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2024 SSTAGE Fall Conference


2024 SSTAGE Fall Conference

September 11, 2024Anderson Conference Center, Macon, GA8:30am – 4:00pm

MTSS–Academics, Behavior, & Wellbeing:

Improving WHOLE CHILD Outcomes Through PBIS, THE SCIENCE OF INSTRUCTION, & the Science of Reading


Dr. Gene Kerns

(Author of Literacy Reframed/Thought Leader/VP & Chief Academic Officer-Renaissance Learning)

Dr. Amanda VanDerHeyden

(Policy Advisor/Thought Leader/Active Researcher Focused on Learning Outcomes/Developer of Models of Academic Screening/Active Researcher of Innovative Mathematics Screening & Progress Monitoring/Creator of SpringMath)

Dr. Jennifer Lindstrom

(Statewide Dyslexia Coordinator—Georgia Department of Education)

Jeannie Morris

(Assistant Director—Office of Whole Child Supports—Integrating Academic, Behavioral, and Wellbeing Supports w/in MTSS—Georgia Department of Education)

Dr. Robbie Vincent

(Coordinator PBIS/School Climate—Northwest RESA—President Elect Georgia Association of Positive Behavior Support)

About the Conference: The conference will include presentations that impact the Whole Child and MTSS and address the current research on Whole Child Supports for academics, behavior, and wellbeing;  the Science of Instruction as evidence-based core instruction which focuses on how children learn and what constitutes effective instruction; and the Science of Reading as the most effective method of informing educators of how proficient reading and writing can be developed, assessing and teaching reading PreK-12, and improving student outcomes through scientifically-based prevention and intervention of reading and writing issues. Featured speakers will also discuss Georgia’s new Early Literacy Act (HB 538), implementation of the Dyslexia Rule (SB 48); and the Georgia Literacy Council’s work. 

Registration Will Include: Access to presenter provided resources, Continental Breakfast, Catered Lunch and Morning and Afternoon Snacks , & SSTAGE Membership for Non-Members ($75-Annual Membership)

Registration Fees: $250 for 2024-2024 SSTAGE Members and $325 for non-members. If you have more the 10 people attending from your district you qualify for the group registration discount ($200/member & $275/non-member). You must send Joan Whitehead-Freeman you spreadsheet with names and email addresses by August 23, 2024 if you are interested in the this option.

About the Presenters:

      Dr. Amanda VanDerHeyden is a policy adviser and thought leader who actively conducts research focused on improving learning outcomes for students. She is credited with developing models of academic screening that are widely used in schools, conducting innovative research in mathematics screening and progress monitoring using mastery measurement, and the creation of SpringMath.  In addition to publishing ten books and over 100 scholarly articles and chapters, she regularly delivers webinar, panel and keynote sessions, including addresses to state school psychology associations and state departments of education in 36 states, Singapore, China, Portugal, and Australia. She has also served as a panel member for NIH, standing panel member for IES at the U.S. Department of Education, an adviser and reviewer for NCII, USAID, the IRIS center, the Dyslexia Foundation, and numerous state departments of education. Dr. VanDerHeyden has served on a number of boards, including the RTI Advisory Board for the National Center for Learning Disabilities and SEDL, one of 10 regional laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education (since merged with the American Institutes for Research). Dr. VanDerHeyden has authored a number of policy guides and position statements and delivered testimony on the use of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) MTSS and Response to Intervention (RTI) to identify students for special education. She is President of Education Research & Consulting in Daphne, Alabama, and has a faculty affiliation with the Wheelock College of Education at Boston University.


      Dr. Gene Kerns is a third-generation educator with teaching experience from elementary through the university level and K-12 administrative experience. He currently serves as Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Renaissance Learning. With more than 20 years of experience in leading staff development and speaking at national and international conferences including South by Southwest (SxSW) EDU, London’s Westminster Education Forum, the ASU/Global Silicon Valley (SGV) Summit, the 42nd Annual Mexico TESOL Conference, and the Global Education Technology Forum of China. His former clients include administrators’ associations across the country and the Ministry of Education of Singapore. Gene received his Bachelor's degree and Master's degree from Longwood College in Virginia, and also holds a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from the University of Delaware with an emphasis in Education Leadership. His most recent work has been focused on assessment and literacy. His first book, inFormative Assessment: When It’s Not About a Grade is published by Corwin Press in both English and Arabic. His second book, Unlocking Student Talent, was released by Teachers College Press in December of 2017. This newest book, Literacy Reframed, was released in 2021 through Solution Tree.

