2022 Middle & High School Principals Convention 

Register Button

The 2022 Middle and High School Principals Convention will take place February 9-11, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay. 

JC Pohl, Dr. Niraj Nijhawan, and Dr. Anthony Muhammad will present our keynote sessions and the convention will feature over twenty sessions. Please find more session descriptions, speaker information, lodging, and more listed below. For any questions please call the AWSA office at 608-241-0300 or email Kathy Gilbertson at [email protected] For vendor information click here!

Cost of the Convention:

Member Registration:  $239           
Non-Member Registration: $359          
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 1/18/22. 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.

Hyatt Regency 
333 Main St., Green Bay, WI 
$126 per room (Single/Double) /$146 Triple / $166 Quad
(920) 432-1234
Ask for: 2022 AWSA Middle & High School Convention

February 9, 2022

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

12:00 - 1:15 | Hot Topics: From Curriculum Challenges to (Hopefully Not) Covid and the Currently Unforeseen
Malina Piontek, AWSA Retained Counsel and Bob Butler, Attorney 

1:30 - 2:45 | Navigating the Expanding Complexity of the First Amendment and Protected Concerted Activity
Mike Julka, Attorney, Boardman & Clark and Brian Goodman, Attorney, Boardman & Clark

3:00 - 4:15 | Law and Technology: Challenges and Solutions for Middle and High School Principals
Kirk Strang, Attorney

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

2. Leading Professional Learning Communities: Building and Sustaining Improvement

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Development, AWSA

Looking for a way to further build, advance or sustain collaborative learning teams in your school? Are you a new leader or frustrated with the rate of improvement in your school? This two-hour session will provide examples of the collaborative team process and examine protocols and structures that guide and support the implementation of professional learning communities. Also included in this workshop are ways to leverage your leadership team/guiding coalition to monitor the impact of the collaborative process and an improved culture in which educators engage in vital and crucial conversations with one another. Facilitative examples will be provided by three elementary principals currently living the mission of leveraging collaborative teams for their school improvement efforts. 

3. Growing Adult Impact:  The Power of Developing and Implementing Your Own Instructional Playbook

Joe Schroeder, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director, AWSA

School leaders who want teacher practice and student learning to soar must address three root cause problems:  (1) focus the improvement agenda, (2) clarify what good, better and best look like in areas of instructional priority, and (3) provide relevant and ongoing practice, feedback, coaching, and support.  In this session, we will explore how a customized instructional playbook as presented by Jim Knight and colleagues can systematically address all three root cause problems, enabling much deeper teacher, coach, and leadership impact.  Participants will leave this session with an example playbook in hand while also gaining clarity on what an instructional playbook is, why it is important, and how to begin developing a locally relevant tool. 

4. Planning for Your Retirement

Joel Craven, Owner, Astrais Financial LLC confirmed

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 10, 2022

7:30 - 8:00 AM  |  New Principals Breakfast  

8:30 - 9:45 AM  |  Opening Keynote: Building School Culture 

Sponsored by Lifetouch

Photo of JC Pohl JC Pohl, President and CEA, 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. His school culture work with TEEN TRUTH has sent him around the world, inspiring students, educators, and parents to tell hard truths and be the difference. During his career, Pohl has been featured on news programs, radio shows, and has received front-page coverage on USA Today and Yahoo! Sports. He has personally reached students in every type of school and keynoted conferences across the country. Additionally, he has served as an educational consultant for brands such as Six Flags, Lifetouch, Union Pacific, Special Olympics, The Miami Dolphins, The Baltimore Ravens, and FIVE STAR. To complement TEEN TRUTH, he also developed RISING UP, an SEL curriculum designed to teach students to build resiliency in the face of adversity. Launched in 2013, Pohl’s RISING UP: Coaching Program has reached students across the country and consists of a peer-to-peer curriculum used by school counselors, the Texas Department of State Health Services, 21st Century ACE Centers, and Communities in Schools. Pohl is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Texas and is the author of Building School Culture From the Inside Out as well as Building Resilient Students From the Inside Out. He holds a Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from Texas State University, San Marcos, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing from Santa Clara University. You can find him on Facebook and LinkedIn or connect directly at www.jcpohl.com.

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

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

1. Tools Every Secondary Leader Needs for Communicating About Critical Issues

Joe Donovan, Founding Partner, The Donovan Group 

We all know that effectively engaging students, staff, parents, and other stakeholders is vital for principals. 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 communicating about COVID-19?  In this session, communications expert Joe Donovan will introduce a process and set of tools to thoughtfully engage all stakeholders about critical issues. Participants are encouraged to bring their most challenging communications issues to the session.  

2. Leading Learning: Maximizing Your Meeting 

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Teams are a leadership lever that are often left to chance.  How teams are formed, what they are spending their time on, and how they receive feedback varies widely in schools.  In this session, participants will learn about generating momentum around the impact of high performing teams to include team creating, critical elements for working together and for creating a collaborative culture that helps team maximize their impact. 

