CUBE Annual Conference

September 24-26, 2020 | Houston, Texas

Mawi Asgedom

Mawi Asgedom

Founder of Mawi Learning & bestselling author

Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos

Actor, director and passionate community activist

The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference is designed to foster effective school district leadership through practical clinic sessions and inspirational keynote addresses. CUBE has convened school board members from across the nation for the past 52 years to network and share the continually evolving strategies they are using to address the unique educational challenges that exist in our nation's urban centers.

Join us in Houston, Texas from September 24-26, 2020 for our premier annual event, curated specifically to give you the tools and support you need to effect change as an empowered, impactful urban school board member.

Conference Registration Fees

$550 – CUBE Participants, National Connection Participants, and State Association Staff
$650 – Non-CUBE District Member
$250 – Special Events Guests (Welcome Reception and Awards Gala ONLY)
$700 – On-site Registration


Schedule-At-A-Glance (Details Below)

3 - 6 p.m. Registration 

7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Registration 
9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.  Pre-Conference: CSS School Safety Summit 

7:30 - 8:45 a.m. Welcome Breakfast
8:30 - Noon  Site Visits
9 - 10:15 a.m.  Concurrent Sessions
10:30 - 11:45 a.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
Noon - 1:30 p.m.  State of Urban Education Luncheon 
1:45 - 3 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
3 - 3:15 p.m.  Coffee Break 
3:15 - 4:30 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
6 - 8 p.m.  CUBE Welcome & Networking Opportunity Sponsored by BoardDocs 

7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Registration 
7:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.  Networking Breakfast 
9 - 10:15 a.m.  Morning Plenary with Mawi Asgedom 
10:30 - 11:45 a.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
Noon - 1:30 p.m.  Luncheon
1:45 - 3 p.m.  Concurrent Sessions 
3 - 3:15 p.m.  Coffee Break 
3:15 - 5 p.m.  Stories from the Field 
6 - 10:30 p.m.  Boots and Ballgowns Awards Evening 

10 a.m. - Noon Brunch with keynote speaker Edward James Olmos

Session Descriptions

  • Thursday

    9 - 10:15 a.m.

    Equity and Access: Success for All
    Learn how Meriden Public Schools, an urban Connecticut district, leveled the playing field and ensured equity and access with its Success for All campaign, which earned the district a 2020 Magna Award. Attendees will know how Meriden increased equitable opportunities by providing students greater voice and choice. Participants will understand how Meriden’s board policies, practices, curriculum, and instructional strategies changed to support equity and college and career readiness. Participants will be able to reflect and incorporate new strategies into their equity action plans.

    Mark Benigni, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools, Meriden Public Schools
    Robert Kosienski, Jr., President Meriden Board of Education, Meriden Public Schools
    Barbara Haeffner, Director of Teaching and Innovation, Meriden Public Schools
    Dana Fudge, School Counseling Director, Maloney High School, Meriden Public Schools
    James Flynn, Assistant Principal, Maloney High School, Meriden Public Schools

    From an “F” School to a Place Where All Students Thrive
    How can districts unlock the potential of struggling schools and get rapid, equitable, lasting results for all students? Moseley Elementary School—in the fully Title I district of Putnam County—was the fifth-lowest performing traditional public school in Florida. In just two years, Moseley made remarkable improvements in student achievement and behavior. Learn how school boards can take an active role in school turnaround with a new school improvement model, a bold vision, and high expectations.

    Jonathan Hinke, Director of School Improvement, Putnam County School District
    Sandra Gilyard, School Board Member, Board Chair, Putnam County School District
    Michael Toth, Founder and CEO of LSI; leader of LSI’s Applied Research Center, Learning Sciences International

    Male Educator Network of PGCPS
    The Male Educators Network (MEN) of Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland was founded in 2013 with the mission to increase the recruitment and retention of male educators in the school system to ensure the make-up of educators reflected that of the district. Since 2013, PGCPS has had the highest number and percentage of male educators in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

    Curtis Valentine, At-Large Member, Prince Georges Public School Board
    Victorious Hall, Academic Dean, Oxon Hill Middle School
    Albert Lewis, Assistant Principal, Largo High School

    Workforce Impact: Ready to Work
    This session will discuss an approach for making high school graduates ready for work after high school. It is important that school districts prepare all students for college, career, and military readiness. Since students deserve choices, an effective curricula and industry certification programs offered for all students are a must. These students will receive current and relevant skills that will guarantee passing of all certification tests. In addition, industry partners support will be explained.

