In District Professional Development





Bobb Darnell      

Dr. Bobb Darnell is President of Achievement Strategies, Inc. and is an advocate for high student achievement professional growth. He served as Director of Staff Support for more than 1700 staff members in a Northwest Illinois school district and taught for more than 20 years. Bobb has served on the Board of Trustees for the National and Illinois Staff Development Councils, and Illinois International Branch of the Dyslexia Association. He has been served on numerous national and state task forces and committees. Bobb is the author of two ASCD publications and has also written four staff development guides for Wavelength¹s award-winning educational comedy videos. His recent articles “Listen to the Data—Students are Talking to You Through Data” and “Is Your PLC Ready to Win?” uniquely captures two current trends in schools today.

Topics/Areas of improvement include: Assessment, Classroom Management, Curriculum and Standards, Home Learning, Literacy, Math Instruction, School Improvement, School Leadership, Special Needs/ ELL, Technology


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Megan Fuciarelli

Megan Fuciarelli serves as the Executive Director & Principal Consultant of US², Inc.  As a retired school she has dedicated her entire professional career to navigating social justice issues and supporting people/teams in being inclusive.  She holds a BS in Elementary Education, a Masters in Reading, M.Ed. in Educational Administration, an ESL (English as a Second Language) endorsement, and a certificate from Harvard for Urban School Leadership.  In addition to schooling, she is also a certified life coach and a Project Management Professional, and a Six Sigma graduate.  In addition to her professional background, she is the single mother of a wonderful human named Rhys and very close to her parents.  Embedded within her narrative are many stories of oppression and privilege. 

Topics/Areas of improvement Include:  Increased Student Attendance Rates, Reduction in Office Referrals and Suspensions, Decreased Reports of Bullying, Improved Teacher Effectiveness, Increased Sense of Belonging Among All Stakeholders, Create Culturally Responsive Curriculum


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Craig Gaska

Dr. Craig Gaska, is an educational consultant, presenter, and facilitator serving schools and school districts. He has been in the field of education for over 40 years. During his career he has been an elementary classroom elementary assistant principal, elementary principal, and college professor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in  education, masters and education specialist’s degrees in educational administration, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He has taught science methods at the undergraduate level; assessment at the undergraduate and master's levels; child psychology, adolescent psychology, classroom dynamics, and teacher leadership at the master's level; and, organizational dynamics at the doctoral level.

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Next Generation Science Standards, C3

Social-Studies Standards, Writing Assessments, Assessment Literacy, Formative Assessment, Student-Led Conferencing, Science Inquiry, Dynamics of Organizational  Change


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Brandy Hempen

ASCD's class of 2018 Emerging Leader Dr. Brandy Hempen has experience teaching at the primary, intermediate, and junior high-grade levels. Over the past ten years, she has also served as a curriculum coordinator, response to intervention teacher, and instructional coach for a K-8 school district in southern Illinois. She has a bachelor's degree in elementary education, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in differentiated instruction, and a doctoral degree in educational technology and leadership. She presents nationwide on a variety of educational topics and takes great pride in the hands-on approach she incorporates throughout each workshop. Her passion for bringing education to life is simply contagious. Join her and you'll see!

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Integrating Technology into Everyday Instruction, Questioning, and Discussion Techniques, Making Math Meaningful in the K-8 Classroom, Recognizing and Alleviated Math Anxiety, Classroom Management Techniques, Student-Led Classroom Techniques, Whole Brain Teaching Emphasizing Air Punctuation, Question and Answer Relationships with Bloom's Taxonomy, Academic Vocabulary, Developing the Whole Child, Creating Standards-Based Assessments (ELA), Creating Standards-Based Assessments (Math), Increasing Student Engagement, Differentiated Instruction, Strategic Lesson Planning, The Charoltte Daielson Framework for Teachers (2-Day), Curriculum Alignment and Design, Teaching Teachers to Teach Students How to Use Resources, and The Growth Mindset and Providing Effective Feedback


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Dave Nagel

Dave Nagel is an international consultant, researcher, and published author. Dave’s educational career started as a middle school science and high school biology teacher. His administrative experiences involved elementary and secondary positions. Dave has also presented at various national conferences such as ASCD, National Staff Development Council (NSDC), National Association of Secondary School Principals, National School Boards Association (NSBA), The Superintendents Association (AASA), and twice at the International Visible Learning Institute.

Topics/ areas of improvement Include: Effective Grading Practices for Secondary Teachers (6-12 Teachers and Administrators), Standards-Based Grading -Without Abandoning Letter Grades (6-12 Teachers and Administrators), Leading with a Formative Mindset - Adult Clarity (6-12 Leaders), Leading PLC's and CTE Teams


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Jason Ness

For over two decades, Dr. Jason Ness has dedicated himself to the improvement of people’s lives. As a licensed clinical psychologist, certified school psychologist, and veteran high school principal, Dr. Ness specializes in working with children, adolescents and adults with a variety of emotional and behavioral needs. With a history of working in private practice, K-12 school systems, and in matters before criminal courts, Dr. Ness has been able to develop an extensive knowledge base. This, along with his expertise in psychological assessment, mental health, crisis management, counseling, and leading complex and diverse school systems, has allowed him to partner with professionals in a variety of settings.  As the Co-Founder of Ness Psychological Services, Dr. Ness now provides direct psychological services to individuals and families, peak performance training for athletes, and critical professional development, consultation, training, and education to schools, school districts and organizations

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Parenting Strategies and Skills, Leveraging SEL Skills for Equity,

Building Principal Leadership, Mindset and Capacity Base on Ancient Philophosy


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Steve Oertle

Steve Oertle is a former teacher, principal and currently an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum. He is the developer of the Course Mason program for facilitating the use of standards in school districts. Steve is a presenter of professional development throughout the state and has presented for IL ASCD and ASCD. He also is the primary resource and contributor for IL ASCD’s video series Successful Assessment 101.

