Back by Popular Demand!

Distinguished Speaker Fall Series

As we enter this school year, a lot of questions remain unanswered:

  • Is the pandemic over?

  • How do we best move forward after the past 18 months?

  • What do students and educators need the most?

Join us this fall for inspiring, engaging virtual PD that will answer these questions and help you succeed.

Back by Popular Demand!

Distinguished Speaker Fall Series

As we enter this school year, a lot of questions remain unanswered:

  • Is the pandemic over?

  • How do we best move forward after the past 18 months?

  • What do students and educators need the most?

Join us this fall for inspiring, engaging virtual PD that will answer these questions and help you succeed.

Registration is free, but space is limited. Sign up now to attend one, or all of the sessions!

You only need to register once, and you’ll receive the links for every session

Certificates of Completion provided for each session

Attend from your home, your classroom, or wherever you want!

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*We know how busy you are, and will send you a text reminder before the event start time!

With every facet of our society being deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, education throughout Colorado continues to be transformed on a day-to-day basis. As schools and districts announce their plans for the 2021-2022 school year, educators of all experience levels have been forced to adapt, adjust, and transform their instructional strategies and practices to fit the needs of all their students.

To help support Colorado’s students and educators, the Colorado Department of Education is bringing some of the country’s top educators to you, virtually. These distinguished speakers and educators will provide expert guidance on developing and maintaining an emotionally safe school and classroom culture after the Covid-19 pandemic, regardless of what the school schedules, locations, and policy decisions look like.

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In addition, far too many students, especially those from highly vulnerable populations —such as homeless and foster youth, those with chronic conditions, and students from rural communities across Colorado—are struggling with day-to-day life. They are looking to our schools to provide an array of needs, from food and shelter to emotional and academic support. These students’ relationships with teachers, administrators, counselors, and office staff are particularly critical at this time.

In this ongoing 3-part series, each presenter will give participants high-leverage tools that can be implemented in both the brick-and-mortar and remote learning environments (or a hybrid of the two). 

We look forward to seeing you!

Meet the Team of Highly Engaging
Distinguished Speakers!

Alex Kajitani – Host

Alex Kajitani is the 2009 California Teacher of the Year, and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, he is the author of several books, including Owning It, which was named “Recommended Reading” by the U.S. Department of Education. His “Rappin’ Mathematician” videos have received hundreds of thousands of views, and he has been honored at The White House, and featured on The CBS Evening News, where Katie Couric declared, “I LOVE that guy!”

Monica Washington

Monica Washington is the 2014 Texas Teacher of the Year, and a 2015 NEA Foundation Global Fellow. A passionate advocate for creating equitable and inclusive school environments, she serves as the Leading Educator Ambassador for Equity for the Education Civil Rights Alliance. A decorated educator for over 22 years, she currently works as an instructional coach and solution designer for BetterLesson, where she supports teachers and administrators across the country to make positive shifts in instruction and leadership.

Tom Hierck

Tom Hierck is an acclaimed educator, best-selling author, and a compelling presenter, infusing his message of hope with strategies culled from a career that has spanned all grade levels and many roles in public education. He believes that “every student is a success story waiting to be told” and is the author of 19 books (his latest release, Trauma-Sensitive Instruction is receiving rave reviews). Just recently, Tom was named as one of the world’s Top-30 Global Gurus for Education!

Dr. Jamie Valenzuela-Mumau

Dr. Jamie Valenzuela-Mumau is the founder and CEO of Coherent Educational Solutions, which provides educators with innovative services and programs that promote a culture of belonging. Having served as a teacher and administrator at the site, district and county levels, Jamie passionately advocates to support educators who are student-focused, value continued learning, and are willing to engage in best practices to support all students.

Here are just a few comments from those who attended last fall’s Distinguished Speaker Series:

“Some of the best trainings I’ve ever been to!”

“Very inspiring and high positive energy!”

“What exceptional resources and tremendous presentations!”

Speaker Series Schedule

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 (3-4:30 PM MST)

Tom Hierck

Trauma Informed Practice

As educators who work with students every day, we know firsthand the sharp increase of incidents of students experiencing trauma and mental health challenges due to the pandemic. We are not returning to the old normal, nor should we plan for a move forward to any sort of new normal. Instead, this session will show educators how we can plan for a move to a new better—so schools and districts can deepen their understanding of trauma and embrace the best of what we knew pre-pandemic, while incorporating the best of what we have learned during the pandemic, to better serve our students.

Session Objectives:

  • Understand what trauma is and how traumatic situations impact the brain.
  • Identify how experiencing a single traumatic event differs from experiencing complex trauma, and why understanding complex trauma is critical for educators to understand.
  • Implement strategies that support students who have experienced, or are experiencing, trauma and further develop our awareness of our own traumatic experiences and how it impacts our work with students.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 (3-4:30 PM MST)

Monica Washington

Foundations of Educational Equity: Positioning Ourselves to Do the Work

In this highly engaging, timely and critically important session, teachers will explore the “why” behind the push for educational equity, as well as the impact of systemic racism and inequitable practices on education. Using concrete examples and strategies for building and sustaining equitable and transformative relationships with students, attendees will also have the opportunity to design or update one of their practices to make it more inclusive and transformative for all students, while connecting with their students’ important backgrounds and interests. Together, we can build a common language and explore high-leverage strategies to build equitable foundations in our classrooms, schools and education system.

Session Objectives:

  • Identify the impact of systemic racism and inequitable practices in education.
  • Explore and incorporate high-leverage strategies that create inclusive learning environments for all students.
  • Assess individual, school and districtwide areas for improvement (and where to start!).

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 (3-4:30 PM MST)

Dr. Jamie Valenzuela-Mumau

Impactful Intervention: Meeting Students Where They Are & Getting Them to Mastery

The pandemic has resulted in unfinished learning for many students, especially our students of color and those living in poverty. Facing unprecedented gaps in student learning, it is critical for educators to meet kids where they are, and accelerate them to where they can be (and maybe even a little further). Through interactive activities, participants will explore the skills necessary to build student efficacy and effectiveness to close targeted learning gaps. Learn how intentional implementation of these skills can create intervention building blocks that result in visible student progress and deepened learning.

Session Objectives:

  • Understand, explore and articulate the 16 Habits of Mind (Costa & Kallick, 2000) and 6 Habits of Heart (Lines & White, 2013).
  • Create meaningful and impactful ways to integrate these habits as SEL dispositions in an intervention environment.
  • Collaborate on and share ways attendees can apply these concepts to their own practice.

Have questions?

Contact Alex Kajitani at
AlexKajitani@gmail.com or (858) 336-8678.