Elementary Principals Conference

October 11-13, 2023 | Brookfield Conference Center/Hilton

The Convention will be held at the new Brookfield Conference Center and Hilton Garden Inn. Enjoy attending the Convention in this state-of-the-art facility that is minutes from outstanding dining, shopping and entertainment options. 

Convention Site: Brookfield Conference Center
325 S Moorland Road, Brookfield

Overnight Hotel Information

Hilton Garden Inn (connected to the convention center)
265 S Moorland Road, Brookfield
Room Rate: $144
Block extended to 9/15/23 with limited rooms
(262) 330-0800
Ask for: AWSA Elementary Principals Convention
Book Online

Nearby Hotels:
Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield
375 S Moorland Rd


Embassy Suites by Hilton
1200 S Moorland Rd

Cost of Registration

Pre-Con Sessions: $99 legal; $39 AI
AWSA Member Registration $254*
Non-Member Registration $404

*You must be logged in to see member pricing  


Conventions, Conferences, and Workshop Cancellation Policy:
A full refund of fees will be made on cancellations received 10 calendar days
prior to the start of the event. 9-3 calendar days prior to the start of the event
will receive a 50% refund of the fees. After that date there will be no refunds.
There is no refund for no-shows. *


Schedule of Events 

Wednesday | October 11, 2023

11:30-4:30 PM        Pre-Convention Registration

12:30-4:00 PM        Pre-Convention Legal Seminar

Elementary Principals Legal Seminar
Malina PiontekAWSA Retained Counsel
Melissa Thiel Collar, Legal Counsel, Green Bay Area School District
Tess O'Brien- Heinzen, Attorney, Boardman & Clark

This session is designed to inform elementary principals on legal issues most commonly at stake in their day-to-day work. Malina, Melissa and Tess are experienced school law attorneys who will lead an interactive discussion and answer your questions on: legal issues relating to transgender and nonbinary students; video cameras and security footage; best practices for picking up students for custody and foster care;  an update on seclusion and restraint; and emerging legal issues at the elementary level.


2:00-4:00 PM        Pre-Convention Session

An Elementary Principals Roundtable on AI in Action
Sheila Weihert, Principal, and Miranda Moe, Associate Principal, Arboretum Elementary School, Waunakee

In August, AWSA began a three-part webinar series on harnessing the power of AI in day-to-day tasks, streamlining processes, unlocking insights from data, and directly supporting student success.  This participatory session will allow elementary leaders to share practical ways we are beginning to use AI to save time, grow our impact, and better balance our work and private lives.  Whether you have never logged into ChatGPT or Bard or are already using these tools to draft correspondence, crunch data, and improve instruction, please attend this session so that we can learn from and inspire one another.


5:00-6:00 PM   Welcome Reception Sponsored by Renaissance


Thursday | October 12, 2023

7:30 AM                    Registration

7:30-8:15 AM           New Principal’s Breakfast

If you are a new elementary principal please come to this informal breakfast to meet AWSA staff and other new and experienced leaders. 

8:30 AM        Welcome & Opening Keynote

Time for Change: Four Essential Skills for Transformational School Leaders
Dr. Anthony Muhammad, CEO, New Frontier 21 Consulting

This keynote address will emphasize the importance of transformational leadership.  School culture provides the context for all good strategies.  A leader who understands how to motivate, develop talent, and build consensus is worth his/her weight in gold.  Today’s era of constant change requires leaders who understand the development of human capital. We will examine four leadership competencies; communication, trust building, professional support, and accountability, proven to improve impact and productivity.

Anthony Muhammad is an author and international thought leader. He currently serves as the CEO of New Frontier 21 Consulting, a company dedicated to providing cutting-edge professional development to schools all over the world. He served as a practitioner for nearly twenty years. Dr. Muhammad served as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. His tenure as a practitioner has earned him several awards as both a teacher and a principal.