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Curriculum Mapping and Development, Vertical and Horizontal Alignment -Developing a Connected and Scaffolded Scope and Sequence, Cycles of Improvment - Getting Away from initiative Fatigue and Moving Toward Fidelity, Developing Rigorous Standard-Aligned Common Formative Assessments, Develping Rubrics and Success Criteria Driven Performance Tasks, Creating Indepedent Learners in 10 Steps,filling Your Danielson Toolbelt - What Does That Look Like in the Classroom, SLOs and Growth Model Evaluation  Development, Evaluation in the Classroom - Look and Listen, Using Exemplars to Drive Learning, Using Hattie's 3 Questions to Drive Learning, PLC and Data Team Data Team Development, From PLCs to RtI - How to Move from Data Analysis to Intervention, Developing Learner Qualities and Soft Skills that Drive Deep Learning, Navigating the PIT using Learner Qualities  


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Adam Peterson

Adam Peterson is an educator, speaker, author, and vlogger most known for his YouTube channel, Teachers Learn Too. A kindergarten teacher with over 13 years in the classroom, Adam now dedicates his time to helping  teachers  create meaningful and engaging experiences for their students! He's on a mission to make classrooms as fun as possible to ensure every day is the best day ever in school!


Topics/ areas of improvement Include:   This is the BEST Day Ever, Play Based Writing, Reading, Science, Classroom Management



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Debbie Poffinbarger

Debbie Poffinbarger is a visionary leader who is focused on the instructional design and sustainability of student-centered teaching and learning. Debbie has continued her work with curriculum and intensified district’s efforts to prepare students for the 21st century. Earlier roles have found Debbie as a Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, District Curriculum Director, building administrator PreK-12, and a teacher at 5 different grade levels. She has served as a consultant with a focus on best practices, emphasizing delivery of instruction as well as the need for building relationships. She has served on the executive board of ILASCD and holds the current role of Director of Media. Debbie has studied at EIU and is currently completing her Ph.D. from Indiana State University. Her life’s work is focused on democratizing instruction for all.

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Instructional Coaching, Workshop Model, Best Practices, Assessment,

Creating Units of Study, PLC Implementation, Curriculum Analysis, Climate and Culture, Mentoring of Administrators/Teachers/Parapros, School Improvement Planning, Creating and Implementing Standards-Based Report Cards,  RtI, Writing (Grades K-8)


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Paul Solarz










Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Learn Like a PIRATE - Creating Classrooms that Empower Students to Collaborate/Lead/Succeed, Increasing & Improving Student Collaboration in the Classroom, Ditching Grades to Increase Feedback and Imporve Work Quality, Empowering Students to Take on More Ownership & Resonsibility in the Classroom, Transforming Passive Learning into Active Learning, Rethinking the Way We Teach - Improving Instruction/Student Learning/Teachnology Usage, Implementing & Improving Genius Hour/Passion Time - Personalizing Learning While Practicing Vital Academic Skills, Blended Learning/Student ePortfolios & Classroom Websites - Using your Classroom Website as a Hub for Learning & Sharing, Social Emotional Learning in Our 5th Grade Classrrom - Embedding SEL Lessons into Your Everyday Practice, Developing Units through Backwards Planning with 21st Century Skills in Mind - Maximizing Instructional Time & Minimizing Boredom, Mastering the Danielson Evaluation - Creaing a Portfolio of Evidence to Show just how Distinguished You really are, Teaching Students Metacognition/Reflections/Self-Assessment/Goal-Setting & Progress Monitoring Skills to Increase Student Ownership of Their Learning


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Carla Tantillo Phillibert



Carla Tantillo Philibert, the founder of Mindful Practices and a former classroom teacher, understands the stresses that come with teaching, will guide you through a variety of interactive activities to help you identify your own wellbeing needs and implement helpful practices in your daily life.

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Mindfulness, Yoga in the Classroom, class Catalyst (Classroom Check-In Tool), Teacher/Administrator/Student Wellness, Self-Regualtion and Interpersonal Skills, SEL in Class Coaching and Modeling


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Crystal Wash


Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  SEL, Culturally Responsive Practices, Design Thinking for Schools, Implementing 21st Century Learning Standards, Creaing Climate and Culture, Implementing Math Shifts, Planning for MTSS                                                     


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Jennie Winters

Jennie Winters is an enthusiastic and engaging national presenter who is known for her creativity and practical ideas for meeting the diverse needs of all students in mathematics. She is a passionate advocate for using guided math groups to differentiate instruction in order to provide the most appropriate instruction for each student, from those who struggle with mathematics to those who are gifted. In addition, she is the author of GUIDED MATH: Practical Strategies to Differentiate Your Math Instruction Using Small Groups, Math Learning Centers and Whole Group Instruction (Grades 3-6).

Topics/ areas of improvement Include:  Math Standards, Writing Assessments, Assessment Literacy, SLO Guidance and Evaluation, Monitoring Student Growth


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