    Linda Griffin, School Board Trustee, Garland ISD

    Discipline Policies that Helps Prevent Bias Towards Children of Color
    This session will show the importance of developing a discipline policy that will help to eliminate implicit bias that impacts students of color and identify specific student needs that are impeding on their educational success. It will reveal the importance of school leaders examining their own discipline data and practices towards children of color.

    Khem Irby, School Board Member, Guilford County Schools
    Deena Hayes-Greene, School Board Member, Guilford County Schools
    Winston McGregor , School Board Member, Guilford County Schools
    Sharon Contreras, Superintendent, Guilford County Schools

    10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

    Excellent Superintendent/Board of Education Relationships
    For nine years, the Prairie-Hills District 144 superintendent and the board have worked with the staff, parents, students, and community members to standardize the practice of excellence. The district has raised test scores consistently. It has overcome budget deficits to balance the budget. It has written competitive grants, built and remodeled new facilities, incorporated STEM and STEAM programs throughout the district. Presenters will identify systemic goals to change the culture of their district, improve their communication, and increase student achievement.

    Dr. Kimako Patterson, Superintendent, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Julia Veazey, Assistant Superintendent, Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144
    Sharron Davis, Board President, Prairie-Hills D144
    Joyce Dickerson, Board Vice President, Prairie-Hills D144
    Juanita Jordan, Board Member, PHESD 144

    Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Policy & Protocol
    This presentation will highlight the efforts of the Atlanta Public School district to develop Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking policies and a protocol where teachers are being educated about warning signs and risk factors so that they can identify and respond early.

    Erika Mitchell, Board Member, Atlanta Board of Education
    Sharnell Myles, Psy.D., LPC, JoyUs Beginnings Child & Family Wellness Center and The Trauma Resource Institute, LLC

    Has Your District Taken an Equity Detour?
    Examine Paul Gorski's four racial equity detours and five equity principles that can help school board members and administrators trade in the illusion of progress for a truly transformational racial equity approach.

    Mary Fertakis, CEO, M Fertakis Consulting LLC
    Kay Douglas, Senior Consultant, Texas Association of School Boards

    For the Kulture: Creating an inclusive environment where students find their voice in order to take ownership of their individual story
    This workshop focuses on the societal and environmental issues and childhood trauma that teachers and administrators in urban school districts face daily: understanding how to effectively engage students in urban classrooms and beyond through culturally responsive educational practices (academic, character education, and therapy). This workshop introduces specific strategies and research-based practices to effectively engage all students to include an applied studies theory of practice that creates resiliency.

    Dr. Jaclyn Walker, Program Specialist, Portsmouth Public Schools
    Dr. Velvet Smith, Program Specialist, Portsmouth Public Schools Lakeesha Atkinson, School Board Member, Portsmouth Public Schools

    Moving from equitable to anti-racist policymaking
    Over the past few decades, education leaders worked hard to move from equal to equitable outcomes for children. While this work has been important, there is another step that we must take to ensure that all children are educated well. Our education system was founded on the principles of racism. It is incumbent upon us to move beyond equity and to anti-racist policy-making. This session will address policy-making through an anti-racist lens.

    Ethan Ashley, School Board Member, New Orleans Parish Board
    Carrie Douglass, Co-Chair, School Board, Bend-La Pine Schools, Administrative District #1
    Jasmine Bowles, School Board Member, Clayton County Public Schools

    1:45 - 3 p.m.

    Fostering Community Involvement with Capital Improvements Improvement
    This presentation will highlight different communication methods to gain community input and support for long-range, high-cost capital improvement projects.

