factors predict the greatest success.

Most entrepreneurs have the trait that is so misleadingly called ADHD. Dr. Hallowell renames it “The Entrepreneur’s Trait,” and shows how phenomenally beneficial it can be. A follow-up to talk # 1, this presentation shows how many different paths people with the entrepreneurs trait have followed, and what factors predict the greatest success.


Session A: 9:00am – 12:00pm

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Supporting students who are “Wired Differently” in an inclusive school setting requires an array of practices beyond traditional discipline. This session will include an overview of the major emotional and behavioral challenges of students who are “Wired Differently.” Success for all students requires an emphasis on prevention and positive skill building. Increasingly school experience is showing the importance of effective school wide practices to best support all students. “School wide positive behavior interventions and supports” is one of the more prominent practices. This session will look at effective practices at the universal, secondary, and tertiary tiers.                                                                                       

Learning Objectives:
In this session, you will learn how to:
•              Understanding the top Ten Challenges of Students Who are Wired Differently
•              Designing School-wide Systems for Students Who are Wired Differently
•              Evaluating Your School for Effective School Wide Practices
•              Collaboration Between Families, Schools and Community Resources

About the Presenter

Mike currently works as a consultant to schools throughout North America to help them better teach challenging students. As a state consultant for students with severe emotional and behavioral problems, he worked with ODD, CD and other special needs students for more than 25 years. Mike is an innovator of effective approaches for working with extremely challenging students and has conducted seminars across the U.S. and Canada on creative techniques for managing classroom behavior, student aggression and crisis intervention. He is co-author of Aggressive and Violent Students and Defying the Defiance. His newest book is High on the Spectrum: Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism & Related Personalities.


Session A: 9:00am – 12:00pm

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Did you know?

     – Each year 4.3 million youths 14 and younger suffer unintentional injuries requiring hospital treatments

     – 1 in 10 teens in high school drink and drive

     – 81% of students rarely or never wear a bicycle helmet.

     – 42% of students text while driving.

Today’s students face a silent epidemic. Risk-taking behaviors, critical errors and lapses in judgment cause millions of unintentional injuries each year in North America, resulting in sometimes grueling pain for students and families, as well as lost classroom time.  In some cases, these injuries permanently alter students’ lives. And 7000 to 8000 times each year these injuries prove fatal – about one per hour.

We have a responsibility to our students to make sure they have the skills necessary to assess risk and reduce unintentional injuries.

In this thought-provoking session, Mike Shaw will highlight how behavior-based skills such as greater awareness, attention, and intention can reduce injuries, as well as other types of errors – including academic errors.

Attendees will gain key insights and lessons learned on understanding risk and knowing personal limitations from Mike’s ski coaching and performance background.  He will share unique perspectives on risk vs. reward, and what dangerous sports and death-defying stunts have to do with the average student’s safety and performance.  Attendees will walk away with fresh insights and practicable techniques for reducing risk and error.

Research has shown that mental states like rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency, which most students find themselves in almost every day, cause or contribute to critical errors. These critical errors often put a student in the path of a hazard. Mr. Shaw will explain how this state-to-error risk pattern is responsible for up to 95% of student injuries, and will present skills that students – and educators — can use to improve safety and reduce critical errors in school and all facets of their lives.


     – Define the state-to-error risk pattern

     – Differentiate the three types of at-risk behavior

     – Applying the Critical Error Reduction Techniques to classroom life skills lessons

     – Recognize the importance of gauging risk in all areas of life – a 24/7 approach

     – Recognize the importance of keeping eyes and mind on task to reduce risk and error

     – Implement a simple set of techniques for increasing awareness in the moment that will contribute to a deeper sense of wellbeing, increased performance and decreased injuries.



Mike Shaw is the Director of Education and Athletics for SafeStart, an organization dedicated to improving student and employee safety by reducing human risk factors using proven behavior-based skills and techniques.  He is a University of British Columbia business administration graduate with a background in freestyle skiing and high-performance coaching.  He joined SafeStart in 2014 after recovering from a traumatic skiing accident which dislocated his neck and left him paralyzed from the neck down.  Mike’s unique story of triumph embodies human resilience in its purest form and fuels his passion to help people improve their safety and performance with SafeStart. His one-of-a-kind recovery story and gracious perspective on life allow Mike to connect with audiences and provide them with an unforgettable learning experience.

