Leadership in Education Conference
Collaborative Leadership

Tuesday, October 19 | 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Northwestern College campus

Cost: $90 | Group rate: $75 (6 or more) 
Credit available:
1 License Renewal credit $35
1 Graduate credit $150 
Micro-credential $30 (After registering for the conference, use the micro-credential registration form.)

Effective education leaders are collaborative in their approach to leading and teaching. After a season that may have left your team members feeling distant (physically, socially and emotionally), worn down, or simply overwhelmed  — it's time to rejuvenate! 

The Leadership in Education Conference is one day, packed with actionable concepts for teaching and leading collaboratively. Whether you're an administrator, teacher leader, classroom or support teacher, you're a key part of the leadership team. Take away fresh insight, practical strategies, and meaningful inspiration.   

When you invest in your leadership skills, you maximize your impact, bring out the best in others and transform education.

In-person event
Have you missed networking and connecting in person? So have we! We've also learned to be flexible. This event is planned to be in-person, but if necessary, it will be switched to a virtual format. 

Register by October 15th. 
Please contact  online@nwciowa.edu or 712-707-7388 with any questions about registration. 

Group discount and steps to register
Bring your team of 6 or more for the discounted group rate of $75 for each attendee.

  1. Register for a group planning to attend. Pay by credit card or choose the option to bill your school district.
  2. Download the group Google sheet as a Microsoft Excel file to complete with information for all participants of your group. 
  3. Email the completed Excel list to online@nwciowa.edu within seven days of registration.  



Joe Beckman Leadership in Education Conference Keynote

Joe Beckman

Human Connection Matters. Students crave it, and great schools thrive because of it.
International Speaker and Author, Joe Beckman’s mission has been to RECLAIM HUMAN CONNECTION in school communities throughout the world.

As co-founder of Till-360 (formerly Happy Caveman), Joe Beckman’s mission has been to RECLAIM HUMAN CONNECTION in school communities throughout the world.
Joe has shared his infectious energy, humor, and passion in over 1000 schools, positively impacting over 1 million people worldwide through:

  • Assembly for students
  • PD for Staff
  • SEL video curriculum, The Human Connection Hub 
  • His new book, Just Look Up - 5 life-saving phrases every human NEEDS to hear.

Joe resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his 3 children and exceptionally beautiful/patient/strong/kind-hearted wife, Jess.

  Twitter LinkedIn Instagram |  till360consulting.com

Dana Schoon Leadership in Education Endnote

Dr. Dana Schon

Leave Balance Behind and Find Your Fit

Dr. Dana Schon serves as the professional learning director for School Administrators of Iowa. She coordinates, plans, and delivers learning opportunities to support Iowa’s principals, superintendents, and central office leaders in having impactful leadership. Through this role, she has studied, developed, and promoted the concept of a quality leadership-life fit.

Dana has a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Drake University and two master's degrees (Wayne State College and Drake University). She is a certified steward of the Intentional Energetic Presence methodology, an approach to showing up as our best selves created by Anese Cavanaugh. A perpetual student and life-long learner, she continues to participate in trainings and classes.

Conference Tracks


These sessions are geared most toward leaders who are in charge of developing systems within education. Attendees can choose which sessions to attend from either track. 


  • Dysfunctional PLCs: avoiding the mistakes that kill teacher collaboration 
  • Educational leadership simulation: inclusive school community
  • Maximizing your SEL curriculums at all Tier Levels.  
  • Building capacity among Teacher Leaders 

These sessions are geared toward current and aspiring teacher leaders.  Attendees can choose which sessions to attend from either track. 


  • Workflow widgets & wizardry: productivity tips & tools for leaders 
  • Systemic approach to data-based decisions – what MTSS is and is not. 
  • Supporting beginning teachers 
  • Building Trust in PLC's
  • Planning for impact: strategies for meaningful meetings and professional learning 
8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Check-in
8:30 a.m. Welcome & Opening Keynote 

Just Look Up!
5 life-saving phrases EVERY human needs to hear
Joe Beckman

Combining humor, authenticity, heart, and soul, international speaker Joe Beckman shares five specific phrases he believes all humans need to hear...especially today. The result is a refreshing, authentic, and down-to-earth approach to finding self-worth (Love YOU), resilience (Push Through), confidence (Fail On), joy (Yeah Toast!), and maybe most importantly, human connection (Just Look Up).

Take away tools, resources, and strategies around self-care and building positive relationships they can apply with and in their school community. 

9:30 - 10:20 a.m.  Morning breakout 1
Breakout session options   

Building Capacity Among Teacher Leaders
Dr. Dana Schon

Building the leadership capacity of teachers enables the achievement of school improvement goals and the success of each and every student, but what does it mean to build leadership capacity? In this session, we’ll delve into several key strategies that foster leadership capacity including building a quality relationship, nurturing self and collective efficacy, and creating agreements. 

