About the Innovation Summit

The Office of Innovation for Education and the Arkansas Department of Education are excited to host a two-day Education Innovation Summit on September 26-27, 2016 designed with you in mind. Drawing from the expertise of innovative educators within our state and from across the nation, the summit will bring together practitioners to engage, design and build momentum to transform education in Arkansas.

Statehouse Marriott

3 Statehouse Plaza
Little Rock, AR 72201

Get Directions

Theme: Engage, Design, Transform

Building momentum to transform learning - On the path to student-focused learning


Explore topics that range from blended and personalized learning, to competency-based learning, to multiple pathways and flexible schedules. Learn from those who are doing! Special sessions designed for policy makers and leaders to advance excellence in education.

Design & Plan!

If you are ready to design, plan or implement, you can select from sessions that focus more deeply on details. Go deep into strategies-learn what students are doing, teachers are doing, leaders are doing and what these innovations look like in action. Gain knowledge of resources, supportive structures, and routines that enable these innovations to work.

Program & Agenda

Monday's Agenda (9/26/2016)

9:30 A.M - 11:30 A.M

Pre Conference Cohort 1 meeting (Invitation only)

12:00 P.M - 1:00 P.M

Lunch Keynote: How To Set Your School on F.I.R.E.!

Buddy Berry

Buddy Berry will take us through his journey in reimagining Eminence Independent Schools to design a next generation "Dream School" rooted in personalized learning, and centered around innovation and creativity. The Eminence Independent school district has redesigned its instructional experience for kindergarten through 12th-grade students with its Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education model using online, blended and competency-based education in their quest to be the Disney World of Schools. Eminence has utilized technology as the main driver for their success combined with Yes, And thinking; Surprise and Delight; and Next Generation Skills.

1:15 P.M - 2:00 P.M 2:10 P.M - 2:55 P.M 3:10 P.M - 3:55 P.M 4:10 P.M - 4:55 P.M

Why do we need to transform? And what can it look like if we do?

Kenneth Grover and George Philhower, Indiana SD

There are compelling reasons why many stakeholders are seeking the transformation of our schools. In an effort to embrace the shifting landscape of pedagogy, we will have an open conversation about best practices taking place in your school and others as we collectively work to create a framework and plan of how to transform our schools for our students to achieve and for our teachers to the freedom to teach.

Mission Possible: Student Choice Student Voice

Sandra Holloway (Wynne) Elementary

Mission Possible: Student Choice Student Voice Discover how teaching, learning, mindset, and engagement were used to transform our school. Come and discover the tools we used to become a School of Innovation.

  • Gain insights in the design process
  • Strategies for laying the foundation for change
  • The importance of involving parents and community
  • Understand how Blended Learning was piloted and what teachers need to know and be able to do

Using Thinking Routines to Transform Learning

Matt Sheelen & Lacy Szuwalski - High Tech Elementary, San Diego

Participants will use core visible thinking routines from Harvard Project Zero as tools for formative assessment in the classroom. Through think/pair/shares, gallery walks, and a "see/think/wonder" routine, participants will be able to experience the power of routines in engaging student thinking and developing 21st century skills.

Novel Engineering

Matt Sheelen & Lacy Szuwalski

Using the 4 Cs of of Learning and Innovation Skills (Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Creativity), participants will engage in design thinking through children's literature to engineer creative solutions to problems presented in text. This session will prepare participants to implement design thinking in their own classroom addressing both Common Core literacy standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Why Innovate?

Marsha Hash and Crystal Beshears, OIE

Building the leadership capacity to innovate in an ever changing world. Think about a mindset of reform....Now, think about a mindset of Innovation. What culture do you want to create in your school or organization? In this session presenters will share tools and resources to help you build the capacity for a culture of innovation.

Part of the World NOT apart from the World

Patricia Hesse -Wiener Elementary School, Wiener, AR

Thinking of applying for your elementary school to become a School of Innovation? Weiner Elementary is entering its third year as a SOI school and shares their journey. The school places heavy emphasis on culture, acquisition of Spanish taught by a native speaker with the opportunity for Spanish I and II secondary credit by end of 6th grade, use of a Digital Learning Facilitator to support teachers and students in enhancing the use of technology, and daily exposure to creativity. Presenters also offer suggestions for writing the proposal, as well as how to access many of their SOI resources.

Sharing Outcomes of Flex Mod Implementation

Margaret Ann, Julie Painter & Bryan Piro - River Bluff, Lexington, SC

Join leaders from River Bluff, South Carolina as they share their story and process for establishing one of the biggest flex mod schools in the country. During this session the team will discuss their student outcomes, impact on teachers, and lessons learned over the last three years of flex mod implementation.

