Meet Your Camp Guides

Pack your bags and lace up your hiking boots, our expert team of Camp Guides is ready to lead your team to a successful school year. Our expert Camp Guides have a diverse background of roles and experiences, ranging from administrator to teacher to counselor to instructional technology coordinator. They are dedicated to fostering an environment based on energy, humor, and humanity and creating a personalized experience that is responsive to the needs of our campers.


Tracey Abercrombie
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Bryan Boykin
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Todd Brist
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Janine Campbell
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Sue Caron
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Amber Chandler
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Cedrick Gray
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Linda Hopping
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Simone Lewis
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Tara Maynard
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Ann McCarty Perez
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Barbara McCarty
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Sabine Phillips
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Juan Rodriguez
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Laura Ross
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Erin Scholes
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Ruthie Stevenson
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Christine Thielen
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Dru Tomlin
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Christine Toth
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Gail was a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the Ridley School District since 1972. In 2007, she moved to the central office as Director of Support Services. Her responsibilities included conducting the district induction program, submitting state report for the Pennsylvania Information Management System, overseeing child accounting and enrollment, coordinating student teacher assignments, supervising ELL, guidance, and nursing services, as well as managing the district website and cable TV.

Gail has been actively involved in both the state and national middle level associations. Currently as member of the Southeast Region Board for the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level, she is an evaluator on the Schools to Watch State team. She has presented at AMLE (Association for Middle Level Education) national conferences. She is trained as a consultant for AMLE 's Middle Grades Assessment, is a member of their speaker's cadre, and has been on the faculty of the AMLE Institute for Middle Level Leadership since 2003. She is currently serving as the Director of the Institute. Gail has also presented at the Attendance and Child Accounting Association annual conference and the Pennsylvania Department of Education Data Summit.

Dru Tomlin is the principal of Heritage Middle School in Westerville, Ohio and is proud and passionate to serve his students, staff, and families every day. Dru was formerly the director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education, and in that role, demonstrated a commitment to educational improvement and a passion for teaching, learning, and middle school. He began his work in the middle grades as a young adolescent at Lynnhaven Junior High School in Virginia Beach, trying to fit in with other kids while also playing tuba in the marching and concert bands. In 1994, Dru began his formal career in education as an English teacher at Harrisonburg High School in Virginia and then, in 1998, he discovered the joys of middle school in Georgia as a language arts, reading, and social studies teacher and then as a school administrator. He has also been a school system staff development trainer and a faculty member for AMLE's Leadership Institute, believing firmly in the power of professional learning. For his work, Dru has been recognized as a school system Teacher of the Year and as Georgia's Middle School Assistant Principal of the Year. He holds a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning and a M.S. in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University, a B.A. in English/Secondary Education from James Madison University, and a Certificate of Perfect Attendance from Lynnhaven Junior High School.

Dr. Ann McCarty Perez is a passionate educator with over 20 years of experience working in schools to improve processes and outcomes. She has been a middle school teacher, principal, and central office administrator for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She is well versed in state and federal programming and data driven decision making. In her various roles she has implemented curriculum reviews and writing activities, program and process reviews, MTSS and responsive instruction, student behavior modification plans and PBIS, coordinated projects to reduce truancy, increased student achievement and closed gaps, provided services for at-risk students, and collaborated with parents to create school community. Her experience includes a variety of settings to include urban, sub-urban, and rural schools.

As a presenter and facilitator, Dr. McCarty Perez has helped school leaders with vision and mission, master scheduling, equity and courageous leadership, implementation of MTSS, and using Professional Learning Communities to increase teacher capacity and improve instructional outcomes. As a school and district leader, she has demonstrated results of closing achievement gaps and improving outcomes for all students through continuous improvement efforts and strategic planning. In addition to her work in K-12 education, Dr. McCarty has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University where she worked with aspiring school leaders on supervision of instruction.

