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2019 Ceremony

2019 NBRS Ceremony Headliners at a Glance
Thursday, November 14 – Friday, November 15
Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in National Harbor, MD



Join Informal Networking Cafés by Topic Areas Thursday, November 14 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

You are invited to join other NBRS Ceremony attendees to an informal interactive opportunity. The purpose of this session is to provide participants a “quick” opportunity to meet and exchange information with other educators from across the country who are interested in the same topic (Think Speed Dating).

Café tables will be hosted by volunteer NBRS awardees and they will facilitate lively discussions of strategies and practices used with regards to the topic area. You will have an opportunity to meet, greet, and share ideas for up to three rounds of different topics. These are discussion sessions and not presentations.

Potential Table Topics Presented Separately by Elementary and Secondary School Levels

Arts Education Innovations in Rural Education Social Emotional Learning
College and Career Readiness Innovative Approaches to Personalized Learning STEM/STEAM Innovations
Data-Based Decision-Making Interventions Student Centered Instruction
Dual Language Programs Partnerships Student Engagement and Motivation
Extended Learning Opportunities Personalized Learning Student Leadership
Family Engagement Professional Culture Supporting Multi-Lingual Learners
Health and Wellness School Structures to Optimize Teacher Planning Whole Student Approaches

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Session for Non-Public Schools on Thursday, November 14 at 10:30 a.m.

The Office of Non-Public Education will provide an overview of their work and information about several federal education programs available to private school students. The Council for American Private Education will also discuss their history and role in the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. There will be time for a discussion with private school leaders regarding the impact of the National Blue Ribbon School award over time.

Presenters from Office of Non-Public Education: Maureen Dowling, Director, Pamela Allen, Isadora Binder, Jenay Morrisey

Presenter from Council for American Private Education: Michael Schuttloffel, Executive Director

The Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) fosters maximum participation of nonpublic schools in Federal education programs and initiatives. ONPE advocates within the U.S. Department of Education (Department) on behalf of students, their teachers, and their families in nonpublic schools (including religious, independent, and nonsectarian schools as well as home schools). ONPE provides advice and guidance on all matters affecting nonpublic education and the participation of private school students and teachers in Federal education programs and initiatives. The ONPE provides information and technical assistance to nonpublic school officials, parents, and representatives of State and local educational agencies regarding equitable participation in Department programs and initiatives.

The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) is a coalition of national organizations and state affiliates serving private elementary and secondary schools. There are over 33,000 private schools in America with more than five million students. CAPE member organizations represent more than 80 percent of private school enrollment nationwide.

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Betsy DeVos to Honor Terrel H. Bell Awardees Thursday, November 14 1:00 p.m.

Besty DeVos
Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos serves as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 7, 2017 after being nominated by President Donald J. Trump.

Secretary DeVos has been involved in education policy for nearly three decades as an advocate for children and a voice for parents. She is especially passionate about reforms that help underserved children gain access to a quality education.

DeVos’ interest in education was sparked at an early age by her mother, a public school teacher. It grew when she sent her own children to school and was confronted with the reality that not every child in America is granted an equal opportunity to receive a great education. DeVos saw firsthand the work leaders in her hometown were doing to increase educational opportunities for students and choices for parents, and she has been involved in the fight to provide better educational options across the nation ever since.

For 15 years, DeVos served as an in-school mentor for at-risk children in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Public Schools. Her interactions there with students, families and teachers, according to DeVos, “changed my life and my perspective about education forever.”

A leader in the movement to empower parents, DeVos has worked to support the creation of new educational choices for students in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

DeVos is a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She has been married for 40 years to entrepreneur, philanthropist and community activist Dick DeVos, and together they have four children and eight grandchildren.

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Student, Nate Tinbite to Address Audience at Opening Session Thursday, November 14 1:00 p.m.

Nate Tinbite
Nathaniel Tinbite
Nathaniel Tinbite, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School (JFK), is the 42nd student member of the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education. Mr. Tinbite is a member of the Board of Education’s Strategic Planning Committee and the Policy Management Committee. He previously served as the President of the Montgomery County Student Government Association, leading the district’s 163,000 students to fight for English Language Learner program funding and frank classroom discussions on implicit bias.

Mr. Tinbite is also one of the founding members of Montgomery County Students for Change, an advocacy organization that, in 2018, led a 5k+ student walkout to the steps of the U.S. Capital to protest gun violence. He also stood on the stage of the national March for Our Lives in Washington, DC.

Earlier this year, he co-led a districtwide high school voter registration drive that registered 3k+ high school students in four weeks. Mr. Tinbite worked in Maryland’s State legislature to pass a law mandating at least one voter registration drive in every Maryland high school annually.

For more information about Nate Tinbite, please visit:

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Education Associations Give Congratulatory Remarks Thursday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m.