Leading a Culture of Change

Jon Laffoon, Star City School District -Star City, AR

This session is a predecessor to creating innovative change. Learn from an experienced educator on what will make innovation "stick". Jon will create a roadmap for change with 8 concrete steps for leading successful innovation and sharing his experience in a culture of change.

Developing Student Agency, Increasing Engagement and Moving to Ownership

Paula Kaiser

According to the Fall 2015 Gallup Poll- Engaged Today Ready for Tomorrow, only 50% of students feel engaged, 29% are not engaged, and 21% report being actively not engaged. Engagement is developed when there is real, authentic purpose in learning and students feel connected. In this session, you will explore your current vision and mindset around engagement, identify easy to address structures that will set the stage for agency, and learn about intentional practices and strategies to encourage self awareness that leads to ownership of achievement and long-term success.

Designing the School of the Future..Today!

Buddy Berry, Eminence Independent Schools - Eminence, KY

Session will focus on how to implement a "best practice" approach to teaching through "next practice" systems. Highlights will include how to use technology to drive student engagement, blended classrooms, prescribed learning, student collaboration, critical thinking, and much more. Come prepared with your biggest obstacles as we try to revolutionize learning in your district or school forever!

Igniting a passion for learning: Designing Engaging Learning Expeditions to Transform Student Learning

Karen Endal Butterfield Trail Middle-Van Buren, AR

Student engagement is the heart of Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching. In this session, learn how a middle school has implemented real-life, project-based cross-curricular learning expeditions tied to the state frameworks and designed to engage the local community. Participants will be presented a six step process of how to create the expeditions and learn about the school structures, instructional strategies, and student expectations critical to creating a highly engaging, deep learning experience for students.

What would Student Focused learning look like at the elementary level?

George Philhower, Western Wayne Public Schools-Cambridge City, IN

Paula Kaiser, Active Pathways - Wauwatosa, WI

Whether you are in the planning stages or you're already innovating come hear ideas from 2 individuals who are rethinking elementary school structures in their states. This session will introduce you to several ideas for designing practices that focus on the learner and learning, including:

  • Multi-age classrooms- Why might we want to group our students by factors other than their DOB?
  • Proficiency-based learning- How can we guaranteeing learning instead of exposure to content?
  • Ownership- What does it look like when elementary students own their learning?

iHUB & tech panel

Santhosh and Kyle, OIE

This session will introduce an online collaborative tool called Innovation Hub or iHUB. This tool will help continue the conversation beyond the summit. During the session users will create their accounts and use the tool to ask questions. This session will also try and describe a few do's and don'ts about technology with examples and discussions from the panelists. The last 15 minutes of the session will be used to answer questions that were posted on iHUB at the start of the session. Users are encouraged to carry with them a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.

Developing a Personalized Learning Program On a Campus-Wide Level

John Crowder, West Fork Schools - West Fork, AR

We will share one high school's year-long journey to developing and implementing a "personalized learning" program that is set up on a campus-wide level. You will learn how we examined and developed our philosophy, purpose, vision, and ultimately, our plan of action to build our "personalized learning academy" (PLA). You will see how we used inclusion and consensus-building of stakeholders in our district across the spectrum, including students, educators, parents, and board members to achieve this. We will discuss how we chose a "learning management system" and assessment tools. Finally, we will show you how we provided appropriate professional development for the teachers, and how students across the academic spectrum were chosen to participate in the PLA. Come learn why students, teachers, and parents are so excited about our PLA model!

Are You Ready for Remix

Team Digital, Virtual Arkansas

Do you envision a different school experience for your students? Are you considering changing elements of your school system to provide increased opportunities for personalized education for students? A strong blended learning foundation is essential for any school that is planning to provide a student-centered approach to the school day. If you have a vision for providing students more flexibility in TIME, PLACE, PATH, or PACE, blended learning considerations are a must. This session will provide a clear understanding of blended learning, the elements to consider when planning for student flexibility, and the opportunity to schedule a personalized district or school consultation to begin planning.

Arkansas' Own Team Digital is made of up seven digital learning support specialists that are provided to public schools as a service/support to explore, design, implement, and evaluate new models of school. The Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Education Service Cooperatives partner to provide this resource to help you build strong digital learning foundations. Get digitized with us!
**Team Digital will be set up in the Collaboration Cafe

What would Student Focused learning look like in High School

Kenneth Grover, Innovations High School - Salt Lake City, IN

We will discuss best practices of student-focused learning that are unique to high schools. Topics to explore will be comprehensive based learning, pacing of content to ensure mastery, and a discussion and problem solving about barriers you are facing real time.

