Keynote Speaker: Merlyna Valentine

Change Chose Me

Merlyna Valentine retired after 30 years as a teacher, principal, and executive director in an extraordinarily successful school district in Louisiana. Her transformational leadership as a school principal enhanced the school’s climate and culture, resulting in increased student achievement.

Valentine has received numerous state, national, and international awards, as well as commendations such as teacher of the year and principal of the year. She was featured in several news segments and articles including a spotlight in Ebony Magazine. Audiences were captivated by her inspirational story of survival, courage, and hope when she was a featured segment on The Today Show. She was recently chosen as the 2020 Inspirational Speaker of the Year in an international competition.

In the face of tragedy and daunting obstacles, Valentine unleashed a remarkable inner strength that enabled her to lead by example. She has learned some valuable lessons since 2007, when her life as she knew it was forever changed and she experienced the closest call to death imaginable. Instead of focusing on what happened and what’s missing from her new life, she chooses to embrace this very different path with a positive attitude. Today, she personifies what it means to ascend above adversity while inspiring countless others to do the same.

Keynote Speaker: Jamie Vollmer

Rallying Support: How to Cultivate Allies and Strengthen Partnerships During Times that Try Our Souls

Public trust is public education’s most precious resource and a prerequisite for meaningful progress. During this presentation, which has been praised as both practical and energizing, Jamie Vollmer acknowledges that the public has become an increasingly misinformed and fractious group.

He will describe how teachers, administrators, and board members can change – for the better – the way the people of their communities think and act toward their schools. He will also present a series of no-cost steps that school leaders can take to increase public understanding and trust, including: The Five S’s, his field-tested program for helping certified and classified staff inspire their families, friends, and acquaintances to rally around their schools; and The Success Report, a crowdsourcing approach to gathering positive news within the district/school and distributing stories of success throughout the community.

Vollmer will also provide every attendee a copy of his poster, The Ever-Increasing Burden on America’s Public Schools: 120 Years of Mandates, and share how to use this tool to “tell the story” of public education’s remarkable success.

About Jamie Vollmer

Jamie Vollmer is president of Vollmer, Inc., a public education advocacy firm working to increase student success by raising public support for America’s schools. He is also the founder of the Schools Cannot Do It Alone Network, a national coalition of educators and their allies working to defend public education and build support for local public schools. He received the Learning and Liberty award from the National School Public Relations Association in recognition of his success in strengthening school/community partnerships.

With a background in law and manufacturing, Vollmer entered the education arena in 1988 as a founding member of the Iowa Business Roundtable. At the time, he was president of the Great Midwestern Ice Cream Co. Once a harsh critic of America’s public schools, he has become an articulate champion, working with educators, parents, business and community leaders to remove the obstacles to student success over the last 30 years.