Guest Speakers

 Jack Berckemeyer 
  • Teaching Strategies that Motivate Young Adolescents
  • Classroom Management for the Middle Level Educator -- Managing the Madness
  • Understanding Adolescents
  • Taming of the Team -- How Great Teams Work Together
A nationally-recognized presenter, author, and humorist, Jack Berckemeyer, began his career as a middle school teacher in Denver, Colorado. After two years of teaching he was named as an outstanding educator at his school, and shortly thereafter he was identified as one of the outstanding educators in the district.

In 2003, he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Falcon School District. Jack brings his energy, humor, and expertise of the middle level adolescent to all staff development as he helps teachers and administrators remember why this job makes a difference. Jack has presented in conference and school district settings both nationally and internationally. Jack served as a judge for the Disney American Teacher Awards and the selection committee for the USA Today All Teacher Team.

Jack Berckemeyer is known for his motivating, practical teaching ideas, communicating a message of hope, laughter, and insight to the nature of the young adolescent.Jack was also the Assistant Executive Director for the National Middle School Association for 13 years and is the author of Managing the Madness- A Practical Guide to Middle Grades Classrooms. He is also the co-author of H.E.L.P for Teachers. Jack is currently the Director of Professional development for Incentive Publications. He works with schools all over the world and coordinates the Nuts and Bolts Symposiums located in Destin, Florida and Boulder, Colorado.

Jack Lives in Denver, Colorado, and has no pets or plants.
 Neila A. Connors

Neila A. Connors

Dr. Neila A. Connors is presently the founder and president of N.A.C. (Networking And Client), CONNECTIONS INC., a corporation dedicated to the implementation of POSITIVE ATTITUDES AND ACTIONS in people. Her primary focus is to coach people on how to “build their own bridge for a successful life.” Her philosophy is based upon Napoleon Hill’s quote: “if you can conceive it and believe it--YOU can ACHIEVE IT.”

Throughout her career, Neila has had the privilege of working with students in grades K-12. She has been an elementary teacher, a middle school teacher, and an administrator. She presently is an adjunct professor at Florida State University teaching a doctoral course entitled “Technology and Leadership.”

Neila worked at the Florida Department of Education, responsible for coordinating the development of the middle and high school state curriculum frameworks, working with high school teachers and administrators throughout the state. She also was the Director of Middle Grades and later was responsible for the state International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs. She also served as a tenured professor in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia.

Her research has been in the areas of teacher advisory programs, successful counselors, attitudes of students from rural areas, positive teachers and their characteristics and homework. Among her most notable publications are S.O.S. (Success-Oriented Strategies) or Teachers of At-Risk Early Adolescents: P.S. - All Early Adolescents Are At Risk! and Homework: a New Direction. Her most recent publication, “If You Don’t Feed the Teachers, They Eat the Students”, a guide for all educators, has received many enthusiastic reviews. She is presently writing a partner book for businesses entitled “If You Don’t Feed Your Employees, They Eat the Customers.” Additionally, her newest book “If You Don’t F.E.E.D. (Fuel, Empower & Engage Daily) the Students They S.T.A.R.V.E. (Stop Trying And Reject Valuable Education) will be available through John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing in the fall of 2011.

Neila has written numerous articles and has presented to public and private school educators, school boards, superintendents, state and national organizations, parents, counselors, international school educators, and corporations in the 50 states, Canada, and Europe.

Born in Lenox Dale, Massachusetts, Neila received her Bachelor’s degree from St. Leo College in Florida and her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She is proud to be a die-hard Florida State Seminole and introduces herself as A BELIEVER IN PEOPLE AND A LOVER OF LIFE!
Kevin Hawkins

  • An Introduction to Mindfulness in Schools
  • Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning -- Learning from the Inside Out 
  • Guided Meditation
Kevin Hawkins is Middle School Principal at the International School of Prague, Czech Republic. Kevin has worked as a teacher, principal, school head, and social worker in the UK, Africa, and Europe. He brings to education a holistic understanding of children and young people from his lifelong work with adolescents, and he strives to support the development of young minds through enhancing self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Kevin has been teaching mindfulness to teenagers, teachers and parents at the International School of Prague since 2008.
Taylor Mali

  • Writing, Revising, Preparing for, and Producing a School Poetry Slam
  • Taylor Mali Returns (This Time It’s Personal!) Rated PG-13
  • Poetry Mad Libs: An Introduction to Creative Writing
  • Great Writing Prompts for Students Who Don’t Like Poetry
New York City native Taylor Mali is one of the most well known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement. His life, words and mission speak of inclusion, not exclusion, which makes him an unexpected force among dissimilar wordsmiths.

