Keynote Speakers

Principal Baruti Kafele

Principal Baruti Kafele

Opening Keynote Speaker

THURSDAY, 10/18

Closing the ATTITUDE GAP!

Summary: The discussion on gaps in student achievement continue to be one of the most important discussions in education today; particularly as it relates to the underachievement of children of color and under-served student populations. Equally challenging for educators is the continued lack of student motivation, undesirable student behaviors and the overall underachievement of at-risk student populations across racial and ethnic lines. In this highly engaging, thought-provoking keynote address, Principal Kafele will assert that the greatest difficulty to closing the achievement gap is the overwhelming assumption that the achievement gap is in fact, the problem. He says that the achievement gap is a direct consequence of the failure to adequately address what he coined, the Attitude Gap (the gap between those students who have the will to achieve excellence and those who do not) that continues to persist in American classrooms. 

About Principal Kafele:

A highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for over twenty years, Principal Baruti Kafele distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, he was selected as the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, he was a New Jersey State Teacher of the Year finalist, and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech, which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, which included U.S. News and World Report Magazine recognizing it three times as one of America’s best high schools.

One of the most sought-after education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is impacting America’s schools! He has delivered more than one thousand conference keynotes and professional development workshops over the past seven years since leaving his principalship in 2011. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” Principal Kafele is the leading authority for providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.” He is also the author of eight books which include his national best-sellers, Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males, The Principal 50 and The Teacher 50.

Principal Kafele is the recipient of over 150 educational, professional and community awards which include the prestigious Milken National Educator Award, the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award, induction into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaiming February 8, 1998 as Baruti Kafele Day.

Dr. John K. E. Tan

Dr. John K. E. Tan

Keynote Speaker

THURSDAY, 10/18

Reaching the Whole Child, The Singapore Experience

Summary: Singapore, one of the safest cities in the world, ranked first in the Gallup Global Law and Order Report 2017, with 97% of residents feeling safe walking home alone in their neighborhood at night. This didn’t happen by accident or luck, but through pure hard work by dedicated people determined to make Singapore a better home for all.

Dr. Tan will share how our 1990s alarming increase in youth crime catapulted the nation into action, taking a Whole-of-Government coordinated partnership approach across every relevant government agency and the many community partners like CARE Singapore.

Helping at-risk youth is a complex issue and we are still a work in progress, with shifting goalposts and a myriad of new challenges each year. In this presentation, Dr. Tan will share how Singapore attempts to reach and impact children and teens in a holistic manner, pulling in resources from government, private and community stakeholders. Together, these many helping-hands have forged many pathways for youths to develop and thrive.

About John:

Dr. Tan is passionate about equipping youth workers, counselors, and teachers to reach, engage, and transform at-risk, troubles and challenging youth. Analytical and intellectual, he has keen interests in socio-anthropology, etymology, psychology and youth issues. Dr. Tan is a key founding member of Children-At-Risk Empowerment Association (CARE Singapore) which serves over 1000 at-risk youths annually. He also founded the Youth Work Association (Singapore) to advocate for, benchmark and celebrate the cause of youth work in Singapore. Dr Tan is also a certified trainer and assessor under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification framework and a LivingWorks certified trainer in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills. He is also the author of “Reaching the Whole Child” and “The Singapore Experience.” Based in Singapore, he has also trained and guided youth groups in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia and USA.

Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Ph.D.

Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Ph.D.

Keynote Speaker

FRIDAY, 10/19

Understanding Executive Functioning in Children and Teens:  Why Does It Matter?

Summary: Students with executive functioning challenges may have difficulty getting organized, approach tasks haphazardly, forget to turn in homework, struggle to remember important information, and have problems regulating their emotions and behavior. Difficulties with these brain-based “executive functions” have far-reaching developmental impact, causing students to repeatedly fall short of expectations. Teachers and students, alike, may feel overwhelmed and helpless as they struggle to keep up with school demands.

However, knowledge of some of the basic research on executive functioning can guide our efforts, as well as bring hope and compassion into our relationships with students. As we build our own competence, we change not only our daily practice, but also the way we respond to students’ missteps. This information changes both what we work on and how we work with children, transforming our relationships with students into alliances with a shared goal of success.

In this presentation, Dr. Cooper-Kahn will share draw on her professional expertise and personal mission as a psychologist dedicated to helping children with executive functioning challenges.

About Joyce:

Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Ph.D. is a clinical child psychologist with specific expertise in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with executive functioning deficits. She is the author of two books on executive functioning: Late, Lost and Unprepared: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning (Woodbine House, 2008) written with co-author Dr. Laurie Dietzel, and Boosting Executive Skills in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Educators, written with Margaret Foster, M.A. (Jossey-Bass, 2013). She is a frequent speaker both in the United States and abroad.

In her work, Dr. Cooper-Kahn brings together science, clinical experience, and an appreciation for the daily demands of those raising and teaching children. Her passion lies at this junction: where psychology informs daily life.

For over 25 years, she has specialized in helping children, families and schools manage the full range of developmental challenges affecting children. Dr. Cooper-Kahn has worked in a variety of settings, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy-Krieger Institute. She currently offers clinical services at Thinking Tree Psychology, a private mental health practice in Severna Park, Maryland.  She also serves as Deputy Co-Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board of CHADD’s Attention Magazine, and she is on the Professional Advisory Board of Proyectodah (an education and training program to advance the care of individuals with ADHD in Mexico), and the Professional Advisory Board of CHAMPS (Children Arriving Mentally Prepared for School) in her local community.

Frank J. Kros, MSW, JD

Frank J. Kros, MSW, JD

Keynote Speaker

FRIDAY, 10/19

Putting Kids First in America: Join the Movement!

Summary: Frank will unveil NAREN’s Movement to truly Put Kids First so that every child has the opportunity to thrive. Learn what you can do individually and what we can do collectively to reduce the rates and heal the effects of  childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, poverty, mental health conditions, and physical health conditions. Our adult generations have a unique opportunity to drastically reduce suffering and improve the quality of life for our children. Make a difference, join the Movement!

About Frank:

Frank is a career child advocate, who has served as a childcare worker, child abuse investigator, children’s home administrator, consultant, college professor, attorney, writer and speaker. Frank currently serves as president of the Transformation Education Institute (formerly The Upside Down Organization), Director of the National At-Risk Education Network (NAREN) and Executive Vice President of The Children’s Guild, a multi-service children’s organization headquartered in Maryland.

Frank is a worldwide speaker and presents seminars to parents, educators, child-serving professionals and their leaders on various topics including brain-based learning, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), neuroscience of the teenage brain and brain-compatible organizational leadership. He also speaks on the effects of stress, child abuse and poverty in relation to brain function and development and is certified as an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE Interface) Master Trainer. In addition to lecturing nationwide, he co-authored the books Creating The Upside Down Organization: Transforming Staff to Save Troubled Children (2005) and The Upside Down Organization: Reinventing Group Care (2008).

Frank received his law degree magna cum laude in 1993 from Notre Dame Law School, where he served on the Notre Dame Law Review. He also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Creighton University.