Featured Speakers

christopher burke

Christopher Burke

2019 Iowa’s Teacher of the Year

Chris Burke, 2019 Iowa Teacher of the Year, is an 8th grade math teacher in Dubuque, Iowa. Currently in his 13th year of education, Chris serves his school as the math department content leader and sits on the Teacher Quality committee for the Dubuque Community School District. He is an assistant coach for the Hempstead boys cross country team and also coaches 7th and 8th grade girls track in the spring. In 2017 Chris was recognized as the Dubuque Community School District Teacher of the Year. A graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education, Chris later received his Masters of Arts in Education from the University of Northern Iowa through their Principalship program. Chris is joined at Roosevelt by his wife, Betsy, a 7th grade science teacher and they have a two-year-old son named Maxwell.

michele develin

Dr. Michele Devlin

Professor of Global Public Health

Michele Devlin, University of Northern Iowa, Department of  Global Public Health and an Emergency Medical Technician in the Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services

Dr. Michele Devlin is Professor of Global Public Health and an Emergency Medical Technician in the Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). She is head of the UNI Global Health Corps organization, and also served as founding Director of the Iowa Center on Health Disparities, a model agency established by the National Institutes of Health to improve health equity for underserved populations. Dr. Devlin is an Adjunct Research Professor with the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  

She completed her doctorate degree in international public health at the University of California at Los Angeles.  Dr. Devlin is the recipient of the One Iowa Award, the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame Award, the Iowa Civil Rights Award, and other honors for outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service.  

Dr. Devlin’s primary areas of specialty include refugee and minority health, human migration, maternal and child health, and disaster response. She has published nearly 100 articles, reports, evaluation studies, and other scholarly works. With Dr. Mark Grey, she authored three books, including “Health Matters: A Guide to Working with Diverse and Underserved Populations”; “Postville USA:  Surviving Diversity in Small-Town America”; and “Tactical Anthropology: A Practical Guide for Emergency Responders in Culturally Complex Communities.” 

Health Disparities among Iowa's Newest Residents

This session describes the in-migration of various new refugee populations to the state, discusses the barriers to care common among these groups, and presents the implications of these epidemiological patterns for health and social service providers working to meet their needs.

denise schares

Dr. Denise Schares

Coordinator, Superintendent Program

Denise Schares currently serves as Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, Foundations and Leadership Studies at the University of Northern Iowa. Her background includes a B.S. in Vocational Home Economics and Health, M.A. in Educational Psychology; Teaching, and an Ed.D.in Curriculum and Instruction. Her experience includes classroom teaching, experience as Director of Curriculum and Instruction; work with the Iowa Department of Education Bureau of Food and Nutrition, Consultant and Assistant Director of Educational Services for Area Education Agency 267 and Director of Professional Development. Most recently, Dr. Schares held positions as Superintendent for the Clear Creek Amana Community School District, in Oxford, Iowa and Associate Superintendent for Educational and Student Services for the Waterloo Community School District in Waterloo, Iowa.

Dr. Schares has held multiple leadership positions and frequently presents on alternative teacher licensure, adult learning, leadership change efforts and cultural competency. Dr. Schares directs the University of Northern Iowa Institute for Educational Leadership, working to promote the improvement of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education by working with educators to focus on and clarify important issues in education and to address the issues in an innovative and collaborative manner. She currently serves as Principal Investigator for a grant awarded by the Kern Family Foundation called Leading and Learning with Character.

Leading and Learning with Character: Think Tank Dialogue

This highly interactive session will offer the opportunity for participants to engage in facilitated dialogue around challenges facing schools and districts along with strategies for addressing the challenges.  Each participant will have the opportunity to share a challenge and dialogue with others regarding possible actions to address the challenge.  A Tuning Protocol format will be used to facilitate the conversation. 

nicole skaar

Dr. Nicole Skaar​

2019 Iowa’s School Psychologist of the Year

Dr. Nicole Skaar is a school psychology trainer and associate professor at the University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Skaar received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Prior to accepting a faculty position at UNI in 2011, Dr. Skaar worked as a school psychologist for Heartland Area Education Agency. While at UNI, Dr. Skaar has directed research projects aimed to improve school-based mental health systems and interventions. She is currently working on a 3-year grant-funded project with Great Prairie AEA and North Mahaska schools that aims to develop and implement a model for school-based mental health systems in rural schools. Dr. Skaar’s service to her community and profession in collaboration with community groups has resulted in the development of an annual mental health summit at Hawkeye Community College and advocacy for mental health legislation and policy changes. In addition to her work at UNI, Dr. Skaar maintains her Iowa Professional Service License and her National School Psychologist Certificate and is the consulting school psychologist for Belle Plaine Community schools. She collaborates with administration to provide professional development for teachers and staff, and provides direct service to the students and families of the school district who otherwise are unable to secure community based psychological services.

Development and Implementation of a Mental Health Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) for a Rural School

This presentation will focus on how the partnerships across the university, school and AEA lead to positive changes for students, families, and the school system. Approximately 20% of K-12 students meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental illness in the United States and the numbers are on the rise. The goal of this project was to develop and implement a program to address the mental health difficulties of rural students through partnerships across the school district, area education agency, and community personnel. Results based on two years of data suggest improved mental health for students who access school-based mental health services and indicate a positive change in the school system.