Leadership in Education Conference
More details coming soon

Tuesday, October 22
8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Northwestern College 
Location: Christ Chapel

Cost: $95 | Group rate (6 or more): $80  
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.)

The 2024 Leadership in Education Conferences is one day and packed with actionable concepts for teaching and leading for the future with topics focusing on culture, communication, AI, and more. Take away fresh insight, practical strategies, and meaningful inspiration. 


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


Thomas C. Murray

Tom serves as the Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools®, a project of All4Ed, located in Washington, D.C. He has testified before the United States Congress and has worked alongside that body, the US Senate, the White House, the US Department of Education and state departments of education, corporations, and school districts throughout the country to implement student-centered learning while helping to lead Future Ready Schools® and Digital Learning Day. An ASCD best-selling author, Murray serves as a regular conference keynote, was named the "2018 National/Global EdTech Leader of the Year," by EdTech Digest, the "2017 Education Thought Leader of the Year," one of "20 to Watch" by NSBA in 2016, and the "Education Policy Person of the Year" by the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015. His best-selling book, Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today, co-authored with Eric Sheninger and published by ASCD, was released in June 2017. His most recent book, Personal & Authentic: Designing Learning Experiences that Impact a Lifetime, was released in October of 2019.

Prior to moving to his role in Washington, D.C., Murray served as an elementary teacher, middle school teacher, middle school principal, elementary principal, and at the district level in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is most passionate about creating cultures of innovation where teachers are empowered to create the types of learning experiences today's modern learners need to thrive. In addition to his role at Future Ready Schools®, Murray works directly with school and district leaders for administrative retreats, opening convocations, and professional learning days.


To listen to our conversation with Tom, check out our Transforming Education podcast episode Leadership Lessons with Thomas Murray. In the episode, Gary and Tom dive into creating a desired workplace and school culture and how the mindset and actions of the adults in the building are impacting that culture.


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


  • Tools to assist collaborative teams in their work 
  • Making moments count
  • Leadership and living your values
  • Building skills for listening, questions and giving feedback

View campus map |  Download of conference program and notes coming soon

8:00 - 8:20 a.m. Check-in | Christ Chapel
8:20 a.m. Welcome and announcements 
8:30 a.m. Keynote address
Christ Chapel

Creating a Culture of Excellence 
Thomas C. Murray, Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools 

The past few years have brought uncertainty at every turn, creating significant anxiety and a loss of sleep for all educators, regardless of position. As we work to innovate and transform the learning experience, how can we create a culture of excellence where both students and staff can not only survive, but thrive? How can we work to overcome fear and fail forward when things don't go as planned? How can we be intentionally about seeking joy each day? Grounded in relationships, cultures of excellence respect the hidden stories within each individual and are learner-centered by design. Regardless of what happens outside our school walls, together we can work to create meaningful opportunities for those we serve when we hyper-focus on the things that matter most. The work is hard, but our kids are worth it! 

9:45 a.m. Break
10:00 - 10:45 a.m.  Breakout #1
Choose your breakout session:

Administrator Track  |  Christ Chapel 
Leveraging the Art of Communication to Foster a Culture of Excellence
Thomas C. Murray 

The quality of your communication will make or break the quality of much of your work. If we’re honest with ourselves, we may recognize that we often unintentionally create our own culture issues due to the way in which we communicate. From working alongside your colleagues to collaborating with the community, the best educators are great communicators. Join Thomas C. Murray for this fun, engaging session to lean into the importance of communication, and leave with practical ideas that you can use to take your communication to the next level to help foster a culture of excellence! 

Teacher Leader Track  |  Vogel Community Room  |  DeWitt Learning Commons
Empowering Educators Through Data-Driven Conversations 

Adam Boone, MTSS Instructional Coach, MOC-Floyd Valley 

Explore strategies to help educators harness the power of data to inform their instructional decisions. Learn how to engage teachers in meaningful conversations around data analysis and interpretation, ultimately leading to improved student outcomes and instructional effectiveness. 

11:00 - 11:45 a.m.   

Breakout #2
Choose your breakout session: 

Administrator Track  |  Christ Chapel 
AI Antics for Administrators: Beyond Emails and Recommendations 
Sandy Groom-Meeks, Technology Integration Specialist, MOC-Floyd Valley

Welcome to the future of school administration where AI does more than just craft recommendations and send those never-ending emails. Picture this: an AI that plans events, narrows your resume searches, and helps you navigate crucial conversations. In this session, I’ll reveal AI tools that tackle tedious tasks, giving you more time for, well, anything else. Plus, you’ll learn how to craft prompts to get the outcome you seek. If you think you know AI, think again – it's time to make it work harder so you don't have to. Join me for laughs, learning, and a glimpse into a smoother, smarter administrative life.

