2020 Associate Principals Conference 

Photo of a classroom with peopleRegistration Button

Registration is open for AWSA’s 2020 Associate Principals Conference, January 29-31, 2020 at the Hilton City Center in Milwaukee. Keynote speaker Brian Mendler will open the conference on ways to overcome behaviorally challenging students and Salome Thomas-EL will close the conference on how to implement the four C’s of school success.  In addition, the conference features over twenty pre-conference and concurrent sessions on today’s most pressing issues.

Member Registration: $206 Non-Member Registration: $348

Pre-Conference Sessions: $99 or $69 

Full refund of fees will be made on cancellations received 10 days prior to the start of the convention. Following that date, a 40% administrative fee will be retained. There will be no refund for no-shows or cancellations during the event.  

Booking Information:  

Hilton Milwaukee City Center
509 W Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
$144 per room
Ask for: AWSA 

Simply use this Booking Link to access the exclusive rates available for this group:

Hotel: Hilton Milwaukee City Center
Group Name: Associate Principals Conference
Arrival Date: 29-Jan-2020
Departure Date: 31-Jan-2020

Please note, the entire URL must be copied and pasted for it to work properly.

The time to book a block room at a discounted rate will end 1/29/20. There are a limited number of block rooms and they may sell out before that date so we recommend that you make your reservations soon.

Click here to download a printable program.


8:00-4:00 PM | Full Day

1. Fact or Fiction: Interviewing Strategies Workshop 
Joe Buckley

The one-day training program on Developing Investigative Interviewing Skills for School Administrators consists of three primary topics: 1) Behavior Symptom Analysis, 2) The Behavior Analysis Interview, 3) The Clarification Process 

12:00-4:30  |  Pre-Con Sessions 

3. Associate Principals Legal 

12:00-1:15  |  Student Behavior Policies and Procedures and its Impact on Equity and Staff Retention
Malina Piontek and Bob Butler

A welcoming and safe learning environment is crucial for a well-functioning classroom and school system.  In this session, Attorneys Bob Butler and Malina Piontek will address recent legal developments regarding student behavior and discuss how a district’s student behavior policies, procedures and professional development can impact disciplinary outcomes for particular students and affect staff retention”

1:30-2:45  |  Legal Considerations for Building Administrators in An Election Year
Mike Julka and Brian Goodman

It is generally true that presidential election years present interesting considerations and challenges within district buildings.  The U.S. Constitution, state and federal statutes, as well as Board policies, must be considered when addressing political activities by employees, unions and other stakeholder groups, parents, parent organizations, students, and citizens.  In addition, building administrators sometimes get involved in political advocacy.  This presentation will review the legal parameters and boundaries that are applicable to the scope of potential political activity, including the use of buildings, use of social media, protests, literature distribution, public address announcements, etc.  The goal of the presentation will be to provide building administrators with information and resources to assist them in addressing these issues.

3:00-4:15  |  Law and Technology: Challenges and Solutions for Associate Principals
Kirk Strang

School administrators confront a number of legal issues related to technology almost every day, some obvious and some less apparent. Staff use of technology can present employment issues and other workplace challenges, and can also be a factor in performance, communications, and school climate.  Students’ use of technology also presents challenges for administrators, and can be a factor in pupil discipline, academic integrity, bullying, and any number of other areas.  Technology issues also develop with the technology itself, meaning that new challenges are presented for principals as new devices and software are put to use in our schools, including software monitoring technology that tracks user behavior of students and staff.

This section reviews statutes, cases, and legal principles that define the law in these areas.  We will focus on specific problems that principals confront regularly (whether they know it or not!) and on how principals can address them while protecting themselves and the school district at the same time. We’ll also consider FAQs and live questions from conference attendees regarding their own experiences and concerns.

5:00-6:00  |  Lifetouch Welcome Reception 



7:00  |  Registration and Continental Breakfast 

8:00-8:30  |  New Associate Principals Breakfast

8:30-8:45  |  Welcome 

8:45-10:00  |  OPENING KEYNOTE

Brian Mendler PhotoPower Struggles Unplugged 
Brian Mendler

We all have that One Kid (sometimes more than one) that you battle and struggle with. This high-energy session teaches specifically how to defuse power struggles with any student, in any situation, at any time with our proven step-by-step process. Discover two words guaranteed to stop mouthy kids in their tracks. Learn exactly what to say when removing a student so they want to return to class. Discover alternatives to detention and suspension.

