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  • Thought Leaders and Concurrent Sessions

    Sessions offered at the UT/TASA Summer Conference will include the following:

    Monday, June 24

    8:15-9:15 a.m. Thought Leader Sessions

    True Accountability
    John Tanner, Founder and Executive Director, Test Sense
    More than 60 Texas school district leaders and their boards agree that the current Texas school accountability system is not actual accountability. They have formed a consortium to ask “What would a true accountability system look like?” and their work is being recognized across the country for its unique theory of action: Build a better system and let it eclipse those that already exist. John Tanner will show the richness of the system being built, its advantages over what exists, and why such an effort is essential for the future of public schooling.

    Standards-Based Grading in Clear Creek ISD
    Susan Silva, Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction, Clear Creek ISD
    With the creation of a strategic plan that calls for personalized learning opportunities for students, Clear Creek ISD made the bold shift to standards-based grading in elementary schools. During the last five years, this disruptive innovation has occurred, challenging existing systems while allowing students the opportunity to receive specific feedback, set goals, and create learning pathways. Learn about the systems the district put in place to shift culture and thinking.


    9:30-10:15 a.m. Concurrent Sessions

    School Leadership Wellness Panel
    Kevin Brown, Executive Director, TASA
    Robin Ryan, Superintendent, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD
    David Faltys, Superintendent, Carroll ISD
    Being a school leader is one of the most rewarding yet demanding jobs. Trying to meet the diverse needs and demands of students, staff, parents, board members, the community, and even the Legislature is daunting. Come hear how some leaders have prioritized taking care of themselves so that they can better take care of others and help their organizations grow while living healthy and fulfilling lives.

    Advocacy as a School Leader
    Doug Williams, Superintendent, Sunnyvale ISD
    Learn from TASA Vice President (and past TASA Legislative Chair) Doug Williams how to build relationships with legislators and their staffs. Hear specific anecdotes on how acting as a resource to legislative offices is also a way to positively influence legislation while advocating for public education.

    Managing Burnout and Stress and Leading Schools
    David DeMatthews, and Pedro Reyes, The University of Texas at Austin
    Using Pearlin’s Stress Process Model as an organizing theme for a joint approach to examine stress-related mental health challenges experienced by superintendents in school districts, this session will discuss two questions: 1) What is the impact of a climate of violence, poverty, and urbanicity as well as general duties associated with district leadership (e.g., district governance, administrative responsibilities, uncertainty and external threats) on the health outcomes of superintendents? 2) How is stress and its health consequences complicating efforts of superintendents to lead effectively schools?

    Scaling Innovation in Spring ISD using TASA/e2L DIYs
    Shannon Buerk, CEO and Founder, engage2learn
    Khechara Bradford, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Spring ISD
    Want to know how to scale innovation for every learner? Hear directly from a Spring ISD leader on how the district created its own Learning Innovation Framework (LIF) with the guidance of engage2learn. Through utilizing the LIF process, now offered as a DIY through TASA, Spring ISD will enhance the learner experience through a responsible rollout, coaching more than 125 teachers on eight campuses in 2019-20 and scaling across the district over time.

    Community in Schools Transformation Alliance (CSTA)
    Royse City ISD
    The goal of the Community in Schools Transformation Alliance (CSTA) is to collaborate with other districts in an effort to transform one classroom at a time. CSTA is dedicated to implementing future-ready skills, creating stronger collaboration with others, and supporting better communication across districts. The consortium of districts shares learning through quarterly meetings focused on timely topics and through its Revolutionizing Learning annual conference. Come learn more about the alliance and its growing conference, which offers something for participants at every level of service.

    Ethics in a World of High-Stakes Accountability, Social Media, and a Mental Health Epidemic
    Jason Adams, Mike Love, Mark Samuel, Lakesha Drinks, Ray Prentice, Suzi Wallace, and Angel Wilson, The University of Texas at Austin
    As pressures continue to mount for those working and learning within a high-stakes world of public education, so do the unintended negative consequences. Learn how districts are proactively addressing today’s educational challenges through an ethical decision-making framework.


    10:30-11:30 a.m. Thought Leader Sessions

    High-Performance Leaders, High-Performance Cultures
    Shannon Buerk, CEO and Founder, engage2learn
    Christopher Huckabee, Chief Executive Officer, Huckabee
    Darrell Stanley, Regional Education Team Leader, Steelcase, Inc.
    High-performance leaders have the power to shape cultures that ignite shared passions, empower learning, and create pipelines for everyday growth. Three leaders from three education-focused organizations peel back the layers of high-performance leadership and culture, sharing how a clear vision, focused beliefs and behaviors, and passion lead to success. Understand how “what we believe” and “how we behave” influences culture, and take away key ways to implement and maintain culture shifts.

    Engaging Communities in the Work of Strategic CBAS Visioning and Processes
    Carl Dethloff, Superintendent, Jana Rueter, Assistant Superintendent, Farrah Gomez, Assistant Superintendent, and Shelly Huddleston, Executive Director, San Angelo ISD
    As districts engage in the work of moving strategic vision forward, community-based accountability provides a driving force behind district transformational practices. Follow San Angelo ISD’s journey from design of the foundational work through processes that are intentional and focused on supporting systemic change. Hear how the district utilized community input to guide the framework for building sustainable, innovative practices. San Angelo ISD leaders will provide ideas, templates, and examples of artifacts for how to build capacity for supporting future-ready work, while cultivating a culture of innovation and authentic engagement for the learners and adults in the organization.


