Main Presenters


Pre-conference Workshop: Encouraging Futures: Empowering Learners through an Integrative Curriculum
Session 1: Unlocking the Doors to a Great Middle School
Session 2: Involving Students in Formative Self-Assessment
Session 3: Soundings: Inviting Students to Explore What Really Matters

Early in his 35 year career at Radnor Middle School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Mr. Springer developed and taught interdisciplinary humanities, creative writing, and American Studies courses. He subsequently co-directed the school’s gifted program for six years before creating, along with co-teacher Ed Silcox, the award-winning WATERSHED Program, which he taught for twelve years. In 1998, Mr. Springer then created the Soundings Program, an integrative and democratic curriculum for eighth graders. He implemented this curriculum until retiring in 2010.

The author of many articles on integrative studies, Mr. Springer has written two books about WATERSHED and another entitled Soundings: A Democratic Student-Centered Education. Mr. Springer presents nationally and internationally on middle level philosophy, integrated curriculum development, differentiation, formative and authentic assessment, and active learning strategies for school districts, professional conferences, and middle level institutes, including NMSA’s Middle Level Leadership Institute. He has served on policy committees for NMSA, as a Teacher Trustee on the NMSA board, and recently as a member of the writing team that revised This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents, NMSA’s landmark position paper. In addition to other honors, Mr. Springer was a 2001 top ten finalist for the National Teachers’ Hall of Fame and received NMSA’s first ever Distinguished Educator Award in 2004.

Mr. Springer now develops project-based curricula and continues to serve as a consultant for schools around the United States.


John Abbott is the author of the recently published book ‘Overschooled but Undereducated: how the crisis in education is jeopardising adolescence’. This brief Summary shows the width of John’s, and the Initiative’s, work. It goes as follows.

“England once led the world into the industrial age through merging the genius of the few with the applied creativity of countless self-taught apprentices/craftsmen. We now seem to have forgotten the adolescent’s instinctive need “to grow up” by so learning to do things for themselves that they emerge as responsible, skilful and thoughtful adults. Instead of fostering this innate creativity, formal schooling has sought to neutralise the impact of adolescence thereby depriving youngsters of the strength to take difficult decisions and pick up the pieces if things go wrong. Properly supported adolescence is an invaluable opportunity, not a threat to social stability. Understand that and it changes everything.”

John Abbott has been the President of the 21st Century Learning Initiative since 1995. He once taught Geography and Religious Studies at Manchester Grammar School. He became Chairman of the Expeditions Advisory Centre at the Royal Geographic Society and represented secondary education on The Engineering Council. He was one of the earliest people involved in advising the old Department for Education science on the introduction of computer technology into schools. In 1972 he became Headmaster of the 420 year old Alleyne’s School in Stevenage and in 1979 established what was to become Britain’s first ever fully computerised classroom and in 1984 was seconded to write a ‘curriculum for secondary schools appropriate to the needs of the late 20th Century’. In 1987 he was invited to give the Keynote Address to the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry.

In 1995 he was invited to Washington to set up The 21st Century Learning Initiative to create a synthesis of research into how humans learn which was emerging from the biology, cognitive science and social sciences. In 1997 he was subsequently invited by former President of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev to become a member of the State of the World Forum that met annually in San Francisco to discuss those issues which politicians were unwilling to put onto their political agendas.

In 1999 the Initiative published ‘A Policy Paper: the strategic and resource implications of the new modern learning’. He has lectured widely around the world and tries to explain to politicians that a balanced education involves the emotional development within the home, the inspiration for life as found within the community, as well as the intellectual rigour that should be an integral part of life in the classroom. Previously he had published ‘The Child is the Father of the Man: how humans learn and why’, and in 2001 ‘The Unfinished Revolution: learning, human behaviour, community and political paradox’. In August 2009 the Initiative published a ‘Parliamentary Briefing Paper on the design faults at the heart of English education’, which was circulated to every member of Parliament, together with the Directors of Children’s Services in each of the statuary authorities in England and Wales.

See the Initiative’s two websites, and


Dr. Jason Ohler is a professor emeritus, speaker, writer, teacher, researcher, and lifelong digital humanist who is well known for the passion, insight, and humor he brings to his presentations, projects and writings. He has worked both online and in classrooms at home and internationally for over a quarter century helping students develop the new skills, literacies and perspectives they need to be successful in the digital age.

He is a passionate promoter of “Art the Next R” and of combining innovation, creativity and digital know-how to help reinvent teaching and learning. He is also an enthusiastic champion of the need for students to learn how to use technology wisely and safely, with awareness and compassion, so they can become informed and productive citizens in a global digital society. He has won numerous awards for his work and is author of many books, articles, and online resources. His current book, Digital Community, Digital Citizen, explores the issues of helping our students and ourselves blend our digital and non-digital lives into one integrated approach to living. His previous book, Digital Storytelling in the Classroom, reminds us that he is first and foremost a storyteller, telling tales of the future that are grounded in the past.