Workflow Widgets & Wizardry: Productivity Tips & Tools for Leaders
Sandy Grooms and Michelle Te Grotenhuis 

Does your tech life remind you of your kitchen junk drawer? We can help! Increase your workplace productivity with Workflow Widgets and Wizardry. This fast-paced session will provide you with links to free web tools and numerous tips to increase your efficiency, help you stay organized, and hold onto your sanity. Learn how to tame the tabs on your web browser, keep lists handy across multiple devices and organize your online files and folders so your future self knows where to find things. 

10:30 - 11:20 a.m.  Morning breakout 2
Breakout session options   

Tools for SEL 
Joe Beckman   

Based off Joe’s keynote presentation, “The Tools” is NOT ONLY a  nuts and bolts workshop that will equip participants with specific activities, practices, and tools around personal growth, and leadership development.  But we also talk about how we weave video-based SEL “tools” that can benefit our students and adult staff. Bring a pen, bring a notebook, and bring a folder because you’re going to be walking away with some “tools!”

Systematic Approach to Data-Based Decisions
Sara Straw  

In this session, Sara focuses on how to build effective data systems to inform instructional decisions with the goal of increasing student outcomes and teacher engagement.

11:30 am - 12:20 p.m.  Morning breakout 3
Breakout session options

Educational Leadership Simulation: Inclusive School Community
Dr. David De Jong    

The simulation in this presentation puts the participants in the shoes of an elementary principal faced with concerns about a lack of inclusiveness. The student body of your school used to be predominately white students, yet this has changed along with the shifting community demographics. It is now 50% Latino and serving a rapidly growing population of emergent bilingual students.

Trust me! How to plant the seeds of trust, transparency, and respect in you professional learning community or team
Dr. Theresa Pedersen

This session is designed to share a theoretical model for trust in collaboration, with practical tips to assess, address and achieve trust among the members of a team. The session will include case studies to apply these concepts, with tools teacher-leaders and administrators can take back to their buildings.

12:30 Lunch
1:15 - 2:05 p.m. Afternoon breakout 1
Breakout session options

Siouxland CAPS Program 
Cindy Prewitt, Grant Hegsted, Jill Harskamp, Jordan Menning and area administrators.

Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) programs are nationally recognized innovative high school programs. Students fast forward into their future and are fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real-world problems, using industry-standard tools and are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit. CAPS is an example of how business, community and public education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs.  Learn how Northwest AEA and area schools MOC-Floyd Valley, Sheldon and Sioux Center collaborated to bring this exciting program to our area students.

Planning for Impact
Dr. Dana Schon

You adjourn a meeting or professional learning experience and you wonder What just happened? You might even sense irritation among participants, and you feel frustrated, too. It’s certainly not what you had expected. How can you create the positive experience you want for others and yourself? In this session, engage in a 5 step structure for planning that capitalizes on the power of intention to get the emotional impact and results you want.

2:15 - 3:05 p.m.

Afternoon breakout 2

Breakout session options Dysfunctional PLCs: Avoiding the Mistakes that Kill Teacher Collaboration
Dr. Ken Hayes

Hattie’s (2016) research has found that Collective Teacher Efficacy has the highest influence related to student achievement. Many schools today have implemented PLCs for teachers to collaborate around instructional practices, student achievement, and instructional interventions. PLCs are designed to improve student achievement, yet, many are struggling to make a difference. Why is that? Often, it comes back to how PLCs are being used! This session will focus on Richard DuFour’s PLC model and reinforce best practices for PLC teams.

Supporting Beginning Teachers
Stephanie Gross

A beginning teacher's first year often resembles a rollercoaster, starting with a thrilling build to the first day and then hurtling through the remaining months with a flurry of activities, emotions, twists, and turns. Fortunately, new teacher expert Ellen Moir identified the common phrases of this rollercoaster: anticipation, survival, disillusionment, rejuvenation, and reflection. Come join with other mentors as we learn about each phase and discover strategies for supporting beginning teachers' as they navigate the classroom and prioritize self-care.

3:15 - 4:00 p.m.
Closing Keynote  

Leave Balance Behind and Find Your Fit
Dr. Dana Schon

Stressed out? Wiped out? Checked out? Unrealistic notions of work-life balance create feelings of guilt, frustration, and dissatisfaction. It’s time for a fresh perspective. We’ll delve into the reasons why work-life balance doesn’t work and explore a new paradigm that honors each person’s unique circumstances. Learn ways to refuel your energy and amplify your time resulting in increased satisfaction and joy. Bring your best you to all you do! 

4:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Graduate Credit Meeting
This brief meeting is for attendees who are earning 1 graduate credit with the conference. We will discuss steps to complete the credit requirements. 

   Sandy Groom-Meeks, Leadership in Education Presenter

Session: Workflow Widgets

Sandy Groom-Meeks
Technology Instructional Coach, MOC-Floyd Valley School District

Sandy Groom-Meeks is currently the Tech Instructional Coach and a member of the Computer Science is Elementary team for MOC-Floyd Valley.  Previously she was a tech director, BVU adjunct, and elementary/preschool teacher. She is passionate about integrating technology into the classroom and collaborating with teachers to enhance learning. She partnered with school librarians, obtaining grants, to create makerspace environments in three of the four buildings within the district. She has served on the Iowa Digital Learning Project, NCC Information Technology Advisory Committee, the NWAEA Advisory Committee and presented at various regional tech conferences. One of her goals is working to fund her love of books and gadgets which explains her Twitter handle, @GadgetBum.

