Inaugural Educator Conference

The Summit 2023

The Summit

Reconnect to your community, your work, and your why


Education has never been an easy field, and the last few years have magnified the challenges many educators face.  We want to offer an opportunity for all of us to remember why we chose this work and why we continue to choose this work. 

Join us on Saturday, February 25th! Be ready to hear from local experts, engage with your peers in facilitated sessions, and simply reconnect to your The Educator Academy community and the education community at large. 


Are you ready to reserve your spot at The Summit?


What to expect



Check-in & Breakfast

Come connect with other teachers before the first session begins. Breakfast will be provided. We have a full day of connection activities, speakers, and facilitators for you! Click on the links below to read more about each activity for the day.

Opening Speaker: Harrison Neal Sr.

Your Community, The importance of building solid connections with the community they serve. As educators, we have the power to shape the future and impact the lives of countless students. But this impact is only amplified when we build meaningful connections with the communities we serve. This keynote session is a journey toward discovering the power of community engagement and the transformative impact it can have on our schools and students. You’ll leave with a deeper understanding of the importance of belonging, collaboration, and our role in creating positive change in our communities. This session will ignite your passion and inspire you to take bold steps toward building bridges that connect you with the people and organizations that matter most.

Morning Breakout Session
  • Option #1: Dr. Ro Hendrix, Chief Executive Officer of DREAM Education ConsultingYour Passion, Your Purpose: Leveraging Your Excellence


  • Option #2: Vincent Alexis-Laona, Teacher Development and School Impact Manager, Startland Education – Design Thinking and Entrepreneurial Experiences in Classrooms


  • Option #3: Cynthia Moore-Hollinshed, Founder of Coaching for Clarity, LLC  Increasing your Capacity to Connect
Afternoon Speaker: Susana Elizarraraz

What have your people armed you with that you may have forgotten? You will be invited to listen to Susana’s story to encourage your reconnection with history, sacrifice, and lineage purpose. The work that we do is social justice work and work that takes a lot of energy, emotion, and commitment. Our peoples’ journeys should remind us of our why and revitalize us in order to continue to do the work that we do.

Connection Activities

**Sign-up is at registration. Space is limited. Get there earlier to secure your spot!**

  • Option #1: Black Male Educator Affinity Space with Cornell Ellis, Founder and Executive Director at Brothers Liberating Our Communities (BLOC): An identity-centered space, taking time and exploring Black Male specific problems and solutions.


  • Option #2: Strike a Pose with Aryiel, Creator of An Aryiel View and Photographer: It’s that time of year again where you have just made your new year resolutions and ready to show the world your goals! Why not share those goals with a nice headshot to go with it! I will be taking headshots during the Summit Conference to highlight YOU!


  • Option #3: Chill and Paint with Michelle Beasley, Renowned Painter: Participants will learn basic paint layering techniques used to create relaxing mountain landscapes. By the end of the session, participants will have created an original piece of art and may be inspired to unlock their hidden creative talent in their own space.


  • Option #4: Restorative Yoga with Christa Colwell, Owner of Fitness with Christa: Participants will experience a relaxing Yoga session designed to allow participants to slow down and de-stress. Gentle stretches and poses, Guided breathing and imagery are used to sync up the mind and body so one can fully engage without distractions. Aromatherapy, a sound bowl and blindfolds add to the ambiance for a session known as “rest and digest.”
Afternoon Breakout Session
  • Option #1: Risa Woods, Risa Woods Educational Consulting – Equity for English Learners: Closing the Opportunity Gap in the General


  • Option #2: Vincent Potts, Assistant Principal at Northgate Middle School & Tammie May, Assistant Principal at Northgate Middle School – Opening Your Third ‘I”: Investigation-Intention-Inclusion


  • Option #3: Vonnie Clark, Instructional Coach at Academy for Integrated ArtsThe Power of Differentiation
Closing Speaker: Cornell Ellis

We’ll close out the day with a keynote that will be a thoughtful and inspirational analysis of our roles as Liberation Leaders in our school environments. Using the common mathematical term known as slope (rise over run), we will break down the necessary pieces for alignment with your Liberatory self — inside and outside the classroom. Participants will leave the day feeling invigorated for the profession and their purpose!

Who Will Be There

Learn more about who will be leading content at The Summit!

Cornell Ellis: is a native to Kansas City and is a product of a diverse Kansas City public and private education. After graduating from Rockhurst High School he played football at the University of Missouri-Columbia and while in college, Cornell began his passion for education and justice. He became the Director at the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center in Columbia, MO, while also managing the curriculum for trauma-informed English Language Arts practices at Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL.  Cornell received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Avila University with a specialization in Ancient World Studies. After graduating, Cornell taught, managed, instructional coached, and worked in administrative duties for 8 years. Through his teaching success, he was able to participate in and lead advanced professional development opportunities like the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) and the Better Lessons Master Teacher program. Through Cornell’s passion and vision, he helped found AMPLIFY! Teachers of Color Conference and Brothers Liberating Our Communities (BLOC), which both exist to sustain and increase teachers of color in education. Cornell uses his educational and professional experience to provide a strong understanding of equitable and justice-centered surroundings for schools and leaders through public speaking and consultation with his LLC– Eggshells Inc. Cornell has led workshops and been a keynote speaker for notable conferences in education and liberation and continues to build creative spaces for liberation. By curating liberatory curricula, creating anti-racist professional development, and providing school systems with supplemental tools for teacher evaluation, Cornell aims to make all schools places where all teachers can thrive and all students can achieve.

