Speakers

2024 Keynote Speakers

Steven Bollar MA
Stand Tall Steve
Stand Tall Enterprises, LLC
Keynote Speaker

Steve Bollar, a.k.a. Stand Tall Steve, is driven to help schools, associations, and organizations create a better culture and climate through creative innovations and encouragement. His books, Stand Tall Leadership and Ideas, Ideas, Ideas! has been a jumping point for hundreds of organizations on how to increase morale, change the culture and improve the climate for their students and staff.

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In 2023 Steve was identified as one of the Top 30 Global Gurus In Education. In 2014 Steve was awarded the Burlington County Principals and Supervisors Association Visionary Leadership Award. In 2011 Steve was recognized by South Jersey Magazine as South Jersey’s top 20 Men of the Year. Additionally, Steve was chosen by Suburban Family Magazine Top 20 Citizen of the Year for 2012. Steve is also a member of the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame. Renaissance is a program that focuses on recognizing students and staff while developing a positive school culture.

Steve has a long history in the education system, from art teacher to principal to Superintendent of Schools. His 25+ year career has shown him firsthand how to face the challenges that any organization can encounter and how to overcome them with creativity and communication.

It’s this insight that he brings to the stage during his keynotes, breakouts, and workshops – training administration, teachers, organizations and staff on how to create a better atmosphere for students and staff alike.”

Brent Conway M.Ed.
Assistant Superintendent
Pentucket Regional School District (MA)
Keynote Speaker
Brent Conway is an educational leader with 25 years of experience in the field. He has been a classroom teacher, a special education leader, a building administrator and is currently the Assistant Superintendent for the Pentucket Regional School District in West Newbury, MA. As a Principal, Brent led Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, MA to achieve a National Blue Ribbon School designation in 2015 for closing achievement gaps.
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As the Assistant Superintendent in Pentucket, he leads efforts in the district, across the state of MA and the country to implement evidence-based literacy instruction. In addition to being a national leader and speaker for literacy, he has built opportunities for advanced coursework for high school students in science, engineering and math pathways. Brent is also a doctoral student in the Education Leadership program at The University of Southern Mississippi. Brent is thrilled to return to Alaska for another Science of Reading Symposium.

Luis F. Cruz, PhD, is former principal of Baldwin Park High School, located east of Los Angeles, California. He has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Dr. Cruz presents on methods from the best-selling book Time for Change by Luis F. Cruz and Anthony Muhammad.

In 2007, Dr. Cruz led a collective effort to secure a $250,000 grant for Baldwin Park from the California Academic Partnership Program for the purpose of effectively utilizing “courageous leadership” to promote a more equitable and effective organization.

Since becoming a public school educator, Dr. Cruz has won the New Teacher of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Administrator of the Year, and other community leadership awards. He and a committee of teacher leaders at Baldwin Park received California’s prestigious Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association for significantly closing the achievement gap between the general student population and students learning English as a second language.

Cruz has co-authored two books and is certified as a PLC at Work, RTI at Work, and Transforming School Culture Associate with Solution Tree.

As a recipient of the Hispanic Border Leadership Institute’s fellowship for doctoral studies, he earned a doctorate in institutional leadership and policy studies from the University of California Riverside. He earned an associate’s degree from Mount San Antonio Community College, a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University.
Dr. Stephanie Stollar is the founder of Stephanie Stollar Consulting LLC and the creator of The Reading Science Academy. Dr. Stollar is a part-time assistant professor in the online reading science program at Mount St. Joseph University, and a founding member of a national alliance for supporting reading science in higher education. As a board member for the Innovations in Education Consortium, she collaboratively plans the annual MTSS Innovations in Education Conference. Dr. Stollar has worked as a school psychologist, an educational consultant, and as Vice President for Professional Learning for Acadience Learning Inc. She has provided professional development, conducted research and published in the areas of assessment, early intervention, and collaborative problem solving. She is passionate about improving educator knowledge and aligning school systems to prevent reading failure. You can follow Stephanie Stollar Consulting and the Reading Science Academy on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and contact her at stephaniestollar@gmail.com.

Luis Cruz PhD
Author/Associate
Solution Tree
Keynote Speaker

Luis F. Cruz, PhD, is former principal of Baldwin Park High School, located east of Los Angeles, California. He has been a teacher and administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Dr. Cruz presents on methods from the best-selling book Time for Change by Luis F. Cruz and Anthony Muhammad.
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In 2007, Dr. Cruz led a collective effort to secure a $250,000 grant for Baldwin Park from the California Academic Partnership Program for the purpose of effectively utilizing “courageous leadership” to promote a more equitable and effective organization.