3. Leaders Shaping Cultures that Deeply Impact Student Learning

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

John Hattie cites collective efficacy as the variable with the highest effect size on student achievement. This makes sense because, in such a case, we have a whole faculty feeling effective -- able to actually accomplish better student achievement and equitable conditions for all. But collective efficacy does not happen on its own. It is the product of a certain sort of school culture that is cultivated over time through specific leadership qualities. This session will break down what our field is learning about impactful leadership and culture in simple and accessible terms so that participants are equipped with specific approaches they can implement back home to lead their organizations to the next level.

4. Closing the Achievement Gap by Increasing Student and Educator Confidence 

Rodney Lynk, Chief Academic Officer, Milwaukee Excellence Charter School

Milwaukee Excellence has been recognized numerous times as a Beating-the-Odds Schools, representing the top 25 percent of high-poverty schools in the state with above-average student achievement in reading and mathematics when compared to similar schools, by DPI. The school’s success in closing persistent achievement gaps lies in focusing on key strategies designed to accelerate learning, while building student confidence, and helping teachers get better faster. Learn how you can do the same in your building by making small shifts in practices while supporting your most marginalized student populations.

5. Today’s Innovations Are Tomorrow’s Practice:  Redesigning Learning in the Digital Age for Future Ready Students

Janice Mertes, Assistant Dir of Teaching and Learning-Digital Learning DPI

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 you reimagine learning practices and structures. 

6. Implementation of Standards-Based Grading at the High School Level: Why It Makes Sense and How to Get Started? 

Kurt Soderberg, Principal, St. Croix Central High School

In this session, we will examine what SBG is, what it isn’t, and why it’s a worthy philosophy to put into practice. Attendees will have the knowledge to determine if SBG is a road they want to take. We will explore the key components including the philosophical beliefs necessary to set the stage for SBG implementation. Topics we explore will include our 10 grading practices, the role of essential standards, rubrics, assessments, reassessments, grade conversion, behavior grades, and how to navigate the challenges of implementation at the high school level.  

11:15 - 12:00 PM  |  Lunch 

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

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

1. Building Resilient Students

JC Pohl, President and CEO, 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. 

2. Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness 

Marisol Evans, Emerging Multilingual Coach & Dept Chair and Molly O’Neill, Principal, Washington Middle School, Green Bay

Do you notice that not all of your students are engaged in their learning? Do some of your students and families feel a disconnect with the staff and school?  Do some of your students feel they need to change aspects of themselves in order to fit in? Do any of your students have to drop any of their identifiers to feel safe in your building? Are you looking for a way to truly build an equitable and safe school and classroom community? If you can answer yes to even one of these questions, then this session is for you! Join the conversation around cultural and linguistic responsiveness with Molly and Marisol and leave with ready-to-go strategies and the background to facilitate your own school-level professional development around CLR. 

3. School Culture is the Hidden Curriculum 

Tammy Gibbons, Director of Professional Learning, AWSA

Creating a school community where students thrive, not simply survive, requires learning leadership, change leadership, and high-quality feedback that causes reflection.  In this session participants will engage with elements of a high-performance culture and consider entry points for impacting your current school culture.

4. Despite the Best Intentions:  Examining and Disrupting “Hidden” Barriers That Prevent Our Schools from Closing Persistent Opportunity Gaps

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

How do well-meaning adults (educators, families, and community members alike) make sense of the stark, persistent inequities of opportunities, experiences, and results across various student populations within our schools?  And how through deep examination of the current state do key stakeholders gain insight and come to accept that the systems we regularly engage in and collectively reinforce are working against our professed aims, to instead produce ongoing inequities in a predictable and unacceptable fashion?  Participants in AWSA’s inaugural cohort of the Mastering Leadership Academy (MLA) this school year are taking on these deep-seated problems of practice in ongoing cycles of learning, action and inquiry.  This session will discuss some of the subtle but significant and unsettling barriers commonly “hidden” beneath the school veneer while also sharing some early actions arising from this MLA effort so that, collectively, administrators across Wisconsin can better promote the learning and leadership necessary to shift the narrative and experience for all students under our care in life-changing ways. 

5. SEL and Mental Health is the Work of ALL in Education

Future Cain, WCRS Statewide Project Coordinator, Jodi Hubbard, WCRS Statewide Coach, and Stacey Starke, WCRS Statewide Coach

In October 2020 the Wisconsin Center for Resilient Schools (WCRS) was formed to help schools and districts build their capacity to implement and sustain trauma sensitive social emotional learning and comprehensive school based mental health. Come join us and learn more about a systems approach for sustainable change that can impact all students through an equity lens. This session will discuss how you and your school or district can be supported by WCRS to build a district and school based mental health and wellbeing program that serves every student and adult.

6. Implementation of Standards-Based Grading at the High School Level: Moving from Challenge to Solution and Application 

Kurt Soderberg, St. Croix Central High 

In this session, we will dive into the details of implementing SBG at the high school level. This will include a presentation and discussion about specific challenges, concerns, and solutions. It will be an opportunity for attendees to learn from our mistakes and successes. Attendees will understand the application of key components of SBG including essential standards, rubrics, formative and summative assessments, internal tracking, external reporting, and explore the SBG teaching-learning cycle.   Participants will leave with exemplars and methods for the practical application of SBG practices Identify specific challenges and potential solutions when implementing SBG at the high school level.

