The 2019 SLC Experience

Dynamic Speakers

Opening keynotes Robin Grey and Corey Mitchell emphasized the importance of arts education, using examples from their own experiences with students as a case study. Grey is CEO of nonprofit Arts Empowers and executive producer of award-winning documentary Purple Dreams, which chronicles the experience of Mitchell and his students from Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, NC, as they journey to the main stage of the International Thespian Festival. Mitchell is the recipient of the 2015 inaugural Excellence in Theatre Education Tony Award. The trailer for Purple Dreams was shown at the presentation and a screening of the film was held Tuesday night.

World-class speaker and author Dr. Adolph Brown III inspired attendees with an insightful talk on implicit bias, during which he encouraged attendees to examine and challenge their opinions of others stating, “A reflective board member, is an effective board member.” Brown shared about the transformative effect educators had on his life as a young man growing up in poverty having experienced trauma at an early age.

Social psychologist, Harvard lecturer and best-selling author Dr. Amy Cuddy closed conference with a presentation on body language and how, in addition to revealing inner attitudes, it can also shape them. She gave examples from her book Presence, which discusses the idea of “personal power” over the self, which doesn’t detract from others’ power, versus “social power,” or that which seeks to control others. According to Cuddy, the pursuit of personal power can lead to greater “presence,” which creates trust among people.

Exhibit Hall

Attendees visited with more than 150 vendors offering products and services designed for education. In the STEAM Zone, Nazareth Area School District showcased their technology skills through virtual reality headsets, green screen technology and programmable cubes. Siemens Smart Infrastructure introduced “green education” with topics that include wind energy, solar energy, waste management or energy audits.

Education Sessions

The education sessions provided an opportunity for school leaders to learn, network, and grow with their peers. Here are a few summaries of popular sessions:

Beyond Test Scores: Mt. Lebanon’s Vision to Develop SEL Competence — Superintendent Dr. Timothy Steinhauer, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Ron Davis and School Board Vice President Ms. Sarah Olbrich shared Mt. Lebanon School District’s journey to develop social and emotional learning competence, which allows students and staff to manage their emotions, achieve goals, show empathy, maintain relationships and make responsible decisions. Presenters explained their implementation of CASEL’s district framework and explored their experiences throughout each step of the process.

School District/Public Safety Partnerships: A Key to Improved School SafetyEric Schmidt, school director at Fox Chapel School District and executive director of Shaler Hampton EMS, and Michael Hower, lead principal of Fox Chapel High School, shared the intricacies of their school-community relationship and how their unique practices keep students safe.

School Leadership and the Transgender ExperienceDr. John Frick, school director at Manheim Central School District, and Dr. Ron Kennedy, athletic director at Donegal School District, facilitated an interactive discussion on the inclusion of transgender students in learning communities and creating equitable schools.

Six Components of a Trauma-Informed SchoolPrincipal Harrison Bailey III and Assistant Principal Nikolas Tsamoutalidis discussed how they implemented trauma-informed practices at Liberty High School in Bethlehem Area School District. They shared the school’s six-year implementation plan and talked about their progress so far.