Symposium 2024

Providing students as young as kindergarten with career-connected learning experiences helps level the playing field by ensuring that every child has an opportunity to chart a course toward an inspiring future.

On March 18th, we'll bring together education leaders from school districts across the U.S. who will share their insights on how to provide K-12 students with meaningful career-connected learning opportunities that build future-ready skills and expand career pathways. They will share examples of how they are implementing this in their districts and some of the lessons learned. You'll leave with best practices, strategies, and tools that you can bring back to your district to drive college and career readiness. 

Certificates of attendance will be awarded.


Can't attend on March 18th? Register now and we'll email you a recording of the presentations.


11:00 AM EDT 
Host: Dr. Traci Davis

Traci Davis

Senior Equity Advisor at Defined and former Superintendent of the Washoe County School District, Nevada

11:10 AM EDT Keynote
Presenter:  Jay McTighe

Session: A Vision and Framework for Modern Learning 

In this session, award-winning author and educator Jay McTighe will describe a framework for constructing a coherent curriculum and assessment system that integrates 21st Century Competencies with disciplinary content.

Participants will learn: 

  • the elements of a “guaranteed and viable” pre-K–12 curriculum and assessment system that integrates 21st Century Skills/Portrait of a Graduate Outcomes with Academic content;
  • a “blueprint” of a vertically aligned curriculum constructed around transferrable “big ideas,” essential questions, and authentic tasks and projects;
  • about Curriculum Mapping 3.0 – mapping desired student performances rather than simply listing discrete content topics and skills on a calendar.
Jay McTighe

Jay McTighe

Award-winning author of the Understanding by Design Framework

12:00 PM EDT 
Presenter:  Tony Mann

Session: Inspiring Educators to Re-Envision and Re-Build K-12 Education

Doing meaningful work, ensuring students’ interests and passions are honored and connected to meaning and purpose in rigorous project-based environments. . . that is the highest calling for leaders today as we build school systems for tomorrow. 

In this session, participants will:

  • gain inspiration to refine your own stories that will, in turn, inspire others to realize the change needed for schools today;
  • link your vision to strategies for synergistic change management;  
  • leave with examples informing your understanding of how this revolutionary change will require a balanced combination of top-down, bottom-up, inside-out, and outside-in energies.
Tony Mann

Tony Mann

Superintendent, Molalla River School District, OR

1:00 PM EDT
Presenter: Michael Lubelfeld & Nick Polyack

Session: Unfinished Leadership 

There is no such thing as the BEST version of yourself, there is only the NEXT version of yourself. You have to be driven deeply by something, believe that you have a legacy to leave, and admit you are unfinished. Dr. Michael Lubelfeld and Dr. Nick Polyak serve as guideposts to help leaders understand that we are all works in progress.

The presenters will lead a discussion about School and District Leadership - often referred to as a calling or a mission-driven profession. They’ll anchor their content in their 2021 book The Unfinished Leader: A School Leadership Framework for Growth & Development.

Michael Lubelfeld
Nick Polyack

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D.

Superintendent, North Shore School District, IL

Nick Polyak, Ed.D.

Superintendent, Leyden Community High School District, IL

2:00 PM EDT
Presenter: Michael Pflug

Session: Aligning and Assessing for Career Readiness

Uncover the key link between CTW and the acquisition of essential employability skills in this informative session. Participants will explore the incorporation of Cornerstone Tasks within the Understanding by Design and Performance Task Framework, providing practical insights into assessing students' job-ready knowledge.

Join us to discover effective ways to ensure students are equipped with the necessary skills for success in the workforce.

Michael Pflug

Michael Pflug

Program Coordinator for Teaching and Learning at Region 10 Education Service Center, TX

3:00 PM EDT
Presenter: Dr. Melvin Brown and Dr. Angie Pelton 

Session:  Strategic partnerships that enhance educator effectiveness and improve learner outcomes.

In this session, Dr. Melvin Brown and Dr. Angie Pelton will share the work Montgomery School District has done to unlock learners’ full potential and prepare them to shape a brighter future for themselves and society. He will share how Montgomery’s partnership with Defined and other industry partners helped them map what the future workforce demands to the skill-building opportunities in the classroom.

Join this session and learn: 

  • Why Montgomery has chosen passion-based PBL as its pedagogical approach to help students build future-ready skills.
  • The resources Montgomery is providing its teachers to help refine their PBL practices.
  • How schools and districts can ensure that the PBL in your classrooms is developing skills students can take into the real world. 
Melvin Brown -1
Angelia Pelton

Melvin J. Brown, Ed.D.

Superintendent, Montgomery Public Schools, AL

Dr. Angie Pelton, Ed.D.

Director of Professional Development, Montgomery Public Schools, AL