2023 Middle & High School Principals Convention 


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The 2023 Middle and High School Principals Convention will take place February 8-10, 2023 at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells. 

Vendor space is sold out!


Cost of the Convention:

Member Registration:  $259           
Non-Member Registration: $409          
Pre-Conference Sessions:  $69 or $39

A 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. 


The time to book a block room at a discounted rate will end 1/8/23. There are a limited number of blocked rooms and they may sell out before that date so we recommend that you make your reservations soon.

Kalahari Resort
1305 Kalahari Drive
Wisconsin Dells
(608) 254-5466
$124 single/double
Block expires on 1/8/23
Booking Website:

Per Kalahari Resorts policy, they do not accept completed Letters of Authorization forms, Tax Exemption forms, nor Purchase Orders at time of hotel check-in. Kalahari has a dedicated team that approves these forms to ensure validity prior to your arrival. These forms should be submitted no later than 7 days in advance to [email protected] or fax to 608-254-6116. The Kalahari highly suggests that attendees submit these forms at least two weeks prior to your hotel check-in so they team can process the paperwork in a timely manner. Failure to follow this procedure may result in full room and tax charges to attendees on their personal cards since the Front Desk will not accept these forms at time of check-in. More information

February 8, 2023

12:00 - 4:30 PM  |  Secondary Principals Legal Seminar ($69)

12:00 - 2:00 | Navigating Difficult Student Issues: A Legal Update

Tess O'Brien-Heinzen & Brian Goodman, Attorneys, Boardman & Clark

Join Attorneys Bob Butler and Malina Piontek for a session that will help you navigate the complex legal terrain when responding to difficult student issues involving political speech; the use of seclusion and restraint; and working with your SRO to conduct student searches. Join us for this interactive session, and bring your questions!

2:15 - 4:15 | Getting a Grip:  Meeting The Challenges that Title IX and Social Media Present for Principals

Mike Julka & Tess O'Brien-Heinzen, Attorneys, Boardman & Clark

Join Boardman Clark school law attorneys Tess O’Brien-Heinzen and Mike Julka as they provide a primer on the current Title IX regulations, offer practical compliance tips in responding to complaints of sexual harassment, including those based on gender identity and sexual orientation, identify developments in case law, and forecast future regulatory changes.  In addition, this presentation will cover social media’s role in student bullying and harassment of students and the limitations imposed by the First Amendment on administrators’ ability to respond to off-campus social media incidents.  This session will also cover the First Amendment rights of the general public to use social media and the options for potentially taking action against social media posts that are true threats, are defamatory, or serve no legitimate purposes other than to harass administrators and other individuals in the district.   


2:00 - 4:00 PM  |  Pre-Con Sessions ($39)

Using Google and Other Online Tools to Be Organized, Intentional, and Impactful

Caleb Hundt, Principal, Cadott Junior and Senior High School

Participants will learn various innovative ways that Google and other online tools can effectively organize your day, create balance, and allow you to lead, serve, and manage the school and your systems. 

Planning for Your Retirement

Joel Craven, Owner, Astraios Financial

This session will provide information on the three legs of a solid retirement: the WI Retirement System, Social Security and personal savings (e.g., Roth, 403(b) plans, etc.).  The session will also cover what educators should know about putting savings to good use and public service loan forgiveness.  Come with your questions and leave better prepared for your future.


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

February 9, 2023

7:30 - 8:15 AM  |  New Principals Breakfast  

If you are a new high school/middle school principal, please come to this informal breakfast to meet AWSA staff and other new and experienced leaders.


8:30 - 9:45 AM  |  Opening Keynote: Lead Where You Are

Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent, Fall Creek School District  

As the Principal, you are the only one in that chair. You are the one who answers to the community. You are the one taking care of the adults who are taking care of the kids, and honestly, you are the one who gets judged when things don’t go well. That gets isolating. Creating the capacity to lead helps develop momentum to address the isolation that comes with the job. Leadership is not a title, it’s an action...and it starts where you are. Identifying leadership traits in yourself changes your mindset when thinking about leading those around you. Part of our responsibility as leaders is to identify leadership traits in others. The opportunities are endless for those who choose to lead...it’s our job to find those traits, focus our efforts on growth opportunities, and foster an environment where everyone has a chance to be successful. Leading with INTENTION, CONNECTION, and DIRECTION creates momentum for your school, and you as the leader in that space.