Brian Mendler has extensive experience working with challenging students in general ed, self-contained, and inclusion settings.  He provides staff development training for K-12 educators throughout the world with the focus on how to be successful with even the most difficult students.  He trains tens of thousands of educators every year and is a highly regarded dynamic speaker.  You will find that Mr. Mendler has a unique perspective that he teaches from, that of a former student who struggled with a learning disability and severe ADHD. Educators love his seminars, because he is able to provide strategies that work immediately for today’s youth. 

Mr. Mendler has recently authored a book titled, Watch Your Mouth, Non Negotiables for Success with Toughest Kids.  The book provides educators with easy to use strategies for preventing and responding to difficult, disruptive, defiant and unmotivated behavior.  He has also authored That One Kid and co-authored books, Turning Tough Parents into Strong Partners, Strategies for Successful Classroom Management, Power Struggles 2ndEdition, and the bestseller Discipline With Dignity 4th Edition. 

10:15-11:30  |  Concurrent Sessions 

1. Why Kids Misbehave and What To Do About It
Brian Mendler

Before applying strategies to change unwanted behavior, we must first correctly diagnose why the behaviors are occurring.  Without understanding the why, then most strategies will ultimately fail.  Learn to diagnose and understand the 6 main reasons why students misbehave and discover how to apply the correct strategies for each student to address individual needs.

2. Conversations that Cultivate Reflection and Leverage Improvement
Tammy Gibbons

This session will prompt participants to consider how they respond and approach difficult conversations about instructional practice, adult dispositions, and reluctance to feedback.  This session allows you to consider and practice the approaches you take with people who may not be reflective, tend to dismiss feedback, think differently than you or are simply defensive.  Leave with some coaching stems that can be used immediately.

3.  Navigating the Long Implementation Bridge: Leadership Skills for Deep Change
Joe Schroeder

Thought leaders such as Michael Fullan often talk about three phases of change: initiation, implementation, and institutionalization.  Despite our best efforts, most change efforts unfortunately stall out somewhere between initiation and early implementation, which is concerning for many reasons, particularly because student learning doesn’t benefit much until the effort becomes institutionalized!  This session will help you to recognize problems of practice that lead to this all-too-common dilemma and, more importantly, will provide a number of tools to bridge this gap in your school so that your collective impact on students can be more deeply realized.

4.  The Culture Shift to Protect and Empower the Digital-Age Student
Janice Mertes and Chad Kliefoth

How do you frame out a district vision around Keeping Kids Safe Online to shift the dialogue to responsible use? Participants will hear from district teams that leverage the Wisconsin standards for Information and Technology Literacy (ITL), data, equity, trends, and cross-initiative implementation strategies to create a culture of empowered, digital-aged students. The discussion will also focus on emerging topics around screen time, cybersafety, social and emotional learning alignment, family engagement strategies, and smart technologies. Participants attending this session will receive a copy of The Digital Citizenship Handbook for School Leaders. 

11:30-12:35  |  Lunch and Associate Principal of the Year 

12:45-2:00  |  Concurrent Sessions

1. Restorative Justice in Education: The History-The Why-The How
Catherine Cranston

Restorative Justice in Education has a relatively short history in the United States. We will talk about its history and why it is becoming an ever increasing force in the American Educational system.  There will be examples given of how Restorative Practices are being used in North St. Paul/Maplewood Oakdale, MN  District 622 and the overall impact. 

2. Customized Professional Development 
Eric Hill and Kate Sommerville

Based on the Institute for Personalized Learning’s action research, participants will complete a self-reflection around personalized, learner-centered practices. Participants will use the reflection to determine their professional development needs or interests and engage in collaborative, virtual, or individual learning opportunities. These sessions will provide learners with strategies for implementing personalized learning and assist in designing learning experiences to be used within their ecosystem. Learners will then engage in a small group discussion to share their learning, vision for the next steps, and make potential networking connections.

3.  High Impact Teams
Tammy Gibbons

School leaders need teams who recognize the importance of interdependence; a group of people who work towards a common goal, share responsibility for specific outcomes and demonstrate mutual accountability to continuous improvement.  To create schools of equity and excellence, we must focus on teams versus individuals to ensure exponential growth and impact.  This requires leaders who develop capacity while tending to culture and have a clear vision.  This session will be a fast-paced sharing of resources, strategies and tools for high impact teams.

