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Keynote Presenters


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Marcia Tate, Ed.D.

Sunday, March 8 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

The Power of Positive Thinking”

Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right! People don’t realize how they severely limit their brain’s potential with negative thinking. It’s amazing how a person’s level of confidence in their ability to accomplish a task can positively impact their success in actually achieving it. When people approach situations with a confident attitude and a positive belief system, life-changing things can occur! 

Based on a combination of brain research and the book, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, this workshop will explore the detrimental effects of stress on life and how stress is the number one cause of aging and a major contributor to illness. Participants will learn how to lengthen their lives by determining their purpose, reducing damaging stress, and creating an optimistic daily outlook. Participants will also learn the importance of laughter. After all, consider how long most of the major comedians have lived (George Burns, Bob Hope, Red Foxx) or are reaching (Phyllis Diller, Betty White)!


Marcia L. Tate, Ed.D., is the former executive director of professional development for the DeKalb County School System in Decatur, Georgia. During the course of her 30-year career with the district, she has also been a classroom teacher, reading specialist, language arts coordinator, and staff development executive director. In 2001, she received Georgia’s Distinguished Staff Developer Award and her department won the Exemplary Program Award for the state.

Currently, through her company Developing Minds, Inc., Tate serves as an educational consultant and has taught over 450,000 administrators, teachers, and parents, as well as community and business leaders, all over the world. Participants in her workshops often refer to them as the best they have ever experienced.

Ron Clark

Monday, March 9 | 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

“Leadership: You’ve Got Runners, Joggers, Walkers, and Sitters

Teamwork is crucial to the success of any business and, as acclaimed author and speaker Ron Clark illustrates, the members of any team are the key to unlocking success. Imagine a company as a bus filled with people who either help or hinder a team’s ability to move it forward: drivers (who steer the organization), runners (who consistently go above and beyond for the good of the organization), joggers (who do their jobs without pushing themselves), walkers (who are just getting pulled along), and riders (who hinder success and drag the team down). It’s the team leader’s job to recognize how members fall into these categories, encourage them to keep the “bus” moving by working together, and know when it’s time to kick the riders off.

In the tradition of Who Moved My Cheese? and Fish!, Move Your Bus is an accessible and uplifting business parable that illustrates Clark’s expert strategies to maximize the performance of each member of a team. These easy to implement techniques will inspire employees and team leaders alike to work harder and smarter and drive the organization to succeed.


Known to many as “America’s Educator,” Ron Clark is known for his charisma, energy, and devotion to the education profession. Having pioneered innovative projects in rural North Carolina and inner-city Harlem, Clark and his highly effective programs have garnered national attention. He was the recipient of the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year award, the subject of a television movie, and is a two-time New York Times best-selling author. His work has also led to three different White House invitations to be honored by the president of the United States.

In 2006, Ron Clark founded The Ron Clark Academy (RCA), a nonprofit school that serves students from across metro Atlanta. The Academy is widely known for its innovative teaching methods and extremely successful programs that have been replicated globally. Over 60,000 educators, teachers, and administrators from around the world have visited the Academy to observe the innovative and “out-of-the-box” methods for achieving student success from all 50 states and 26 countries. Clark remains in the classroom, teaching 5th-grade math and global studies. Additionally, he serves as his school’s administrator along with Kim Bearden, RCA’s co-founder.

Laura Riffel, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 11 | 8:00 – 9:15 a.m.

“Triple T-Triple R: Behavior Planning Using a Guided Tool Understanding Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence

Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. How often do behavior plans fail? In this presentation, Dr. Laura Riffel will share why behavior plans fail and give participants a sure-fire plan that will help them plan the appropriate intervention for each targeted student. There are three steps that must be in place and Riffel will give real-world examples so educators can leave with a plan for their own students.


With more than 30 years of experience, Laura Riffel, Ph.D., has trained thousands of teachers, parents, counselors, psychologists, administrators, and bus drivers on how to make data-based decisions as a way to change behavior. Her trainings are filled with humor and make data collection easy to understand and use in any setting. She travels the world presenting on functional behavior assessment and writing effective behavioral plans as a private consultant.  She also presents positive interventions and effective strategies for classroom teachers, autism, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, and learning disabilities.

In the early 1970s, Riffel began her career as a volunteer at the School for the Blind, which led to her interest in special education. Her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas is in cognitive and multiple disabilities, families, and policy, with a minor in research. Riffel has had the opportunity to teach students from a variety of backgrounds and at various levels from grade school to post-secondary. She also served as the webmaster for the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports sponsored by the Office of Special Education Programs ( from 1999-2012.

March 8-11, 2020    |    #NYAR20    |    Hyatt Regency    |    Savannah, GA

Last updated: 3/3/2020