Innovating Using Conversion Charter Application Process

Barbara Hunter Cox, APSRC

The design of the Arkansas Department of Education's Conversion Charter process was established to allow school districts and/or campuses to apply innovation to their school programs. The Arkansas Public School Resource Center has worked with the majority of the 23 Conversation Charters by supporting the schools as they design and implement their new innovative practices. This session will share strategies, design elements and data about the use of Conversion status to create new educational opportunities for Arkansas students.

Collaboration Cafe

Is your brain full? Do you need time to process and create plans with your team? Do you just need a quick break? Discuss what you have learned in your sessions with your team. Collaborate with others to gain the momentum needed to transform learning in your school or district.

Tuesday's Agenda (9/27/2016)

8:00 A.M

Breakfast Buffet

8:30 A.M - 10:00 A.M

Opening Keynote

Michael B Horn

In his keynote address, Michael Horn will describe the unprecedented opportunity educators have to transform Arkansas' school system into a student-centered one that allows all children to fulfill their human potential thanks to the confluence of policy and technology. He will introduce a design process that educators can use to seize this opportunity and showcase how educators can use it to create blended-learning environments that can personalize learning for all students. Questions and Book Signing - 9:30

12:00 P.M - 1:00 P.M

Welcome: Opening Lunch Keynote

Commissioner Johnny Key

10:05 A.M - 10:50 A.M 11:00 A.M - 11:45 A.M 1:15 P.M - 2:00 P.M 2:10 P.M - 2:55 P.M

Critique for Beautiful Work

Matt Sheelen & Lacy Szuwalski - High Tech Elementary, San Diego

Using Ron Berger's text "An Ethic of Excellence," participants will engage in critique sessions based around student work and learn the tools for applying these transformative life skills to their classroom and beyond. Participants will give feedback in groups and experience the drafting/revision process of creating beautiful work!

Leadership and Part two of Competency Based Education, the Change Cycle and Culture

Don Siviski, Center for Secondary Schools Redesign - West Warwick, RI

Participants will dive deeper into CBE and the components of the Change Cycle and Leadership responsibilities which include: influence, persistence, moral imperative, the "Tradition Transition and Transformational Instrument" Student Voice and Choice and Agency and the evolutionary road map of plan, do, check and adjust. Each participant will reflect upon and develop a personal strategic plan to ensure community acceptance and support as well as an understanding of culture change and the "unlearning process".

What is a Learner Profile and What Do I Do with It?

Paula Kaiser, Active Pathways - Wauwatosa, WI

In education today we are data rich. We have multiple data points on student achievement, but what data is the most valuable in engaging learners and increasing motivation? In this session you will be challenged to consider your definition and use of data to define success. We will look at the how data is used in a student centered instruction cycle and explore how a well established Learner Profile is used for self reflection and goal setting to make key engagement factors visible.

Opportunities to Support Personalized Learning Under ESSA

Maria Worthen, iNACOL - Vienna, VA

Denise Airola, Office of Innovation for Education - Fayetteville, AR

The new Federal K-12 law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, presents a historic chance for states to transform education to student-centered learning. States have an opportunity to redefine what it means for students to be prepared for success, and to align systems of assessments, accountability, and teacher development around this vision. Maria Worthen, Vice President of Federal and State Policy for iNACOL, will provide an overview of the law and a national perspective on the opportunities for states to support personalized learning. Denise Airola, Director of the Office of Innovation for Education, will facilitate a conversation about opportunities and challenges for Arkansas.

"EXPLORE" Teaching in a Personalized Learning School

Lisa Welch, Multi-Age Teacher -Wales, WI

At EXPLORE, the work of transforming schools from an industrial, assembly line model to a modern, learner-centered and learning focused approach must begin at the nexus of learning and teaching. By personalizing learning, we create a circumstance where we can take advantage of learner strengths. When we have a deep understanding of each learner, we can determine the correct blend of learning modalities and strategies to ensure success for each learner. It involves much more than adopting an expanded set of instructional skills and strategies. It is not just one more thing that educators are asked to do. In reality, this transformation is about approaching the work of learning and teaching differently.

Our work is to make these connections predictable, which can only happen if we have a rich understanding of the learner, what motivates, where interest lies, what is ready to be learned, and what connections will likely be made and stick. It also requires that we include the learner as a key contributor to their learning.

Multiple Pathways to Graduation: What do we mean and could this be done in Arkansas?