4.  Self-Care as Community Care: Growing Resilience and Wholeness We Hope to Nurture in Others
Joe Schroeder

The responsibilities of a school leader are daunting, as a variety of folks seek out our limited time, energy, and resources to meet their virtually unlimited needs and desires.  Day after day, week after week, they keep coming and coming and coming.  No wonder that 89% of school administrators report feeling very stressed at least once a week and that high leadership churn prevails.  In such a context, self-care has become a leadership priority, but paradoxically, can be one of the first things squeezed out of a busy administrator’s life!  Rather than becoming just another cautionary statistic, join us for this session where we will explore a variety of approaches you can take to intentionally grow the resilient and compassionate personal disciplines and school culture that value human wholeness alongside academic achievement.

2:15-3:25  |  Roundtable Sessions
(Two Rounds: 2:15-2:45 PM and 2:55-3:25 PM)

1. Integrating a Trauma-Sensitive Practices System - One School’s Journey 

With a growing number of students going through traumatic experiences in our community our school has been intentional about how we use our time and resources to address these needs. We will share the journey of how we continue to build our trauma sensitive system in a building of 150 staff and 1,100 6th - 8th grade students.

2. Everything you Wanted to Know about Special Education but were Afraid to Ask: Bring Your Question to the DPI Special Education Team

This roundtable will provide information on major themes relating to supporting students with IEPs and include information on legal requirements as well as supports through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that improve in the identification, IEP development, and IEP implementation for students who receive special education through an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

3. Tools Every AP Needs for Communicating about Critical Issues

We all know that effectively engaging students, staff, parents, and other stakeholders is vital for APs. But, how do we have effective two-way communication about the most sensitive issues we face, from issues related to student and staff social media posts to arrests on school grounds to facilities-related crises to prom wardrobe issues?  

4.  Beyond School Safety Grants: What is the Office of School Safety Up To Next? 

Office of School Safety Staff will discuss current initiatives to provide no or low-cost training and technical assistance to schools in Wisconsin.  In particular, the Office will provide information regarding our statewide threat reporting system, developing school critical incident response teams and initiatives to increase access to mental health/AODA providers for children

5. Taking the Temperature of Your Staff

Looking for a time friendly solution to communicate with all of your staff on an individual basis? If so, attend this round-table session to learn quick strategies to read the temperature of all your staff members, display what you are working on as an AP in your building and get feedback about instruction and your building.  In addition, you will learn how to manage your time to make this happen!

6. Leading the Transition to Grading for Learning

This roundtable discussion will focus on engaging teachers in the process of grading and assessment reform to truly create a systemic shift in instruction and school culture.

7. Cultivating Student Leadership

As educators search for high leverage strategies to impact school performance and culture, building leadership capacity within the student body has the potential to be a game-changer.  Our discussion will focus on frameworks to unite, develop, and empower young men and women to inspire changes large and small within your building.  

8. Key Issues for Elementary APs

We will discuss key topics for elementary associate principals (based on a survey of elementary attendees) Be ready to network with your elementary colleagues, share information and get some great ideas that will ultimately help our students grow as learners! 

9. No More Snow Days: Making Virtual Learning Work

How can we leverage technology to provide learning opportunities for students when they are home due to inclement weather?  Last year the School District of Menomonee Falls piloted a Virtual Day experience for our students.  We are pleased to share our approach in making virtual learning relevant and engaging for students

10.  Creating a Safe and Welcoming Environment for the Transitioning Student

Learn how to transform your practices, policies, and environment to suit the needs for ALL students, and learn about the introduction of Student Support Plans, Gender ID Presentations, and SEL Grouping. 

11. Transition to the Principalship

Thinking about expanding your leadership by taking on the principal’s role?  Associate Executive Director Joe Schroeder will start by sharing some key concepts for you to consider.  However, the majority of the session will center upon your questions regarding preparation, application, entrance and/or success in the position.

12. Successful PBIS at High School Level

A successful PBIS program at the high school level can present challenges. Join us for a discussion on how some schools implement PBIS with fidelity from the start and why other schools struggle. By sharing our successes and challenges with each other, we will learn ways to strengthen our practices, gain student buy-in and build a sustainable PBIS framework.

13. State Supports for Meeting Students’ Mental Health Needs

The WI School Mental Health Framework seeks to meld a systems-of-care approach within a multi-level system of support.  This roundtable will discuss the core features of the WI SMH Framework as they relate to serving students and families, and present updates on state policy and resources.  Participants’ questions will be addressed, and they should walk away with key practices for supporting mental health into existing systems.