Dr. Muhammad is recognized as one of the field’s leading experts in the areas of school culture and Professional Learning Communities at Work (PLC). Dr. Muhammad was recognized by the Global Gurus organization as one of the 30 Most Influential Educational Thought Leaders in the world in 2021. Dr. Muhammad is a best-selling author. He is the author of the books Revisiting Professional Learning Communities at Work, 2nd Edition (2021) Time for Change: The Four Essential Skills of a Transformational School Leader (2019); Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division 2nd Edition (2017) Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap: Liberating Mindsets to Effect Change (2015); The Will to Lead and the Skill to Teach; Transforming Schools at Every Level (2011). He has published 26 articles in education journals and publications in seven different countries. 


10:00 AM                 Break and Opening of Expo Hall 

10:15-11:30 AM        Concurrent Session Round One 

1. Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap: Liberating Mindsets to Effect Change
Anthony Muhammad, CEO, New Frontier 21 Consulting

This workshop will explore the connection between personal and institutional mindsets and academic achievement gaps.  The issue of inequality in student learning outcomes has been studied and debated for many years, but this workshop will seek to establish that the primary culprit in the fight to overcome the achievement gap is our thinking.

2. Filling the Jar: A Principal’s Guide to Teacher Resilience
Mary Garcia-Velez, Principal, Banting Elementary School , Waukesha School District
Melissa Horn, Principal, Woodside Elementary School, Hamilton School District

Caring for your staff using tried and true tested examples as well as ideas from Aguilar. Principals will walk away with various ways activities and ideas to fill your staff’s buckets. Practical ideas to take back and use with your staff. This will include modeling activities that will be good for your soul. 

3. Moving the Needle:  Designing Professional Learning that Improves Student Learning
Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

Professional development only matters if it translates from paper to practice, driving real improvements to student learning.  This session will leverage proven approaches from thought leaders like Paul Bambrick-Santoyo and others that will help you determine where to focus professional learning, how to lead training, and, most importantly, how to make it stick, so that your professional learning genuinely changes classroom experiences and results.  You will leave this session with applications to employ in your very next school meeting/learning session.

4.  Who Are We Great For?
Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

When we ask ourselves, “Who is our school great for?” we want to be able to say, “EVERYONE”!   But the truth is, often there are students who have lagging skills or poor behavior responses, or simply are not successful showing us what they know.  What will it take to change that?  Universal instruction improvement is predicated on teams using collaborative time to learn, implement and study the impact of their practice and the engagement in their learning environment.  This session will include a simulation of what we hope a grade level or department does when presented with data that suggests all students have not learned what we taught.  Set aside what you know and come and see what’s possible!

5. Early Literacy With DPI
Laura Adams, Policy Initiatives Advisor, DPI

Leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will share information about evidence-based literacy practices, no-cost resources available now, and updates about the newly formed Office of Literacy, the Council for Early Literacy Curricula, and other implications of Wisconsin’s new reading legislation. 

11:30 AM         Lunch and Principal of the Year Award Presentation

12:15 PM         Dessert with Exhibitors

12:45-2:00 PM          Concurrent Session Round Two

1. Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap: Liberating Mindsets to Effect Change
Anthony Muhammad, CEO, New Frontier 21 Consulting

This workshop will explore the connection between personal and institutional mindsets and academic achievement gaps.  The issue of inequality in student learning outcomes has been studied and debated for many years, but this workshop will seek to establish that the primary culprit in the fight to overcome the achievement gap is our thinking.

2. Developing Schools with Collaborative Teacher Teams
Amy Fassbender, Principal, Lodi Primary, School District of Lodi

Teaching is very challenging, but we know that teachers’ effectiveness and resiliency can be strengthened when they engage in the work together as a school and as teams. This session focuses on how one principal works to create school-wide structures that prioritize teacher collaboration. Participants will learn strategies on how to build coherence and consistency across the school and collaborative team structures.  Examples will be shared in regards to literacy.