Since becoming a public school educator, Dr. Cruz has won the New Teacher of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Administrator of the Year, and other community leadership awards. He and a committee of teacher leaders at Baldwin Park received California’s prestigious Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association for significantly closing the achievement gap between the general student population and students learning English as a second language.

Cruz has co-authored two books and is certified as a PLC at Work, RTI at Work, and Transforming School Culture Associate with Solution Tree.

As a recipient of the Hispanic Border Leadership Institute’s fellowship for doctoral studies, he earned a doctorate in institutional leadership and policy studies from the University of California Riverside. He earned an associate’s degree from Mount San Antonio Community College, a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University.

Stephanie Stollar PHD
Part-time Assistant Professor and Consultant
Mount St Joseph University and Stephanie Stollar Consulting
Keynote Speaker

Dr. Stephanie Stollar is the founder of Stephanie Stollar Consulting LLC and the creator of The Reading Science Academy. Dr. Stollar is a part-time assistant professor in the online reading science program at Mount St. Joseph University, and a founding member of a national alliance for supporting reading science in higher education.
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As a board member for the Innovations in Education Consortium, she collaboratively plans the annual MTSS Innovations in Education Conference. Dr. Stollar has worked as a school psychologist, an educational consultant, and as Vice President for Professional Learning for Acadience Learning Inc. She has provided professional development, conducted research and published in the areas of assessment, early intervention, and collaborative problem solving. She is passionate about improving educator knowledge and aligning school systems to prevent reading failure. You can follow Stephanie Stollar Consulting and the Reading Science Academy on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and contact her at stephaniestollar@gmail.com.

Kareem Weaver, MA
Co-Founder and Executive Director
FULCRUM
Keynote Speaker

Kareem Weaver is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of FULCRUM, which partners with stakeholders to improve reading results for students. He is the Oakland NAACP’s 2nd Vice President and Chair of its Education Committee; his advocacy is featured in the upcoming film The Right to Read.

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Mr. Weaver previously served as New Leaders’ Executive Director of the Western Region and was an award-winning teacher and administrator. He has undergraduate degrees from Morehouse College and a master’s in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina. Mr. Weaver believes in the potential of all students, the brotherhood of man, and the importance of service above self. His educational heroine, for literacy instruction, is the late Marva Collins.

Kate Winn
Teacher and Podcaster
PVNCCDSB & IDA Ontario
Keynote Speaker

Kate has been teaching with the PVNCCDSB in Ontario, Canada since 2000. A passionate literacy advocate, she is coproducer and host of IDA Ontario’s Reading Road Trip podcast.

2024 Breakout Speakers

Valentina Contesse, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor

University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI)

Dr. Valentina Contesse is a clinical assistant professor of special education in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies at the University of Florida (UF). Dr. Contesse is a University of Florida Literacy Institute (UFLI) faculty member and the co-author of UFLI Foundations: An Explicit and Systematic Phonics Program. 
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Dr. Contesse teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in various UF teacher preparation programs and coordinates professional development for practicing teachers focused on evidence-based reading instruction. Her research focuses on early literacy instruction and intervention, teacher preparation and training in reading, and the effects of performance feedback on the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices.

Susan Lambert

Chief Academic Officer

Amplify

Susan Lambert is the Chief Academic Officer, Elementary Humanities at Amplify and the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast. She has worked in all areas of education, from elementary teacher to district administrator, both nationally and internationally.

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Susan holds advanced degrees in curriculum and educational policy and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in reading science. She regularly consults with districts across the country, both large and small, as they transition to research-based instructional approaches.
Rosie Santana, MA
Educational Consultant

Neuhaus Education Center

Rosie Santana provides professional development and technical assistance to schools, districts, and states throughout the country.

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Prior to partnering with Mountain West Associates, Ms. Santana Rosalie Santana currently served as the Senior Advisor in Equity and School Improvement at Education Northwest. During her time at Education Northwest, she provided technical assistance to rural schools in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. She has worked closely with the Title III Coordinator for the Idaho Department of Education to provide professional development in language learning.

Ms. Santana also served as the ELL Coordinator for Neuhaus Education Center where she offered coaching and support for all levels of the school system centered on collective improvement and student achievement. Rosie was the Idaho Southwest School Improvement Coordinator for the State of Idaho. She developed educational reform strategies built around school effectiveness and led the state’s school improvement coaches, where she trained others to build capacity for effective change. Ms. Santana earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Boise State University and her M.A. in Education from the University of Idaho.  

The 2024 Science of Reading Symposium would not be possible without the help of our partners: