Leaders To Learn From 2020 - Online Summit

Free Online Event: Coronavirus: Putting K-12 Leadership to the Test

EdWeek's Leaders to Learn From Share Lessons From the Field Amid the Pandemic

Download a PDF of the key takeaways

Each year, Education Week identifies some of the nation’s most exceptional school district leaders and their impact on student success in its special report. Now, we’ve asked them to bring their insights to bear on K-12 schooling’s most critical challenge: The COVID-19 pandemic.

In this online summit, you’ll be able to interact with experts on teacher hiring, district leadership, technology, mental health, and social-emotional learning who are tackling the new challenges the coronavirus has created for districts. You’ll be able to share practices with peers and come away with insights on how to ensure that learning, social supports, and food services continue even when your buildings are closed. Register today to participate, network, and connect with the 2020 Leaders To Learn From.

Thank you to those who joined us for this event, which took place on April 23, 2020.


April 23, 2020
1-2:30 p.m. ET*

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*Agenda and times subject to change. Check back regularly for updates.

  • 1:00–2:30 p.m. ET | Discussions Open
    Education Week’s 2020 Leaders to Learn From provide takeaways on how they’re addressing the on-the-job challenges created by the coronavirus.

    Room 1: Leadership in Finance
    ‣ In the Tulsa, Okla., school district, Nolberto Delgadillo, the district’s chief financial officer, has worked to make the budgeting process more transparent and understandable for the school community. Delgadillo will put that financial expertise into high gear as Tulsa, like other districts across the country, navigate a new financial reality amid the coronavirus pandemic.
    Moderator: Daarel Burnette II, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Leader: Nolberto Delgadillo, Chief Financial Officer, Tulsa Public Schools, Okla.

    Room 2: Leadership in Food Services & Equity
    ‣ Betti Wiggins, the officer of nutrition services in the Houston Independent School District, believes that school meals are as important to students as what they are learning in the classroom – and that school meals are a key ingredient in ensuring that students succeed academically. After Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas in 2017 and shuttered Houston’s schools, Wiggins played a key role in helping the district devise with a plan to ensure that students were fed during the closure. Wiggins will share tips for meeting students’ food needs during this critical period.
    Moderator: Sarah D. Sparks, Assistant Editor, Education Week
    Leader: Betti Wiggins, Officer of Nutrition Services, Houston Independent School District, Texas

    Room 3: Leadership in Mental Health and Social-Emotional Learning
    ‣ In Hamilton Township, N.J., Wellington has worked for years to cultivate awareness about the harm that adverse childhood experiences can inflict on children and the adults who work with them, while Nellie Aspel, the director of exceptional children for Cleveland County Schools, N.C., has built systems of supports for students with disabilities and those facing trauma. They will address new challenges to students’ social and emotional well-being wrought by the pandemic, and ways leaders can adapt their strategies to maintain services for vulnerable children.
    Corey Mitchell, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Christina A. Samuels, Associate Editor, Education Week
    Nellie Aspel, Director of Exceptional Children, Cleveland County Schools, N.C.
    Jeff Wellington, Supervisor of Special Projects, Hamilton Township School District, Hamilton Township, N.J.

    Room 4: Leadership in Closing Gaps
    ‣ Since 2014, Shari Camhi has led the Baldwin Union Free School District in Baldwin, N.Y., where she has expanded career-technical “academies” for students and created multiple opportunities for them to explore future career options while still in high school. Under Camhi’s leadership, black and Hispanic students in the lower grades in Baldwin have outperformed their peers on New York state exams. She’ll share how she’s confronting the new demands of leading her district’s response to COVID-19.
    Moderator: Andrew Ujifusa, Assistant Editor, Education Week
    Leader: Shari Camhi, Superintendent, Baldwin Union Free School District, Baldwin, N.Y.

    Room 5: Leadership in Educational Technology
    ‣ Technology Director Mark Breen wants all students in the Vail, Ariz. district to be comfortable with technology—both its conceptual applications and specific skills like coding. Now, as the nation pivots to an unprecedented experiment in remote learning, he’ll share how Vail is adapting to the technology challenges at hand.
    Moderator: Stephen Sawchuk, Associate Editor, Education Week
    Leader: Mark Breen, Director of Technology, Vail School District, Ariz.