Session A: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Session Info Coming Soon!

Session A: 9:00am – 12:00pm

Register Now!

Can responsibility be taught? How can educators move from “making” students behave to helping students learn self-management? this is a major, but necessary, paradigm shift – moving from enforcement to a focus on student growth and providing essential life skills. In this session, Larry Thompson will discuss how traditional discipline practices actually allow students to continue using those exits to avoid responsibility. He will also share six essential practices that will close those exits and help students learn self-management – Benefits for Changing Behavior, Clear Expectations, Emotional Control, Consistency, and Leadership in Challenging Moments.

In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Adopt best practices for creating a school’s culture in which students take ownership of their actions.
  • Master techniques for dealing with different low-to-high-intensity discipline cases.
  • Close exits on the road to responsibility with emotional control.
  • Adopt methods to drastically decrease disciplinary referrals to the office.
  • Cultivate clear, appropriate and consistent expectations to prevent and address disruptive students behaviors.

About the Presenter:

Author of Roadmap to Responsibility and Give ‘em Five, Larry Thompson, M.Ed., is often called upon to deliver keynote presentations for state and national education conferences because of his knowledge, humor and passion for assisting today’s students. He has helped thousands of educators and schools throughout North America break away from their traditional discipline models to a model that creates a responsible climate and responsible students. Larry has served in a wide variety of roles in education – from special education teacher to alternative and traditional high school principal. As creator of the Responsibility-Centered Discipline program, Larry understands that systems must be created that can be realistically implemented and sustained.

Session B: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

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Not knowing does not protect your school or you from liability…not knowing sets up a failure at preventing disruptive incidents, liabilities, negative headlines, angry parents, and tragedies. Surveys are one of multiple ways to empower schools and districts to gather valuable data (with the right questions) to identify current issues, reasonably foresee potential for issues, and create a benchmark for improving your school climate – because collecting, assessing, and connecting the dots is critical to the overall climate when it comes to dangerous gaps with old school approaches [trusted adults, bullying reporting pages, paper, meetings, silos, etc.]. This session will explore the critical process of collecting, assessing, and interpreting real data from your students and your people in your schools/community.


In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Formulate surveys/incident reports in order to get the information you need to identify issues and create benchmarks for improvement.
  • Utilize the data (dots) collected to create best practices to prevent liability, lawsuits, and tragedies.
  • Demonstrate the essential steps in intervention and prevention.
  • Build community prevention-based safety teams comprised of key collaborators using best practices.

About the Presenter:

Rick Shaw is the Founder, CEO and CDO of Awareity Inc. – a developer of innovative, web-based and award-winning prevention platform for students, employees and communities. He has more than 20 years of experience performing numerous types of assessments (threat, compliance, physical, information security, social media and others), with a focus on prevention processes across multiple industries and types of threats.  Rick’s experiences – combined with extensive research using post-event reports, lawsuits and surveys – has helped expose the most dangerous disconnects and potential liabilities facing schools (including new threats related to social media).

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In a single school year, 1.2 million African-American students faced at least one (1) day of suspension from our nation’s public schools.  Research indicated that nearly 55% of that 1.2 million were from districts in 13 southern states, including Virginia.  Research also revealed that African-American students were suspended more than 3x the rate of Caucasian students.

One possible explanation is that there are seemingly two (2) types of student discipline at work in our schools. First, Criminalized Discipline, which uses punitive-based measures like suspension, expulsion, or referral to law enforcement, and secondly, Medicalized Discipline, which uses solution-based measures like medical attention and/or psychological intervention.  Code violations by minority students are viewed as conditions that warrant Criminalized Discipline; whereas, code violations by non-minority students are viewed as conditions that warrant Medicalized Discipline.  In this session, Dr. Noel will take a serious look at the role Implicit Bias; a lack of Equity & our lack of Cultural Competence plays on the actions & decisions of school staff, based on what they see.

