Nicole Dimich Vagle has a passion for education and lifelong learning, which has led her to extensively explore, facilitate, and implement innovative practices in school improvement. She works with elementary and secondary educators in presentations, trainings, and consultations that address today’s most critical issues all in the spirit of facilitating improved support of student learning.
Nicole was a high school reform specialist, where she worked closely with school and district staff to support the implementation of small learning communities. This work included coaching individual and teams of teachers in assessment, literacy, and high expectations for all students. Nicole also helped facilitate and implement a data templates project in collaboration with the University of Minnesota. As training coordinator, she helped elementary and secondary educators design templates to track and analyze data.
A former middle and high school English teacher, Nicole was also a program evaluator and trainer at the Princeton Center for Leadership Training in New Jersey. She produced a training DVD that illustrates a protocol for examining the effectiveness of assessments and student learning. A featured presenter at conferences throughout North America, Nicole empowers educators to build capacity for and implement formative assessment practices, common assessment design and analysis, data-driven decisions, student work protocols, and motivational strategies
Tom Schimmer is an author and a speaker with expertise in assessment, grading, leadership, and behavioral support. An educator for more than 20 years, Tom is a former district-level leader, school administrator, and teacher. As a district-level leader, he was a member of the senior management team responsible for overseeing the efforts to support and build the instructional capacities of teachers and administrators.
Tom is a sought-after speaker who presents internationally for schools and districts.
He earned a teaching degree from Boise State University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of British Columbia.
Angela Freese is a middle school assistant principal in the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district in Minnesota. She has also been an elementary assistant principal for Rochester Public Schools in Minnesota. Her administrative experiences have been in schools with highly diverse student populations. Angela has developed high-impact collaborative teams focused on high levels of learning for both staff and students, positive cultures, and curricular-instruction-assessment models that focus on engaging students as partners in the learning process.
Angela was an implementation associate at the Office of Curriculum and Instruction for Rochester Public Schools. Her focus was on developing and revising coherent district curriculum and instructional strategies aligned with district, state, and national standards. She supported teachers and administrators in curriculum mapping, pacing, and instructional alignment and promoted the use of consistent instructional frameworks and research-based strategies. She analyzed district and site data to improve curriculum and instruction, developed and implemented curriculum and instruction processes, and provided coaching and staff development to classroom teachers and district instructional staff.
Susannah O’Bara is area superintendent for the Denton Independent School District in Texas. She previously served as principal of Mildred M. Hawk Elementary School for nine years. Susannah has been an elementary administrator for more than 15 years. Under her leadership, Hawk was the first school in the Denton ISD to implement standards-based grading in grades K–5. She subsequently helped implement standards-based grading practices in all Denton ISD elementary schools.
During her tenure as principal of Hawk, the school was named a Texas Education Agency Exemplary School five consecutive years. The school was also honored by the Texas State Comptroller’s Office for performing at a higher level than comparable campuses while spending fewer taxpayer dollars. Susannah has been named Denton ISD Principal of the Year and was a finalist for the 2013 Texas National Distinguished Principal Award.
As a result of the innovative practices implemented at Hawk, Susannah has been featured on TV news and radio in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. She has presented at state administrator conferences and has hosted dozens of visitors from districts all over Texas. Susannah earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in education administration from Texas Woman’s University.
Jadi Miller, EdD, is director of curriculum for Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska. She has experience as a teacher and an administrator at the elementary, secondary, and district levels. Dr. Miller was principal of two elementary schools identified as low performing and led the processes for building teacher capacity and improving student achievement. These efforts resulted in both schools winning awards for school improvement.
Dr. Miller has worked with teachers, schools, and districts to implement standards-based curriculum, instruction, and assessment, as well as effective collaborative practices. She has designed and delivered ongoing, job-embedded professional development that enhances school and district improvement efforts.
Jadi received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kansas. She earned a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in educational administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
An original Freedom Writer whose story is told in part in the 2007 hit movie, Freedom Writers, Manny Scott has energized over a million leaders, educators, volunteers, and students worldwide with his authentic, inspiring messages of hope. Speaking to over 125 groups a year for the past decade, he is the speaker of choice for conferences, conventions, schools, fundraisers, and banquets.
Manny has a gift: the ability to connect with, hold the attention of, and energize all kinds of audiences. From inner-city youth to business executives, Manny has learned to speak, and command, the language of his audiences with relevant, riveting, and compelling messages, moving them from cheers, to laughter, to tears, and go-forward determination.