Stacy Smith, ADE - Little Rock, AR

Megan Slocum, Springdale Schools - Springdale, AR

In a world where virtual reality exists and where students can create their own avatars to be whomever they want to be -why do we continue to shuffle them into a single graduation pathway? Why make students wait until they have graduated from high school to exercise agency and initiative? Could multiple pathways to graduation be a stepping stone to anytime, anywhere student-driven learning? Learn more about multiple pathways to graduation and what this means for helping students develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to successfully navigate their path to becoming tomorrow's citizens and leaders

Leading Transformational Change in Education: "Getting beyond just Getting Better"

Ryan Krohn

Leading Transformational Change in Education: "Getting beyond just Getting Better" Strategies for thinking and leading beyond incremental, incidental improvement.
The primary function has changed...have you? Continuous improvement is important, but often is inadequate. We must be sure we are working on the right things, things that have the potential to make a real difference for learning and achievement. Getting better at the wrong thing - that will not deliver the results we need - is a waste of time, effort and resources. Innovation that represents transformation often must precede effective incremental improvement. This session will provide practical strategies for breakthrough thinking and operationalizing transformative approaches. The emergence of personalized learning as a transformative innovation will be used to explain and demonstrate the process of engaging in and leading transformative innovation.

The Five Tenets of CBE and What Why and How of Implementation

Don Siviski, Center for Secondary School Redesign- West Warwick, RI

The Five Tenets of Competency Based Education and What Why and How of Implementation
Participants will investigate the five components of Competency Based Education (mastery of standards, meaningful assessments, kid friendly language, customized pedagogy and deeper learning DOK and executive skills) and explore the "What Why and How" of culture change.Each participant will gain a personal interpretation of CBE based upon CCSSO and iNACOL definition and understand how student Voice and Choice and Agency can strategically evolve into the culture of a district.

Deeper Understanding of Blended Learning- Applying BL Instructional Models in your Practice

Judy Perez, Founder and CEO of eLearn Collaborative - Denver, CO

Are you thinking about implementing blended learning in your classroom or district? How can you create and grow internal resources to establish local expertise and save on costs? Whether you are a teacher or education leader, you will gain an understanding of blended learning PD, OER, and leveraging current/free resources. Discussions will address practical PD, access, & equity. Practitioners will share best practice and participants will be enrolled in an Intro to Blended Learning PD course.

School of Innovation Application Tips

Cindy Hogue, ADE - Little Rock, AR

OIE Staff, Fayetteville, AR

What are the characteristics of a strong application? You will receive the latest information on the 2017-18 School of Innovation (SOI) Application Process, as well as tips on how to strengthen your proposal based on lessons learned in the first two rounds of applications. Learn more about how ADE and the OIE can help you based on where you are in the application process.

Mentoring Session

Kenneth Grover, Innovations High School - Salt Lake City, UT

Key to student success is the connection that students have with our greatest asset in each school-the teacher. Kenneth and one of his teachers will share a number of strategies used to effectively and efficiently mentor students and how mentoring has significantly raised academic achievement.

Taking 'FLIGHT'- Teaching in a Personalized Learning School

Krista Krauter

F.L.I.G.H.T: (Facilitated Learning through Integration, Guidance, High Expectations and Technology).At the FLIGHT ACADEMY, learning is an autonomous activity, initiated and controlled by the learner. The same stimulus presented to multiple learners may result in learning for some, but not others. For learning to occur, there needs to be a connection, interaction or context identified. Our work is to make these connections predictable, which can only happen if we have a rich understanding of the learner, what motivates, where interest lies, what is ready to be learned, and what connections will likely be made and stick. It also requires that we include the learner as a key contributor to their learning.

Personal competencies: What are they? Why are we talking about them? How do they relate to teaching and learning?

Denise Airola, Crystal Beshears, and Marsha Hash

Arkansas' Vision for Excellence in Education includes the goal: Each student will develop and apply personal competencies that foster learning, community engagement, and success in life.

What are personal competencies? What role do they play in learning and life success? In this session, we will share common understandings of personal competencies (skills and dispositions) and how these differ from, and support learning of, content knowledge. You'll engage in an activity to identify where you and your school are currently supporting students' in these areas and where you might have new opportunities to integrate these important competencies in your students' learning.

Leadership Panel

Jon Laffoon, Chip Greenwell, Kenneth Grover, George Philhower, Don Siviski

Come join us for a panel discussion with education leaders from around the state and country. The variety of backgrounds, experiences, and expertise is sure to lead to an engaging and inspirational conversation over the importance of personalizing learning models to meet the needs of all students.