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo is the Superintendent of the Fall Creek School District in Fall Creek, WI.  The Fall Creek School District was named an Innovative District in 2016 and 2017 by the International Center for Leadership in Education.

Joe started the #1minwalk2work Leadership Challenge, and co-authored The Power of Branding-Telling Your School's StoryPrincipal Professional Development: Leading Learning in a Digital Age and Hacking Leadership: 10 Ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students and Parents Love.  He was selected as 1 of 117 Future Ready Superintendents in 2014 and 1 of 50 Superintendents as a Personalized Learning Leader in 2016 by the US Department of Education. He attended summits at the White House for both distinctions. Education Dive named Joe 1 of 5 K-12 administrators to watch in 2018 and their National Superintendent of the Year in 2019. He has been a featured speaker in multiple states in the areas of Advancing the Use of Social Media for School Leaders, Telling Your School Story, Creating a Culture of Yes, and Personalized Professional Growth for Staff.  Go Crickets!!

9:45 - 10:00 AM  |  Break and Opening of the Expo Hall

10:00 - 11:15 AM  |  Concurrent Sessions Round One 

1. Hacking Leadership

Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent, Fall Creek School District  

Water is amazing and seemingly always finds a way. It has the ability to form, replenish our system, power equipment, and can wipe out entire cities. Leaders have the same properties.  Some end up conforming to their environment as water would with a cup or bowl. Some have the power to wipe out entire populations and others lift the level of the land. The best leaders take little openings and create space for those they lead. They find the smallest cracks of opportunity and create a path that was not there before. They shape the land. They find a way. Hacking leadership is about finding innovative solutions to issues that have plagued the system for years and implementing them tomorrow. The focus is on practical application. We all know the problems exist, but knowledge of problems does not make our daily life in schools easier Utilizing the tools in Hacking Leadership will allow you and your team to find the openings and create space for those you lead. Space to learn. Space to teach. Space to thrive. 

2. Leading with Hope

Andy Farley, Principal, Brookfield East High School, Elmbrook School District

“Hope inspires. Hope motivates. Hope solidifies trust. Hope leads to equity. An expert on the science of hope, Dr. Shane Lopez, stated that, “Hope is the leading indicator of success in relationships, academics, career and business - as well as of a healthier, happier life”. The Hope Squad originated in Utah as a suicide prevention strategy and has expanded to serve as a driving force behind positive school cultures that allow all students to thrive.

3. Hiring for the Right Fit

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA

As the teacher candidate pool shrinks, the more attuned our interview process must be. Creating a teacher selection process that mitigates biases to attract diverse candidates with the necessary dispositions is essential to ensuring a positive student experience and strong school culture. Participants will leave understanding the benefits of using a competency-based hiring process, interview question bank, activities, and rubrics for interviewing and selecting teacher candidates.

4. Improving Learning in Every Classroom: Getting Implementation "Unstuck" Across the School

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

Time and again, our work with school leaders and teams across Wisconsin show that most concerns in student learning are deeply rooted within the school's adult culture. An especially common and thorny problem is how a thoughtful leader might ensure implementation of improved teaching practices across the entire faculty, particularly with staff who seem regularly opposed to changing the status quo. This session will leverage the work of Anthony Muhammad and Luis Cruz with findings from our AWSA experiences to provide answers. By the end of this session, participants will leave with a progression of skills and approaches for effectively moving change forward across the school.

