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Monday, October 25, 2021

Opening Keynote: 11:00 – 11:45 AM ET

Building a Brighter Tomorrow: Redesigning Education and Innovating Systems to Enable Each Child to Thrive

Secretary Cardona’s opening keynote will draw from his own experiences as a lifelong educator while creating a vision for the future of education with a specific focus on personalized learning, competency-based pathways, and innovations that seek to advance equity. This inspirational talk will share insights for future-focused district and school leaders, teachers, and other educators who are reimagining education and redesigning local systems to drive educational equity and excellence for all students. Incremental change is not enough. It is time to transform learning environments to give every student the personalized competency-based pathways, modern resources, and student-centered learning opportunities they need to succeed.

To advance equity, we must innovate, share promising practices, and work together to create the education system that all of our students deserve, a system where students are at the center. This is a moment in education to boldly address inequities in the system. This is our opportunity to ensure that we rethink, redesign, and reimagine how teaching and learning should be and engage students in co-designing their future. These new student-centered learning designs shift structures of ranking and sorting our youth, shift pedagogy to be active and engage student voice and choice differently, and shift culture to demand that students become powerful future makers with more agency, and adapt our systems to be more responsive and better than ever before.

Join this keynote to hear the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona’s call to action to lead transformation in education, to redesign toward highly personalized, competency-based learning systems that create equitable pathways for each child to thrive. Secretary Cardona will discuss the federal education priorities in place to advance innovations.

Secretary Cardona Portrait

Dr. Miguel Cardona, Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Dr. Miguel A. Cardona currently serves as the 12th Secretary of Education. Secretary Cardona is a lifelong resident of Meriden, Connecticut and is proud alumnus of Meriden Public School. Following his time in Meriden Public Schools, he attended CCSU for his bachelor’s degree and UCONN where he completed Master’s in Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Administrator Preparation Program, Doctorate in Education, and Executive Leadership Program (Superintendent) Certificate.

Since beginning his journey as an educator, Secretary Cardona has served as an elementary school teacher, school principal, the Performance and Evaluation lead administrator, Assistant Superintendent, and most recently Commissioner of Education for the State of Connecticut. Under Secretary Cardona’s oversight – despite the pandemic – Connecticut launched a statewide FAFSA Data Dashboard; procured a comprehensive statewide Special Education Data System (CT-SEDS); announced the State’s highest ever extended graduation rates for students with disabilities and English Learners; reached a new stipulated agreement in the landmark school integration case Sheff v. O’Neill, established the first national requirement for high schools to provide courses on Black and Latino studies; and initiated systemic improvement protocols that can reach every corner of the state. His focus on equity and excellence for all learners has driven his work at all levels.

His greatest source of pride, however, is his family. Secretary Cardona and his beautiful wife Marissa are the proud parents of two children.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Morning Keynote: 11:00-11:45 AM ET

Transforming Toward Equity-Centered, Whole-Child Personalized Learning

To achieve the transformation we need today, education systems must be willing to embrace and act on implementing the scientific research that describes how children learn and develop. The science of learning and development shows that building each child’s knowledge and skills —and, ultimately, expressing each student’s full potential—can be significantly influenced through powerful, personalized, culturally-affirming learning environments that focus on whole-child design. Today, insights from brain science align with what many parents want for their kids, and what many teachers have been saying for years: that we can create a system that recognizes all children as individuals, a system that values their assets and supports them to see a future where they can excel in myriad ways.

Although an education system should aim to give every student opportunities to learn and thrive, our current education system has not been designed to do that. It has not been designed to promote the equitable opportunities or outcomes that children and families deserve and that our democracy and society need now. Our system was designed for a different world and to a different purpose—to prepare students en masse for presumed places in society. In that world, it was believed that talent and skills were scarce, that averages were a measure of individuals, and racist beliefs and stereotypes shaped the system such that only some children were deemed worthy of and offered opportunity.

Join this keynote conversation to learn about transforming education systems toward equitable, whole-child personalized learning through five actionable design principles that can become the foundation for a new approach to education in your learning community (from the Design Principles for Schools: Putting the Science of Learning and Development Into Action playbook):

    1. Positive Developmental Relationships
    2. Environments Filled with Safety and Belonging
    3. Rich Learning Experiences and Knowledge Development
    4. Development of Skills, Habits, and Mindsets
    5. Integrated Support Systems

These design principles do not suggest a single design or model, but rather systemic change that supports equity for all students and the development of the full set of skills, competencies, and mindsets that young people need to live, have choice and voice and thrive.

