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Leader U 2019 Sessions
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Keynote: Connecting with Children - It Begins with a Song

Music and the arts are being integrated into mainstream education all across the US. This keynote session looks at the power of music to develop the whole child and as a learning tool that emotionally engages students allowing them to learn more effectively. 

Speaker: Graham Hepburn (Co-founder and Vice President of

Keynote: Dr. Ryan Jackson - Courageous Culture: The Art of School Transformation

In this powerful new keynote, Dr. Ryan B. Jackson details the powerful journey of a school’s transformation from outcast to outstanding. Learn how creating a courageous culture is the catalyst for school turnaround and watch as Dr. Jackson showcases an unbelievable underdog story. 

Speaker: Ryan Jackson (Executive Lead Principal of Mount Pleasant K-12 School)

Classroom Management for Every Day Survival

Project Based Learning and center work are great instructional strategies, if you can get the students to work and stay on task! Stop spending hours creating meaningful and engaging lessons only to have them hijacked by misbehavior. This session will provide exact classroom management strategies that you can implement on return to your classroom. 

Speaker: Dr. Lynn Seifert (School Success Manager for

College, Career and Technical Education: Crucial for Success

Bill Lee's Governor's Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) initiative is in the news and this means all schools are looking to add dual enrollment and internship opportunities to their career and technical education (CTE) programs of study. In this session, we will explore how CTE has evolved from the "vo-tech" programs of the past and why it is important that all students have some access to these courses. From career exploration in middle school to senior internships, Milan High School is building a program that insures all students leave with a path and a plan.

Speaker:  Candi Norwood (Milan Special Schools)

Drama and Dance:The Transformative Power of Performing Arts in Education 

Most students receive some level of exposure to music and visual arts at some point in their education, but performing arts are more frequently sacrificed to budget cuts, particularly in lower income schools. Learn about the physical, social, and cognitive benefits of participation in dance and theatre arts, and explore ways to incorporate elements of performing arts in regular education classrooms.

Speaker: Randi Staggs (Nashville School of the Arts)

How Purposeful Impact with Data Turned a Tennessee School From Bottom 5% to Top 5% 

The Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy is 6-12 STEM School. CGLA was the first single gender STEM school in the State of Tennessee. The school opened in 2009 and was on the brink of closure by 2011. Beginning in August of 2012, in just nine months, the team finds formula and strategies to be removed from the low performing list and make the State Reward List, two years in a row. Presentation will include steps to success, and tools on how one school went from one of the lowest performing schools to highest with IMPACTFUL DATA Driven Instruction. It's no silver bullet; it's working smarter with data driven decisions.

Speaker: Dr. Elaine Swafford (Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy)

Music- Engaging Minds, Creativity and Motivation

Music in the regular classroom is not just for fun, but learning becomes more motivational to students when they enjoy and feel that spark of creativity happening in the room. Music engages every student when they are able to make it personal. Enter into new ideas, methods and ways to entice students in reading, math, science and creative writing. Music truly makes a difference for all students, but especially students with learning challenges and the hard to engage student. Come ready to enjoy an energizing class with lots of take home ideas and experiences for your students. No musical experience required!

Speaker: Siema Swartzel (Cleveland City Schools)

Outdoor Learning for Every Classroom and Every Course K-12 and Anywhere 

What is Citizen Science? How can I utilize it for my ELA, mathematics, social studies, related arts, or any other classroom to add active participation in learning for my students? Can it really help academic outcomes? How does student physical movement within my class time affect student academic and behavioral performance? Is the "lost class time" worth the risk? Come see how one school has made a positive difference in student behavior and academics by engaging students through outdoor learning with Citizen Science and movement within the academic day.  

Speaker: Angie Markum (Ivy Academy Chattanooga)

Personalize Learning in Elementary School 

Personalized! A guide to personalized learning in elementary school. Join kindergarten teacher Natalie Beach to explore low cost and low-impact options to personalize learning for children in PreK-4th grade. 

Speaker: Natalie Beach (Putnam County Schools)

Popular Music Education and Modern Band

While popular music can be a powerful tool for generating interest in music, many teachers steeped in formal learning struggle to apply informal techniques to unfamiliar music. This workshop-demonstration is centered on the belief that all people are musical, demonstrated quickly and in an enjoyable manner for all ages by leveraging the musical choices of the individual. This is achieved through the performance of modern band – culturally relevant music of students taught through approximation, music acquisition theory, and social equity. 

Speaker: Mark Hale (Metro Nashville Schools)

Practical Ways to Deal with the Poverty Issue

Families living in poverty fear they are viewed as powerless so they tend to magnify their power and control. This creates a “Staring Wall”.  This session is about ways to open new conversations that help you meet them at the top of their wall. There are six powerful conversations you can initiate with the families and students that will take you to the top of the “Staring Wall”.  Six conversations that validate their power and put them in control of their learning. Six conversations that build trust so that a learning relationship can grow and your best teaching strategies can actually be used.

Speaker:  Gayle Porterfield (Retired Teacher)

The Importance of PE/Physical Fitness on Learning  

While some educators have tried to separate mind from body, it is within physical education that mind and body are brought together.  This natural interplay has countless benefits to learners, such as why proper diet enhances essential exercise, and vice versa!  The presentation will explain how the foundation of physical education grounds a learner for a lifetime of effective living and physical activity. 

Speaker: Dr. Fran Hoogestraat (Coach/Athletic Counselor Vanderbilt University)

There’s No “I” in STEAM: A Look Into the Cognitive Process of Learning, Arts and the Brain.

Educators across America struggle to find new ways to engage students, raise motivation and increase academic performance. Today we have the answer- the arts. There’s no “I” in STEAM examines the critical links between the arts and student achievement based on neurological brain patterns. This engaging session investigates why traditional subjects should not be taught alone, but integrated with the arts to build stronger and more meaningful connections to enhance student learning experiences.

Speaker: Dr. Emerald Mitchell (Director of Moves and Grooves, Nashville)

Words & Music: Teaching Social-Emotional Learning through Lyric Writing

Now entering its fortieth year, Words & Music at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has served over 150,000 students in Tennessee and across the country. As teachers work through the ten-lesson unit in their classrooms, students develop English Language Arts skills, gain arts appreciation, and practice self-reflection. Through the culminating activity of writing their own song lyrics, students express themselves by producing a personal product. Come hear from members of the CMHOF’s Education team as they provide an overview of this award-winning interdisciplinary curriculum and share how you can use it in your classroom.

Speaker:  Aaron Helvig (CMHOF School Programs' Coordinator)

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