Forum Keynotes

Byron Garrett
Chairman for the National Family Engagement Alliance
The ABC’s of Life
Family Engagement – Education’s Best Kept Secret
Fri. Oct. 20 | 8:00am
The concept of an engaged family takes on different forms depending on where you are located. The notion of a two-parent household is long gone, and today aunts, uncles, grandparents and neighbors make up the growing “extended family” engaged in the education process of young people. It’s been said that a parent is a child’s first teacher. Research clearly shows that family engagement is a leading indicator of student achievement and valued at an additional $1,000 per pupil funding. As educators and families work together, we can develop successful and caring individuals who do well and do good. With an increasing emphasis on families, this thought-provoking keynote will uncover the challenges to meaningful engagement while presenting solutions that minimize barriers for success.
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One of the most compelling voices of our time, Byron V. Garrett is Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance (NFEA); a nonprofit dedicated to transforming education through meaningful family engagement. Byron serves as the Director of Educational Leadership & Policy for Microsoft and a consulting author for Scholastic. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Board for The Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, is a trustee for The Guyana Foundation and the CeCe Peniston Youth Foundation and was recently named to The Root 100 which recognizes emerging and established African-­‐American leaders under 45 who are making extraordinary contributions.

Throughout his career, he has been a visionary agent of change promoting the idea that everyone has an obligation and opportunity to serve the best interests of our nation’s most precious resource – children. Byron is a former columnist for Parenting, where he wrote “Parent University” monthly and served on their Editorial Advisory Board. Byron served as a lead strategist and planner for NBC News’ Education Nation and produced the 1st Annual Building a Grad Nation Summit for the America’s Promise Alliance which featured Vice President Joe Biden. The former CEO of the National PTA, Byron has a unique combination of experience from both the non-­‐profit and governmental sectors, having served as the first Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Prior to this, Garrett served as National Program Leader for the National 4-­‐H Headquarters at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the program’s seven million participants and 90,000 clubs. While at USDA he was appointed by The White House as co-­‐ convener of the Helping America’s Youth initiative, an inter-agency effort to address challenges facing youth and to promote successful solutions.

Richard Weissbourd
Director, Human Development and Psychology Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Toward Caring and Justice:  Making Concern for Others a Priority
Sat. Oct. 21 | 8:00am
Today’s culture as well as parents and schools tend to be intensely focused on children’s happiness and achievements. But the preoccupation with these two factors—and the constant praising of kids that goes with it—can undermine children’s capacity to care for others and their investment in the common good. Further, concentrating so much on happiness risks making kids not only less caring, but ironically, less happy. And in the current socio-economic climate, where tolerance and empathy seem to be in short supply, it’s more important than ever to help children develop concern for others and our collective fate. This talk will explore these current trends and provide concrete strategies for raising empathic, caring, justice-minded and happy children.
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Richard Weissbourd is a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he directs the Human Development and Psychology Program, and the Kennedy School of Government. His work focuses on moral development, vulnerability and resilience in childhood and effective schools and services for children. He co-directs the Making Caring Common Project, a national effort to make moral and social development priorities in child-raising and to provide strategies to schools and parents for promoting in children caring, a commitment to justice and other key moral and social capacities. He is currently working with numerous college admissions officers to elevate ethical character, reduce excessive achievement pressure and increase equity and access in the college admissions process. He is also conducting research on how older adults can better mentor young adults and teenagers in developing caring, ethical, mature romantic relationships.

He is a founder of several interventions for at-risk children, including ReadBoston and WriteBoston, city-wide literacy initiatives led by Mayor Menino. He is also a founder of a pilot school in Boston, the Lee Academy, that begins with children at 3 years old. He has advised on the city, state and federal levels on family policy and school reform and has written for numerous scholarly and popular publications and blogs, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and NPR. He is the author of The Vulnerable Child: What Really Hurts America’s Children and What We Can Do About It (Addison-Wesley, 1996), named by the American School Board Journal as one of the top 10 education books of all time. His most recent book, The Parents We Mean to Be: How Well-Intentioned Adults Undermine Children’s Moral and Emotional Development (Houghton Mifflin 2009), was named by The New Yorker as one of the top 24 books of 2009.

Dara Feldman
Virtues: The Language of Peace and Kindness
Sat. Oct. 21 | 2:00pm
Language shapes character. The way we speak and the words we use have great power to inspire or discourage. The language of virtues empowers us to act on the best within us. It is the main ingredient for creating a culture of peace, kindness, justice and unity. As a result of participating in this highly interactive and joyful keynote session, you will leave the conference inspired and empowered with new tools and strategies for personal, professional and organizational transformation.
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Dara Feldman is a passionate educator, author, speaker, coach and consultant who has championed character education, SEL and Restorative Practices around the world through her work as an 11 Principles Trainer for, an ASCD Whole Child Faculty Member, an SECD instructor for Rutgers and a Virtues Project Master Facilitator. She has also served as a Coach for the University of Maryland’s Positive Schools Center and a Restorative Practices Instructor.