Barbara McCarty has worked as a middle school teacher for over 23 years. In her current position as a media specialist, Barbara is actively involved in the creation of an innovative makerspace, collaboration with teachers to engage students and enhance their skills through the use of technology as well as the design and implementation of community service and social emotional learning projects. Not only does she provide tech support and professional development for the staff in her school, but Barbara collaborates with a variety of educational professionals outside of her district and has recently presented at ISTE, New Jersey Association of School Librarians, and Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference. In 2014, Mrs. McCarty was honored with the New Jersey Governor's Teacher Recognition award. In 2015, she was recognized as the New Jersey State Educator of the Year by the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of New Jersey. Most recently, in 2018 Axalta and the Philadelphia Eagles recognized Barbara as an All-Pro Teacher, an honor given to ten exceptional middle school or secondary school teachers specializing in STEM education in the tri-state area. Barbara is currently a student at New Jersey City University in the Doctorate of Educational Technology Leadership program.

Juan Rodriguez from Framingham, Massachusetts had been a Principal of elementary and Middle schools in urban and suburban schools for 27 years. Juan is currently working with a school district in Massachusetts redesigning one of the middle schools. He recently had worked as a reviewer of administrator's licensure for the State of Massachusetts and had served as an administrator's Mentor in a school district.

Juan has been a member of AMLE's Leadership Institute Faculty since 2006. Juan was the Massachusetts Middle School Principal of the Year in 2005. His middle school had been designated a Spotlight School, a Compass School and the top performing middle school for ELL learners. Juan completed the National Institute of School Leadership program (NISL) and has been a mentor of principals. He has presented at national and state conferences on ELLs, Leadership, School Safety and middle level organization.

Juan was the Coordinator of the Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure program at Framingham State University. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Administrators Association Middle Level Committee and the Education Professional Standards Committee at FSU. Juan was recognized as a distinguished alumni and is currently serving as the President of Framingham State's Alumni Board of Directors.

Linda Hopping is a State Director of Georgia STW, part of the National Forum Schools to Watch Program. She most recently served as a USDOE I3 Grant School Coach in California for 8 years. She is a former middle grades teacher, state of Georgia middle school staff development coordinator, and as a middle school assistant principal and principal. While principal at Crabapple Middle School, she established two highly successful multiage teams. She was in charge of the Education Task Force for the 1996 summer Olympic Games, represented the United States at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece, and developed an Olympic Day in the Schools program. Ms. Hopping has served on the Board of Directors of NMSA as well as on the NMSA Foundation Board. She also served as President and Executive Director of the Georgia Middle School Association. She is one of two authors of the AMLE Toolkit Assessment and served as a lead consultant in that project. Ms. Hopping has received the Georgia Middle School Principal's Association John Lounsbury Award, is a three time recipient of the President's Award from the Georgia Middle School Association, and the original recipient of the National Forum's Distinguished Leadership Award.

Christine H. Toth joined the Academy of the Sacred Heart as the Middle School Dean of Students in August 2015. The Academy of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for girls offering education and instructional services from pre-k through grade 12. Little Hearts, the Early Learning Program for ages 1 through 3 year-old girls, is also a division of the school.

Christine holds a master's degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, with a Public Relations emphasis, from Loyola University New Orleans. Prior to joining Sacred Heart, Christine served as the Director of Student Programs at Tulane University where she had oversight and accountability for over 200 student organizations, student government, leadership programs, student media, and major campus programming. Prior to that, she was at the University of West Florida for eight years. Having worked in Student Affairs for over 11 years, she learned the importance of working with others, relationship building, and defining her leadership style. She believes that one of the most important functions of a Dean of Students is to build and maintain relationships with your constituents: students, administration, faculty, parents, and the community. She strives to inspire colleagues, peers, and the students she serves to realize their full potential.

Bryan Boykin is the principal of Williamsburg Middle School in Arlington VA and is a passionate educator who believes every child can succeed when given an opportunity. In 2003, he began his formal educational career as an elementary special education teacher, and in 2007 became a school counselor at the middle and high school levels. During this time, he had the opportunity to work with students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and served as a member of the school's equity teams to increase cultural awareness and eliminate opportunity gaps for academic success. In 2011, Bryan began his administrative career as an assistant principal at Williamsburg Middle School and later Carlin Springs Elementary. As an assistant principal, Mr. Boykin worked to implement professional learning communities and develop an RTI model to provide academic support. In 2013, Bryan was selected for the SCOPE Cohort through the University of Virginia Curry School of Education for emerging educational leaders in the state of Virginia. Mr. Boykin is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, holds a Master's degree in counseling, and an endorsement in educational administration.