“The goal is the effective, creative, and wise use of technology . . . to bring together technology, community, and learning in ways that work. And while we are at it, to have fun.”


Pre-conference Workshop: Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Standards Based World Language Units Using Understanding by Design
Session 1: Focus on Standards Based Performance Assessments in World Languages
Session 2: What Would be the Effect on Language Teaching with Mandated Standards and 21st Century Skills?

Christine Brown has taught French, Spanish, and English language learners in grades K- 12 and served as language methods and second language acquisition instructor at numerous colleges and universities. She is currently the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the Glastonbury Public Schools in Connecticut, USA. She is also a consultant to the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) project, to the Startalk Program of the National Security Agency, and to the Arabic and Korean K-20 Language Standards Project of the Standards Collaborative, and is a member of the Advisory Council of the National Security Education Program and of the Qatar Foundation.

She has served as president of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), president of the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers, chair of the K-12 Student Standards Task Force for the National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, chair of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, director of Languages for the Glastonbury Public Schools, as a member of the Language Task Force for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), and as a consultant for the Language and Arts Task Force of the National Association for State Boards of Education (NASBE). She is a founding member of the National Network of Early Language Learning (NNELL) and of the National District Supervisors of Foreign Language (NADSFL)

In recognition of her excellent work Ms. Brown has been awarded National Foreign Language Supervisor of the Year, Outstanding Administrator Award from the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), Outstanding Educator (New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers and the Connecticut Council of Language Teachers), and the Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in Foreign Language Education (ACTFL).


Tom Daccord is an educational technology specialist and the author of Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Teachers and The Best of History Web Sites. A veteran "laptop teacher" who instructed in a wireless laptop environment for seven years, Tom has been featured in the Boston Globe ("Making Tech Connect," December 29, 2003) for his contributions to teaching with technology. Tom has worked with schools, districts, and colleges in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia and presents on educational technology at various national and regional conferences. A former social studies teacher, Tom currently serves as President of the National Council of Social Studies Technology Committee and is a featured speaker at the 2010 NCSS Conference. He is creator and co-webmaster of Best History Web Sites, an award-winning portal, and The Center for Teaching History with Technology, dedicated to helping K-12 history and social studies teachers effectively incorporate technology into their courses. Tom also created Teaching English with Technology, designed to guide K-12 English and Language Arts teachers in their use of technology in the classroom. Tom serves as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) project consultant, is an advisor to Massachusetts Computer Users in Education (MassCUE), and is a board member of the Massachusetts Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (MASCD). A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Montreal, Tom has taught in Quebec, France, Switzerland, and the United States.


Pre-conference Workshop: An Administrative Toolbox of "Look-Fors": Curriculum, Instruction, Hiring, Evaluation, and Workplace Satisfaction
Session 1: Curriculum: Present and Future Tension
Session 2: Team Time for Teachers

Dr. Alan E. Leis served for six years as Superintendent of Naperville Community Unit School District 203, a high-achieving pre-K-12 suburban school system of 18,500 students just west of Chicago. District 203 is noted for its strong math and science curriculum and its innovative data management system.

Prior to moving to Naperville, Alan served as the Deputy Superintendent and the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources in Fairfax County Schools (VA). In both Naperville and Fairfax County, Alan has been involved in several types of teacher and principal evaluation systems, and has taught educational leadership classes at George Mason University, the University of Virginia, National Louis University, and the George Washington University.

Since retiring, Alan has done national and international consulting with international schools in Eastern and Western Europe. He coaches superintendents and principals, and he frequently leads principals and superintendent searches in the Midwest and East Coast states of the U.S.

Alan has worked with a variety of international schools over the years, presenting leadership workshops at conferences in Central America, Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean region. During the 2010-11 school year, Alan helped American schools in Budapest, Leipzig, and Sophia on personnel evaluation and Board issues.

Chris Cullen

Pre-conference Workshop
: Mindfulness in Schools
Session 1: Mindfulness in Schools

Chris Cullen works as a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist. He was previously a secondary school teacher, and for 10 years was Head of Pastoral Care & Counselling at Hampton School in SW London. He is co-founder of the Mindfulness in Schools Project [MiSP], which has developed a mindfulness curriculum for teenagers called “.b” that is being used in a growing number of schools and organisations for young people across the country and further afield. MiSP is working with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter to prepare for a large-scale Randomised Control Trial studying the effects of teaching mindfulness to teenagers as part of the school curriculum. Chris also teaches mindfulness to musicians and actors at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. He has trained as an Insight Meditation teacher with Christina Feldman and regularly leads retreats at Gaia House in Devon. He is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy at the University of Oxford.