General Session Speakers


First General Session
Monday, October 17, 2016 - 9:00 - 10:20 a.m.

"Teaching and Learning in an Age of Abundance" 

Will Richardson

 Will Richard

Two trillion webpages. Two billion people connected online. Over 600,000 apps. 1.2 billion smartphones.

In just over a decade, we’ve gone from a world where access to information, knowledge, and teachers was relatively scarce to a world where all of those are absolutely abundant. That fact dramatically changes the way we think about education and what the kids in our schools will need to survive and flourish in a fast changing, networked and connected world.

In this session, we’ll explore the shifts from scarcity to abundance as they apply to learning, thinking deeply about ourselves as learners along the way. How do our expectations of literacy change when the unedited sum of human knowledge is at our fingertips? How do we connect with others to create real work that adds to that knowledge base and changes the world for the better? How do we deal with the transparency required to make the best of public learning spaces online? And more.

Educating for abundance means that instead of becoming college or career ready, our students need to be learning ready, able to fully take advantage of all they now have access to and develop their own paths to an education and work. This intensive one or two day experience will fundamentally change the way you think about education and schooling, and will start you down a new path of deep, connected, modern learning for yourself and your students.




Second General Session
Monday, October 17, 2016 1:45 - 2:45 p.m.

Dr. Smith

  • Awards for Excellence
  • President's Address
  • State of Education

At this session, outstanding individuals in the field of education with IPA's prestigious Awards For Excellence and the John Ourth and Dr. Fred Singleton Scholarships will be presented. Paula Crane will present the President's Address and State Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith will share thoughts on the state of education in Illinois.


Third General Session
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

"The Immortality of Influence"

Salome Thomas-El


Thomas-EL uses practical, real-world examples to present the universal methods he has so successfully used to help his students achieve their dreams. He famously began a chess club-the Mighty Bishops - to teach his students at an early age to think critically and to resolve conflict with their minds instead of their fists. Not only did his students win national championships and become local heroes among their peers, they also scored high on the SAT, which got them into colleges and universities. Thomas-EL found himself faced with kids who weighed more than he did, so he started a simple summer program where the students walked to museums and other cultural events around the city; those who exercised felt better about themselves and in turn became better students. Citing the importance of exposing his students to the world outside of their own sometimes troubled community, he tells of taking 15 of his African American kids to rural Vermont, where they interacted with white children their age and discovered how much they had in common. All of these students were later accepted to magnet high schools.

Based on his book, The Immortality of Influence, this keynote speech is a refreshing, commonsense roadmap to helping kids achieve their dreams, not only for parents and educators but for everyone who knows that just one person really can make a difference.

 Salome Thomas-El videos