Facilitator: Susan Patrick, President and CEO, Aurora Institute

Linda Darling Hammond head shot

Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO, Learning Policy Institute; Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus, Stanford University
Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and founding president of the Learning Policy Institute, created to provide high-quality research for policies that enable equitable and empowering education for each and every child. She is past president of the American Educational Research Association and author of more than 30 books and 600 other publications on educational quality and equity, including the award-winning book: The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future. In 2006, she was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy. She led the Obama education policy transition team in 2008 and the Biden education transition team in 2020. She was appointed President of the California State Board of Education in 2019.

Pamela Cantor, M.D., Founder & Senior Science Advisor, Turnaround for Children
Pamela Cantor, M.D. is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, author, and thought leader on human potential, the science of learning and development, and educational equity. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, she founded Turnaround for Children, which translates scientific insights into tools and services that help educators establish the conditions for all students to thrive. In two books published in 2021, Whole Child Development, Learning and Thriving: A Dynamic Systems Approach and The Science of Learning and Development, Dr. Cantor crystallizes key scientific concepts about how human potential and learning unfold so that anyone seeking to open pathways for learning and opportunity for young people can do so. Dr. Cantor is a governing partner of the Science of Learning and Development Alliance, focused on elevating the science of learning and development as an actionable drive of equity in education. She received an M.D. from Cornell University, a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Keynote: 11:00-11:45 AM ET

Former Students: Where Are They Now?

Each year at the Aurora Institute Symposium, youth take the stage for an unfiltered conversation about what’s working in personalized, competency-based design efforts and offer guidance to set a path for the future of teaching and learning. This year, we are inviting some of those former student panelists back to the stage for a glimpse into their lives and to understand how their student-centered educational experiences shaped who they are today. Join this keynote plenary to learn what has prepared them to be successful change makers in today’s world and how we might recreate those experiences for today’s youth.

Yvonne Armenta

Yvonne Armenta, Internal Communications Manager, Healthline Media
Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Yvonne is a Communications Specialist that is passionate about helping individuals find confidence through public speaking. She is a first-generation college graduate, having received her Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies from UC Berkeley and her Masters in Business Administration from San Jose State University.

Prior to her role as communications manager at Healthline Media, she was on the experimental marketing team at A2Z Media Group and on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion team at Uber Technologies.

In 2020, Yvonne began her platform on Instagram, Chats with Yvonne, to guide people towards mastering the art of public speaking, while also recognizing the vulnerability that comes with “perfecting” the art. Yvonne hopes to not only humanize the public speaking experience, but also help everyone gain the confidence she knows they can attain through her framework: Reflect. Connect. Share.

Loretta Goodwin

Loretta Goodwin, Chief Operating Officer, Aurora Institute
Loretta Goodwin joined the Aurora Institute as Chief Operating Officer in November 2020. In this role she leads the Aurora Institute staff; owns talent management and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI); aligns the work on the ground with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals; and supports the CEO and Board of Directors in crafting a new, long-range strategic plan.

Most recently, she was the Deputy Director at the American Youth Policy Forum, focused on promoting equitable education for all young people by providing professional learning opportunities to policymakers. She oversaw AYPF’s DEI efforts, as well as instituting innovative staff professional development. An educator at heart, she has worked consistently in the fields of education reform from her teaching days in her native South Africa to dissertation research for her doctorate on Soviet education reform. She currently also serves as adjunct faculty at the George Washington University’s School of Business, teaching a class on career management strategy.

Dr. Goodwin holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town, a Higher Diploma of Education from the University of Cape Town, master’s degrees from Wesleyan University and the University of Washington, in History and Political Science, and a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University.

Closing Keynote: 1:45-2:45 PM ET

The Time Is Now: Students Take the Driver’s Seat to Share Reflections on the Past to Inform Innovative, Student-Centered Education Transformation for the Future

We are at an inflection point. Ensuring student success requires a radical shift, one that prioritizes student-centered learning and students as agents. Join Jemar Lee — a young, nationally respected advocate for learner-centered education and an educational entrepreneur — in conversation with four high school students. Learn from the students’ experiences over the past 20 months, realizations from remote learning, and aspirations for the future of school that adequately meets their needs.