       Dr. Jennifer Lindstrom joined the Teaching and Learning team at GaDOE in September 2021 as the Statewide Dyslexia Coordinator to assist our state as we lift awareness of dyslexia and create stronger, evidence-based supports for students who are experiencing difficulties while learning to read and write. Dr. Lindstrom’s leadership and guidance will ensure that our students get the “best of the best” from our teachers and schools. Prior to coming the GaDOE, Dr. Lindstrom served as Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Special Education, and as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia. While at UGA, Dr. Lindstrom directed ongoing research focusing on the causes and treatment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, issues surrounding the provision of accommodations to individuals with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, early literacy with a focus on teacher training and the use of research-based methodologies for improving student performance, and the relationships between cognitive and linguistic abilities and poor reading and writing development.

      Jeannie Morris is an Assistant Director for the Office of Whole Child Supports at the Georgia Department of Education. In this role, she manages the Georgia Multi-Tiered System of Supports team and has been charged with leading efforts to integrate the academic, behavioral and wellbeing supports within a multi-tiered system of supports. Prior to this position, Jeannie served as the School Climate Program Manager for a short time and served as a School Climate Program Specialist supporting FDRESA, HGRESA and OKRESA. Before joining the GaDOE, she was a long-time employee of FDRESA serving as a GLRS director, GNETS director, and GNETS site coordinator. Prior to her experience at GNETS, Jeannie taught special education and also served as a teacher of gifted and talented students.

Dr. Robbie Y. Vincent is President-elect of the Georgia Association of Positive Behavior Support and also serves as the Coordinator of PBIS and School Climate, at Northwest Georgia RESA. In her role at RESA, she supports the 17 public school districts in Northwest Georgia in integrating supports for academics, behavior, and well-being. Before joining Northwest Georgia RESA, Robbie served as a middle school assistant principal and also as district coordinator of student supports in the Rome City School System. Prior to that, Robbie was an elementary classroom teacher for 19 years with the Floyd County School System.

Tentative Agenda

7:30-8:20        Registration, Breakfast and Exhibit Area OPEN  

8:20-8:30         Welcome by SSTAGE Executive Director & President

8:30-9:30         SESSION I – Jeannie Morris & Dr. Robbie Y. Vincent—MTSS & The Whole Child

9:35-10:35      SESSION II – Dr. Jennifer Lindstrom—HB 538, SB 48, and the Literacy Council

10:35-11:00    BREAK – Exhibit Area OPEN  

11:00-12:30    SESSION III – Dr. Gene Kerns —The Science of Reading (PreK-12)

12:30-1:30      LUNCH (Served on Site) – Visit Sponsors/Vendors

1:30-3:00         SESSION IV – Dr. Amanda VanDerHeyden – The Science of Instruction (PreK-12)

3:00-3:15        BREAK – Exhibit Area OPEN  

3:15-4:00        SESSION V – Q/A Panel with Dr. Kerns and Dr. VanDerHeyden

Questions? Email Joan Whitehead-Freeman at jwhitehead@gael.org. 

Cancellation Policy: To cancel participation for an event, SSTAGE must receive written notice (email jwhitehead@gael.org) seven calendar days prior to the scheduled workshop/conference.  An administrative fee of $25.00 will be charged for cancellations.  Requests for a refund must be received in writing at least seven calendar days prior to the start of the conference and must be addressed to jwhitehead@gael.org. SSTAGE encourages participants to find a substitute. Replacements will be welcome, and there will be no charge to transfer a registration to a colleague for the event.  Advance notice of replacements is preferred.  If an individual registers and does not attend the event, he/she will be marked as a "no show" and the full conference fees shall apply. Registrants are responsible for payment. Refunds will not be made for “no shows”.  Refunds and reimbursements will not be transferable to other workshops or conferences.  In the event of inclement weather which may impede or prevent conference attendance, or which may give cause to fully cancel the conference, a credit will be provided to the registrant or school/system. Refunds will not be made for conference cancellations due to COVID-19, severe weather or weather events which may cause the conference to cancel. SSTAGE is not responsible for United States Postal Service mail or electronic mail failures.

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