    Brandon Ewing, School Board President, Waukegan Public School District 60
    LeBaron Moten, Chief Operations Officer, Waukegan Public Schools District 60
    Gwendolyn Polk, Associate Superintendent of Business and Finance, Waukegan Public Schools District 60

    Equity in Action: Building a Culture of STEAM
    Are you preparing students for the hottest and highest paying STEAM job market where black and Latinos make up only 4 percent of the workforce? Learn how Compton Unified is closing the opportunity gap by building a pipeline of students preK-12 who are prepared for STEAM majors and career opportunities. Engage in an equity-driven process to build a STEAM culture, develop STEAM learning pathways for engagement, and raise parents’ awareness through community events.

    Michele Dawson, Sr.Director Instructional Tech and Innovation, Compton Unified
    Darin Brawley, Superintendent, Compton Unified
    Micah Ali, School Board President, Compton U

    Success for all students with personalized competency-based learning K-12
    Take down the traditional approach to teaching and learning to support student with personalized learning eco-system. In this student-centered approach, the Wilder School District revolutionized the importance of soft-skills to support competency-based learning. Students discover how to learn and and how to to empower that learning. This model exhibits the 16 Habits of Mind, ownership of learning, no grade levels, no bells to move students from content to content, and powerful teaching and mentoring practices.

    Jeff Dillon, Superintendent, Wilder School District

    National Update on the Teacher Shortage and Vision Planning for the Future
    Join Kelly Coash-Johnson as she shares what AASPA has been tracking with regards to the national teacher shortage. Learn what is going on in some key states, the good and the bad. Coash-Johnson will share some key strategies districts and K-12 human resources teams can use to improve their recruitment and retention. Learn how to develop your own HR vision statement and use it to reach a more diverse audience.

    Kelly Coash-Johnson, Exec Director, American Association of School Personnel Administrators

    A New Way Forward: Aldine ISD's customized social and emotional learning philosophy and approach
    Students are more likely to attend school regularly and have fewer discipline issues at schools that are safe and welcoming. While many Aldine ISD campuses can be described this way, it was important to develop a districtwide approach to creating learning environments that focus on the safety, social, emotional, and cultural needs of every student. Participants will walk away understanding how one of Texas’ largest districts is making social and emotional learning a priority.

    Katy Roede, Chief of Schools, Aldine Independent School District
    Lorenzo Moore, Director, Social and Emotional Learning, Aldine Independent School District
    Viola Garcia, Aldine ISD Board Trustee, Aldine Independent School District

    3:15 - 4:30 p.m.

    ALL IN: Equity and Accountability Framework
    While data show that many students in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools achieve at high levels, not all have had access, opportunities, and resources needed to meet their full potential. Learn how the All In: Equity and Achievement Framework, which earned the district a 2020 Magna Award, uses multiple measures as the basis for equity accountability school reporting. This information creates the conditions necessary for achieving equity by examining how well resources are used across-district and within-schools to ensure higher achievement for all.

    Jack Smith, Superintendent, Montgomery County PS
    Shebra Evans, President, Board of Education, Montgomery County Schools
    Patricia O'Neil, Vice President, Board of Education, Montgomery County Schools
    Janet Wilson, Associate Superintendent - Office of Shared Accountability, Montgomery County Schools

    My Brother’s Keeper: Fraternity-Based Approach to Male Socialization
    This workshop demonstrates an interactive curriculum-based system that educators can use to help young men of color understand themselves, keep them engaged in lifelong learning, and allow them to express their gifts and talents in a positive way. Through active engagement, presenters share lessons learned in implementing a fraternity-based approach to the MBK initiative and break down the key components including: MBK Chapter, MBK Protocol, Standard Operating Procedures, and Community Building and entrepreneurship.

    Rickie Clark, Executive Director, My Brother’s Keeper, Fort Worth ISD
    Amon Rashidi, Deputy Director, My Brother’s Keeper, Fort Worth ISD
    Jacinto Ramos, Jr., School Board President, Fort Worth Independent School District Robert Nelson, CEO, Youth Enterprise

    Reimagine Minnesota
    Reimagine Minnesota - How 40 school districts worked together with students, parents, and the community to create A Collective Education Roadmap for Action: A commitment to create lasting equity and excellence in education for all students.