A Toolkit for Blended Learning

Harry Dickens, Compass Learning - Texarkana, TX

What tools can you use to support independent and collaborative learning and extend the learning beyond the classroom? Have you created your toolbox with key applications that can support blended learning? How accessible is the technology for students? What cost, if any, are involved? Are the tools easy to use is there support for you and the students? In this session participants will see why a few application can be used for core needs and can be used consistently. Participants will be introduced to technology that can facilitate course management, enrich the student learning experiences and support self-directed learning.

Why are our schools so bad at failure?

George Philhower, Western Wayne Schools - Cambridge City, IN

We all know that we learn a great deal from our failures. We also know that one of the most important things we can teach our students is to persevere through times of struggle. But is this possible when our students are being conditioned to avoid failure through a system that averages scores and forces students who come up short to start all over? Participants in this session will engage in a discussion about what can be done about this dilemma and how we might be able to make the failures students face at school less permanent.

Facilitating Your Council of Innovation

Matt Coleman, Texarkana Schools - Texarkana, AR

How can you get the most from your Council of Innovation and use the process to clarify and simplify your planning and design for innovation?
Whether you want to brainstorm areas of innovation to explore or narrow the focus of your innovation efforts, facilitation tools can make the process of working with your Council of Innovation manageable and productive. This session will introduce you to several facilitation tools to develop and enhance your skills for leading your Council of Innovation. In this session you will learn how to move from exploring innovation to determining a focus to connect to their plan action steps.

Collaboration Cafe

Is your brain full? Do you need time to process and create plans with your team? Do you just need a quick break? Discuss what you have learned in your sessions with your team. Collaborate with others to gain the momentum needed to transform learning in your school or district.

3:00 - Q and A, Consortium/Network-building/Next steps

Q and A: Ask the questions that are still lingering in your mind about personalized learning and transforming schools.

Consortium/Network-Building: Join OIE staff, Ken Grover, and other presenters as we meet briefly to continue the learning conversation to shape your next steps. Learn about the the regional follow-up summits we have planned to provide deeper information and/or planning support.


Michael B. Horn

Co-founder and Distinguished Fellow Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation

Michael Horn speaks and writes about the future of education and works with a portfolio of education organizations to improve the life of each and every student. He is the cofounder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a non-profit think tank; he serves as a principal consultant for Entangled Solutions, which offers innovation services to higher education institutions; and he is the director of the Education + Technology fund, a joint philanthropic project of Two Sigma and Robin Hood with the mission of unlocking the potential of technology to advance achievement for low-income students.

Horn is the author and coauthor of multiple books, white papers, and articles on education, including the award-winning book Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns and the Amazon-bestseller Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. An expert on disruptive innovation, online learning, blended learning, competency-based learning, and how to transform the education system into a student-centered one, he serves on the board and advisory boards of a range of education organizations.

He is on the board of Fidelis Education, Education Elements, Global Personalized Academics, the Silicon Schools Fund, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the Minerva Institute. He serves as an advisor to Intellus Learning, Pedago, Knod, Everest Education, AltSchool, Degreed, the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, the Education Innovation Advisory Board at Arizona State University, and the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Teachers College, Columbia University, and he is an executive editor at Education Next.

Horn was selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea, and Tech&Learning magazine named him to its list of the 100 most important people in the creation and advancement of the use of technology in education. Horn holds a BA in history from Yale University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

The State Board of Education approved former Sen. Johnny Key as the Arkansas Department of Education commissioner March 25, 2015. Gov. Asa Hutchinson previously recommended Key for the position.

Prior to being named commissioner, Key served as associate vice president for university relations at the University of Arkansas System, a position he held since August 2014.

Key began his career in public service in 1997 when he was elected to serve as a justice of the peace on the Baxter County Quorum Court. He was elected to three two-year terms in the House of Representatives, followed by a tenure in the Senate that began in 2008.

While in the Senate, Key served as chair of multiple committees: the Senate Education Committee; Arkansas Legislative Council Administrative Rules and Regulations Committee; Joint Retirement and Social Security Committee; and Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee. He served as vice chair of the Joint Budget Committee; Arkansas Legislative Council Policy Making Committee; Academic Facilities Oversight Committee; and Joint Committee on Public Retirement and Social Security Programs.

Key graduated from Gurdon High School and received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1991 from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.He has received many awards, including the 2013 Legislative Pacesetter of the Year by the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading; the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Arkansas State University at Jonesboro; 2012 Invest in Life Award from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas; the 2011 Guy Newcomb Award from the Arkansas Pharmacists Association; and the 2010 Person of the Year by Arkansas Phi Beta Lambda.

Key and his wife, Shannon, live in Little Rock and have one son, Ryan, and one daughter, Rachel.

Buddy Berry

Superintendent of Eminence Independent School District and Founder of Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education.