5. High Expectations Messages

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Who receives High Expectations Messages in your school? Do all students hear and believe that they are capable of more? That challenges are opportunities? Does your school have the collective efficacy to help all kids engage and achieve at high levels? The Opportunity Myth, 2018, suggests that “The system doesn’t send the message that teacher mindset matters nearly as much as the material they teach or the practices they employ in their classrooms. Yet teacher expectations had a stronger effect on student achievement growth than any other factor we studied.” In this session we’ll explore the differences between high expectations and high standards and how we support and coach educators to see the difference. Participants will also practice how this feedback may sound in order to generate teacher reflection.

6. Enhancing Your District's Safety Efforts Through Student Voice

Chad Whalley, Associate Principal, Sun Prairie High School

We devote hours of work and thousands of dollars into keeping students safe, but often miss the most important voice at the table...our students. Associate Principal Chad Whalley and Sun Prairie high school's Student Safety Ambassador's will share the model they have developed to include students in the creation and revision of safety policy and procedure, planning and execution of drills, and student-initiated campaigns to address social and emotional safety.  

11:15 - 12:00 PM  |  Lunch & Secondary Principal of the Year

12:00 - 12:30 PM  |  Dessert with Exhibitors 

12:30 - 1:45 PM  |  Concurrent Sessions Round Two

1. Hacking Leadership

Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent, Fall Creek School District  

Water is amazing and seemingly always finds a way. It has the ability to form, replenish our system, power equipment, and can wipe out entire cities. Leaders have the same properties.  Some end up conforming to their environment as water would with a cup or bowl. Some have the power to wipe out entire populations and others lift the level of the land. The best leaders take little openings and create space for those they lead. They find the smallest cracks of opportunity and create a path that was not there before. They shape the land. They find a way. Hacking leadership is about finding innovative solutions to issues that have plagued the system for years and implementing them tomorrow. The focus is on practical application. We all know the problems exist, but knowledge of problems does not make our daily life in schools easier Utilizing the tools in Hacking Leadership will allow you and your team to find the openings and create space for those you lead. Space to learn. Space to teach. Space to thrive. 

2. Leading for Equity by Addressing Systems and Sacred Cows

Amy Levek, Principal, Whitefish Bay High School & Mike O’Connor, Principal, Whitefish Bay Middle School

The social and systems intelligences required to be an effective school leader are not only varied and complex, they are further nuanced by the local context of the school community in which a leader finds themself. Culture matters and is often interconnected with systems and traditions that have been built over time. Leading for equity requires a keen eye to the challenges outlined in Lewis and Diamond’s Despite the Best Intentions. A process and commitment for detracking, an understanding of the resources that can be leveraged, a consistent UBD model for equitable classroom instruction and grading, the elimination of sacred cows, and the importance of recognizing and navigating the opportunity hoarding that arises in times of change will be talking points of this session. Participants will leave with an understanding of how to identify and prioritize areas of need, pitfalls to be avoided, and the importance of having allies in this work.

3. Impactful Coaching

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

“Practice isn’t the thing you do when you’re good, It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Malcolm Gladwell Scenario practice is a proven strategy to hone a school leader's impact. The way in which we deliver feedback significantly impacts school culture and the conditions for improvement. In this session, participants will be practicing coaching conversations that generate an action orientation in schools.

4. In the Arena, Daring to Lead with a Whole Heart

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

Leading a school has always been very hard and very meaningful work. But in recent years, the context where we conduct such challenging and noble effort has gotten much more divisive, scornful, and uncivil, which makes developing resilience in leaders more important than ever. This session will mesh helpful concepts from Brene Brown and others with thoughtful applications from Wisconsin administrators who are bravely, humbly, persistently meeting the challenges of this unique time and demonstrating the leadership resilience required. The session's overall goal is to influence how intentionally and consistently you bring forward a resilient leadership mindset and stance to your own leadership arena, so that you can regularly show up daring to lead, "unarmored and wholehearted."

5. Microaggressions: Diminish Sense of Safety, Belonging, and Community in Schools

Yaribel Rodriguez, Director of Urban Leadership, AWSA

Fostering a sense of belonging for our students is essential for their success, and we should be alert to incidents that put their belongingness at risk. Microaggressions are the most common way that discrimination is expressed daily, and counteracting this act is important for ensuring that our students are supported in our academic community. Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014). In this session participants will learn what is a microaggression, identify microaggressions, and discover techniques and responses to minimize the occurrence of microaggressions in their community. 