Tracey Abercrombie is an Instructional Technology Specialist in Forsyth County, Georgia. After 21 years in the classroom, her passion for engaging students drove her to a career as a coach in technology integration. She serves on the Forsyth County instructional technology leadership team and has presented alongside district leaders at conferences including GAETC and GAMSP. She helps to organize and coordinate EdCamp Forsyth, the participant driven “unconference”. Tracey designed her school's personalized professional learning model that many across the district are using and finding successful. She believes schools should be working to prepare students to compete globally for careers in the future that don't exist today. Tracey feels that to be successful in this, we cannot simply use technology, but we must utilize it in a way that transforms our classrooms into a place of discovery. The classroom must be one that inspires high level questioning, creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

Dr. Ruthie Smith Stevenson is a leadership faculty member with the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE). She recently retired with 50 years of service in education.

Her last fifteen years of service were with Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, as Professor in the School of Education, Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. She was selected by faculty in the School of Education four times as Distinguished Professor. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she coordinated the Doctor of Education Program in Educational Leadership.

Dr. Stevenson worked in the Jackson (MS) Public Schools for more than 20 years as a junior high school teacher and administrator. She also served as an Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and Federal Programs in the Canton Public Schools (MS). She was Executive Director of Middle School Programs in the East Baton Rouge Parish Schools (LA) prior to becoming a Senior Program Officer and Regional Director of Mid-South Middle Start for the Academy for Educational Development (AED).

She regularly served as a leadership coach for principals in Mississippi elementary and middle schools. She has presented at numerous conferences and has worked with middle schools in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, New York City, Washington, DC, and Ohio.

Among Dr. Stevenson’s areas of interest are diversity and multiculturalism, adolescent suicide, and the relationship among schools, families, and the community. She believes that her areas of interest are connected, as they encompass understanding, acceptance, and respect.

Dr. Stevenson enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with her family, which includes her 94-year old mother, six siblings, and Beau, her Yorkie. She has one son and one granddaughter.

Dr. Cedrick Gray is formerly the proud lead teacher of the Jackson Public School District. He was appointed superintendent by the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees in 2012. He is widely praised for leadership and guidance that have revived the District and given it a new focus. He's known for an innovative and effective strategic direction process. Dr. Gray raised the graduation rate 10% in four years, increased proficiency on the third grade assessment by 9% in one year and reduced the number of schools labeled “F” by the state accountability rating system from 17 to 2 in two years. Additional achievements include:

  • Superintendent of the Year, National Association of School Superintendents, 2016
  • Superintendent of the Year, National Alliance of Black School Educators, 2015
  • Educator of the Year, Young Gifted and Empowered Awards, Savvy Life Magazine, 2016
  • Outstanding Administrator Advocate, Mississippi Association of Gifted Children, 2015

Dr. Gray's career has been guided by his vision to lead others to see the leader in themselves. He previously served as the superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools in Fayette County, Tennessee. Prior to becoming a superintendent, Dr. Gray was principal of Craigmont Middle School and Lester Pre-K-8 School, both in Memphis, Tennessee. Currently, he is formerly the Executive Director of Principal Supervisors for New Leaders – Southeast Region where he trained and coached school leaders in instructional leadership practices. Dr. Gray was recently appointed as Director of Education for Shelby County Government where he advises Mayor Lee Harris on policy and reform efforts related to education in Shelby County. Dr. Gray and his wife, Karen, are the proud parents of their daughter, Peyton.

Suzanne Caron has been teaching at the middle level in Maine for more than 25 years. Earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Farmington and her Master's in Education from Thomas College, she is currently working on her CAS in administration. At RSU#2 in Richmond, Maine she teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math as well as integrated content seminars. She is also a team leader and is actively helping the staff to design and implement a strong advisory program. Sue is a member of the Board of Directors for the Maine Association for Middle Level Education and is pursuing opportunities to work with pre-service teachers across the state. For several years, Sue has been one of the chaperones for Alfond Youth and Community Center, American Heritage Tour. The American Heritage Tour is a week-long trip for 8th Graders. Students and chaperones explore historical sites throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Virginia, and Boston. Sue is returning to the Leadership Institute faculty this year.