    John Schultz, Superintendent, Edina Public Schools
    Ed Graf, Superintendent, Minneapolis Public Schools

    Student Advocacy and Leadership
    Are you looking for a way to increase the leadership skills of your students? Does your board of education desire a meaningful way to add shared governance with students to its decision-making process? Thornton Township High School District 205 may have an answer to those questions. This workshop explores student leadership and shared governance in public education and how it can lead to closing the achievement gap and prepare students for college and careers.

    Ray Banks, Board of Education Member, Thornton Township High School District 205
    Sonja Bradley, Student Board of Education President, Thornton Township High School District 205
    Kayode Adebogun, Student Board of Education Member, Thornton Township High School District 205

    Charting a Pathway to Greatness: Board-Superintendent Partnership to Establish a Foundation for Equity
    With a commitment to equity, the OKCPS governance team began in 2017 to lead the district through a historic realignment of facilities, closing 15 campuses and restructuring nearly every school. This process, the Pathway to Greatness, was a community-wide effort and a necessary foundation for equity-based investments. OKCPS will share the guiding principles for success despite leadership transition and next steps, as well as challenges and critical considerations for other districts facing similar hard choices.

    Rebecca Kaye, Chief of Equity and Accountability, Oklahoma City Public Schools
    Ruth Veales, Board Member, Oklahoma City Public Schools
    Sean McDaniel, Superintendent, Oklahoma City Public Schools

  • Friday

    9 - 10:15 a.m.

    Morning Plenary with Mawi Asgedom
    Mawi Asgedom is the founder of Mawi Learning, an organization that helps educators and students apply evidence-based Social Emotional Learning. A former refugee from Ethiopia, Asgedom is a bestselling author and a graduate of Harvard University. Mawi Learning has trained over one million students and educators through its live, online, and blended SEL programs. Mawi Learning is now a unit of ACT, a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success.

    10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

    Promotion and Retention: Transitioning from “Learning to Read” to “Reading to Learn”
    The 3rd Grade Commitment is a collaborative effort between schools, parents, and the community toward ensuring we work together to best help students reach reading readiness before the third grade. If students are not reading on grade level when they reach third grade, half of the curriculum they will be taught for the remainder of their school years will be incomprehensible. This session will break down the strategy and how to gain stakeholder support.

    Miska Clay Bibbs, Chair, Shelby County Board of Education
    Joris Ray, Superintendent, Shelby County Schools

    Establishing a School District Focused on "Relationships"
    Relationships Matters! Research suggests, for students to reach their full potential, they must be able to connect with an adult who cares about their needs. School districts across America experience access gaps, equity gaps, and achievement gaps. The key factor to fill these gaps is establishing positive relationships. The goal of this session is to provide systemic strategies that will improve relationships-building in a school district with its most important stakeholder.

    William Blake, Director, Social Emotional Learning, District of Columbia Schools

    Equity Starts at the Top!
    As we see the needs of students and communities change, much discussion regarding equity centers on programs and initiatives. However, for districts to be successful in their pursuit of equity, they must first embrace the concept of equity at the board level. Attendees will define school board equity, and learn how to create school board policy about equity and how to apply this to the ever-changing needs of students, staff, and communities.

    Nakia Hall, Leadership Consultant, Executive Order Leadership Firm
    Tamara Young, School Board Member, Country Club Hills School District 160

    An Innovative Solution: Leading the Movement from At-Risk to Opportunity
    Wichita Public Schools implemented an innovative Opportunity Teacher Leader Academy that was founded to provide rigorous leadership training for teacher leaders to serve as an integral part of the school turnaround process. With the support of graduate-level instruction and a close community culture, its staff has shown great gains in their leadership abilities and are making positive change. Presenters will share with you how to establish your own Opportunity Teacher Leader Academy leaders to serve as an integral part of the school turnaround process. With the support of graduate-level instruction and a close community culture, staff has shown great gains in their leadership abilities and are making positive change.