After nine years of teaching in a regular classroom, Mali sought out a larger one, and he has performed and lectured globally ever since. Still a staunch supporter of educators and the art of teaching, Mali’s New Teacher Project has a goal of attracting 1,000 new people to the field of education through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance.”

He is the author of two books of poetry, The Last Time As We Are (Write Bloody Books 2009) and What Learning Leaves (Hanover 2002), and four CDs of spoken word.

A past president of the nonprofit Poetry Slam, Inc., Taylor is one of the fortunate ones who make his living as a spoken-word and voiceover artist. He has also narrated several books on tape, including The Great Fire (for which he won the Golden Earphones Award for children’s narration).

 Ruth Van Reken
  • The Changing Face of International Schools: Hearing Every Story, Developing Every Gift
  • Teaching in a Culturally Complex World: New Challenges; New Opportunities
  • Learning to Navigate Transitions Well: Developing a Lifelong Skill Set
Ruth E. Van Reken is a second generation adult TCK and mother of 3ATCKs. She speaks nationally and internationally on issues related to global family living. She is co-founder of Families in Global Transition. In addition to other writing, Ruth is co-author of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds.
 Linda Rief    
  • Adolescent Literacy: From Life and for Life
  • Keeping a Writer - Reader Notebook
  • Bridging Generations: Keeping History Alive in the Language Arts Classroom
Linda Rief is a full-time language arts teacher at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, New Hampshire, where she teaches eighth grade students. She is an instructor in the University of New Hampshire’s Summer Literacy Institute and Northeastern University’s Summer Institute.

Linda is the author of Seeking Diversity: Language Arts with Adolescents (1992) and Vision and Voice: Extending the Literacy Spectrum (1999). 100 Quickwrites is her first book with Scholastic. She has also written several book chapters and articles, and she co-founded and co-edited Voices from the Middle, a journal for middle school teachers published by the National Council for Teachers of English.

In 1999 Linda received the Richard W. Halle Award presented by the middle school assembly of NCTE. The following year she received the NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Award for Outstanding Middle School Educator in English/Language Arts. Linda was a finalist for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year
 Joyce Valenza

  • Transliteracy: Unconference and Make-and-Take Petting Zoo (BYOD!)
  • Transliteracy: An Unintentional Film Festival
  • Learning Tools Smackdown . . . preview what's to come
Joyce Kasman Valenza, teacher-librarian at Springfield Township (PA) High School, has been studying and writing about young people, technology and information fluency for more than twenty years. She has worked in special, public, and school libraries. For ten years, Joyce wrote the techlife@school column for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Joyce authored books on information skills for ALA Editions and Information Today and developed several video series for Schlessinger Media. Joyce currently writes the award-winning NeverendingSearch Blog for School Library Journal and also writes VOYA’s Technology Tag Team column. Joyce earned her doctoral degree from the University of North Texas in 2007. She developed and currently teaches online for Mansfield University's SL&IT program. Joyce was awarded the AASL/Highsmith research grant in 2005. She is a Milken Educator, a Google Certified Teacher, and a Library of Congress American Memory Fellow. She was selected as one of Technology and Learning’s100@30 and was recently honored with the 2011 Edublogs Award for Lifetime Achievement. This year, Joyce presented a TEDxPhillyEd talk at Wharton University. She is active in ALA, AASL, YALSA, and ISTE and speaks internationally about issues relating to libraries and thoughtful use of educational technology. Her research interests include: virtual libraries as digital/mobile learning spaces, digital collection curation, transliteracy, digital storytelling and creativity, youth information-seeking behavior, online communities of practice, digital youth and new media, and the evolving role of the teacher-librarian.

Joyce considers herself a mother and founder of the TL Geek tribe and #tlchat.