1:45 - 2:00 PM  |  Break In Expo Hall 

2:05 - 3:30 PM  |  Keynote: Human 3.0 Change the Game, Change Your Life -  Quickly Train Your Brain to Respond, Adapt and Thrive in a Chaotic World 

Photo of Dr. Niraj Nijhawan Dr. Niraj Nijhawan, Founder & CEO, Life Ecology Organization

No one has to tell school leaders that it is a time of great stress and anxiety in our communities and country. Some fascinating brain science discoveries can explain why this is happening now, but more importantly, how we can quickly flip switches in our brain to become much more resistant to stress and anxiety, thereby improving sleep, eating habits, and energy.

More importantly, we can get our so-called Lower Brain out of the way so that we can become more creatively courageous and fulfilled in our lives whether that means building something, deepening our relationships, being more impactful in service, or being more effective and fulfilled in our careers. These can also be accelerated by activating the Higher Brain.

It is now a fact that you have unlimited potential to become more happy, effective, healthy, and more deeply connected with yourself and others. There is hope, and you can make this happen almost immediately!  Let us introduce you to a cohesive, entertaining, engaging, and quickly actionable collection of tools to increase you and your team’s tolerance for difficult conversations, whether about innovation, change, accountability, or personal wellness.  Life will always be fascinating and productive from this point forward. 

Dr. Niraj (Raj) Nijhawan is a practicing physician. He was raised in Milwaukee, WI, graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1992, and completed a medical residency in Anesthesiology/Critical Care at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Nijhawan received a National Institute of Health Scientist Training Grant where he acquired a Master’s Degree in clinical research as he was trained as a clinical scientist and designed and conducted medical research. Dr. Nijhawan has spent nearly 30 years cataloging, practicing. teaching, and helping people integrate the latest knowledge from the realms of medical, social, and neuroscience into their lives.

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

February 11, 2022

7:00 - 8:00 AM  |  Optional Fellowship Breakfast 

8:00 - 9:00 AM  |  Breakfast Program: Remarks from the State Superintendent and Principal of the Year Recognition 

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

1. Finger on the Pulse:  Three Tools for Identifying the State of Your School Culture and the Supports Needed Now 

Joe Schroeder, Associate Executive Director, AWSA

Your school culture – good or bad – is the foundation for all other leadership action you will take.  Therefore, staying keenly aware of the evolving state of affairs is critical if you want to lead a healthy and improving school.  In this session, we will review three approaches (aspirational surveys, staff rounding protocols, and one-legged interviews) to help assess your culture and gain critical information that will allow you to take ongoing, proactive action and staff support – approaches we will apply and practice in this session as time permits.  Participants will leave this session with the ability to implement any and all of these approaches in their schools immediately. 

2. 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.

3. Legislative Update

John Forester, SAA Executive Director 

AWSA and the School Administrators Alliance’s John Forester will provide an update on the Legislative issues of most importance to secondary school leaders, including issues related to tobacco, vaping and related products. 

4. Lessons Learned About Connecting Around the Nation and During My 33-Year Career as a Principal

Gregg Wieczorek, President, National Association of Secondary School Principals

During his presidency, Wieczorek will visit middle and high schools in all fifty states.  While visiting schools, he will ask principals to share what they are most proud of and innovative practices to connect with students, teachers, parents, community members, and legislators. Wieczorek will develop a document that he will share with all NASSP members highlighting his findings. During this session, he will share some of the best practices he has observed during his travels.  He will also share some of his personal experiences from being a building administrator for 33 years.  In those 33 years Gregg has served on the Board of Directors and President of both AWSA and NASSP and been recognized as Wisconsin’s Principal of the Year.

5. Equitable and Engaging Literacy Strategies for All Student Abilities 

Peg Grafwallner and Mike Roemer, Milwauke Public Schools 

In today’s complex and data-driven classrooms, it is imperative, now more than ever, that school leaders focus on school-level supports that positively impact adolescent literacy. Using all tools at their disposal, school leaders must apply research, resources, skills and strategies to help create literacy-rich classrooms. In this presentation, Peg Grafwallner, an Instructional Coach and Reading Specialist, will share various school-wide literacy supports meant for all students and all ability levels, reflecting on these valuable questions: What do we want our students to know? Why do we want our students to know it? and How can it be learned in different ways? In addition, Mike Roemer, Principal of Ronald Reagan College Preparatory high school, will offer explicit documented success showcasing the process, product, and progress of these supports. As a result, participants will be able to use these suggestions to develop their own authentic and equitable supports meant for all student abilities 

10:30 - 10:45 AM  |  Break 

10:45 - 11:45 AM  |  Closing Keynote: Time for Change: Four Essential Skills for Transformational School and District Leaders

Photo of Dr. Anthony MuhammadDr. Anthony Muhammad, Author 

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.

11:45 | Adjourn

Vendor Information 

Photo of Part of Vendor HallBooths for this year's 2022 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 $315. Advertising opportunities are also available. Click Here for Exhibitor Registration!