Todd Brist is the principal at Watertown (SD) Middle School. He has served on the South Dakota Association for Middle Level Education board and is currently the president. As a former high school teacher and principal, Todd became a convert to the middle level movement at an AMLE annual conference. Once he learned about the mission, vision, values, and goals of AMLE, he became a true believer in the value and significance of middle level education. Since that experience, Todd has built a strong understanding of the middle level concept and has presented at several state, regional, and national conferences on middle level teaching and learning.

Amber Chandler is a National Board Certified ELA teacher, a recipient of the 2018 AMLE Educator of the Year award, and president of her local union of more than 400 teachers. She is the author of the “Mentor Me” column in AMLE Magazine, the author of two books on middle level education, a columnist of "The Flexible Classroom," and a blogger for ShareMyLesson. Chandler was awarded the NoVo Foundation's SEL in Action grant for two years and the Teaching Tolerance Educator grant, which she used to start a student run website of art, music, and literary works.

Tara Maynard is first a learner then a teacher who thrives on challenges. This is her 22nd year teaching 8th grade math at Creekside Middle School in Zeeland, MI. She started flipping her classroom in 2012 in an environment with iPads 1:1. Her passions are technology, math and mentoring student teachers. Tara is currently addicted to Flipped Classroom, Twitter, and Moomer’s Ice Cream.

Erin Scholes has been a middle level educator since 2006, she earned her master's in middle level education from Walden University in 2011, and is currently working on a second master's degree in educational technology from Fairfield University. She teaches 7th grade students to become lifelong learners and to enjoy mathematics. Erin serves her school community in leadership roles, including being the 7th grade team leader and assistant director for the high school drama club. Erin’s passion for middle level education, energetic teaching style, and dedication to the profession is evident to her students, school, and community as she was honored as one of 15 semi-finalists for the 2014 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Christine Thielen, an educator for almost 20 years, is a middle school math teacher at Lincoln Middle School in Park Ridge, Illinois. Throughout her career she has taught 7th and 8th grade math, social studies, and language arts. She has also presented at the AMLE annual conference and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference. Christine currently serves on the AMLE Board of Trustees.

Over the past 16 years, Janine Campbell has used her middle school art classroom as a touchstone for what is possible when we share, collaborate, experiment, and create connected learning experiences. Her students' work has been featured in Davis Publications Media Arts book, The Scholastic Teacher's Website, SchoolArts Magazine and the MACUL Journal. She has been a Cultivating a Calling keynote for ECET2, a keynote presenter for the Art Education Association of Indiana Conference, the Ohio Art Education Association Conference, as well as presenter for the National Art Education Conference, Michigan Art Education Association Conference and Summer PD, the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning Conference, and local educational institutions. Her classroom has won local and national recognition in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, awarded various grants, as well as receiving a 2nd place award for the use of educational technology in the 2011 PBS Innovation Awards and first place for the 2013 STEAMed Innovator Awards. I was also named a 2014 PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator, 2015 Michigan Art Education Association Middle Level Educator of the Year, 2015 National Art Education Association Western Region Middle Level Educator of the Year, and 2020 MACUL Innovative Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more information about her work with students at www.bcwmsart.weebly.com or on Instagram and Twitter @campbellartsoup.

Educator and author, Dr. Simone T. Lewis, was born in Kingston Jamaica and migrated to the United States in 1999. She attended Broward College where she obtained her associate degree in General Psychology with the intent of becoming a psychologist. However, what was supposed to be merely a source of income along the way, her job as a preschool teacher, quickly derailed her plans as she soon realized that teaching was her true calling. She later furthered her studies at Nova Southeastern University where she obtained her Bachelor of Applied Studies with a concentration in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Reading. To strengthen her pedagogy, Simone Lewis pursued her Educational Doctorate in Organizational Leadership at NSU, focusing on teachers’ perception of the increase in reading comprehension of nonfiction selections through the utilization of Project Based Learning and Total Physical Response. Dr. Lewis’s passion for education has led her to effectively complete over fourteen years working with children from preschool to middle school, serving as not only an educator, but also as a reading specialist at a Title 1 school in Broward County, Florida. Along with being recognized as the City of Margate’s Teacher of the Month three times, Dr. Lewis has been honored twice as Teacher of the Year—an award of the greatest distinction.

