2017 Speakers



Mark McLeod - Lansing


Recognized as one of Mississippi's top school administrators, Mark has shared his expertise at state and national conferences across the country. Mark has also had the privilege of conducting numerous workshops and keynotes for schools and districts throughout the United States.  

As a lifelong educator, his educational experience includes teacher, coach, assistant principal, and principal.  He was twice selected as ‘Teacher of the Year’ for Lumberton Public School District.  In 2002, he was selected as Covington County School District's ‘Administrator of the Year’ and Mississippi's Region Four Administrator of the Year.  He is currently a full-time motivational speaker, professional development instructor, and educational consultant.   His enthusiastic and encouraging presentations leave participants inspired to plant seeds of success in their students. 




Trevor Muir - Grand Rapids

I have seen time and time again a hidden brilliance in the students I encounter in my classroom. For too long this brilliance has been stifled by a system that represses creativity and innovation with rows, textbooks, and lectures. But I am part of a tribe of people working to unleash the potential of every student we encounter by rethinking and retooling what this system looks like.


I am a teacher.

That's why I teach students with project based learning. And give keynotes, workshops, and write about my work in the classroom and how effective authentic education can be. I recently presented a TED talk at Tedx San Antonio called "School Should Take Place in the Real Word," and my spoken word poem was featured in the Huffington Post.

My beautiful bride is named Alli and we have a boy named Jack and little princess named Piper. Their favorite activities are pointing out rocks and riding our golden retriever Zeke. 

School should not be boring. Life either.




Dr. Dorothy VanderJagt - Grand Rapids and Lansing


Dr. Dorothy VanderJagt, founder of iFireUP, is a very popular speaker who is well known for developing energizing, educational workshops that provide educators with practical strategies for immediate use.  She has also conducted numerous workshops, in-services for schools, and presented at state and national conferences.  She has worked with students, teachers, and administrators as a teacher, department chair, team leader, mentor,administrator, consultant and college professor.  


Dorothy was a teacher for ten years, a principal for eleven years, and the the Director of Teaching and Learning at Kent Intermediate School District for four years.  She co-directed the Northern Exposure to Middle Level Education Conference in Frankenmuth, Michigan, for five years and has been the director of the Michigan Education Conference for twelve years. Dorothy has published research on problems facing schools today, leadership, and curriculum strategies.  She has developed educational games, on-line courses, and is co-author of two popular books WOW, What a Team! and Fire Up for Learning! and author of Direction Connection and Math Connection. 



Jay Gross - Grand Rapids


My name is Jay Gross, and I am an English, Speech, & Debate teacher. I also teach as an adjunct professor for English and Speech at Mid Michigan Community College and online with the Blended Learning in the Classroom (BLiC). Educational Technology is my passion, my obsession.  I have taught using Blackboard from one of its very earliest versions all the way to Moodle 2.8 today.  I will continue to search for new ways to help improve my classroom and my students’ chances for success post-high school. Throughout this crazy/confusing journey in the ‘techno world’, I have been able to develop a way to decipher it and ‘speak teacher’, helping educators and administrators overcome fears and anxieties and take the first step into a phenomenal world of technology that can enhance, enrich, excite, and simplify lives.

​Working with Kevin Honeycutt's company, Best Keynote, has been an amazing experience, allowing me to speak/work with educators around the country. Add in my educational technology consulting & trainings throughout the state, motivational speaking, co-authoring a book with my wife on a couple’s insight into the world of infertility and how to survive it with laughter and tears, and being the Shepherd Educational Association President,  our lives are busy to say the least.




Connie Hamilton - Grand Rapids

Connie Hamilton Ed.S. is a K-12 curriculum director and educational consultant. Her thorough overview of instructional strategies such as questioning, student engagement and feedback, perfectly align with her experience as a teacher in K-8 classrooms and principal at both the elementary and secondary levels. Collectively, her educational background and broad range of experiences provide a solid base from which she draws to bring learning connections and actionable strategies to schools, districts, and audiences nationally. 

Connie uses her communication skills to listen and promote the type of outside-the-box thinking that teams of educators will use to reason through problems and develop comprehensive plans that connect initiatives in strategic way








Alecia Hopper - Lansing


Alecia Hoppa is a School Improvement and MTSS Consultant for Muskegon Area Intermediate School District and a Regional Lead for Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators (FAME).  Alecia has a masters degree in educational leadership.  In her role, Alecia works with educators across the state to learn about and implement the formative assessment process.  Aleicia's sessions are packed full of valuable resources and strategies.  

*Speakers may vary if necessary