3. Stop Chasing the Walkie: Addressing Student Behaviors Through MLSS and Increasing Academic Achievement

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA
Ray Curry, Principal, Greendale Middle School, Greendale School District
Misty Ellen Kreider, Assistant Principal, Lincoln Avenue Elementary, Milwaukee Public Schools

The journey of how a large urban elementary reduced office behavior referrals by 85% and increased student learning through strategic use of data, collaborative teams, and an emphasis on high quality instruction. Strategies and practices shared in this session can be replicated in any system to shift the focus from student behaviors to intellectual engagement.

4. A Dangerous Mismatch: High Praise for Low Impact
Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

This session will look at three scenarios and the impact of an observer/supervisor feedback.  The purpose of analyzing feedback is essential in order for school leaders to have the kind of impact that engages teachers in thoughtful reflection.  Feedback often affirms a practice that may indeed not be impactful on students but may leave a teacher feeling good about their practice.   Participants will analyze and discuss ways to be thoughtful observers who provide targeted, actionable feedback that moves the needle for kids while also validating the work of teachers today.


5. Early Literacy With DPI
Laura Adams, Policy Initiatives Advisor, DPI

Leaders from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will share information about evidence-based literacy practices, no-cost resources available now, and updates about the newly formed Office of Literacy, the Council for Early Literacy Curricula, and other implications of Wisconsin’s new reading legislation. 

2:00-2:20 PM           Break with Exhibitors


2:20-3:35 PM          Concurrent Session Round Three

1. Restorative Conversations:  Communication to Eliminate Assumptions
Kate Malcore, Associate Principal, Linveville Intermediate School, Howard-Suamico School District

Repair relationships in a way that creates an environment focused on support.  We know that finding the function of a behavior is the key to supporting or changing it.  The same holds true when a relationship is fractured based on a single situation or chronic issues between two people.  Restorative conversations, oftentimes led by a third party (YOU!), are an effective approach to mending relationships between students, staff, or students/staff.  Participants will leave this session with an understanding of the key 5 questions, how to facilitate a restorative conversation and when/where these conversations could have the greatest impact on your school community.

2. Building a High Performing PLC through the PLC at Work Framework

Brandon Krause, Principal, Prairie View Elementary School, Beaver Dam Unified School District
Katelyn Dwyer, Associate Principal, Prairie View Elementary School, Beaver Dam Unified School District 

What makes a PLC high performing?  At its core, PLCs focus on three big ideas: a focus on learning; a collaborative culture and collective responsibility; and a results orientation.  Participants will hear of Prairie View Elementary School's journey to becoming a Model PLC School by emphasizing these core ideas.  In this session, principals will learn how to strategically and effectively implement high-impact practices to build a thriving PLC where collaborative teams are empowered to drive continuous improvement in teaching and learning.  

3. Be Where It Counts: Building Attendance Systems in Post-Pandemic Schools

Chris Sepersky, Principal, Lakeview Elementary, South Milwaukee School District

Schools are trying to close learning gaps as a result of the pandemic, and at the same time, the issue of consistent attendance has become trickier than ever. Does your school have a unified approach grounded in the research that pulls more people into the efforts than just an administrator and a counselor? How is attendance connected to a sense of belonging? And how do we crank the positive communication way up? We need our kids with us more than ever - hear one school’s story to build a system and share your ideas as well!

4. The Reading Wars: Increasing Literacy Achievement for ALL Leadership Panel
Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA
Jane Gennerman, Lincoln Elementary, Port Washington-Saukville School District

Michelle Miner, Lincoln Elementary School, Wauwatosa School District
Melissa Kostka, Kosciuszko Elementary School, School District of Cudahy 

Three leaders will share their journey in successfully navigating the “Reading Wars” and addressing the Science of Reading at their schools, resulting high achievement and growth for all learners. Participants will learn how to leverage their current curriculum to positively impact student learning by focusing on a few critical components, such as, systematic phonics instruction, adult learning supports, and strategic monitoring of student learning.

5. SMART Goals Really are, Actually, a Smart Idea
Meg Boyd, Principal, Edgewood Elementary School, Greenfield School District

Maybe you, like me, thought SMART goals were pretty obvious, and perhaps unnecessary. My learning curve took me a decade. I’ll help you shorten yours, so that this simple strategy can strengthen collaboration, teaching practice, instructional leadership, and thereby, student learning in your building.

