Keynote Speakers

attendees in large conference room
Danielle Cowley
Jessica Stakey

Danielle Cowley, Jessica Kruckenberg

Monday, 7/26/21 Pre-Conference Keynote Speakers: Danielle Cowley, Jessica Kruckenberg. Dr. Cowley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. She teaches courses in the areas of humanistic behavior supports, inclusive education, best practices for students with significant disabilities, and educational and post-school transitions. Dr. Cowley serves as an Educational Consultant for the state of Iowa in the area of Specially Designed Literacy Instruction for students with significant disabilities. Danielle has published and presented extensively. Jessica is special education teacher and K-12 instructional coach for the Waterloo, IA Public School District. Jessica has taught inclusive practices and strong differentiation strategies that equitably teach all students in the buildings she supports. In their keynote address, “Learning Better Together: Including Students with Significant Disabilities in Comprehensive Literacy Instruction,” these presenters will share instructional strategies and resources to support all. Real-life examples will be shared - leading for inclusion, collaborating across general and special education, designing evidence-based, inclusive literacy instruction, and delivering for high learner engagement.

brett bernard

Brett Bernard

Tuesday, 7/27/21 Institute Keynote Speaker: Brett Bernard (Educator, Coach & Author) is a math anxiety survivor and has more than 20 years of experience as an educator and coach. Brett earned his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and is a published author. Brett’s books include: Math Anxiety; Total Math Engagement; and How to Talk Math, which takes a whole brain approach to teaching students the universal language of mathematics. Brett started a program for At-Risk youth to develop self-confidence and proudly perform in front of audiences with as many as 20,000 people. Brett Bernard’s work with youth in low-income housing provided them the essential life skills that are necessary to succeed in the classroom. Brett was the captain of the 1994 U.S.A. Unicycle Team and a World Champion. He knows how to succeed and how to use all of his own experiences to help others achieve success. In Brett’s Keynote address, “Have It All . . . Opportunities for All to Succeed,” he will share strategies, along with inspirational (and humorous) stories, regarding how former students of all backgrounds succeeded in many aspects of life. This Keynote will not only motivate you to dream big for you and your students, but it will also give you practical strategies that you can use to help any child be successful in the classroom. Brett’s follow-up forum, “The ABC’s of Experiencing Math,” will focus on how students can experience math, rather than trying to learn math through simply reading or hearing about it. The emphasis of this forum will be on math anxiety reduction, building math vocabulary and creating effective conversations about math. Brett resides in Minnesota. More information on Brett can be found on his website:

ryan haack

Ryan Haack

Wednesday, 7/28/21 Institute Keynote Speaker: Ryan Haack (Motivational Speaker & Author) believes that being different is Awesome! Living one-handed since birth, Ryan has faced challenges and overcome them with determination and a vibrant sense of humor. As a speaker and author, he has been able to share his message of hope, inclusion and celebration of our differences, with thousands of children and adults all over the country. Schools, hospitals, small businesses, large corporations, associations…wherever people are gathered and doing hard & amazing work, Ryan’s message resonates and inspires. In his Keynote, “Different Is Awesome! Acknowledging, Accepting and Celebrating What Makes Us Unique!,” Ryan will share his journey of growing-up with one hand and overcoming the challenges he encounters on a daily basis while living in a world designed for two hands. Through story-telling and humor, Ryan will talk about the surprising simplicity of building community and the truth that our differences (those things that make us unique) are the very things that make us awesome! Ryan lives with his wife, Julie, and their three children (Sam, Anna and Claire) in Verona, Wisconsin He is the author of the children’s book, Different Is Awesome! More information on Ryan can be found on his website: