Pre-Conference Sessions

Individual pre-conference sessions are in addition to the conference registration.

Mike Paget, M.Ed.
Positive Behavioral Supports with Students Who Are Wired Differently

Session A: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Supporting students who are “Wired Differently” in an inclusive school setting requires an array of practices beyond traditional discipline. This session will include an overview of the major emotional and behavioral challenges of students who are “Wired Differently.” Success for all students requires an emphasis on prevention and positive skill building. Increasingly school experience is showing the importance of effective school wide practices to best support all students. “School wide positive behavior interventions and supports” is one of the more prominent practices. This session will look at effective practices at the universal, secondary, and tertiary tiers.

Learning Objectives:
In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Understanding the top Ten Challenges of Students Who are Wired Differently
  • Designing School-wide Systems for Students Who are Wired Differently
  • Evaluating Your School for Effective School Wide Practices
  • Collaboration Between Families, Schools and Community Resources

About the Presenter:
Mike currently works as 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. He is co-author of Aggressive and Violent Students and Defying the Defiance. His newest book is High on the Spectrum: Asperger’s, High-Functioning Autism & Related Personalities.

Mike Shaw

Youth-Risk Taking Behavior: Shifting the Mindset

Session A: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Did you know?

  • Each year 4.3 million youths 14 and younger suffer unintentional injuries requiring hospital treatment.
  • 1 in 10 teens in high school drink and drive.
  • 81% of students rarely or never wear a bicycle helmet.
  • 42% of students text while driving.

Today’s students face a silent epidemic. Risk-taking behaviors, critical errors and lapses in judgment cause millions of unintentional injuries each year in North America, resulting in sometimes grueling pain for students and families, as well as lost classroom time. In some cases, these injuries permanently alter students’ lives. And 7000 to 8000 times each year these injuries prove fatal – about one per hour.

We have a responsibility to our students to make sure they have the skills necessary to assess risk and reduce unintentional injuries.

In this thought-provoking session, Mike Shaw will highlight how behavior-based skills such as greater awareness, attention, and intention can reduce injuries, as well as other types of errors – including academic errors.

Attendees will gain key insights and lessons learned on understanding risk and knowing personal limitations from Mike’s ski coaching and performance background. He will share unique perspectives on risk vs. reward, and what dangerous sports and death-defying stunts have to do with the average student’s safety and performance. Attendees will walk away with fresh insights and practicable techniques for reducing risk and error.

Research has shown that mental states like rushing, frustration, fatigue and complacency, which most students find themselves in almost every day, cause or contribute to critical errors. These critical errors often put a student in the path of a hazard. Mr. Shaw will explain how this state-to-error risk pattern is responsible for up to 95% of student injuries, and will present skills that students – and educators -- can use to improve safety and reduce critical errors in school and all facets of their lives.


  • Define the state-to-error risk pattern
  • Differentiate the three types of at-risk behavior
  • Applying the Critical Error Reduction Techniques to classroom life skills lessons
  • Recognize the importance of gauging risk in all areas of life – a 24/7 approach
  • Recognize the importance of keeping eyes and mind on task to reduce risk and error
  • Implement a simple set of techniques for increasing awareness in the moment that will contribute to a deeper sense of wellbeing, increased performance and decreased injuries

About the Presenter:

Mike Shaw is the Director of Education and Athletics for SafeStart, an organization dedicated to improving student and employee safety by reducing human risk factors using proven behavior-based skills and techniques. He is a University of British Columbia business administration graduate with a background in freestyle skiing and high-performance coaching. He joined SafeStart in 2014 after recovering from a traumatic skiing accident which dislocated his neck and left him paralyzed from the neck down. Mike’s unique story of triumph embodies human resilience in its purest form and fuels his passion to help people improve their safety and performance with SafeStart. His one-of-a-kind recovery story and gracious perspective on life allow Mike to connect with audiences and provide them with an unforgettable learning experience.

Kaye Randall, MSW, LISW-CP

Be the Difference: Growth Mindset Strategies in Creating New Pathways to Resiliency, Responsibility and Social and Emotional Learning

Session A: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Inspiring internal motivation for change among our students can be challenging at times. Youth get to see themselves as the author of their lives and learn to live responsibly with accountability, kindness and compassion. They get to feel empowered in choosing a context of growth. They will learn that the challenges of life may offer the greatest opportunities for that growth! This workshop gives specific creative strategies for facilitating and maintaining the growth mindset context specific to the student’s social, emotional learning needs.