Teacher Leader Track  |  Vogel Community Room  |  DeWitt Learning Commons
Elevating Education: Exploring Diverse Coaching Models
Megan Rasmussen, Kayla Jacobson, Molly Leiting, Algona School District

In education, instructional coaching is pivotal for professional growth and student success. Drawing inspiration from renowned experts like Jim Knight, Diane Sweeney, and the principles of Student-Centered Coaching and Cognitive Coaching, please join the Algona Instructional Coaches as we discuss three ways we approach coaching in our district. Additionally, Superintendent Mr. Joe Carter will highlight the critical role of instructional coaching in driving progress and excellence within our district. These coaching frameworks cultivate continuous learning and improvement, enabling educators to refine their teaching practices and ultimately enhance student outcomes.

11:50 a.m.  Vermeer Dining Room 
12:45 - 1:30 p.m.  Breakout #3
Choose your breakout session:

Administrator Track  |  Christ Chapel
Fostering a Culture of Collaborative Leadership Among Teachers
Abby Vande Kieft, Blake Wieking, Adam Boone, Chris Yaw, MOC-Floyd Valley School District

Discover how collaborative teacher efficacy, distributive leadership, and fidelity in practice can transform your school's culture. Walk away with actionable strategies to promote shared leadership, enhance collaboration, and ensure fidelity in implementing best practices for student success.

Teacher Leader Track  |  Vogel Community Room  |  DeWitt Learning Commons
Demystifying Dyslexia: Equipping Educators with Knowledge and Strategies for Every Student 

Emily Koson, Literacy Consultant, Northwest Area Education Agency

Join us for a session focused on debunking common myths surrounding dyslexia and their implications for educators. While we unravel misconceptions about dyslexia, we will shed light on its true nature and impact on students' learning experiences. We'll explore how strategies tailored to support students with dyslexia can be beneficial for all learners in the classroom. Don't miss this opportunity to challenge misconceptions, gain practical strategies, resources, and empower yourself to make a meaningful difference in the lives of all students and families. You’ll end the session wanting to learn even more about dyslexia!

1:30 p.m. Break
1:45 - 2:30 p.m. Breakout #4
Choose your breakout session:

Administrator Track  |  Christ Chapel
Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work 
Dr. Erica Vonk, Associate Professor of Business, Northwestern College
Director, Center for Innovation and Leadership

Based on the best-selling book by Todd F. Davis, you will see that an organization’s greatest asset isn’t only its people; rather, it’s the relationships between its people that is the greatest predictor of personal and professional effectiveness. Employees’ ability to build and sustain great relationships is an organization’s ultimate competitive advantage.  In this session, we will review each practice and provide practical takeaway handouts for you to continue to develop your skillsets in each practice area.

Teacher Leader Track  |  Vogel Community Room  |  DeWitt Learning Commons
AI for Educators: Bots, Boundaries, & Bright Ideas 
Sandy Groom-Meeks, Technology Integration Specialist, MOC-Floyd Valley

Dive into the delightful bedlam of AI in the classroom. We'll cover the essentials: using AI ethically, setting classroom expectations (for both students and sneaky AI), and leveraging productivity tools that make teacher tasks easier. Plus, learn how to craft assignments that make students reflect on their AI usage without letting the bots steal the spotlight—or their voice. You'll leave with strategies that make AI your helpful sidekick, not the star of the show. Let's make AI work for you, not the other way around.

2:30 p.m. Break
2:40 - 3:25 p.m. Endnote
Christ Chapel

Leadership and Education
Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg

3:25 p.m. Closing    


Megan Rasmussen
Instructional Coach, Algona School District

Session: Elevating Education: Exploring Diverse Coaching Models 

Megan Rasmussen is a knowledgeable educator with 13 years of experience. She has been an instructional coach for nine years with the Algona School District. She has taught middle school science and STEM for 12 years at Algona Middle School and previously served as a science teacher and technology integrationist at Clear Lake Middle School. Megan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M at Galveston and a masters from Iowa State University.


Kayla Jacobson
Instructional Coach, Algona High School

Session: Elevating Education: Exploring Diverse Coaching Models

Kayla Jacobson brings over a decade of experience to her role as instructional coach at Algona High School, where she has supported teachers for the past 4 years. Prior to coaching, she taught social studies at both Manson Northwest Webster for four years and Algona High School for seven years. With a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Grand View University and a master’s in teacher leadership from Upper Iowa University.


Molly Leiting
Instructional Coach, Lucia Wallace Elementary 

Session: Elevating Education: Exploring Diverse Coaching Models

Molli Leiting is an elementary instructional coach at Lucia Wallace Elementary in the Algona School District, providing support for educators for the past nine years. Prior to this position, she taught in a self-contained 5th grade classroom for two years as well as 6th grade math for five years. Molli holds a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Central College and a master’s in teaching, learning, and leadership from Southwest Minnesota State University. Along with her duties as an instructional coach, Molli also serves as the elementary MTSS coordinator for the Algona School District.