    Ben Reed, Instructional Support Specialist, Wichita Public Schools
    Sheril Logan, Board of Education President, Wichita Public Schools
    Alicia Thompson, Superintendent, Wichita Public Schools
    Terrell Davis, Executive Director of Public Affairs and Special Projects, Wichita Public Schools
    Phyllis Cottner, Magnet Instructional Support Specialist, Wichita Public Schools

    1:45 - 3 p.m.

    Equity or Inclusion? It All Begins with Releasing Cultural Biases
    Many districts are focusing on the initiatives of equity, inclusion, and/or both. However, if the members of these districts do not first begin with confronting and dispelling their individual biases, specifically cultural, their effectiveness will be limited.

    Ty G Jones, Board Member, Lancaster ISD
    Dawn Miller, Board Member, Cedar Hill ISD

    Equity in Gifted and Talented Identification Pilot
    Learn how Aurora Public Schools addressing under-identification and under-representation in its Gifted and Talented (GT) program. With a strong focus on equity, the district has increased the GT representation of students of color by 17 percentage points in just one year. The pilot also increased GT English Language Learner representation by 10 percentage points. In addition, 17 percent of the students who were identified using local norms ended up qualifying under national norms.


    Rico Munn, Superintendent, Aurora Public Schools
    Carol Dallas, Coordinator of Gifted Education, Aurora Public Schools

    How Effective Board of Education Members and School District Leaders Implement Equity-Minded Leadership Practices for Continuous Improvement in Student Achievement
    In order for school districts to experience a significant increase in student performance, it is imperative that officials develop the cultural competencies needed to better ensure that they experience success in school and ultimately in life.

    This session seeks to assist participants in learning how to intentionally design processes relevant to planning for and implementing plans for improving student learning by developing equity-minded policies and implementing culturally responsive leadership at all levels of the system.

    Sonya Whitaker, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, Dolton Riverdale School District 148
    Kevin Nohelty, Superintendent of Schools, Dolton Riverdale School District 148
    Larry Lawrence, Board of Education President , Dolton Riverdale School District 148
    Andrea Johnson, Board of Education Member, Dolton Riverdale School District 148

    Dismantling Institutional Racism in a Large Urban School District
    Fort Worth Independent School District is committed to interrupting institutional racism and interrogating the role race plays in decisions made and the expectations held for students of color. Attendees will gain an understanding of the role the Equity and Excellence Division plays to engage, sustain, and deepen conversations about race. Participants will be introduced to the tools used in FWISD to measure the impact of professional learning on changing the beliefs that drive behaviors and outcomes.

    Sherry Breed, Chief, Division of Equity & Excellence, Fort Worth Independent School District+E27
    Dorene Benavidez, Executive Director, Division of Equity & Excellence, Fort Worth Independent School District
    Ashley Paz, Board Trustee, Fort Worth Independent School District
    Quinton Phillips, Board Trustee, Fort Worth Independent School District


Pre-Conference CSS School Safety Summity

NSBA’s Center for Safe Schools (CSS) will be hosting a one-day School Safety Summit as a pre-conference event for CUBE 53rd Annual Conference. The inaugural summit will be held on Sept. 23, in Houston, Texas. It will feature expert speakers focused on addressing critical issues schools are facing along with best practices and effective strategies aligned to the four key focus areas of the Center:

  • Infrastructure
  • Crisis and Emergency Management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Whole Child Health

Site Visits

Participants may register to visit one of the following two sites:

Dr. Archie L. Blanson Career and Technical Education High School
Blanson CTE is a career-centered high school with 17 programs of study ranging from machining and distribution and logistics to health professions and animation technology. At Blanson, students can graduate with an industry-recognized certification/licensure, workforce certificate, and/or college credits towards an associate degree. The career-focused curriculum and programs prepares students with the 21st century skills necessary to be competitive in the global workforce.

Rose M. Avalos P-TECH Early College High School
At Rose M. Avalos P-TECH School, students earn a high school diploma, an associate degree, and work credentials, including certifications and licenses. Students can engage in work-based education at every grade level, such as internships, apprenticeships, or other forms of job training programs, providing them a seamless path from high school to post-secondary education and/or to employment.