    Room 6: Leadership in Teaching and Learning
    ‣ In Fulton County, Ga., Marsha Francis supports student-teachers as they adjust to the demands of the classroom, while in Daviess County, Ky., Jana Beth Francis helps teachers develop as problem-solvers and engage students in cognitively demanding work. In this discussion, the two leaders will share their insights into how COVID-19 is affecting teachers, and what districts can do to keep the focus on teaching and learning.
    Madeline Will, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Sarah Schwartz, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Marsha Francis, Program Manager, Fulton County Schools, Atlanta, Ga.
    Jana Beth Francis, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Daviess County Public Schools, Ky.

    Room 7: Leadership in Teacher Recruitment & Hiring
    ‣ Gonzalo La Cava has led the Palm Beach County, Fla., district through a soup-to-nuts rethink of how teachers are hired and matched with schools and principals are supported to lead their buildings. He’ll take your questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic is raising new questions about those roles in a distance-learning environment, and how to keep a steady pipeline of talent for the fall.
    Moderator: Michele Molnar, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Leader: Gonzalo La Cava, Chief of Human Resources, School District of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Fla.

    Room 8: Leadership in Serving Homeless Students
    ‣ In North Carolina’s Lee County, Johnnye Waller has helped create footholds for the most vulnerable students: those experiencing homelessness. Among many other roles, she serves as the district’s homeless liaison, educating staff about the signs of homelessness and connecting families to support. Her Project Lift-Off program, which provides academic and social emotional enrichment for homeless students, has been recognized as a model by the state.
    Moderator: Arianna Prothero, Staff Writer, Education Week
    Leader: Johnnye Waller, Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services/Student Services Director, Lee County Schools, Sanford, N.C.

    Room 9: Create Your Plan to Efficiently Identify Needs & Accelerate Learning for All Students
    ‣ As districts navigate COVID-19 school closures, educators need the ability to quickly diagnose each student’s needs, align targeted whole child supports, and monitor progress. Teams need to strategically use resources and support a wide range and increased volume of student academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs. Although much about the coming year is uncertain, we can still create a proactive, flexible plan for providing equitable and expedited data-driven decisions that accelerate learning for each and every student. Join us to discuss your questions and develop a plan for your team.
    Attend this webinar to have your questions answered as you seek to further connect with your schools, teachers, students, and the community during this challenging time.
    Moderator: Kate Pechacek, Director of Solutions Engineering, Illuminate Education
    Sarah Brown, Executive Director of Professional Learning, Illuminate Education
    Melissa Langlois, Instructional Supervisor, Ascension Parish Schools, Donaldsonville, La.

    Room 10: Leadership During Remote Learning: Maintaining Communication, Consistency, and Culture
    ‣ As students transition to learning from home, it’s important to recognize that the pressure to succeed remains, now amplified without their usual means of support. Trenton Goble, vice president of K-12 strategy at Instructure, moderates a discussion with two district leaders as they share insights on how to:
    • Maintain a supportive culture for remote learners.
    • Create consistency in instruction.
    • Ensure communication processes are in place that answer students’ top questions and provide the support they need.
    Attend this webinar to have your questions answered as you seek to further connect with your schools, teachers, students, and the community during this challenging time.
    Moderator: Trenton Goble, Vice President of K-12 Strategy, Instructure
    Claudia Avery, Deputy Superintendent, Fairfield County School District, Winnsboro, S.C.
    Todd Theobald, Assistant Principal, Daybreak Elementary School, Jordan School District, South Jordan, Utah

    Room 11: Distance Learning: Connectivity, Security, and Collaboration
    ‣ Many of you are leading the charge in the response to the coronavirus, and Verizon is grateful for the opportunity to partner with you. This pandemic has served as a reminder for why we do what we do: to deliver the solutions, services, and expertise that are critical to your missions, as shown by our work with Los Angeles Unified School District to bridge the digital divide and deliver distance learning solutions.
    Join us in our virtual room to learn more and to ask us questions about how we can support your school in its efforts to respond to COVID-19.