Dr. Buddy Berry will take us through his journey in reimagining Eminence Independent Schools to design a next generation "Dream School" rooted in personalized learning, and centered around innovation and creativity. The Eminence Independent school district has redesigned its instructional experience for kindergarten through 12th-grade students with its Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education model using online, blended and competency-based education in their quest to be the Disney World of Schools.

Dr. Berry is in his 7th year as Superintendent of Eminence Independent Schools. He holds a Bachelors in Secondary Mathematics from the University of Kentucky, a Masters in Secondary Counseling from the University of Louisville, a Masters in Instructional Leadership from Bellarmine University, a Superintendency Certificate from Eastern Kentucky University, and a Doctorate of Education from Northern Kentucky University. Dr. Berry serves on the Board for the Fund for Transforming Education, has been a Highly Skilled Educator with the Kentucky Department of Education, is a University of Kentucky Next Generation Academy Fellow, and developed the School on F.I.R.E. (Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education) Model. The School on FIRE Model has become a model for innovation, personalization, inspiration, and next practice.

Lisa Welch

Multi-Age K-1 Teacher, Multi-Age K-1 Teacher

Ms. Welch has been teaching at the primary level for the past 17 years. In those years, she has witnessed and embraced the transformation of education and all the potential that it has for our young learners. Currently, she team teaches in a K-1 classroom with a focus on generative curriculum, placed based learning and flexible learning environments, The Habits of Mind and a multi-age collaboration is also a focus for her learners. Lisa holds her National Board Certification as well as a Personalized Learning Endorsement through CESA 1 and currently serves as her district's Personalized Learning Lead Educator.

Kenneth Grover, M.Ed

Principal, Innovations Early College High School.

Three years ago Kenneth Grover and his staff created a comprehensive and fully reimagined educational experience for 21st Century high school students. Innovations High was created from the ground up with anytime, anywhere learning; full instructional integration with the local community college; career-path support; mastery-based education; college & career readiness; real-time progress monitoring for students and parents; and self-directed learning.

Kenneth has trained educators from around the country to understand and implement scalable personalized learning in their schools. His mission is to provide a student centered, personalized educational pedagogical approach that can be implemented in schools through by placing the needs of the student first.

Description: The mission of Innovations High School is to provide a robust, personalized learning environment. Through this unique pedagogy, students are taught in a blended learning classroom, which is a form of instruction that uses face-to-face traditional instruction, along with self-paced, individualized digital content. A strong mentoring program enhances the personalization of each student. As such, students have control of the time, path, pace, and place for their learning.

Outline: Providing a Personalized Learning Environment within a traditional urban school district is possible and with tremendous outcomes. The following will be presented and discussed with the group.

  • Learn how to provide an individualized, self-paced, personalized student-learning environment.
  • Remove controls of the traditional high school that may stifle a student's ability to thrive, grow, and develop self-awareness about his or her education and future.
  • Remove the confining structure of the traditional school day and provide opportunity for students to attend school in a more flexible, open, and relaxed environment.
  • Challenge students with rigorous content, and provide teachers with the opportunity to really know their students and the ability to act as facilitators of learning rather than as the "sage on the stage."
  • Provide advanced educational opportunities to ALL students through dual enrollment for high school and college credit.
  • Provide a differentiated and pliable learning environment.
  • Provide a model that is scalable in the traditional comprehensive high schools across the country.
  • Learn how to effectively remove constraints of traditional classrooms and barriers to educational innovation.
  • Utilize the power and scalability of technology to customize education where students through multiple measures, both cognitive and non-cognitive, will have significant increases in academic achievement.
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George Philhower

Assistant Superintendent, Western Wayne Schools.

George has been an administrator at Western Wayne Schools for 7 years, and prior to that he was a special education teacher. George is passionate about the need to create school environments that are flexible enough to adapt to and meet the unique needs of all learners, and he is excited about the steps being taken in his school district to accomplish this goal.

Matt Coleman

Director of Magnet Programs, Texarkana Arkansas School District

Matt Coleman is currently the Director of Magnet Programs at Texarkana Arkansas School District in Texarkana, AR. He previously had nine classroom years, during which he taught English and writing at every level from seventh grade to graduate level college courses. Following that, Matt spent seven years facilitating adult learning for K-12 teachers for both the Texarkana school district and around the state of Arkansas.