   MIchelle Te Grootenhuis, Leadership in Education Conference speaker

Michelle Te Grootenhuis
Instructional Coach and Curriculum Specialist, MOC-Floyd Valley School District

Michelle Te Grootenhuis is currently an instructional coach and curriculum specialist at MOC-Floyd Valley CSD. In addition, she is a professional Development Instructor with the Northwest AEA and the owner and lead instructor for Teacher Voice PD, a professional development offering hybrid summer courses to area educators. She also teaches courses in Northwestern College’s online Master of Education program.

  Sara Straw, Leadership in Education speaker

Session: Systematic Approach to Data-Based Decisions

Sara Straw

PK-4 Instructional Coach/K-12 Curriculum

Sara Straw is a PK-4 Instructional Coach/ K-12 Curriculum with Emmetsburg Schools, for 6 years. She has also has taught 1st grade with Emmetsburg Schools for 3 years prior and other districts across the state including Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 4th grade. Along with coaching cycles she has worked with teachers/ teams at becoming better at analyzing data to make grade level decisions. She has presented at a C4K event in Des Moines and has collaborated with the Department of Ed on various committees with literacy and math.

   David De Jong, Leadership in Education speaker

Session: Educational Leadership Simulation: Inclusive School Community

 Dr. David De Jong

Chair of the Division of Educational Leadership, University of South Dakota

David De Jong, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of South Dakota. He teaches graduate online and hybrid courses and chairs doctoral dissertation committees. In the past few years, he was awarded the University of South Dakota School of Education Teaching in Excellence Award and the Research in Excellence Award. His research agenda includes 24 published peer-reviewed journal articles about educational leadership, innovations in PreK-12 education, mentoring, and innovations in technology for teaching in PreK-20 education. In August of 2021, he will begin service as the President of the International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership (ICPEL). His previous experience includes serving as a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent.

    Theresa Pedersen, Leadership in Education Conference speaker

Session: Trust Me! How to Plant the Seeds of Trust, Transparency, and Respect in Your Professional Learning Community or Team

Dr. Theresa Pedersen   

Assistant Professor of Special Education, Northwestern College

Dr. Theresa Pedersen is an experienced public school teacher and administrator who teaches in Northwestern's undergraduate and graduate education departments. After earning a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in special education, she was a special education, English, and inclusion teacher for the next 20 years. Her most recent position was working for the Department of Defense Education Activity in Germany serving military families. Pedersen also served two years as the principal of First Coast K-12 School in Jacksonville, Florida. Prior to joining Northwestern's faculty, she taught at Northern Illinois University, where she was the instructor of the year in the Department of Teaching and Learning. She has co-authored a book on co-teaching, as well as a handful of articles in peer-edited journals about special education topics. Her dissertation topic was trust and professional learning communities. Pedersen holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Loyola University of Chicago, a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in special education from Rockford University in Illinois, and Education Specialist and Doctor of Education degrees from Liberty University in Virginia.

  Kenneth Hayes, Leadership in Education speaker

Session: Dysfunctional PLCs: Avoiding the Mistakes That Kill Teacher Collaboration

Dr. Kenneth Hayes

Program Coordinator/Instructor, University of Northern Iowa

Kenneth Hayes, Ed.D. is the Program Coordinator and Instructor for the Principal Preparation Program at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Dr. Hayes has been in education for 29 years and has served 19 of those years as a secondary principal. Now as faculty at the University of Northern Iowa, he prepares educational leaders for principalship, leadership, and educational reform. Areas of interest include Educational leadership, teacher evaluation, culture and climate, mental health, organizational management, and mentoring. Dr. Hayes has presented for various conferences including the national conference for ASCD (mental health) and the Leadership Summit conference for Northwestern College (school leadership).

  Stefanie Gross, Leadership in Education Conference speaker

Session: Supporting Beginning Teachers

Stefanie Gross

District Instructional Coach, Harrisburg School District

Mrs. Stefanie Gross began her career at Harrisburg High School as a teacher of English and has served the students and staff there for the past 13 years. She worked alongside a small group of teachers to launch the Modular-Customized Learning program in 2013 and taught in the program for the following four years. She also served as Department Chair for two years, leading the English Department in their mission to align curriculum to Common Core Standards while simultaneously increasing student investment in the learning process. In the fall of 2017, Mrs. Gross transitioned into a role as an Instructional Coach for Harrisburg’s two middle schools and one high school, and her emphasis centers around mentoring first- and second-year teachers. A native of South Dakota, Mrs. Gross earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Secondary Education from the University of Sioux a Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership from Northwestern College.


Download Conference Program 

Conference Partnership  

The Leadership in Education Conference is offered by Northwestern College Graduate School & Adult Learning in partnership with Northwest AEA.