Learning Objectives:

In this session, participants will learn about topics that include, but are not limited to:

  • Understand how our Implicit Bias influences our actions.
  • Discern   why we should stress Equity over Equality.
  • Learn   the Cultural Competency journey
  • Discover  the importance of being “color brave”.
  • how our Mindset impacts the emotions & feelings of students.

About the Presenter

The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out WHY.” This quote by Mark Twain perfectly captures Dr. William Noel’s personal calling and dedication to working for children.  That higher calling and dedication is “WHY” Dr. Noel remains committed to being an influential role model for all students, but especially for our (sometimes) Hard-to-Reach students.

Dr. Noel emphasizes the importance of connecting with our Hard-to-Reach students through establishing genuine relationships, and teaching them to make better decisions.  He will be the first person to debate that knowing WHO we teach may be more important than WHAT we teach.

Dr. Noel began this exciting journey first as a substitute teacher, then an Alternative Education teacher, Social Studies teacher, coach, Assistant Principal, and now Director.  When asked by a colleague if he was going to miss teaching now that he is an administrator; Dr. Noel replied, “I will always be a teacher; just no longer from a classroom.”

Session B: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

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Behavior is a Symptom demystifies the common behavior problems exhibited in schools by first explaining WHY they occur and the teaching HOW to change them. This workshop will: share the precursors that lead to all behavior, inform on how to transform academic and behavioral outcomes, explain what leads to at-risk behaviors and why people repeat the same negative behaviors and demonstrate how relevance and relationships impact behavior. In the end, attendees will learn what is being called “The New PBIS”!

Learning Objectives:
· Identify key components for engaging and motivating at-risk youth and increased student retention.
· Demonstrate innovative non-exclusionary conflict resolution, classroom management and discipline skills.
· Recognize underlying causes of student misbehavior.
· Utilize the Outcome Progression Model
· Differentiate between the four stages of discipline.

About Hotep Benzo, MBA

Education Success Strategist and award-winning author, Hotep Benzo is widely known for his proactive, “tough love” approach to education. He is a 15-year master teacher that has developed a reputation for requesting the most troubled students and transforming them into willing participants in their own education. Mr. Benzo is the founder of Hustle University and creator of the MAKE A WAY program, a series of high relevancy curricula which are used in over 1000 schools throughout the U.S. His profound work has earned him nominations for the Presidential Citizen’s Award and as a CNN Hero. Hotep is also creator of the revolutionary Outcome Progression Model, which he uses to transform the climate and culture of poverty, excuse making and helplessness into one of empowerment, resiliency and success! Hotep is the author of over 14 published works including textbooks, workbooks, coloring books, DVDs and card games. (10 Things Every Leader Must Know, Bored of Education, Keep it Moving, Everything You Need To Know Before You Graduate)

Session B: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

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From the author of the international best-selling book Discipline with Dignity, this session is loaded with strategies, techniques, and ideas designed to prevent motivation and discipline problems in the most difficult classrooms. Discover and practice specific strategies and techniques designed to change attitudes and ignite a passion for success.  This practical, informative session will transform the lives of your most disruptive students.


  • Recognize underlying causes of student misbehavior.
  • Identify 3 places to build relationships.
  • Describe merits of values vs. rules.
  • Demonstrate 8 steps to diffusing any student.


About Brian Mendler

Brian Mendler trains tens of thousands of educators a year and is a highly regarded dynamic speaker. Through his affiliation with Teacher Learning Center, he provides staff development training for K-12 educators and youth service workers throughout the world with a focus on how to be successful with even the most difficult students.

Brian is a certified K-12 and special education teacher with extensive experience working with challenging students in general ed, self-contained, and inclusion settings.  In his training sessions and books, he draws on his own experience as a very disruptive student with severe undiagnosed ADHD and reading difficulties.   

Brian is the author of several books including That One Kid and The Taming of the Crew.  He has also co-authored Strategies for Successful Classroom Management, Power Struggles 2nd Edition, and the bestseller Discipline With Dignity 3rd Edition: New Challenges, New Solutions.