    Room 12: Back-To-School After COVID-19: How to Lead a Schoolwide Intervention
    ‣ From RTI to MTSS, this discussion will help districts prepare educators for schoolwide intervention upon re-entry. Plus, experts offer guidance on adapting to the intervention challenges educators will face when students return to school. Join Istation’s DeAn Jeffrey and Ginger Brawley, former principals and now part of Istation’s professional development team, as they provide takeaways on how to approach intervention challenges created by the coronavirus.
    In this discussion, two leaders will share evidence-based strategies for leading an effective schoolwide intervention process. Learn how to use data to drive decision making, implement the intervention process with fidelity, create schedules that ensure adequate time for intervention, monitor the impact of instruction using the PLC process, explore varying approaches to intervention, and more.
    Ginger Brawley, Strategic PD Specialist Professional Development, Istation
    DeAn Jeffrey, Strategic PD Specialist Professional Development, Istation

    Room 13: Leadership: Supporting and Growing Capacity & Excellence in Distance Learning Environments
    ‣ Instructional leaders are supporting a rapid shift towards distance learning and thinking about equity, learning continuity, and students’ needs. During this discussion BetterLesson educators share best practices, actionable resources, and learnings from district partners on the keys to making this shift successfully. Join this discussion to create a roadmap for:
    • Creating success for teachers and students
    • Assessing progress & planning for ongoing support
    • Facilitating change management and growing instructional leadership
    Romain Bertrand, Senior Manager, Solution Design, BetterLesson
    Jenna Keaney, Vice President, Professional Learning, BetterLesson

Guests, Speakers, and Moderators

Nellie Aspel
Director of Exceptional Children, Cleveland County Schools, N.C.

Aspel is the director of exceptional children in the 14,000-student Cleveland County Schools, in Shelby, N.C. Aspel has worked to ensure that students with disabilities participate in regular school life as much as possible and to infuse social-emotional learning programs into the school day to support all students.

Mark Breen
Director of Technology, Vail School District, Ariz.

Breen has worked for Vail School District near Tucson, Ariz., for over 10 years. As the director of technology, he coordinates the district’s computer science program as well as other critical tasks that allow educators to best serve their students.

Daarel Burnette II
Staff Writer, Education Week

Burnette II covers school funding and finance for Education Week. He joined EPE in 2015 as a state policy reporter. He previously served as the bureau chief of Chalkbeat Tennessee, a startup news organization based in Memphis. He has worked as an education reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Louisville Courier-Journal. He also worked as a general assignment reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He received his undergraduate degree in print journalism from Hampton University and an M.A. in politics and journalism from Columbia University.

Shari Camhi
Superintendent, Baldwin Union Free School District, Baldwin, N.Y.

Camhi has been the superintendent of the Baldwin Union Free School District in Baldwin, N.Y., since 2014. She’s built a robust system of career-technical opportunities for students in Baldwin while partnering with Fortune 500 companies such as FedEX and Northrop Grumman. Under her leadership, Baldwin’s minority students have outperformed their peers in other districts on some New York state assessments.

Nolberto Delgadillo
Chief Financial Officer, Tulsa Public Schools, Okla.

Delgadillo has been the chief financial officer in Tulsa Public Schools for the last two years. He’s excelled at communicating hard-to-understand financial jargon and difficult budgeting decisions to the school community. As the district’s finance guru, he’s helped the Tulsa district make tough financial decisions to steer money to classrooms and teachers amid falling enrollment and rising expenses.

Jana Beth Francis
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Daviess County Public Schools, Ky.

Francis oversees the entire learning process for approximately 12,000 students and coordinates professional development for administrators. Prior to assuming the position of assistant superintendent, she served two elementary schools as the director of assessment, research, and curriculum development and a staff developer.

Marsha Francis
Program Manager, Fulton County Schools, Atlanta, Ga.

Francis is devoted to fostering positive experiences for student-teachers. She has created a student-teaching program in Fulton County Schools that pairs aspiring teachers with trained mentors, provides a stipend, and guarantees a job after graduation to successful candidates.

Gonzalo La Cava
Chief of Human Resources, School District of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Fla.

La Cava oversees the strategic and tactical human resources division and leads talent management, negotiations, employee relations, and compensation. He previously held the position of area superintendent for Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Ga.

