2021 Annual Conference Sessions and Resources

Click on the session titles below to view the session’s information, including a description, presenters, intended audiences and resources.

Pre-Conference Breakout Session (8:00 am – 8:50 am)

Breakout Session I (10:00 am – 10:50 am)

Breakout Session II  (11:00 am – 11:50 am)

Lunch Session (12:00 pm – 1:30 pm)

Breakout Session III (1:40 pm – 2:30 pm)

Closing Session (2:30 pm – 3:00 pm)

The Center’s Executive Director Corey Northrop will lead the closing session and announcement of the Innovation and Vision Award winner. All attendees of the closing session will be entered into a drawing to win prizes, so be sure to join this final session.

General Session Speakers

Headshot of Kim Bearden
Kim Bearden | Keynote Speaker

Kim Bearden is the cofounder, executive director, and language arts teacher at the highly acclaimed Ron Clark Academy, an innovative middle school and educator-training facility in Atlanta. Over 85,000 educators from around the world have visited Kim’s classroom and have attended her workshops to learn better ways to engage students, build relationships, foster academic excellence, enhance communication, and create a climate and culture for success.

In 2016, Kim was honored at the White House for being inducted into to the National Teachers Hall of Fame. She was selected from over 70,000 nominations to be honored as the Disney American Teacher Awards Outstanding Humanities Teacher, and the Milken Family Foundation selected her to receive the Award for Excellence in Education. She is the winner of the InfluencHer Award, the University of Georgia Outstanding Educator Award, and the Turknett Character Award for Servant Leadership. Mercedes-Benz recognized her in their Greatness Lives Here campaign, and Women Works Media Group has named her one of Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Women.

Kim has spoken at hundreds of in-person events across the country as well as in South Africa, London, and China. Additionally, she is a sought-after virtual speaker and trainer. Her newest virtual course is available through Premiere University.

Over the past thirty-four years, Kim has been a teacher, instructional lead teacher, curriculum director, school-board member, staff-development trainer, and middle-school principal. Kim is a bestselling author of three books: Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me; Talk to Me: Find the Right Words to Inspire, Encourage, and Get Things Done; and her newest book, Fight Song: Six Steps to Passion, Power, Peace, and Purpose.


Headshot of Dr. Alison Arnold
Dr. Alison Arnold

Dr. Arnold directs the Interdisciplinary Center for Community Health & Wellness at Central Michigan University, a five-college collaboration with the community, providing programs, research, and projects focused on health priorities in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond. Dr. Arnold’s experience cuts across education, business, and philanthropy. With over 15 years in education administration, she has led community engagement initiatives, grants, and partnerships to support learning for P-12 and higher education institutions. Arnold is a Master Trainer for the Michigan ACEs Initiative, Building Self-Healing Communities.


Headshot of Dr. Paula Lancaster
Dr. Paula Lancaster

Paula Lancaster is the Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at CMU. She is a professor of special education and has served in the roles of Department Chair and Director of Teacher Education. After receiving her B. S. in Special Education, she was a high school special education teacher for eight years. During this time she completed her M.S. in Curriculum and Supervision and a certification in Educational Leadership while becoming a building level administrator. She completed her PhD. in Special Education in 1999 at the University of Kansas, where she also worked at the Center for Research on Learning. Her research has focused on effective instruction and instructional technology for adolescents with high incidence disabilities. More recently, her work is centered on the development and implementation of practice-based approaches to educator preparation with a particular interest in collaborations between university-based preparation programs and P-12 school environments. She is active in state-level educator preparation work, serving on multiple committees and task forces, and is a founding member of the Michigan Teacher Education Network, an organization dedicated to disrupting patterns of inequity in teaching and teacher education.