In December 2016, she published the first in an anticipated series for children’s book, “The Adventures of Seth and Shadow, Super- Duper Student of the Week.” Inspired by the daily routines of her then four-year-old son, Seth who struggled with accepting the weekly defeat of not being selected as student of the week. Seth would often cry, stating that he would never be good enough to be student of the week no matter how hard he tried. When he finally persevered and became student of the week, his mother decided to document his adventures with Shadow, the classroom mascot, by creating a book using pictures she had taken and the services of her local pharmacy’s photo development department. Little did she know that this would give birth to Seth and Shadow Books.

Dr. Lewis’s experiences as an educator and her now new role as a parent of a kindergartener, brought to light the need for character traits to be taught at an early age. Dr. Lewis realized that teaching character development is a vital component of raising a child. However, in the race to get our children ready for the educational demands that they will face in our competitive world, teaching these important traits are often neglected. The Seth and Shadow book series aims to fill this void, by offering entertaining and relatable stories that covers topics such as perseverance and self-acceptance. Each book comes with bonus coloring pages for children to complete as a follow up activity and Florida State Standards aligned teacher guides for educational institutions that are interested in implementing the series as a curriculum. Since its launch the book has been featured in the Kids Lit Magazine, BookMad Magazine and Dr. Lewis was interviewed on the Uplifting Communities talk show. She hopes to have the Seth and Shadow series in every home and preschool thru kindergarten classroom, with plans of launching a new book with students with disabilities as the main characters. She often refers to her mission to promote character development and acceptance as the “Seth and Shadow Movement."

Most recently, she has been spotlighted in the School Board of Broward County’s Reimagining Grades Staff and Student January 2019 Newsletter for her work on Project Based Learning and on their social media outlets in 2020, for her ability to authentically engage students during remote learning. She started the #WYACW, “ Where You at Class Wednesdays” hashtag as movement to inspire educators to commit to checking on their students educational and social and emotional wellbeing during distance learning by creating her own music video, which has been shared numerous times on social media platform, including on the Black Teacher Project’s Instagram page. Dr Lewis believes that the possibilities with distance learning and student engagement are endless if educators are willing and open to stepping out of their comfort zones. I am always seeking new ways to engage my students, because teaching is more that my passion— it’s my purpose. My students are the stars and I am merely the producer. Whenever I am engaging them, whether virtually or in a brick and mortar setting, I am always ready for the lights, camera and action!”

Laura Ross, named the 2020 School Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), is the lead school counselor at Five Forks Middle School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where her focus is connecting with students to connect them to their education. Now in her sixth year as a middle school counselor, Ross previously served as an elementary school counselor for eight years. Under the guidance of Ross and the school counseling team, Five Forks Middle School received the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) distinction in 2019. At Five Forks Middle School, Ross creates connections in academic success, college and career readiness and social-emotional development for all students with a focus on goal setting, empathy, diversity, academic integration, and technology. She leads staff in culturally responsive teaching and creating equity and access for all students. Ross has presented at district, state, and national levels on creating school-wide teacher-student connections, postsecondary education awareness in middle school, integrating academics in counseling lessons, the Dove Self-Esteem Project, computer science careers, and using technology and data in school counseling. She maintains a school counseling blog about creating connections with students at theconnectingcounselor.com. She also moderates #mscchat for middle school counselors and co-moderates for #scchat on twitter. Ross received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work and her specialist in school counseling from the University of Georgia. Ross is her district’s middle school counseling steering committee chair and serves on the Georgia School Counselor Association Executive Board as metro director.

One of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in America, Rick Wormeli brings innovation, energy, validity and high standards to both his presentations and his instructional practice, which include 41 years teaching math, science, English, physical education, health, and history, as well as coaching teachers and principals. Rick's work has been reported in numerous media, including ABC's Good Morning America, Hardball with Chris Matthews, National Geographic and Good Housekeeping magazines, What Matters Most: Teaching for the 21st Century, and the Washington Post. He is a columnist for AMLE Magazine and a frequent contributor to ASCD's Education Leadership magazine. He is the author of the award-winning book Meet Me in the Middle as well as the best-selling books Day One and Beyond, Fair Isn't Always Equal: Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom (Second Edition), Differentiation: From Planning to Practice and Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching any Subject, all five from Stenhouse Publishers, as well as Summarization in any Subject: 60 Innovative and Tech-Infused Strategies for Deeper Student Learning published by ASCD. His book, The Collected Writings (So Far) of Rick Wormeli: Crazy Good Stuff I Learned about Teaching Along the Way, is collection of his published articles, guest blogs and more through 2013. His classroom practice is a showcase for ASCD's best-selling series, At Work in the Differentiated Classroom.

