The Experts

John Almarode

John Almarode is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the James Madison University School of Education and has presented internationally on the application of the science of learning. The work of John and his colleagues has been presented to the U.S. Congress, the Virginia Senate, the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Tracie Berry-McGhee

Tracie Berry-McGhee founded the SistaKeeper Empowerment Center in St. Louis with the mission of inspiring and developing the mind, body and spirit of young women. Tracie also serves the community via her private counseling practice, which specializes in women and teen girl issues. She is often called upon to speak on topics such as conflict resolution, dealing with low self-esteem and bullying.

Steve Bollar

Steve Bollar, M.A., aka “Stand Tall Steve,” is an educational thought leader and master motivator. He works with forward-thinking organizations to generate new ideas, improve climate/culture and maximize leadership skills. His quick wit, experience and in-depth knowledge make him an in-demand speaker. Steve has experienced first-hand the importance of a healthy school culture as teacher, principal and superintendent. He is a member of the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame and was named one of South Jersey’s Top 20 Men of the Year. Steve is the author of Ideas, Ideas, Ideas, which has helped schools throughout North America improve their culture.

Michele Borba

Dr. Michele Borba is an internationally renowned educator, award-winning author and parenting child expert recognized for her solution-based strategies to strengthen children’s character, resilience and reduce peer cruelty. A sought-after motivational speaker, she has spoken in 19 countries and five continents, and served as a consultant to hundreds of schools and corporations. Dr. Borba is a former classroom and special education teacher with a wide range of teaching experience, including work in a private practice with children with learning and emotional disabilities.

Brad Chapin

Brad Chapin, Brad Chapin, M.S., LCP, MLP is a masters level psychologist and the Director for Children’s Services at a regional mental health center. Brad has a passion for teaching parents and school professionals the importance of helping children develop healthy self-regulation skills. Brad believes that self-regulation is critical to addressing many of the problem areas children and families experience including ADHD, anger/behavior problems, academic issues, social/emotional problems, Autism Spectrum Disorders and anxiety/depression.

Barbara Coloroso

Barbara Coloroso is a New York Times bestelling author and an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on social- emotional learning, teaching, discipline, school climate, bullying, nonviolent conflict resolution, restorative justice and parenting. She has appeared on Oprah, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and NPR and has been featured in Time, U.S. News & World ReportNewsweek and other national and international publications.

Brian Dinkins

Dr. Brian Dinkins is the creator of Emotionally-Inclusive Practices, a motivational speaker and the CEO for the Center for Empowering Education, an organization that provides parents and students in disenfranchised communities with training,mentoring and advocacy to increase access to college and careers. He completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Ball State University. Brian has served as a teacher, coach and principal in urban settings at a traditional public school, two charter schools and at a faith-based school. He is an assistant professor and the Director of Experiential Program for PreparingSchool Principals at Butler University.

Ronald Gonzalez

Dr. Ronald Gonzalez has led transformation efforts at Mount Vernon High School in the New York City metro area for the past 11 years. His leadership has resulted in improvements in student performance, staff stability and community outcomes. He attributes much of his success to building systems, developing teacher talent and using student voice as an agent of change. Dr. Gonzalez’ doctoral research focused on the impact of seat time for Black and economically disadvantaged students. At Mount Vernon, he has led the expansion of career programs including culinary arts, barbering and certified nursing assistant.
Based upon his belief in equity and access. Dr. Gonzalez successfully implemented the International Baccalaureate program with open enrollment for all students.

Michael Gurian

Dr. Michael Gurian is a marriage and family counselor in private practice and the New York Times bestselling author of 32 books published in 22 languages – including Boys and Girls Learn Differently, The Minds of Boys, The Wonder of Girls and Saving Our Sons. As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations and public policy. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research, launches pilot programs and trains professionals throughout the world. One of the world’s foremost gender experts, Michael has spoken for the United Nations on violence against women; provided information on boys’ and girls’ educational needs to the White House; and briefed members of Congress on the boy crisis in America.

Steph Jensen

Steph Jensen, M.S., 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, Steph has applied her passion for adolescents to focus on
the dynamics of relational aggression, social-emotional learning and positive behavior interventions.

Baruti Kafele

Principal Baruti Kafele, M.A. is a leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies to close  the “attitude gap.” Principal Kafele led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to being recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s best high schools. Principal Kafele is the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, and induction into the East Orange, NJ Hall of Fame.

Consuelo Kickbush

Born and raised in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, LTC (Retired) had to overcome poverty, discrimination and a legacy of illiteracy. After graduating from college, she entered the U.S. Army as an officer and served for two decades – breaking barriers to become the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in Combat Support. Lieutenant Colonel Castillo Kickbusch retired to fulfill her mother’s dying wish that she return to her roots. In realizing that dream, she founded Educational Achievement Services with the mission of preparing tomorrow’s leaders. Consuelo has been interviewed in Soledad O’Brian’s Living Latino in America and featured in HBO’s The Latino List.


Ernest Mejia

Ernesto Mejia, the proud son of Mexican immigrants, is a true example of the American dream. Diagnosed with the rare disease of Guillain-Barré Syndrome at the age of 16 that left him temporarily paralyzed, he was not supposed to be a
successful student, much less a College Dean of Students. Through his hardships, Ernesto learned to never give up on life, he now speaks to students, parents and teachers about overcoming obstacles and never giving up on the American dream:

Pedro Noguera

Pedro Noguera, Ph.D. is the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education. A sociologist, Pedro’s research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global contexts. He appears as a regular commentator on educational issues on several national media outlets, and his editorials on educational issues have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News and Los Angeles Times.

Mike Paget

Mike Paget, M.Ed. is 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.


Larry Thompson

Larry Thompson, M.Ed. is a recognized thought leader and speaker on supportive and non-exclusionary discipline practices. 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.

Horacio Sanchez

Horacio Sanchez is the President and CEO of Resiliency Inc., an agency leader in helping schools improve school climate, instruction and discipline. Horacio is recognized as one of the nation’s prominent experts on promoting student resiliency and applying brain science to improve school outcomes. He is a highly sought-after speaker and has keynoted many national conferences. Horacio has been a teacher, administrator, clinician, mental health director and consultant to the Department of Education in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Education Revolution
published by Corwin Press, which applies brain science to improve instruction, behaviors and school climate.

Aaron Wiemeier

Aaron Wiemeier, M.S., LPC is a licensed professional counselor and a nationally recognized author, trainer and educator. He is an expert in the neurophysiology of trauma, attachment and adoption and has worked successfully with the most difficult of clients and with the most chaotic and conflictual systems. A former Dean of Students at Littleton Preparatory Charter School, Aaron pioneered the development of curriculum and programming that integrates education with the ever-increasing mental health needs that plague public schools.