Dr. Don Siviski

School Change Coach, Center for Secondary School Redesign
Educator 44 years
Teacher 12 years, Principal 14 years, Superintendent 13 years, State Superintendent of Instruction (Deputy Commissioner level) 3 years, Center for Secondary School Redesign 2 years
Married 42 years (my anchor for culture change), 3 adult children (greatest professors of my life) and 6 grandchildren (my passion for student centered education)
Education: Civil Eng UMO '69, BS Math/Physics UMF '72. MS Admin UMO '77, CAS Admin UMO '92, graduate studies at Harvard University and Bowdoin College

During my public education experience, I had many questions about "why?" we do what we do in school. My children taught me that a "one-size-fits-all" compliance oriented experience simply doesn't work for the majority of students. In 2011, I joined Commissioner Bowen to marshal an educational culture change in Maine towards a student centered experience that was proficiency-based for deeper learning and embedded with student voice and choice of evidence. In 2011, a Democratic led bipartisan Education Committee established a strategic plan for Maine districts LD 949 and in 2012, a Republican led bipartisan Education Committee solidified LD 1422 for a proficiency-based diploma by 2017.

Mr Siviski will address: Competency-based education

Why is such a shift necessary and how insightful were educators and legislators about the need for 21st Century skills? Where are we now and how can each community ensure that graduates have "learned how to learn" and are prepared for the necessitated level of innovation, creativity and collaborative problem solving their future will demand? An education standard established in 1892 doesn't work today. It's time to meet the needs of every child with a personalized anytime everywhere educational experience.

Jon Laffoon

Superintendent, Star City School District

Jon Laffoon is the Superintendent at Star City School District in Arkansas and a Doctoral Candidate at Texas A&M-Texarkana. He has captured the true meaning of innovation in education, thus always being an advocate for the student.

While at Pea Ridge as the principal, he worked with the administrative team to open the Pea Ridge Manufacturing and Business Academy. This creative concept is the first of its kind in Arkansas with full integration between local businesses, high school content and for credit college level courses. In its second year, enrollment doubled in this dynamic learning environment. Jon also developed a one to one, project based learning environment in the high school supported by the community and teacher collaboration.

Pea Ridge High School also implemented a Flex Mod class schedule, also the first of it's kind in Arkansas. This schedule supports Jon's focus of student advocacy by further preparing students for college and career readiness. With a focus on 21st Century Skills while providing students and teachers time to build relationships, this dynamic schedule is sweeping the state.

Jon was recently chosen as the Superintendent in Star City School District, in Southeast Arkansas. This is a district that he served as a coach, athletic director, and high school dean of students ten years ago. Currently Star City has 1600 students who will benefit greatly from Jon's vision and leadership.

In his spare time, Jon enjoys spending time with his family, reading and the (not-frequent enough) round of golf.

Lacy Szuwalski

First Grade Teacher, High Tech Elementary Chula Vista

Lacy Szuwalski is a believer. She believes all students can learn and grow and wants to ensure that each child receives the opportunity to do so through providing equitable learning environments. Lacy was raised in Topeka, Kansas and graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She moved to San Diego in 2007 and taught fourth grade for three and a half years before she decided to join the Peace Corps. She spent two years in The Gambia, West Africa as a primary teacher trainer. After her service, Lacy had aspirations to become an administrator and returned to San Diego to receive a Master of Education in School Leadership at High Tech High's Graduate School of Education. Being new to project-based learning, her thinking around education was transformed. She decided to return to the classroom to teach in a project-based environment with hopes that one day she can help lead a school in becoming project-based.

Matt Sheelen

First Grade Teacher, High Tech Elementary Chula Vista

Matt Sheelen is a teacher at High Tech Elementary Chula Vista. He is originally from Massachusetts and attended college in Illinois at Northwestern University studying Arts Education. After graduation, he worked in Los Angeles for non-profit organizations including the Story Pirates & Young Storytellers which both provide arts education to underserved populations in LA. He has taught abroad in Italy utilizing theatre & improvisation to facilitate english language learning. In San Diego, he served as the Education Program Manager at the San Diego Junior Theatre directing camp programming and teaching core classes. Before working at High Tech High, Matt attended the graduate school of education at Stanford receiving his Master's in Education through their STEP program. He is focused on bringing social justice into the classroom, creating equitable learning environments, & using project-based learning to develop innovative, progressive learning experiences for all students.

Harry Dickens

Education Consultant, Compass Learning in Austin Texas

Harry Dickens is education consultant for Compass Learning in Austin Texas. He is an author consultant with Corwin Press an international book publishing and professional development company. He has been active in professional development for several years and shared strategies for infusing technology into classroom instruction. He is noted for his compassion for engaging teachers and students in the learning process with technology.