6. Leading Through Adversity: You as an Agent of Hope
Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

In challenging times, our ability to demonstrate hope in our own lives and build such capacity in others will be a key difference in the amount of positive influence we can generate. Research is clear that hope is not some starry-eyed distraction but rather an asset that can be both measured and used as one of the best predictors of future wellbeing. Thankfully, it turns out that hope at its essence is a way of thinking, which means that hope is something that can be taught and grown. In this session, we will focus on the three research-based components needed for building hope, provide examples of these components in use, and offer the opportunity to begin creating your own pathway forward to a preferred future.


3:35 PM                  Personal Time:  Catch Up On Communication From Home

5:00-6:00 PM         Reception Sponsored by Lifetouch

Friday | October 13, 2023

7:00-8:00 AM              Fellowship Breakfast (Optional) 

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. 

8:00-9:00 AM               Breakfast Program & Legislative Update

AWSA and the School Administrators Alliance's Executive Director, Dee Pettack, will provide an update on issues of most importance to elementary school leaders.

9:00-10:15 AM             Concurrent Sessions Round Four

1. Lead with Grace: Leaning into Necessary Soft Skills for Success
Jessica Cabeen, Principal, Alternative Educations Programs

Do you love what you do, but at times struggle with the necessary interactions and communication skills that could elevate interactions in all aspects of your life? Jessica shares practical examples from her successes and epic failures of utilizing skills to build authenticity, vulnerability, and empathy in your day to day interactions. Participants will walk away with practical tips and ways to apply these skills in their communications, relationships, and when navigating the world of social media.

2. Mental Health Literacy - Creating Foundational Understanding of Internalizing Disorders and Their Manifestation in the Classroom
Michelle Miner, Principal, Lincoln Elementary School, Wauwatosa School District

Let’s learn together and explore our own professional knowledge surrounding mental health disorders and address any misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding how they may manifest within our school setting. Our students’ mental health needs have become ever more prevalent in today’s classrooms. Internalizing disorders, such as anxiety and depression, can manifest in the classroom in many ways. Creating a foundational understanding of such disorders through the development of mental health literacy can be a useful lens in analyzing student behaviors and in providing support and accommodations for students.

3. A Journey to Improvement- Action Planning to Get Increased Student Results and Staff Engagement
Courtney Arntzen, Director of Elementary Student Learning, Muskego-Norway School District
Laura Shanahan, Principal, Lakeview Elementary School, Muskego-Norway School District

Strategic planning can take hours and time is too valuable to engage in planning that does not yield the results you are wanting to achieve. School and district leaders will learn effective action planning and implementation strategies that have been tried and true. We will guide attendees through the process used to annually set data driven goals, engage staff through a shared leadership model and monitor progress. Focus areas include staff engagement, academic achievement and building culture.

4. Force Multipliers for Your Leadership: Leveraging and Aligning Your People, Purposes, and Aims
Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

Impactful organizations plan backward. They articulate their mission/vision, identify appropriate goals, and create a plan with key actions and activities that will support the goals. Then they artfully clarify and align to these aims so that coherence and impact naturally result. These concepts will come to life in examples from thought leaders like Elena Aguilar and Wisconsin administrators alike that will likely change forever how you develop and distribute leadership for impact across your school. This session will also provide time to begin applying what you learn into your own emerging model.

5. Culturally Responsive Teaching from Light to Right: Moving Beyond Relationships to Information Processing to
Close Achievement Gaps

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA

Zaretta Hammond states, "Our ultimate goal as culturally responsive teachers is to help dependent learners learn how to learn...The power of culturally responsive teaching to build underserved students' intellective capacity rests in its focus on information processing." However, most districts and schools stay stuck on the conditions necessary (relationships, safety, belonging) for learning to occur and "adding surface-level cultural details to low-level decontextualize activities," which do not build intellective capacity. In this session, we will focus on key strategies and practices that help build our students' intellectual capacity and help close persistent achievement gaps.