With his substantive presentations, sense of humor and unconventional approaches, he has been asked to present to teachers and administrators in all 50 states, Canada, China, Europe, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Australia the Middle East, and at the White House. He is a seasoned veteran of many international webcasts, and he is Disney's American Teacher Awards 1996 Outstanding English Teacher of the Nation. He won the 2008 James P. Garvin award from the New England League of Middle Schools for Teaching Excellence, Service and Leadership, and he has been a consultant for National Public Radio, USA Today, Court TV and the Smithsonian Institution's Natural Partners Program and their search for the giant squid. Rick lives in Herndon, Virginia, with his wife, Kelly, and both are proud of recently launching the last of their children into adulthood. With the kids' college years now behind them, Rick and Kelly are now eagerly spending their children’s inheritance while Rick works on his first young adult fiction novel and a new book on changing the culture of a school for ethical grading practices.

Dr. Lori Desautels has been an assistant professor at Butler University since 2016 where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate programs in the college of education. Lori was also an assistant professor at Marian University in Indianapolis for eight years where she founded the Educational Neuroscience Symposium. Currently, the Symposium is in its eighth year, and now sponsored by Butler University College of Education. Through these conferences and symposiums, educators, parents, and the community learn to implement tools to help our students be successful and feel a sense of purpose and connection as they walk into their classrooms. Because of her work, Lori has been able to attract foremost experts in the fields of educational neuroscience, trauma and adversity, which significantly grow the conference each year.

Lori has created a nine-hour graduate certification at Butler University in Applied Educational Neuroscience/Brain and Trauma. This certification has grown from six graduates in its pilot year in 2016 to 70 graduate students in its third cohort. The certification is open to students around the world as it has transformed into a distance learning hybrid format. The Applied Educational Neuroscience Certificate, created by Lori in 2016, is specifically designed to meet the needs of educators, counselors, and administrators who work with children and adolescents who have, and are, experiencing adversity and trauma.

Lori’s passion is engaging students through the application of neuroscience as it applies to attachment, regulation, and educator brain state, and teaching students and staff about their neuroanatomy, thus integrating Mind Brain Teaching learning principles and strategies into her coursework at Butler. Lori has conducted brain institutes and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, and Dubai on Mind Brain Teaching and Learning. She has created webinars for educators, clinicians, and administrators illustrating how educators and students alike must understand their neuroanatomy to regulate behavior and calm the brain.

Sabine B. Phillips has been an educator in Broward County, Florida for 28 years. She taught language arts, reading and peer counseling at Seminole Middle School before becoming a district staff development coach. She received her Masters degree in Educational Leadership in 1999 and began her administrative journey in 2001. In 2009, she was named the Principal of Crystal Lake Middle, a Title I school in Pompano Beach, Florida, and her vision of building and sustaining a positive school culture took flight!

She successfully implemented a student positive behavior plan, Cougar Power Points, using a tracking system that allowed students to be rewarded daily, weekly and quarterly. The result was an 85% decrease in negative behavior over a 2 year period. Ms. Phillips was at the forefront of implementing an SEL - Social and Emotional Learning program at CLMS, and during the 2017-2018 school year, her middle school incorporated the Sanford Harmony SEL program in which students participated in activities that helped build students’ self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making, which are the five core competencies of SEL. Incorporating SEL for the faculty and staff is also extremely important and monthly “brain smart start” activities with teachers & staff were held at faculty meetings, and teachers & staff were recognized weekly for acts of kindness on Thoughtful Thursdays.

In September 2018, Crystal Lake Middle School was awarded the national Middle School Kindness Challenge Award! CLMS was first in the nation, selected among more than 416 schools from 50 states for its innovative efforts to create a positive school culture and fostering kindness among students and staff. On July 1, 2019, Ms. Phillips was named the Principal of Margate Middle School in Broward County, and she joined a wonderful team of teachers & staff. Margate Middle has a strong PBL - Project-Based Learning focus with innovative lessons that involve the entire school community. She embraces PBL and has already taken SEL to the next level!