  • Learn structures to allow students, faculty and staff to be outward focused, to think about their choices and realize their contribution in creating the results around them
  • Understand how to effectively get results by choosing thoughts, feelings and behaviors from a place of ownership using transformational distinctions of interpretation and context setting
  • Apply strategies for dealing with resistance and create a context for change, both for the faculty, staff and the students that they serve
  • Incorporate the ‘Looks Like/Feels Like’ model to help students manifest their natural leadership abilities and access their innate desire for accountability, responsibility, kindness and compassion
  • Identify a context of healthy power and control

About the Presenter:

Kaye Randall, MSW, LISW-CP, is a clinical therapist, author and speaker. She is co-owner and director of Turning Point Counseling in West Columbia, South Carolina. She is the co-author of See My Pain: Creative Strategies for Helping Young People Who Self-Injure, Mean Girls: 101 ½ Strategies for Working With Relational Aggression, and 102 Strategies and Activities in Working with Depressed Children and Adolescents. She is also the very proud mother of an amazing daughter…

Kaye leads professional seminars on topics affecting youth throughout the US and Canada. Topics such as critical mental health needs in schools, self-injury, suicide intervention and prevention, bullying, and depression in youth. She has inspired seminar participants through her humor, practical insights and proactive strategies in helping children and adolescents (and adults!) gain insight and ownership in their lives. She also shares leadership strategies designed to create ownership in one’s life that opens up the possibility of new insights and new healthier choices thus leading to better outcomes for students, faculty and staff. In addition, Kaye leads workshops on having a culture of “Being a Difference” at your school and in your life and gives a specific framework for integration of being outward focused into your current system.

Larry Thompson, M.Ed.
Closing the Exits off the Road to Responsibility: Supportive, Non-Exclusionary Discipline

Session A: 9:00am - 12:00pm

Can responsibility be taught? How can educators move from "making" students behave to helping students learn self-management? this is a major, but necessary, paradigm shift - moving from enforcement to a focus on student growth and providing essential life skills. In this session, Larry Thompson will discuss how traditional discipline practices actually allow students to continue using those exits to avoid responsibility. He will also share six essential practices that will close those exits and help students learn self-management - Benefits for Changing Behavior, Clear Expectations, Emotional Control, Consistency, and Leadership in Challenging Moments.

In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Adopt best practices for creating a school's culture in which students take ownership of their actions.
  • Master techniques for dealing with different low-to-high-intensity discipline cases.
  • Close exits on the road to responsibility with emotional control.
  • Adopt methods to drastically decrease disciplinary referrals to the office.
  • Cultivate clear, appropriate and consistent expectations to prevent and address disruptive students behaviors.

About the Presenter:
Author of Roadmap to Responsibility and Give ‘em Five, Larry Thompson, M.Ed., is often called upon to deliver keynote presentations for state and national education conferences because of his knowledge, humor and passion for assisting today’s students. 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. As creator of the Responsibility-Centered Discipline program, Larry understands that systems must be created that can be realistically implemented and sustained.

Rick Shaw
School Climate Surveys: You Can’t Know What You Don’t Ask! And You Can’t Measure What You Don’t Know!

Session B: 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Not knowing does not protect your school or you from liability…not knowing sets up a failure at preventing disruptive incidents, liabilities, negative headlines, angry parents, and tragedies. Surveys are one of multiple ways to empower schools and districts to gather valuable data (with the right questions) to identify current issues, reasonably foresee potential for issues, and create a benchmark for improving your school climate – because collecting, assessing, and connecting the dots is critical to the overall climate when it comes to dangerous gaps with old school approaches [trusted adults, bullying reporting pages, paper, meetings, silos, etc.]. This session will explore the critical process of collecting, assessing, and interpreting real data from your students and your people in your schools/community.

In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Formulate surveys/incident reports in order to get the information you need to identify issues and create benchmarks for improvement.
  • Utilize the data (dots) collected to create best practices to prevent liability, lawsuits, and tragedies.
  • Demonstrate the essential steps in intervention and prevention.
  • Build community prevention-based safety teams comprised of key collaborators using best practices.

About the Presenter:
Rick Shaw is the Founder, CEO and CDO of Awareity Inc. – a developer of innovative, web-based and award-winning prevention platform for students, employees and communities. He has more than 20 years of experience performing numerous types of assessments (threat, compliance, physical, information security, social media and others), with a focus on prevention processes across multiple industries and types of threats. Rick's experiences – combined with extensive research using post-event reports, lawsuits and surveys – has helped expose the most dangerous disconnects and potential liabilities facing schools (including new threats related to social media).

In addition to working with organizational leaders, Rick has been called upon to speak at numerous conferences in the United States, Canada, South Korea and Japan for his expertise in safety (student, employee, third-party, community, etc.) and prevention. He utilizes evidence-based data from hundreds of post-event reports and extensive research to expose each point where proper preventive tactics were possible in most incidents and tragedies.

Rick's passion is student and child safety, and he leads an extensive research effort at Awareity to help educational leaders understand the need for comprehensive and proven prevention solutions to improve student safety and to prevent escalating consequences related to sexual abuse, bullying, cyberbullying, campus violence, suicide, human trafficking, homegrown terrorism and alcohol/drug abuse.

William Noel, PhD

Implicit Bias, Equity & Cultural Competence in Schools

Session B: 1:00pm - 4:00pm

In a single school year, 1.2 million African-American students faced at least one (1) day of suspension from our nation’s public schools. Research indicated that nearly 55% of that 1.2 million were from districts in 13 southern states, including Virginia. Research also revealed that African-American students were suspended more than 3x the rate of Caucasian students.

