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Annual Meeting Keynoters

Learn more about our keynoters by clicking their names below

Mr. Darryl Willie

Dr. Craig Mertler

Dr. Jon Engelhardt

Robert J. Stevenson Panel Lecture

Mr. Darryl Willie

Darryl Willie is a dynamic education ambassador with experience from K-12 to higher education. He has worked in education for the past 20 years from the front lines as a classroom teacher in the Mississippi Delta; to education administrator in California at UC Berkeley to Executive Director of Teach For America in Jacksonville. Darryl is currently the Chair of the Duval County School Board in Jacksonville, Florida. He has served on the board for four years and has helped to secure monumental funding for the rebuilding of neighborhood schools, chaired the campaign for a successful teacher salary increase vote, and helped to lead the change of confederate school names in the county. Darryl has also been instrumental in the focus on recruitment of black male educators through the creation of “the ones” black male collective in Jacksonville. Darryl won re-election unopposed this year and will serve another four-year term through 2026. 

 Darryl's work has been centered on impacting communities of color, with an intentional focus on sustainable outcomes for students and young adults. In addition to his school board role, Darryl works as a non-profit leader and consultant in workforce development and education, developing community and business partnerships, managing strategic projects and accelerating and facilitating learning spaces across multiple cities and states. His work has not gone unnoticed as he was recognized as a Jacksonville Non-Profit Emerging leader, Leadership Jacksonville selection, School Board Partners National Fellow, Leadership Florida Education Class and Jacksonville Business Journal top 40 under 40.

Darryl is a highly sought public speaker, facilitator, and emcee and enjoys curating collaborative engaging spaces. Darryl brings his relevant, relatable, and refreshing content to audiences of all levels. Darryl also serves on several local boards and has served on advisory boards for university presidents at two institutions. His community involvement includes; Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation, Jacksonville Arts and Music School, Level the Playing Field, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and100 Black Men of Jacksonville.

 Darryl is a proud military brat and has lived in many states and overseas. He attended North Carolina State University where he was Student Body President and holds a Masters Degree in Higher Education from the University of Georgia…Go State and Go Dawgs! Darryl lives on the Northside of Jacksonville with his brilliant and beautiful wife and his 3 inquisitive daughters Angelina (8), Berkeley (6), and Cobie (5).

Dr. Craig Mertler

Craig A. Mertler, PhD is an Associate Professor in the EdD Program in Leadership & Innovation at Arizona State University and has been an educator for 37 years, 27 of those in higher education, and 12 as an administrator (department chair, doctoral program director, and education dean). He teaches courses focused on the application of action research to promote educator empowerment, school improvement, and job-embedded professional development, and also teaches quantitative research methods, statistical analyses, and educational assessment methods. He has served as the research methodology expert on more than 120 doctoral dissertations and master’s theses.

Dr. Mertler is the author of 9 textbooks (including four books on action research, as well as others on quantitative research methods, classroom assessment, and data-driven instructional decision making), 9 invited book chapters, 24 refereed journal articles, and 3 novels. He has presented more than 40 research papers at professional conferences and has delivered 25 keynote or other types of invited addresses. He has consulted with numerous schools, districts, and universities on context-specific and situated action research, and on the broad topic of classroom assessment. Since approximately 2005, much of Dr. Mertler’s work has centered on the notion of integrating action research (i.e., practitioner research) into PK-12 schools and higher education settings.  He has conducted numerous inservice training sessions on the action research process to school districts and IHEs in various states around the country.



Dr. Jon Engelhardt

Dr. Jon Engelhardt is Dean Emeritus of Baylor University’s School of Education, retiring in 2015 after 43 years in higher education. Dean Engelhardt received bachelors and masters degrees in elementary education from Arizona State University before earning a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Texas, Austin in 1972.

He began his professional education career as a middle school math teacher (Tempe, AZ) in the late 1960’s--when middle school was a “new idea”.  He later served as an Education professor at Arizona State University, where he served as a department chair and assistant dean for teacher preparation.

Since the mid-1980’s, Dr. Engelhardt has served as Education Dean at four universities—University of Texas at El Paso, Northern Arizona University, Wichita State University, and most recently Baylor University. Much of his university work as a dean has included redefining teacher education as a clinical enterprise and building partnerships between universities and public schools--focused especially on improving the effectiveness of both schools and educator preparation.

As Education Dean at UTEP, for example, he strengthened a site-based partnership with local school districts to upgrade preparation of emergency-certified teachers. At NAU he expanded an innovative site-based preservice teacher preparation partnerships across Arizona, including in more remote communities on the Mexican border and Native American reservations. And at WSU, he established a partnership with Boeing to retool down-sized aircraft engineers as future math and science teachers, as well as facilitated the creation of an innovative hybrid-delivery school leader development program for South Central Kansas.

At Baylor, he foreshadowed a wider university effort to create formal ranks and practice-focused expectations for clinical faculty, strengthened/expanded site-based teacher education partnerships with area school districts, and provided leadership for a cutting-edged practice doctorate (EdD) in educational leadership.  He also organized a strong Waco-area superintendent network, adopting a common K-12 education mission statement and collectively pursuing political advocacy with the Texas legislature. 

Dean Engelhardt was a major player in a broader community effort to support families and prepare students for success in Waco public schools (called the Education Alliance). He later served as co-chair (with a local superintendent) of the Education Steering Committee for a novel grass-roots community effort to jointly address issues of education, healthcare, and income security (i.e., poverty) in the Waco area.

Nationally, he has served in a variety of leadership roles, including helping found two professional/research organizations and serving on the executive boards of AACTE and NCATE (now CAEP). He was a founding board member of the Carnegie Project for the Education Doctorate). Specific to ATE, as a long-time member, he served at a pivotal time on ATE’s Special Task Force on Strategic Planning to Enhance Revenues and chaired the Fiscal Affairs Committee.

For his leadership, service, and accomplishments in a variety of areas, he has been recognized in Arizona with the Distinguished Administrator Award for Higher Education from the Arizona School Administrators Association, and with the Robert Howsam Award (2015) for lifetime achievement from his fellow Texas Education deans (TACTE).

Robert J. Stevenson Lecture Panel

Dr. Brandie Berry serves as a Director of K-12 Literacy in a large metropolitan school district. She leads the development and implementation of high-quality literacy  curricula and instruction. 

Easter Brown is an elementary assistant principal. As a culturally relevant leader, Brown focuses on providing professional learning opportunities centered around teachers' beliefs, reflection, and agency towards social justice change efforts. 

Dr. Rudy Jamison currently serves as the Director of the Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnic Relations and the Urban Education Scholars Program at the University of North Florida.

Caran Mullins (M.Ed.) is a classroom teacher with 9 years of experience teaching grades K-3. She facilitates teacher professional development and serves as a mentor teacher to teacher candidates.

Jennifer Shepard, a school district Professional Learning Director, cultivates collective efficacy through an intentional and integrated approach to meaningful learning by leveraging the expertise of multiple perspectives within the organization. 

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