AP Conference Logo. A cartoon teacher and students studying2021 Associate Principals Conference 

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Click here for the paper program. If you need help registering please email Jena Sebald at [email protected] or call the AWSA office at 608-241-0300. 

All keynote and concurrent sessions from this year's convention remain online until February 28, 2021 for registrants! Registration is still open for those who would like access. Find session descriptions below. 


Building School Culture

JC Pohl, President, Teen Truth 

Building strong school culture should be the first priority of every school leader. It is proven to decrease bullying, enhance academic performance, and increase student engagement. In this session, JC reveals his framework for giving students a voice and empowering them to take ownership of their school. The methods explored are designed to build resiliency, develop positive culture, and connect students across your campus. 

JC Pohl is an award-winning producer, nationally recognized speaker, and certified counselor who has reached over 10 million people in 7,000+ schools. He has produced groundbreaking programs such as TEEN TRUTH and RISING UP, and award-winning content for companies such as Warner Brothers, ESPN, and Disney. He has also provided innovative educational content for The American Film Institute and Human Relations Media.

Building a Culture of Attendance and Engagement in Your School

Jessica Sprick, Consultant and Speaker

In recent years, regular student attendance has been identified one of the most critical yet under-addressed issues in American schools. In the shift to virtual and hybrid learning models, absenteeism and lack of engagement in learning have emerged as two of the most pressing concerns expressed by educators. This session provides participants with strategies to promote attendance and engagement across all grade levels and in virtual, hybrid, or brick and mortar learning environments. Participants will learn to analyze attendance and engagement data, prioritize resources, and implement schoolwide procedures to improve the attendance and engagement of all students. Participants will also learn how to begin applying function-based approaches to understand the “why” behind a student’s attendance or engagement challenges and to begin designing effective Tier 2 and 3 systems.

Jessica Sprick is a consultant and presenter for Safe & Civil Schools, as well as a writer for Ancora Publishing. Ms. Sprick has been a special education teacher for students with behavioral needs and dean of students at the middle school level. Her practical experience in schools drives her passion to help school and district staff develop and implement effective behavioral, academic, and attendance approaches.  Ms. Sprick is the lead trainer for Safe & Civil Schools’ model of absenteeism prevention and intervention, and she is a coauthor of the following attendance resources:  The School Leader’s Guide to Tackling Attendance Challenges, Functional Behavior Assessment of Absenteeism & Truancy, and Absenteeism & Truancy: Interventions and Universal Procedures. Ms. Sprick is also a coauthor of Foundations: A Proactive and Positive Behavior Support System (3rd Edition), Functional Behavior Assessment of Bullying, and Bullying: Universal Procedures and Interventions.

Motivating Teachers - Finding the Power to Educate 

Akil Ross, Professor and Speaker

Our nation faces a severe teacher shortage and teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates. The audience will leave this session with strategies to engage their staff in our most important work; developing meaningful relationships with all of our students.  In so doing, not only will our best teachers remain in teaching they will thrive. 

“He flunked the third grade. Now he’s the best high school principal in the nation.” This was the headline from the local newspaper after he was announced the National Principal of the Year. Dr. Akil Ross’ story is a testimony of the power a community has to transform a struggling student into a high performing student. Akil grew up in Washington, DC during the height of a drug and crime wave that claimed the potential of many young people in his community. In the midst of these conditions, transformational elements were made available that empowered him to maximize his potential. As principal of Chapin High School, Dr. Ross was named the 2018 Secondary Principal of the Year.



Concurrent sessions are all accompanied by a supplemental bonus session that allows the viewer to take a deeper dive into the material presented in the first video.

Coaching for Engagement: Creating the Conditions for Learning

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

In this session participants will deepen their understanding of “look-fors” so as to distinguish between an educator who thinks like an activity designer versus an assessor. Achievement and opportunity gaps exist when students are missing a sense of purpose and belonging in the classroom and if the cognitive rigor reflects low expectations for learning. Analyzing video scenarios for possible entry points is one strategy participants will experience in this session. 