He is part of the 21 Century Fluency Project (Vancouver BC), with the Fluency Project the writing and publishing of the following books have occurred:

  • Apps For Learning: 40 Best Apps for High School Classroom (Corwin 2011)
  • Apps For Learning: Middle School (Corwin 2012)
  • Apps For Learning; Elementary School (Corwin 2013)

Barbara Hunter Cox

Director of Teaching and Learning, The Arkansas Public School Resource Center

Barbara Hunter Cox has served as the Director of Teaching and Learning at the Arkansas Public School Resource Center since 2011. Our mission is to provide high quality support services and technical assistance to school districts and charter schools across the state of Arkansas. Barbara's undergraduate degree is from the University of Tennessee with graduate work from George Peabody College of Teachers at Vanderbilt University. Barbara Hunter Cox has served as a teacher, foundation program officer, school administrator, consultant and evaluator of federal and state initiatives.

Judy Perez

Founder and CEO of the eLearn Collaborative

Judy Perez is the founder and CEO of the eLearn Collaborative (eLC), a nonprofit organization that offers educational services to schools and districts in the U.S. and Latin America supporting blended and personalized learning. Services focus on teacher training, consulting, online course development, open education resources, and an annual Conference on Blended & Online Learning (CBOL). ELC is the recognized provider of teacher training in blended learning in Colorado. ELC is also an official regional partner for the U.S. Department of Education Future Ready Initiative. Judy has 25+ years of experience in education as a teacher to district-level administrator. She was appointed as a CAO for the Colorado Department of Education in 2012. Judy has experience working with legislation leading to increased funding for innovation in education. She has participated in research studies for U.S. Dept. of Education and presented at conferences that include the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, Online Learning Consortium International Conference, Donnell-Kay Foundation, SENA Congreso e-Learning/Bogota, U.S. and Colorado Departments of Education, etc.

Dr. Denise Airola

Director, OIE

Denise Tobin Airola is the Director of the Office of Innovation for Education at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Airola's work focuses on enabling and accelerating innovation to address barriers to educational progress, building capacity for improving instruction and leadership practices, and informing policy at the school, district and state levels. She has consulted with several state education agencies on the use of educational data to drive instructional systems change. Prior to her work as an educational statistician and research methodologist, Dr. Airola worked for 18 years in the K-12 public education system. Her education experience includes classroom teaching at the elementary, middle and secondary levels, designing and conducting professional development, curriculum, instruction and assessment alignment, as well as implementing and evaluating K-12 reform efforts.

Maria Worthen

Vice President for Federal and State Policy

Maria Worthen is Vice President for Federal and State Policy at iNACOL. Prior to joining iNACOL, Maria served as Education Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. She also worked at the US Department of Education, serving as Congressional Liaison in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Program Officer in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

Earlier in her career, Maria was a pre-school teacher and a social worker, practicing with at-risk children and youth in a variety of settings. An Iowa native, she holds a B.A. in Government and Italian Language and Literature from Smith College and a Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.

Ryan Krohn, Ph.D.

Director of the Institute for Personalized Learning

Dr. Ryan Krohn serves as the Director of the Institute for Personalized Learning, an education innovation lab dedicated to the transformation of public education. The Institute serves a growing number of member school districts engaged in personalizing learning and is a part of the multi-state Innovation Lab Network coordinated by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Ryan formerly served as the Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the School District of Waukesha, Wisconsin. In this role, Ryan launched a focused effort to bring forward personalized learning as the primary model of instruction. Ryan earned a Master's degree from The University of Minnesota in adaptive education and a second Master's in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University. Ryan centered his Ph.D. research on transformational leaders and their successful transformation of a traditional educational environment to a personalized learning system.

Dr. Krohn is a national speaker, university instructor, and consultant who centers his work on engaging leaders on the ideas of transformation, personalized learning, and learner-centered designs.


The Office of Innovation for Education and the Arkansas Department of Education are excited to host a two-day Education Innovation Summit on September 26-27, 2016 designed with you in mind. Drawing from the expertise of innovative educators within our state and from across the nation, the summit will bring together practitioners to engage, design and build momentum to transform education in Arkansas.

Individual- Early Bird

Early bird


(Aug 5, 2016.)

Individual- Regular

Price after Aug 1, 2016


(Aug 2 - Sep 15, 2016)

Group Registration

Team of four or more


Per/Person (Sep 15, 2016.)

Late or On-site

No Group Rates


(Depending on availability)


Statehouse Marriott

Travel & Hotel Information


3 Statehouse Plaza

Little Rock, AR 72201

Book your room


Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport - LIT
Hotel direction: 7.1 miles NW
Airport shuttle service, reservation required, complimentary
Shuttle Phone: +1 501 906 4000
Bus service, fee: 1.35 USD (one way)
Estimated taxi fare: 17 USD (one way)

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