Susana Elizarraraz: is a first generation American student & educator from & in the community where she’s lived her whole life, Northeast Kansas City, Missouri. As the first to graduate high school in her family, the hurdles of education were amplified. She was able to seek the support of family, staff members, co-workers, friends – her support system – to eventually graduate with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Urban Education, as a scholar in the Institute for Urban Education, from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She began teaching 6th grade at a school in her home neighborhood. In 2017, she then graduated with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from Webster University.

After teaching for 5 years, the systematic problems in education were as clear as ever & encouraged her to make a move. She has more recently been committed to equity in education, especially now through her work with the Latinx Education Collaborative. As the Deputy Director of the LEC, she works to increase Latinx educator representation in K-12 classrooms by establishing & fostering relationships amongst all community stakeholders to promote equitable access to Latinx educators, thus working toward an equitable education for all students.

Harrison Neal Sr.

Principal, Central Middle School, Kansas City Public Schools 

Harrison Neal Sr. is a turnaround principal in Kansas City Public Schools. Currently, he is serving as the principal at Central Middle School. In 2020, he was awarded the Excellence in Education Principal of the Year. Neal has an extensive list of additional accomplishments including: Missouri Association for Colleges for Teachers in Education Outstanding Beginning Teacher, KCPS Change Champion for Turnaround Schools Award, KCPS Rookie of the Year Award, KCPS Newcomer Award to name a few. Neal’s accomplishments are a result of improving the quality of education across three different urban school campuses in both charter and district schools. A product of the urban core in Kansas City, MO and an at-risk student as a child propels his passion for equity. More specifically, Neal is passionate with addressing the lack of quality education and opportunity for students residing in urban neighborhoods. He is two-time alumnus of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, as a cohort graduate of the Institute for Urban Education (IUE) completing his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in K-12 administration and doctoral candidate. He is actively involved in transforming the lives of the young people and growing leadership with the educators he serves.

Michelle Beasley:

Michelle Beasley is a proud alum of The Educator Academy from Cohort 3. She is presently the Visual Arts & Literacy teacher for PACE thru 5th grade at Crossroads Central Street Charter. She is also a well established artist that has shown her work in various venues and museums in Kansas City and beyond.

Aryiel Everett:

Hi i’m Aryiel, a digital creator, writer, photographer, and podcaster living in Kansas City, MO. As a single mom, I have a unique perspective and dedication that I bring to my work. Additionally, I am member of the (KC 22-23) Surge Fellowship program and the Communications and Operations Coordinator for The Educator Academy.

I have a passion for travel and a love of storytelling, and have always been drawn to the world of art and creativity I started doing photography in college to highlight mothers that needed maternity shoots but could not afford them.

Since then I have graduated to doing small weddings, family photos, and have the honor of being the Photographer at The Educator Academy. My preferences for photography have always been natural light shoots but I value taking photos anytime I get behind a lens with any lighting because it truly is an Aryiel view.

Christa Colwell:

Christa Colwell is a certified, licensed fitness instructor who has been teaching group exercise in Kansas City in multiple formats including Yoga, Zumba and Strength for twelve years.  Her mantra is H.O.P.E. which stands for “Helping Other People Exercise” and it is what is meant to do.

  • 1.


Are you ready to reserve your spot at The Summit?



Who can go to The Summit?

All individuals in the The Educator Academy Network are eligible to attend The Summit. This includes all Residents, Graduates, Mentor Teachers, Alum, and leadership at School Partners. In addition, each individual is able to bring a guest. You can reserve a ticket for a friend when you reserve your spot. Your plus one does not need to be a part of the The Educator Academy network.

When is The Summit?

The Summit is Saturday, February 25th, from 10AM-5PM.

Does this count as PD hours?

For teachers at KCPS, this does count as PD hours. Show proof of registration to your admin to receive credit.

What will I receive if I go?

All individuals will receive content related to their work, opportunities for connection, and professional headshots. As a celebration of the work you do, all attendees of the Summit will receive specially curated Summit gift bags, including T-shirts from Charlie Hustle. Thanks to our sponsors, we’ll also have giveaways to raffle at the end of the day with a grand prize staycation with Loews Hotel! Our other prizes include coffee from PH, gift card to Black&Brown, plus other local KC goodies.

What is the dress code?

Wear whatever makes you comfortable. You are welcome to bring a change of clothes if you have a specific outfit you want to wear for professional headshots, and have a different outfit you want to wear for the rest of the day. If you intend to participate in restorative yoga or painting connection sessions, be sure to wear clothing that you are comfortable moving around in.

How soon will I get my photos from my headshots?

If you are attending the headshot breakout session, here are the details:

  • There will be a form for you to fill out with your email address at the time of the session. You will receive all communication for your headshot through that email. You will only have access to your images.
  • You will receive 3 images in total.
  • The window in which you will receive your photos will be March 2, 2023  – March 9, 2023.
  • An email will be sent to you following the conference’s conclusion from Additional instructions will be provided.
  • You will have access to download each of your 3 images for personal use. Read the full Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy.
Do I need to wear a mask?

The CDC updated their risk levels – Jackson county is now “Medium”, which means masks are optional. As of right now, our venue does not require wearing a mask. If this changes, we will update all registered attendees via email.

  • We will have masks available on-site.
  • If you prefer to provide your own, please do!
  • If you are feeling ill, please stay home to provide safety to the rest of our attendees.


Help Us Achieve Our Vision

Get Involved

Join us in ensuring every classroom is filled with a highly effective teacher. Whether you’re seeking teaching certification programs in Kansas City or donating to our organization, you can make a difference in the KC public education system.

For any questions or concerns, please call us at (816) 298-5660.