Building Resilient Students 

JC Pohl, President, Teen Truth 

Teens die by suicide each week. Students are crushed by bullying every day. Why can some work through the adversity while others can’t? JC offers a direct pathway to one singular solution: resiliency. It’s the ability to take the hits and keep moving forward. It’s the fortitude to get knocked down and get back up. Based on his popular book, this program offers a blueprint that is guaranteed to unleash the powers of resilience within your students. 

Coaching for Equity

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Despite many productive coaching conversations we have missed opportunities to have the deeper conversations that influence language, decisions and mindsets. This means many of our most vulnerable children go underserved in regular and special education settings. This session will focus on coaching stems and entry points for impacting equitable practices for students in Wisconsin. 

Unlocking Your Organization's Fullest Potential

Akil Ross, Professor and Speaker 

Continuous Improvement should be the focus of every person, family and organization. There are proven strategies that will allow an organization to reach its goals. The audience leaves this session with strategies to align vision and mission for all members of the organization.

Restorative Practices in Education

Carol Zabel, WI Safe and Healthy Schools Center, and Alissa Darin, CESA 1

Restorative Practices is a process that influences school climate in three ways when used WITH students, staff and parents; it builds and maintains healthy relationships, creates just and equitable learning environments and repairs harm and transforms conflict. Come to this session to learn more about hear more about Restorative Practices, how Wisconsin schools are using these practices to create a climate of compassion and get acquainted with some resources that are useful as you consider implementing Restorative Practices in your building/district. 

Understanding Wisconsin Drug Trends

Bodo Gajevic, Program and Policy Analyst, WI Department of Justice 

This session will describe illicit drug trends in Wisconsin and their impact on our society, our communities, law enforcement, and the continued criminal enterprise they create.

Leading Professional Learning Communities:  A Lever for Change

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Collaborative teams can exponentially transform outcomes for students when remaining focused on the impact of teaching on learning.   Do instructional practices, change as a result of your teams collaboration efforts? Are your teams mutually accountable to each other for the decisions made? Does the performance of the team improve as a result of the time spent together? This session will address these questions as we focus on what leaders can do to build, sustain and monitor collaborative teams. 

Becoming a Better Version of Yourself: The School Leader Paradigm in Action

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA 

Scores of administrators know that it is possible to be a principal who “runs a school” – maybe even for twenty years – without ever becoming a learning leader who is developing a learning organization.  But the journey to this level of leadership is not easy.  In response, a consortium of state principal associations across America (including AWSA), called the School Leader Collaborative, has been working for several years to re-conceptualize how we view principal leadership with a framework called the School Leader Paradigm, or Paradigm.  Essentially, the purpose of the Paradigm is to help educational leaders become better versions of themselves by deepening the complex interplay between a leader’s personal attributes with targeted action domains of the local context so that schools get the learning leaders they need.  So, come to this session to learn how the Paradigm can serve as a GPS to guide and fuel your ongoing leadership growth this year and beyond.

Cracking the Code: The Tactics for Hardwiring Leadership Impact Into Your Weeks and Work

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA 

Possessing good intent to make a difference as a school leader is one thing. Developing a thoughtful plan so that you intentionally and powerfully live your deepest purposes rather than chase the next task is an entirely different thing. This session will highlight the tactics and approaches of school leaders who are finding means to “crack the code” in solving this common problem that befuddles so many leaders.  In this hands-on session, we will examine and leverage peer examples that are designed to offer guidance and inspiration for “hardwiring” your deepest priorities, step-by-step, into your daily and weekly planning and doing.

Understanding Wisconsin Drug Trends (Part Two)

Bodo Gajevic, Program and Policy Analyst, WI Department of Justice 

Building off session one, we will discuss resources available to school officials to combat drug use.

Personal and Professional Boundaries: Keys to Proactive, Resilient Leading and Living

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA 

In constantly serving and giving of ourselves to others, it is easy to forget that we have limits. And when we regularly forego our limits, we put both our long-term health and resilience at risk while also often depriving others of the opportunity to learn and grow. This session, which is focused upon one core aspect of self-care, will help you explore the counterintuitive notion that setting sound boundaries – both at work and in your personal life – is actually one of the most loving and generous steps you can take. You will leave the session understanding fundamentals at work in setting boundaries and strategies for immediately applying them to your life in loving and effective ways, without guilt.