6. Today's Innovations Are Tomorrow's Practice:  Redesigning Learning in the Digital Age for Future-Ready Students

Janice Mertes, State Level Ambassador, CDW

Come engage in an overview of the landscape of redesigning learning in the digital age as lessons of innovations are becoming practices and program design options for schools. Participate in a discussion and learn about the trends for flexible and innovative policies that allow you to consider space, place, and time design principles to prepare future-ready students. Participants will have access to a leadership tool kit, research, and a list of Wisconsin partner resources to help them reimagine learning practices and structures.

1:45 - 2:05 PM  |  Break In Expo Hall 

2:05 - 3:20 PM  |  Keynote Address: Revealing Our Remarkable Secrets


Gregg Wieczorek, Past President, National Association of Secondary School Principals

As President of the NASSP last year Gregg visited remarkable schools in all 50 states. Gregg collected innovative practices that schools used to engage students, staff, parents, and community members and shared these practices in his blog. One common theme among these schools doing remarkable work was that very few people outside of those schools were aware of It—AKA remarkable secrets. In this session, Gregg will highlight five of the most powerful practices he uncovered in his travels, and he will provide ideas for leaders to use to start sharing out the remarkable secrets in their schools.


Gregg Wieczorek currently serves as the Past President of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).  Wieczorek served as the principal of Arrowhead Union High School for 28 years prior to his retirement last year and has worked in both rural and suburban settings. Wieczorek has been a member of the board for four years and has held the position of treasurer for the past two years.  Wieczorek was a member of the board of directors of the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA) and served as president for the 2005–06 school year. In 2012, he was named the Wisconsin High School Principal of the Year.  


3:20-3:55 PM  | Keynote Address: What are You Going to Do About It?


John Gaier, Superintendent, Neillsville School District

What are you going to do about it sums up the job description of the principalship. Parents, politics, budgets, community organizations, sports, busing, meals, achievement scores, music, and mandates. You’re responsible for all of these and more. It can be stressful and lonely. How do we handle it all? Some ideas to help us all get through it will be shared.



John Gaier has served in all levels of administration since 1990, including the last twenty-six years as the District Administrator in Neillsville.  Over that time, John has served in state leadership positions, including as the Chair of the Wisconsin Association for Equity in Funding, President of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (2006), and Chair of the Wisconsin School Administrators Alliance (2017-18).  He was selected to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2022) and has served as a registered Basketball and Football Official for 37 years.  

3:55-5:00 PM Personal Time: Catch Up on Communication from Home

5:00 - 6:00 PM  |  Reception Sponsored by Jostens 


February 10, 2023

7:15 - 8:15 AM  |  Optional Fellowship Breakfast 

Joe Schroeder, AWSA Associate Executive Director

In the midst of this busy, crazy, life-on-fire job, it can be tough to feel at peace sometimes. Therefore, for over five years, administrative colleagues from across the state have been gathering on the Friday morning of the convention for a Christian fellowship breakfast option. This year, our session will feature Dave Schaller, Chippewa Valley High School Principal, who will lead us in expressing gratitude, which can help us both in our work and also in bringing us closer to our Maker.  Those who have attended in the past find this gathering to be an annual highlight of encouragement and assistance for the next leg of the leadership and life journey. So please join us and bring a friend.  All are welcome!

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

Legislative Update, Dee Pettack, Executive Director, WI SAA

In this session, SAA Executive Director, Dee Pettack will provide a flat-and-straight update on this legislative session including the 2023-25 State Budget. The legislative session begins in January 2023, and this will be a crucial legislative cycle for public education. The uncertainties surrounding the 2022 elections, inflation, slowing economic growth, the fiscal cliff and rising interest rates will make for challenging advocacy discussions inside the Capitol and in our communities. Please join Dee for this important update on the policy and fiscal challenges facing our state, your district, and the students you serve.