6. Kindness is Growing our Gaps
Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

That statement might sound shocking. Last year, Zaretta Hammond, punctuated this statement in her keynote at our annual conference. Many of us struggle with barriers to providing evidence-based feedback to educators that addresses our learning gaps in schools. The kind of feedback that allows a teacher to be reflective and also generates action. In this session, participants will be learning the 11 barriers that many of us face, as identified in the Skillful Leader II and further analyze examples of feedback for impact.

10:15-10:30 AM        Break

10:30 AM                  Closing Keynote

Expect the Best: Creating a High-Performance Culture
Jessica Cabeen, Principal, Alternative Educations Programs

What does it take to learn and lead in schools today? Through research and her own practical examples of leading at every level of the K-12 educational system, Jessica will share 10 key ways to thrive in today’s classrooms and schools. In Jessica’s book: Unconventional Leadership (Routledge 2020) she researched practical ways that educators can take research into practice and incorporate current social media applications into the learning. Come ready to be motivated and inspired to connect to the calling to this work.

Jessica is the Principal of Alternative Educations Programs in Austin, Minnesota. Previously, she was the principal of Ellis Middle School in Austin, Minnesota, and the principal of the “Happiest Place in Southeastern Minnesota,” the Woodson Kindergarten Center. She has been an assistant middle school principal, a special education assistant director, and special education teacher.

Jessica was named the 2021 ED Dive National Principal of the year, 2017 Minnesota National Distinguished Principal of the Year, and was awarded the NAESP/VINCI Digital Leader of Early Learning Award in 2016. She is a NAESP Middle Level Fellow and a Future Ready Principal. Jessica is the author of Hacking Early Learning and co-author of Balance Like a Pirate, Unconventional Leadership, Lead with Grace: Leaning into the Soft Skills of Leadership and Principal in Balance: Leading at Work and Living a Life. (releasing in March of 2023).

She is a sought-after speaker and trainer and enjoys getting to learn and lead with other educators across the nation. Jessica enjoys connecting and growing her Professional Learning Network (PLN) on the socials. She can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @JessicaCabeen. But by far her favorite space is the one that involves being with her husband Rob, sons Kenny and Isaiah, and, of course, the family dog, Herman.

11:30               Adjourn

Vendor Information 

Photo of Part of Vendor HallBooths for the Elementary Principals Convention are sold out! 

Tabletop fee is $350 and includes: 1 8’ table, 2 chairs, 2 boxed lunches, dessert break, pre-registrants list one week prior to the event. If you are a vendor who has questions about the event please contact Katie Lowe

Each year AWSA's Elementary Principals Convention brings in hundreds of administrators from across the state of Wisconsin. Vendors will have the opportunity to engage in unique face-to-face interactions throughout the convention. 

Event Cancellation or Postponement
AWSA reserves exclusive right to modify, postpone/reschedule or cancel programs for any reason, including but not limited to emergency, inclement weather or other acts of God. If there is an event cancellation, every attempt will be made to reschedule and registration fees will be applied to the reschedule event dates. In the unlikely event of cancellation of an event, including inclement weather, the liability of AWSA is limited to the return of paid registration fees minus actual expenses. Cancellations of travel reservations and hotel reservations made directly with the hotel are the responsibility of the attendee.

Dietary Disclaimer
AWSA makes every effort to accommodate basic dietary needs such as vegetarian, gluten-free and basic food allergies. AWSA does not assume liability for adverse reactions to food consumed or items one may come into contact with while eating at an AWSA event. 

For questions about accessibility or to request special assistance during the event, please contact Kathy Gilbertson at [email protected]. Three weeks advance notice is required to allow us to provide seamless access. If you need to cancel the special request this must be done at least 3 working days prior to the start of the event. See registration cancellation policy on the event’s web page for how to cancel your conference registration.

*Refund fees retained by AWSA pay for your food guarantees, a/v equipment, meeting room rental and any hotel attritions caused by the cancellation.