Sandy Groom-Meeks
Technology Integration Specialist, MOC-Floyd Valley  

Sessions: AI for Educators: Bots, Boundaries, and Bright Ideas  |  AI Antics for Administrators: Beyond Emails and Recommendations

Sandy is a tech integration consultant based in Northwest Iowa with over 30 years of experience in public school technology. She has served as a tech instructional coach, tech director, and university adjunct. Sandy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood and elementary education and a Master’s in technology based learning. Sandy is passionate about integrating technology into the classroom and collaborating with teachers and administrators to enhance learning. She has partnered with schools to establish district AI policy, develop standards aligned elementary computer science curricula, secure STEM grants, and organize innovative makerspace environments. Sandy’s commitment to educational technology extends beyond the classroom as she has actively participated in organizations such as the Iowa Digital Learning Project, NCC Information Technology Advisory Committee, the NWAEA Advisory Committee, and speaker at various regional tech conferences and summits.


Emily Koson
Literacy Consultant, Northwest Area Education Agency

Session: Demystifying Dyslexia: Equipping Educators with Knowledge and Strategies for Every Student



Abby Vande Kieft
7th Grade Science and 6-8th Grade Curriculum Team Leader, MOC-Floyd Valley

Session: Collaborating the Empower Staff and Students and Build Positive Culture

In her 15 years of experience, Abby Vande Kieft has served in various roles at the MOC-Floyd Valley Middle School and is in her 12th year of teaching 7th grade science. Abby is also currently serving as the 6-12 science curriculum leader, is a member of the PBIS team, Leader in Me Lighthouse Coordinator, the representative for the district School Improvement Advisory Committee, and a cooperating mentor teacher. Abby received her bachelor's in animal science from South Dakota State University and 5-12 biology teaching endorsement from Morningside College. In the classroom, Abby enjoys the adventures of teaching middle school students through inquiry and hands-on exploration of the world around them. As a teacher leader, Abby is passionate about working together with her colleagues and students to make middle school an exciting time to learn and grow as a young adult and future leader. 

Adam Boone
MTSS Instructional Coach, MOC-Floyd Valley

Sessions: Collaborating to Empower Staff and Students and Build Positive Culture  |  Empowering Educators Through Data-Driven Conversations 

Adam Boone has been at MOC-Floyd Valley for four years and is in his third year serving as the Middle School MTSS instructional coach. He taught 8th grade reading for 11 years and during that time has served on the AIW team, building leadership team, BIS team, and been an 8th grade team leader. Adam brings 20 years of teaching experience in the areas of literacy, mathematics, and school guidance and counseling. His bachelor's in elementary education with reading and middle school endorsements from Northwestern College. He furthered his education by receiving his master's in school guidance and counseling from Buena Vista University. Adam has a passion for instructional strategies and using data to inform instructional decision making.  

Blake Wieking 
7th Grade Social Studies, MOC-Floyd Valley 

Session: Collaborating to Empower Staff and Students and Build Positive Culture

Blake Wieking is a 7th grad social studies teacher at MOC-Floyd Valley where he has taught for the last 11 years. While teaching at MOC-FV, he has worked closely with colleagues and school leaders to help coordinate and implement PBIS and Leader in Me curriculum and activities. In addition to teaching, he also coaches middle school basketball and high school soccer. He has earned his bachelor's, master's in teacher leadership, and principal endorsement all from Northwestern College.  

Chris Yaw
Middle School Principal, MOC-Floyd Valley 

Session: Collaborating to Empower Staff and Students and Build Positive Culture

Chris Yaw has a diverse background in education and leadership of 30 years. Chris has experience teaching middle school and high school math, college undergraduate courses in primary and secondary education, and graduate courses in principal preparation. He recently completed his second year as MOC-FV Middle School principal. He also spent two years as a middle school principal at Spencer Community Schools. Additionally, Chris spent 10 years as the head coach of the Northwestern College Women’s Basketball program. Chris received his undergraduate degree with a major in biology, a minor in mathematics, and a certificate in secondary education from Northwestern College in Orange City, IA. His master’s degree in administration is from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, IA.


Erica Vonk
Associate Professor of Business, Northwestern College
Director, Center for Innovation and Leadership

Session: Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work

Passionate about seeing rural communities thrive and leaders reach their full potential, Dr. Erica Vonk is a Siouxland native who believes life is full of opportunities. She looks forward to contributing to Northwestern College’s vision to be the leading Christian college focused on student success and Christ-centered work for the common good through her work as the Center for Innovation & Leadership’s director.

A Northwestern business professor since 2015, she played a role in developing the college’s interdisciplinary entrepreneurship minor and has connected students with Siouxland organizations through her courses in leadership, organizational behavior and entrepreneurship. She also has experience in agricultural finance and management as well as economic and community development. Her community contributions have included serving as a foster parent, a member of her church’s leadership team, and a board member and volunteer with the Seahawks Swim Team.

A Northwestern College graduate, Vonk holds an M.B.A. from the University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. in organizational leadership from Concordia University Chicago.