Corey Mitchell
Staff Writer, Education Week

Mitchell writes about the challenges and opportunities in teaching students with distinct needs, including English-language learners, students with disabilities, children who are homeless or incarcerated, and gifted students. A four-time winner of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence Award, Mitchell’s reporting has also won awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists. Prior to joining Education Week in 2014, Mitchell worked as a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. During his time covering politics and Congress, Mitchell was a 2013-14 National Press Foundation Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow.

Michele Molnar
Staff Writer, Education Week

Molnar writes about the intersection of K-12 schools and business, covering subjects like purchasing, innovation, how educators use data, and ed-tech trends. She also writes for the Marketplace K-12 blog and is a reporter for Education Week. Molnar started working for Education Week in 2012 as a contributor who covered parents' increasing influence on public schools. She joined the staff in 2013 to write about how schools are using educational technology, and what the K-12 market wants—and needs.

Arianna Prothero
Staff Writer, Education Week

Prothero covers student well-being and student engagement and motivation for Education Week. She delves into all facets that impact a child’s potential for success in school and beyond, including social-emotional learning, physical health, mental health, nutrition, housing and environmental factors such as family and economic stability and exposure to trauma and violence. Prothero formally worked as a radio reporter, anchor, and producer at WLRN, the NPR affiliate in Miami.

Christina A. Samuels
Associate Editor, Education Week

Samuels covers educational equity for Education Week. She explores how schools and districts meet their mandate to serve the needs of all students and establish fairness in opportunity regardless of a student’s racial or ethnic background, disability, or English learner status. She started working at Education Week in 2004, after stints at the Miami Herald and The Washington Post.

Stephen Sawchuk
Associate Editor, Education Week

Sawchuk covers superintendents, district management, school safety, and civics education for Education Week. He joined the newspaper in 2008 and formerly covered the teaching profession, curriculum and instruction. He holds degrees from Georgetown and Columbia universities and was a 2017 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

Sarah Schwartz
Staff Writer, Education Week

Schwartz is a reporter for Education Week who covers curriculum and instruction. Before joining the staff, she was as an Education Week intern, covering education technology. She has also worked at a middle school in East Harlem, New York.

Sarah D. Sparks
Assistant Editor, Education Week

Sparks is a reporter for Education Week who has covered education research and the science of learning for more than a decade. Sarah joined Education Week in 2010, and has published on education and other issues in Education Daily, the Republican-American, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler, and others.

Johnnye Waller
Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services/Student Services Director, Lee County Schools, Sanford, N.C.

Waller is the assistant superintendent of auxiliary services and student services director for the Lee County Schools in North Carolina. In that role, she serves as the district’s homeless liaison and has created an innovative summer enrichment program for students experiencing homelessness. Waller also oversees the district’s guidance counselors, nurses, and social workers. She is also in charge of nutrition, transportation, and discipline.

Jeff Wellington
Supervisor of Special Projects, Hamilton Township School District, Hamilton Township, N.J.

Wellington has served as a school counselor, psychologist, and crisis counselor over his 28-year career in schools. He currently supervises mental health for the district and has established a suicide-assessment protocol, suicide-prevention training, and a social-emotional learning curriculum.

Betti Wiggins
Officer of Nutrition Services, Houston Independent School District, Texas

Wiggins is the nutrition services officer at the Houston Independent School District. Wiggins takes an unorthodox approach to school meals: She believes they are crucial to students’ academic success and that school meals can play a pivotal role in students’ social-emotional well-being. Wiggins worked in school food services in the District of Columbia and Detroit before taking over the food services program in Houston.

Madeline Will
Staff Writer, Education Week

Will is a reporter for Education Week who covers the teaching profession. She joined the staff in 2016, initially as the assistant editor for Education Week Teacher, a section dedicated to the firsthand perspectives of teachers. Before joining Education Week, Madeline was the publications fellow for a legal nonprofit, the Student Press Law Center. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science.

Andrew Ujifusa
Assistant Editor
Education Week

Ujifusa is Education Week’s lead congressional reporter. His coverage also includes the U.S. Department of Education, other federal agencies, and federal education policy.