Dr. L. Earl Franks, National Association of Elementary School Principals

Dr. L. Earl Franks
Dr. L. Earl Franks
Dr. L. Earl Franks, CAE, is the Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). NAESP’s mission is to lead in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle-level principals and other education leaders in their commitment to all children.

Previously Dr. Ranks was Executive Director of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS). He pioneered the advanced credential program, Certified Instructional Leader (CIL), for principals and other school/district leaders. Franks has broad experience in public education by working with districts from top to bottom. From 1999 to 2009, Franks was a principal of a pre-K-through-12 school serving 1,000+ students. Franks has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Samford University, and a Master of Science in Education, Bachelor of Music Education, and Educational Specialist degrees from Troy University.

Franks is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow with Major Donor distinction from Rotary International. He received the Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from the CAE Commission of ASAE, the Center for Association Leadership.

Stephanie Auditore, Association for Middle Level Education

Stephanie Auditore
Stephanie Auditore
Stephanie Auditore is the Chief Executive Officer of the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE). A non-profit membership organization, AMLE members include teachers, principals, counselors, professors, researchers, and others focused on the education of 10- to 15-year-olds. Auditore officially assumed the role in June 2019, following the retirement of Dr. William Waidelich, who served AMLE for the last eight years.

A seasoned professional association leader, Auditore recently led a team at the American College of Cardiology (ACC), charged with designing the member experience throughout their career span. Prior to the ACC, Auditore led the membership department at the American Psychiatric Association, where she implemented new programs and created long-term industry partnerships that grew the association to a 14-year membership high. Auditore began her associations career at the American Medical Association after earning a J.D. from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and a B.A. in International Studies and Information Technology, cum laude, from DePaul University.

Bob Farrace, National Association of Secondary School Principals

Bob Farrace
Bob Farrace
Bob Farrace is Director of Public Affairs at the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), where he focuses on helping principals craft and tell their stories in their local communities and to local and national media. With the National Honor Society and National Association of Student Councils housed at NASSP, Farrace is an advocate for student voice and regularly raises the profile of student service and civic engagement.

Prior to leading NASSP public affairs efforts, Farrace revolutionized NASSP’s editorial program by streamlining content development and delivery, and engaging school leaders in discussions of the issues that most affect their professional lives. In 2000, he launched the association’s flagship Principal Leadership magazine, which has won numerous editorial and publishing awards.

Farrace is a former high school English teacher. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish and a master’s in education, both from La Salle University in his native Philadelphia.

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Four Concurrent Sessions on: Leveraging the NBRS Award, Mindfulness, Teach Every Child, and Financial Literacy

Thursday, November 14 at 2:30 p.m.

Strategies for Leveraging Your National Blue Ribbon School Award

Annette Jones
Annette Jones

Annette Jones, former National Blue Ribbon School Principal, Assistant Director for School Leadership, National Catholic Education Association, will lead a panel of educators. The panel will offer ideas for celebrating the honor-–within the school, with the local community, the state, and international audiences-–as well as share guides for developing marketing action plans. Learn “blue” activities and practical strategies for leveraging this prestigious national award. Attendees will have an opportunity to design and develop an action plan for their school community.

Presenters: Annette Jones, Ed.S.; Vince Barnes, Principal, St. Maria Goretti Catholic School, Westfield, IN; Sherilyn R. Moses, Principal, Dr. Ronald E. McNair Elementary School, Germantown, MD; Renee White, Assistant Superintendent for Enrollment and Marketing, Office of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Arlington, Arlington, VA

Practical Mindfulness for Focus, Performance, and Emotion Regulation in Our Schools

Chris Willard
Dr. Christopher Willard

Dr. Christopher Willard (PsyD) is a psychologist and educational consultant based in Boston. He has led hundreds of workshops around the world, with invitations to more than two dozen countries. He has presented at TEDx conferences and his thoughts have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post,, and elsewhere. He is the author of Growing Up Mindful Alphabreaths and a dozen other books for parents, professionals and children. He teaches at Harvard Medical School.

Teaching Every Child

Diane Watkins
Diane Watkins
Stephanie Johnson
Stephanie Johnson

Two former principals describe the difficulty of getting all groups of children to master the curriculum and perform well on state assessments. Teachers, feeling the added stress of having their class achievement tied to their performance evaluations, may feel incapable of reaching every child. The research indicates that though some achievement gaps between groups are decreasing, others remain disproportionately large. First, the session explores characteristics of the children we serve. Then, the session will focus on creating an awareness of the need for teachers and schools to embrace that “less than perfect child.” The difficult topic of inherent bias, that we all have, will also be tackled. Challenges that are universal in schools will be addressed, i.e. children from impoverished homes, behavior issues, etc. The presenters share current research and strategies for serving all students. Attendees will leave feeling empowered to galvanize their teams to accept no excuses and to reach and teach every child.