    4-4:45 p.m. Concurrent Sessions

    How to Stay Off the 6 o’Clock News: Interactive Panel Discussion
    Rick Hill and Tiger Hanner, TASA General Counsel
    Learn best practices for avoiding legal dilemmas and ethical quandaries as leaders and administrators working in K-12 public school districts.

    Forget All You “Know” About Weight Loss!
    Todd Witthorne, Chief Inspiration Officer, Naturally Slim
    For the first time in our history, three out of every four American adults are now either overweight or obese, and that has a direct impact on health and overall quality of life. Could it be that most everything we believe to be true about weight loss is completely wrong? In this high-energy, myth-busting session, attendees will learn the proven strategies that have helped tens of thousands of individuals not only lose weight, but, more important, keep it off. Participants will leave this presentation with: an understanding that what they eat has very little impact on permanent weight loss, the knowledge that with the right skills they can successfully overcome our “obesigenic environment,” and simple strategies to lose weight, improve health, and increase energy.

    Whetting an Appetite for a Community-Based Accountability System
    Keith Bryant, Superintendent, and Macy Satterwhite, Deputy Superintendent, Lubbock-Cooper ISD
    Come get a taste of how Lubbock-Cooper ISD is beginning to collect the ingredients for a recipe of accountability that reflects the priorities of the community.

    Power in Numbers #TxEdTuesday Campaign
    Kevin Worthy, Superintendent, and Adi Bryant, Chief Communications Officer, Royse City ISD
    Advocacy for public education has never been more imperative. From school board members to classroom teachers, everyone must engage their communities and legislators with the great things happening in their districts. Learn how a social media campaign permeated all corners of the state with an army of educators on Twitter and Facebook.

    Work/Life Balance: How Can Both Be Truly Possible?
    Cordell Jones, Principal, Alamo Heights High School, Alamo Heights ISD
    Be great at work and in your personal life. Structure your days to maximize the growth of your district/campus. Build capacity in others so you don't do it all. Create time for family, friends, and your health.

    Mindfulness Matters: Wellness in the Workplace
    Brenda Rangel, Abby Taylor, Christina Lopez, Danitra Arredondo, and Dustin Bennicker, The University of Texas at Austin
    By understanding the warning signs and risks, schools are becoming better prepared to deal with mental health issues of students. Are we equipping ourselves to understand and identify the signs and dangers we face as school district leaders? Awareness, balance, mindfulness. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences, and learn from others.


    Tuesday, June 25

    9:45-10:30 a.m. Concurrent Sessions

    ProEthica: A District Perspective
    Meredith Christianson and Jessica Stern, ETS
    Toni Thompson, Associate Superintendent, San Antonio ISD
    Educators face daily ethical dilemmas, but seldom do they have the opportunity to discuss the ethical principles that should guide decisions, as well as the risks and vulnerabilities inherent in the profession. The ProEthica program, a multi-year professional learning program, was designed to assist practitioners in daily decision-making. In this interactive session, participants will explore how San Antonio ISD has implemented this intensive program and helped district employees gain the knowledge and skills to navigate ethical dilemmas using principles of professional ethics. Participants will have the opportunity to explore an ethical dilemma using the ProEthica program and hear from district leaders about their goals in implementing this program.

    Creating Capacity and Leveraging Leadership Through Culture and Beliefs
    Rick Kershner (@rtkershner53), Assistant Superintendent of Leadership and Culture, Duana Brashear (@duanabrashear), Peach Creek Elementary Principal, and Laura Wildman, Director of Professional Learning, Splendora ISD  
    Experience Splendora ISD's journey to becoming a values-driven organization. Explore transformational change and the future-ready impact of building capacity and leveraging leadership through culture and beliefs.

    Creating a True Accountability System to Reflect the Values of the Community
    Roland Toscano, Superintendent, Taffi Hertz, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, and
    Shannon Fuller, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, East Central ISD
    What are our community's hopes and dreams for their children? To answer this question, East Central ISD embarked on a journey to create a true accountability system using staff, student, parent, and community input. District leaders will describe the ongoing process and lessons learned, including development of a Community-Based Accountability System during the last two years and development of the district’s first community-wide report.

    A Transformation Story: Active Learning Spaces
    Melissa Motes, Director of Instructional Technology, and Kali Little, Teacher, DeKalb ISD
    Melissa Motes and Kali Little of DeKalb ISD will share how their district implemented a teacher grant program to help furnish one classroom at a time. Learn what worked and what they will do differently next time. Hear the feedback they received from teachers and students. See how the physical space of learning can be transformed in your classroom or school.

    Ethical Leadership by Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks
    Greg Smith, Superintendent, Clear Creek ISD
    This session will focus on professional ethics, building trust, transparent decision-making, and how to swim in the fishbowl while avoiding the sharks. Participate in several simulation exercises that are sure to stretch your thinking but not your values and beliefs.

    Coherence as a Support for Transformation
    Deana N. Dynis, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, Coppell ISD
    As school districts attempt to create sustainable transformation guided by the TASA visioning document and other tools, the organizational challenges of “too loose” and “too tight” take on another dimension. One school district with a documented history of engagement in transformational work has found some success by utilizing a “Learning Framework.” This tool, when coupled with the Coherence Framework, shows promise in supporting innovation in school districts focused on transformation.