9:15 - 10:30 AM | Concurrent Sessions Round Three 

1. Transforming Leadership: More BAM and Less Blah!

Beth Houf, 2022 National Principal of the Year

Join Beth to bring out the T in Pirate: Transformation! How might we analyze our current practices to become makers of moments for our students and staff? From staff meetings to back to school to professional development to Monday mornings, let’s bring the BAM to replace the blah!

2. Are You Playing Checkers or Chess? 

Jill Oelslager, Assistant Superintendent & Nick Ryan, Principal, Burlington School District

All students, staff, schools, and districts need high-quality school leaders leading our learning organizations. In this session, school leaders will utilize the school leader paradigm to develop their use of personal, social, and systems intelligence to shift from managing to leading to ensure your behaviors foster empowerment, inquiry, collaboration, and growth for the betterment of improved instructional strategies and student outcomes. We will also explore the importance of professional capital and the importance of leveraging the human, social and decisional capital within your school or district.

3. Transforming Culture to Impact Student Learning

Rachel Rydzewski, Principal & Chad Krupar, Associate Principal, Muskego-Norway School District        

Most of us are familiar with Peter Drucker's advice, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Come hear how we have invested in our guiding coalition at Muskego Lakes to transform teaching and learning schoolwide.  While leaning into the collective efficacy of our school's leadership team, we shifted our focus away from what is being taught to a focus on what is being learned. We look forward to sharing our passion for distributed leadership, our blueprint for instructional leadership, and the challenges we've faced along the way. And while we take time to celebrate the gap closing data, just as important is the sharing of expertise among staff on our continuous improvement journey.  

4. The WI School Mental Health Framework in Action

Lisa Stein & Libby Strunz, Consultants, DPI    

This session will provide participants with a brief overview of DPI's updated Wisconsin School Mental Health Framework, which provides a vision for advancing health and educational equity in Wisconsin through the implementation of Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems. Participants will have the opportunity to hear exemplars from the field, as Wisconsin schools share how they have put the framework to action in their communities. Participants will walk away with knowledge and examples of how administrators can advance school mental health in their buildings.

5. Middle School to High School Transitions

Santiago Navarro, Bruce-Guadalupe Community School, Milwaukee School District

As an independent Charter School, our students graduate from 8th grade and attend 20 different high schools in the Milwaukee area.  To further prepare students, we plan and implement a summer school bridge program for the graduates.

10:30 - 10:45 AM  |  Break 

10:45 - 11:45 AM  |  Closing Keynote: From Surviving to Thriving as a School Leader

Beth Houf, 2022 National Principal of the Year

In a field of serving others, how often do we take time to take care of ourselves? Join Beth as she shared productivity and wellness practices to help us not only survive, but to thrive as school leaders.

Beth Houf is the proud principal of Fulton Middle School in central Missouri. She is the Co-Author of Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff. Beth also serves as a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership Academy, providing monthly training to state educational leaders.

Beth is an international presenter and consultant. She is also active in her local, state and national principal associations. Beth is an adjunct professor at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Fulton Middle School was recognized as a Missouri Exemplary Professional Learning Community and Solution Tree Model Professional Learning Community in 2019. Beth was named a Missouri Exemplary New Principal in 2011, the Missouri National Distinguished Principal for 2016, the 2019 National Association of Secondary School Principals Digital Principal of the Year, the EducationDive 2019 Principal of the Year, the 2021-2022 Missouri Secondary School Principal of the Year and the 2022 National Principal of the Year. Beth also serves as a principal advisor for Future Ready Schools and is a Solution Tree PLC at Work Associate. Beth's proudest accomplishments are her two sons, Paul and Dawson. She has been honored to help lead schools that both have attended.

11:45 | Adjourn

Vendor Information 

Photo of Part of Vendor HallBooths for this year's 2023 Middle and High School Principals Convention are now open for registration!

Each year AWSA's Middle and High School 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. Table Top registration is $350. Advertising opportunities are also available. Vendor registration has closed.