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Experience a dynamic general session at our annual conference on Tuesday, February 27, and Wednesday, February 28. Dive into two engaging keynotes covering strategies for effective leadership and unlocking the full potential of AI. Participate in a thought-provoking panel discussion on fostering civility in challenging times, and join our member forum for insights into "The State of Charters In 2024." This session is crafted to provide a rich exploration of important themes, fostering dialogue and shaping perspectives for the future. Don't miss out on this opportunity to broaden your understanding and contribute to meaningful discussions.

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General Sessions
General Session 1 — The Lighthouse Effect: Shining Your Light
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Tuesday, February 27, 2024   |   9:45 - 10:45 AM  |   Rocky Mountain Ballroom

Featuring Keynote Steve Pemberton

Best Selling Author, Philanthropist, Acclaimed Speaker, and Senior Level Executive for the Likes of Monster.com, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Workhuman

Steve takes you deep into the lives of everyday heroes with personal, telling stories of everyday people who have faced adversity with dignity, grit, and unwavering spirit. These individuals defy our traditional definition of hero. Think: dedicated educators who go above and beyond for their students while juggling personal challenges. Their struggles and triumphs hold powerful lessons for anyone seeking inspiration and practical tools to navigate life's obstacles. Join Steve as he unveils the secret society of everyday American heroes, teaches you how to identify them, and empowers you to learn from and support them, creating a ripple effect of positive change within any organization.

About Steve

Steve's story is about defying seemingly insurmountable odds to become a trail-blazing corporate executive, enlightened diversity leader, visionary youth advocate, and acclaimed speaker. His best-selling memoir, A Chance in the World, recounts his triumphant life journey and drive to become a man of resilience, determination and vision. Now an upcoming major motion picture, A Chance in the World further amplifies Steve’s highly motivational messages: Believe in your dreams, rise above obstacles, create opportunities for others, and most of all, persevere.

General Session 2 — Panel Discussion: Cultivating Civility in Challenging Times
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  • Dr. Landon Mascareñaz, Cofounder, Open Systems Institute
  • Mike Petrilli, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Moderated by Dan Schaller, President, Colorado League of Charter Schools

Tuesday, February 27, 2024   |   3:00 - 4:00 PM   |   Rocky Mountain Ballroom

From political battleground to common ground, mastering constructive discussions about education can pave the way for mutual understanding. Join our panel of thought leaders as they delve into the heart of civic discourse and its role in shaping both our local charter school landscape and the broader national conversation on education, particularly during an election year. They will share strategies for navigating complex topics, fostering respectful dialogue, and building bridges across diverse perspectives. Whether you're a seasoned charter school educator or a newcomer passionate about education issues, you’ll come away with a better sense of how to cultivate empathy and understanding in polarized times. 

Speaker Bios

Mia is a Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund where she leads the Innovative Schools investment area, supporting educators with bold new visions that embrace an expanded definition of success, equity, and innovation. Mia was also the Founding Partner of Schools and Talent at The Opportunity Trust where she led the organization’s strategy for the design, development, and launch of innovative schools and support of existing schools throughout the St. Louis region. Mia also served as Founder and CEO of Intrepid College Prep Schools, a growing network of public charter schools in Nashville. She began her educational career at Building Excellent Schools, where she spent two years in deep study of successful school models around the country.

Landon is an educator, writer, and democracy builder. As cofounder of the Open Systems Institute, he partners with leaders around the country to encourage an emerging discipline for openers everywhere. He is the current elected chair of the Colorado State Board for Community Colleges & Occupational Education, appointed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, and a senior partner at the Colorado Education Initiative, developing breakthrough partnerships in sixty rural districts across eight regions of the state. He also serves as chair of the Reisher Scholars Program, supporting students across the state to achieve their higher education goals. His book, The Open System: Redesigning Education & Reigniting Democracy was released last June.

Mike serves as president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, executive editor of Education Next, editor-in-chief of the Education Gadfly Weekly, and host of the Education Gadfly Show podcast. He is also the author of The Diverse Schools Dilemma, editor of Education for Upward Mobility, and co-editor of How to Educate an American and Follow the Science to School. An expert on charter schools, school accountability, evidence-based practices, and trends in test scores and other student outcomes, Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Slate, and appears frequently on television and radio. Petrilli helped to create the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement and the Policy Innovators in Education Network.

General Session 3 — Making the Most of the AI Opportunity
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Featuring Keynote Pat Yongpradit

Wednesday, February 28, 2024   |   9:45 - 10:45 AM  |   Rocky Mountain Ballroom

AI is not just a technological trend; it's a paradigm shift that could reshape how we teach, learn, and think about education. Since late 2022, AI has been the world’s most popular professional learning topic across multiple sectors, and the incorporation of AI in education has caused us to rethink long-held traditions such as testing, homework, and even why we teach certain topics and skills. There is a sense that to adapt to an age of AI, everyone, including teachers and students, must learn how to use AI and understand how AI works.

Yet many educators have legitimate concerns about safety, privacy, and academic integrity and feel overwhelmed by the pace of technological change. The session will address these anxieties by discussing the challenges and ethical considerations of integrating AI in education, including issues of overreliance, the digital divide, and school policies. Join us to understand why AI in education is more than just a technological advancement – it's a critical step toward shaping a smarter, more inclusive, and innovative future. 

Speaker Pat

Pat is the Chief Academic Officer for Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to promoting computer science education, and lead of TeachAI, a global initiative to guide education leaders in rethinking education in an age of AI. His work spans policy and government affairs, curriculum and professional learning, school outreach, coalition building, and international development. Before becoming a global voice on K-12 computer science and AI education, he taught for 13 years, inspiring students to create mobile games and apps for social causes and broadening participation in computer science among underrepresented groups. He has been featured in the book, American Teacher: Heroes in the Classroom, and has been recognized as a Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Educator. He is certified in biology, physics, math, health, and technology education. 

General Session 4 — Member Forum
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Wednesday, February 28, 2024   |   2:15 - 3:15 PM   |   Rocky Mountain Ballroom

Join us on Wednesday afternoon for our Annual Member Forum in which we'll hear from candidates for our one open board seat and appreciate our Hall of Fame winners from Monday night’s ceremony. Stay for prizes awarded to at least six winners across categories, including tech, home, travel, and mystery. We’ll have a surprise guest speaker delivering an inspirational talk, and we’ll wrap up with League President Dan Schaller speaking on the state of the State of charter schools in Colorado.