A group of diverse cartoon hands clasped together in the center of a circle. Text: A Place of Belonging: Cultivating School Communities Where Strengths Are Valued, Nurtured, and Embraced. June 24-27, 2024.

Trevor MuirMonday Keynote: Connecting Students to School

Presenter: Trevor Muir

Student-success often has less to do with student-intelligence and more to do with their connection to the learning environment. Students who do not connect with either the teacher, their peers, or the fundamental purpose of school usually struggle there. Teachers, as guides and mentors, play a pivotal role in fostering these connections, shaping a supportive environment where students can not only grow academically but also flourish personally in school and life. Using stories, humor, and sharing proven practices, Trevor helps educators explore ways to form these connections, ensuring every student has the opportunity to thrive in the classroom.


Trevor is a teacher, author, creator, and founder of Epic PBL. His books The Epic Classroom and The Collaborative Classroom have helped teachers worldwide to create purposeful and dynamic learning experiences. Trevor has taught in middle, high school, and college classrooms, and currently teaches pre-services teachers at Grand Valley State University. He was a national faculty member for the Buck Institute for Education, and is one of the Andrew Gomez Dream Foundation speakers. His work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Edutopia, EdWeek, and WeAreTeachers. Trevor's inspiring and informative videos have been viewed over 35 million times. At the heart of Trevor’s work is the conviction that every student has the potential for greatness, and that every teacher can be equipped to unlock that potential. To learn more, visit: https://www.trevormuir.com/


Rhonda NeseTuesday Keynote: Using an Equity Lens to Magnify Student Success

Presenter: Rhonda Nese

In this keynote address, Dr. Nese will discuss how educators, students, and community members are using educational equity as a tool for social justice in our schools. We will examine where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going when it comes to seeing and elevating our most vulnerable students.


Dr. Rhonda Nese is an  Associate Professor  in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon and the Director of the Nese Lab. She is also a Principal Investigator (PI) within the Prevention Science Institute, a multidisciplinary research institute at the University of Oregon. Her research involves equitable intervention delivery within a multi-tiered behavior support framework focused on preventative practices, including addressing implicit bias in school discipline, effective classroom behavior management strategies, bullying prevention, and alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices. Dr. Nese serves as the PI on projects to develop and test the effectiveness of the Inclusive Skill-building Learning Approach (ISLA), an instructional and restorative alternative to exclusionary discipline, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (R305A180006) and the National Institutes of Health (1R01DA059401-01). She is also Co-PI on additional federally-funded projects to identify factors that predict implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices, to develop technology to improve online learning for educators, and to develop and validate an automated scoring system for oral reading fluency. Dr. Nese is the recipient of the 2022 Presidential Equity Award from the NorthWest PBIS Network and the 2022 Outstanding Early Career Award from the University of Oregon, the UO’s highest award for early career faculty to recognize and celebrate an emerging and significant record of scholarship and research.


Joelle van LentThursday General Session: Building Compassion Satisfaction to Create a Place of Belonging

Presenter: Joelle van Lent

You cannot “bubble bath” away compassion fatigue but you can be well amid complex and challenging work! Compassion satisfaction is a reciprocal relationship with your profession in which you offer talent, expertise, and skill while also receiving support, knowledge, and skill development in a way that feels balanced and growth promoting. Joelle van Lent is back with us again this year to walk us through the strategies that have been most appreciated by educational professionals in seeking and reinforcing compassion satisfaction.  This will be an opportunity to hear some new ideas and to be reminded of some familiar and reliable tools, as well as connect with your colleagues through pauses to turn and talk during the presentation.


Dr. Joelle van Lent is a licensed psychologist with over 25 years of experience working with children, families, and child serving agencies.  Dr. van Lent has expertise as a therapist, clinician, evaluator, consultant, and trainer.  Her work focuses on child and adolescent mental health, family therapy, trauma, and neurodivergence.  Dr. van Lent’s approach is geared toward fostering resilience and creating communities that support healthy development.  She is currently in private practice based in the northwestern part of Vermont and works across the state with schools and agencies.