The Wealth Club® A Holistic Approach to Financial Education! How do mindset and socio-emotional learning determine overall financial wellbeing?

Jodi Mezzanotte
Jodi Mezzanotte
Dr. Charlene Day
Dr. Charlene Day

The Wealth Club Building Block system is an exciting whole-person approach to wealth literacy™. The system incorporates socio-emotional learning, mindset, financial knowledge, and action steps. Together, these empower a student’s ability to embark on a pathway of lifelong learning to personal and financial well-being. Our presenters demonstrate how teachers can learn to master and convey the content within a context, that helps students and participating parents, achieve breakthrough results. This will result in actionable and measurable impact in their lives.

The Wealth Club® is the signature program of Rising Sun Cultural and Educational Programs, Inc. a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating in Greater Washington, D.C.

Presenters: Jodi Mezzanotte, Dr. Charlene Day, Shahidah Williams, Patricia Davis, Miya Sharpe, Mozella Perry Ademiluyi, and Tonda Bean

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Freedom Writer’s Erin Gruwell to Deliver Keynote Address Thursday, November 14 4:00 p.m.

Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell
Erin Gruwell is a teacher, an education activist, and the founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. She created the Freedom Writer Methods, a progressive teaching philosophy and curricula designed to achieve excellence from all students.

When Erin taught high school English, she helped 150 of her students – many of whom were written off by the education system – to use the power of education to write a book, graduate from high school, and attend college. In her inspiring presentation, Gruwell tells the story of this extraordinary journey – from poverty and despair to hope and promise – with stops at Anne Frank’s House and Auschwitz and then on to Capitol Hill and Congress. Erin challenged her students to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problems of poverty, racism, and violence. How can we all become role models for tolerance, respect, and cooperation? Erin Gruwell teaches us all how we can become “Catalysts for Change.”

Please join us in hearing from Erin and participating in a Q+A session. Checkout the website:

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2019 National Teacher of the Year to Deliver Keynote Address Friday, November 15 at 8:30 a.m.

Rodney Robinson
Rodney Robinson
Rodney Robinson, a social studies teacher in Richmond, Virginia, is a 19-year teaching veteran. He became a teacher to honor his mother, who struggled to receive an education. His mother was denied an education as a child due to segregation and poverty in rural Virginia. In 2015, Robinson started teaching at the Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, in an effort to better understand the school-to-prison pipeline.

Mr. Robinson uses the whole child approach to education to help students who are most vulnerable. His classroom is a collaborative partnership between himself and his students. and the classroom is anchored in providing a civic-centered education that promotes social-emotional growth. Robinson, uses the knowledge he has gained from his students, to develop alternative programs to prevent students from entering the school-to-prison pipeline.

Please join us in hearing from Rodney and participating in a Q+A session. Checkout his website: #NTOY19

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Dr. Sheila Harrity Shares Life After National Blue Ribbon Friday, November 15 at 10:15 a.m.

Sheila Harrity
Sheila Harrity
Dr. Sheila Harrity is currently Superintendent-Director of Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. In 2013, Dr. Harrity, was principal of Worcester Technical High School, which received the National Blue Ribbon School Award. She was recognized as the National High School Principal of the Year in 2014.

Dr. Harrity will share her journey as an educational leader and discuss some of the challenges and obstacles she overcame along the way. She will highlight solutions that were instrumental in the success of her school and her professional pathway. She applied her successful principles and practices in reshaping yet another vocational high school into a model program that is being emulated across Massachusetts and the country.

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Assistant Secretary, Frank Brogan Gives Keynote Address Friday, November 15 1:00 p.m.

Frank Brogan
Frank Brogan
Frank T. Brogan serves as the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 25, 2018, after being nominated by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 11, 2017.

Brogan most recently served as chancellor of Pennsylvania’s public universities. He began his career as a fifth-grade teacher in Martin County, Florida, and later served as a dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent before being elected Florida’s commissioner of education in 1994. Brogan continued his advocacy for public education when he was elected to serve as lieutenant governor of Florida in 1998 and 2002. After five years in that role, he was named president of Florida Atlantic University, a position he held until 2009, when he was selected to serve as chancellor of Florida’s public universities.

A native of Ohio, Brogan was the first member of his family to attend college, earning a bachelor’s degree in education magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in education from Florida Atlantic University. He and his wife, Courtney, have a 13-year-old son.

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Luncheon and National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony Friday, November 15 at 11:30 a.m.

In addition to presentations, networking, and small group discussions, awardees will attend a special awards luncheon. Following the luncheon, school representatives will go onstage, school by school, to be greeted by Program Director Aba Kumi and receive the National Blue Ribbon School flag and an engraved plaque as symbols of their success.

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