4:30-5:30  Reception Sponsored by Jostens


7:00-8:15  |  Optional Fellowship Breakfast
Joe Schroeder

School administrators support the boundless needs of those they lead and serve. But who supports them -- especially in ways tending to the heart and spirit? Join AWSA's Associate Executive Director, Joe Schroeder, and administrative colleagues from across the state in this Christian fellowship breakfast option that, now in its third year, is proving for many to be an annual highlight of encouragement and assistance for the next leg of the leadership and life journey. PLEASE NOTE: the Fellowship Breakfast will adjourn in time so that participants can also engage in full with content of the Leveraging EE Flexibility General Session later in the morning.

8:30-9:00  |  Breakfast Program
Leveraging EE Flexibility to Deepen Leadership Impact: An Overview
Joe Schroeder

Educator Effectiveness is designed to significantly grow teacher practice and student learning.  However, its implementation in many places often renders little growth for all the work.  This general session will provide an OVERVIEW of the EE feedback themes that arose out of an AWSA Thoughts Leaders Group last school year and clarifications about legitimate flexibility and implementation shifts you can consider taking to garner more impact for all the effort.  

9:15-10:15  |  Concurrent Sessions

1. We ARE or We DO? Monitoring Impact of Professional Learning Communities
Tammy Gibbons

Cultivating teams who recognize their complementary skills and experiences will always exceed the goals of individual efforts.  Teams are more effective in problem solving and drive internal accountability, but schools need to believe they ARE a PLC, not we DO PLC’s as if it’s a task to complete.  Leading a school to embrace and operate as a professional learning community is an important element of leadership. This session will share some practical strategies for moving the needle using collaborative teams. 

2. Improving Attendance by Strengthening Communication and Collaboration
Kelly Carpenter and Misa Sato

How will your school’s attendance rate impact your students’ learning AND your school’s state report card?  This presentation will cover strategies that a comprehensive urban high school utilizes in collaboration with students, parents, staff, and community members to improve daily attendance.  Presenters will share both short-term and long-term strategies around increasing attendance through engaging instruction, personalized pathways, and use of supportive services. Additionally, we will share best practices that other schools in the Milwaukee area are implementing to improve attendance and reduce tardiness and absenteeism.  There will be time reserved for a question and answer session with the presenters as well as opportunities for attendees to share their best practices. 

3. Leveraging EE Flexibility to Deepen Leadership Impact: Applying Potential Ideas in Your Setting
Joe Schroeder

This session is designed to support school leaders who are interested in refining local EE practices so that prospects for deeper impact on teaching and learning rise. To this end, we will more deeply examine the implementation flexibilities broadly shared in the 8:30 am general session overview and explore several examples of legitimate EE shifts that several Wisconsin schools/systems are taking in line with this flexibility, which may be a match for your school/system, too.  Bonus:  Key EE Leaders Katie Rainey of DPI and Cathy Clarksen of CESA 6 plan to join us for this session.

4. Legislative Update
John Forester

John Forester will provide an update on the Legislative issues of most importance to associate principals. 

10:30-11:45  |  CLOSING KEYNOTE

Salome Thomas-El PhotoEffective Assistant Principals: Implementing the Four C’s of School Success!
Salome Thomas-El

Effective assistant principals and school leaders don’t “Fuss” with students about pencils! They understand that our students overcome so many obstacles in their lives to get to our classrooms each day, they don’t need us to “major in the minor!” We need to focus on the important issues in our schools and tend to the emotional well-being of our students, so they can become resilient. Principal EL believes there are four major concepts that we must implement each day in our schools and they all begin with the letter “C”. Of course, there are many concepts that impact the success of our teachers and students like communication, celebrating others and commitment, but there are four “Must Haves” for every Effective Administrator! You will learn what the Four C’s are when you spend time in Principal EL’s thought-provoking session on school leadership, and you must bring your own “C” word to add to this growing list! Are you up to the challenge?

Salome Thomas-El has been a teacher and principal in Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE since 1987. Salome is currently the Head of School at Thomas Edison Charter School in Wilmington. Principal EL received national acclaim as a teacher and chess coach at Vaux Middle School, where his students have gone on to win world recognition as Eight-Time National Chess Champions. He is the author of the best-selling books, I Choose to Stay, about his Vaux Middle School experience, and The Immortality of Influence (Foreword by Will Smith), which stresses the importance of leadership, mentoring, parenting and service to others. Thomas-EL speaks to groups around the world and frequently appears on C-SPAN, CNN, and NPR Radio. He has received numerous awards, including: the Marcus A. Foster Award as the outstanding School District Administrator in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania’s distinguished Martin Luther King Award, and, Educational Leadership and Reader’s Digest Magazine recognized Principal EL as an “Inspiring American Icon”.

11:45  |  Adjourn