One possible explanation is that there are seemingly two (2) types of student discipline at work in our schools. First, Criminalized Discipline, which uses punitive-based measures like suspension, expulsion, or referral to law enforcement, and secondly, Medicalized Discipline, which uses solution-based measures like medical attention and/or psychological intervention. Code violations by minority students are viewed as conditions that warrant Criminalized Discipline; whereas, code violations by non-minority students are viewed as conditions that warrant Medicalized Discipline. In this session, Dr. Noel will take a serious look at the role Implicit Bias; a lack of Equity & our lack of Cultural Competence plays on the actions & decisions of school staff, based on what they see.

Learning Objectives:

In this session, participants will learn about topics that include, but are not limited to:

  • Understand how our Implicit Bias influences our actions.
  • Discern why we should stress Equity over Equality.
  • Learn the Cultural Competency journey
  • Discover the importance of being “color brave”.
  • how our Mindset impacts the emotions & feelings of students.

About the Presenter:

"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out WHY." This quote by Mark Twain perfectly captures Dr. William Noel’s personal calling and dedication to working for children. That higher calling and dedication is “WHY” Dr. Noel remains committed to being an influential role model for all students, but especially for our (sometimes) Hard-to-Reach students.

Dr. Noel emphasizes the importance of connecting with our Hard-to-Reach students through establishing genuine relationships, and teaching them to make better decisions. He will be the first person to debate that knowing WHO we teach may be more important than WHAT we teach. Dr. Noel began this exciting journey first as a substitute teacher, then an Alternative Education teacher, Social Studies teacher, coach, Assistant Principal, and now Director. When asked by a colleague if he was going to miss teaching now that he is an administrator; Dr. Noel replied, "I will always be a teacher; just no longer from a classroom."

Hotep Benzo, MBA

The New PBIS: Treating Behavior as a Symptom... Not a Problem

Session B: 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Behavior is a Symptom demystifies the common behavior problems exhibited in schools by first explaining WHY they occur and the teaching HOW to change them. This workshop will: share the precursors that lead to all behavior, inform on how to transform academic and behavioral outcomes, explain what leads to at-risk behaviors and why people repeat the same negative behaviors and demonstrate how relevance and relationships impact behavior. In the end, attendees will learn what is being called “The New PBIS”!

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify key components for engaging and motivating at-risk youth and increased student retention.
  • Demonstrate innovative non-exclusionary conflict resolution, classroom management and discipline skills.
  • Recognize underlying causes of student misbehavior.
  • Utilize the Outcome Progression Model.
  • Differentiate between the four stages of discipline.

About the Presenter:

Education Success Strategist and award-winning author, Hotep Benzo is widely known for his proactive, “tough love” approach to education. He is a 15-year master teacher that has developed a reputation for requesting the most troubled students and transforming them into willing participants in their own education. Mr. Benzo is the founder of Hustle University and creator of the MAKE A WAY program, a series of high relevancy curricula which are used in over 1000 schools throughout the U.S. His profound work has earned him nominations for the Presidential Citizen’s Award and as a CNN Hero. Hotep is also creator of the revolutionary Outcome Progression Model, which he uses to transform the climate and culture of poverty, excuse making and helplessness into one of empowerment, resiliency and success! Hotep is the author of over 14 published works including textbooks, workbooks, coloring books, DVDs and card games. (10 Things Every Leader Must Know, Bored of Education, Keep it Moving, Everything You Need To Know Before You Graduate)

Brian Mendler, M.A.

Motivating and Managing Hard to Reach, Uninterested and Disruptive Students

Session B: 1:00pm - 4:00pm

From the author of the international best-selling book Discipline with Dignity, this session is loaded with strategies, techniques, and ideas designed to prevent motivation and discipline problems in the most difficult classrooms. Discover and practice specific strategies and techniques designed to change attitudes and ignite a passion for success. This practical, informative session will transform the lives of your most disruptive students.


  • Recognize underlying causes of student misbehavior.
  • Identify 3 places to build relationships.
  • Describe merits of values vs. rules.
  • Demonstrate 8 steps to diffusing any student.

About the Presenter:

Brian Mendler trains tens of thousands of educators a year and is a highly regarded dynamic speaker. Through his affiliation with Teacher Learning Center, he provides staff development training for K-12 educators and youth service workers throughout the world with a focus on how to be successful with even the most difficult students.

Brian is a certified K-12 and special education teacher with extensive experience working with challenging students in general ed, self-contained, and inclusion settings. In his training sessions and books, he draws on his own experience as a very disruptive student with severe undiagnosed ADHD and reading difficulties.

Brian is the author of several books including That One Kid and The Taming of the Crew. He has also co-authored Strategies for Successful Classroom Management, Power Struggles 2nd Edition, and the bestseller Discipline With Dignity 3rd Edition: New Challenges, New Solutions.