ESSA/Multilingual Conference Combined2021-02-17T09:23:06-06:00

ESSA Conference/Multilingual Illinois Conference 2021

The 3 New R’s: Respond, Resolve, Renew

February 23 – 26, 2021
Registration Fee: $300
Registration Deadline: February 19, 2021

Program Guide

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This has been a year of change and adaptation for all of us striving to provide pre-K-12 public education in a pandemic. Due to the current health situation, we will combine our two major conferences, the December Multilingual Illinois and the February ESSA, as a joint virtual conference to be held February 23 – February 26, 2021.

The information provided will be rich, rewarding, and useful, and this will be an important opportunity to network with educators and school leaders throughout Illinois. In addition, there will be a large and diverse group of publishers, technology infrastructure/support companies, and others as sponsors and exhibitors. 

A repository of on-demand sessions along with recordings of “real-time” sessions will be available for you to access from late February through June 30th.

The ESSA/Multilingual Illinois Conference will be a mix of keynote speakers, panels, and real-time sessions on such important topics as 

  • Early Childhood
  • Special Education
  • English learning methodologies for virtual and hybrid classrooms
  • Ways to provide social and emotional support for children and their families during times of extreme stress
  • How to achieve educational equity to narrow the access and learning gaps for students and for schools in under-resourced communities. 
  • Assessment practices inherent in remote learning during a pandemic
  • Ways to improve remote and hybrid learning
  • Strengthen student engagement
  • Explore teaching and learning techniques that work well in these environments

Registered participants will receive 16 credit hours for the conference.

Meet Our Keynoters

Jered Borup

Seeing the Transformative Potential of Online and Blended Learning

Jered BorupJered Borup is an Associate Professor in the Division of Learning Technologies at George Mason University. In his current position, he is the Co-Academic Program Coordinator of the Learning Technologies in Schools Masters and Certificate programs that are devoted to improving teacher practices in online and blended learning environments. Previous to earning his Ph.D. at Brigham Young University, Jered taught history at a junior high school for six years. He has also taught online and blended courses since 2008. He is a leading researcher in the field of K-12 online and blended learning and has published the free online book, K-12 Blended Teaching: A Guide to Personalized Learning and Online Integration.

Mileidis Gort

Bilingual and Biliterate Development in Early and Middle Childhood: Insights from Young Latinx Bilingual Children’s Explorations of Oral and Written Language

Meleidis GortMileidis Gort (Ed.D., Boston University, 2001; she/ella) is Professor of Equity, Bilingualism, and Biliteracy at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. Her research focuses on bilingual and biliteracy development in young children, genre-based literacies, and bilingual education policy and practice. Embedded in the ethnographic tradition, Dr. Gort’s body of work contributes to understanding the ways in which EBs’ language and literacy repertoires serve as resources not only for making meaning and learning but also for bolstering their academic identities. At CU Boulder, she teaches undergraduate pre-service teachers who are majoring in elementary education and earning an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education, Masters students (most of whom are in-service teachers), and doctoral candidates. Central to Dr. Gort’s research and teaching is a commitment to equity and justice with the longstanding goal of improving EB literacy education research, policy, and practice. Her specific contribution to this goal has been to advance both theory and practice related to young bilingual children’s literacy development—with a focus on the ways young bilinguals engage with the production of written texts in English and Spanish, and the contexts that mediate their composing processes and developing understandings of written language.

Baruti Kafele

Just Level the Playing Field and Watch Me Excel! – Thoughts on Equity, Race, Diversity & Cultural Competence Toward Ensuring Academic Success for All Learners

Principal Baruti Kafele, a highly-regarded urban educator in New Jersey for more than 20 years, has distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, NJ, in addition to being named the East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, Principal Kafele was a finalist for New Jersey State Teacher of the Year and a recipient of the New Jersey Education Association Award of Excellence.

As a middle and high school principal, Kafele led the transformation of four New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech—which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, and which was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s best high schools.

Kafele has delivered over two thousand conference and program keynotes, professional development workshops, parenting seminars and student assemblies over his 34 years of public speaking. An expert in the area of “attitude transformation,” He is the leading authority on providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined, the “Attitude Gap.” He is the author of eleven books, including his six national bestsellers—Closing the Attitude Gap, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life, The Teacher 50, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?, The Principal 50 and The ASPIRING Principal 50. His latest book, The ASSISTANT Principal 50 was released in May 2020.

Kafele is the recipient of more than 150 educational, professional, and community awards, including the prestigious Milken National Educator Award and the National Alliance of Black School Educators Hall of Fame Award. He was inducted into the East Orange, New Jersey Hall of Fame, and the City of Dickinson, Texas proclaimed February 8, 1998, Baruti Kafele Day.

Mashana Smith

The Uninvited Guest:  Trauma Responsive Practices that Support Educators and Students during COVID

Mashana SmithMashana Smith, Ph.D. is a Psychologist and Mental Health Consultant with Lurie Children’s Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR) and an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Mashana joined the Center for Childhood Resilience in 2019. She has more than 20 years of experience in clinical and community psychology. For the past 20 years, Dr. Smith’s professional interests have centered on urban children’s mental health and school-based mental health, with a particular focus on exposure to trauma, the intersection between racial inequality and trauma, and trauma-responsive school policy and practices. Within the Center for Childhood Resilience, Dr. Smith’s has trained school-based mental health professionals in evidence-based aggression-prevention, depression, and trauma-focused interventions. Her current activities focus on both the development and sustainability of trauma-sensitive school districts and more broadly, the establishment of school-based behavioral health infrastructures that address the needs of at-risk students. Dr. Smith’s clinical interests extend into both education and mental health advocacy and policy.

Currently, she is a member of several boards and stakeholder groups. She serves on the University of Chicago Community Advisory Board, the School Health Access Collaborative Policy Group, the Illinois ACES Response Collaborative Advisory Council, Educators for Excellence Advisory Board, and the Working on Womanhood (WOW) Executive Council. Also, she is a member of the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative State Working Group to Address Childhood Adversity and the state of Illinois’ P20 Council’s Student Support Committee.

Dr. Smith received her B.A. degree from Hampton University, and her Master’s and doctoral degrees in Clinical Community Psychology from DePaul University. She completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a National Institute for Mental Health Prevention Research in Urban Children’s Mental Health fellow.

A Sampling of Live Sessions

Planning Mathematics Instruction to Reach ALL Learners

Presenters: Matt McLeod, Math For All; Cristina Sanchez-Lopez, Illinois Resource Center (IRC); Elisabeth Trost, Illinois Resource Center (IRC)

Spaces to Explore: Lifting up Student Identity in Bilingual Instruction

Presenters: Olivia Mulcahy, Illinois Resource Center (IRC) & Samuel Aguirre, WIDA

Is There a Problem Here? Examining Teacher Attributes before Labeling English Learners “Deficient”

Presenter: Tracy Taylor, Ed.D. , Illinois Resource Center (IRC)

Unleash Their Play by Tapping into Children’s Home Cultures

Presenter: Tammy King, Early Childhood Professional Learning (ECPL)

Memoirs of an ESL Teacher

Presenter: Sue Wagner, Retired Illinois Resource Center (IRC)

Understanding Selective Mutism

Presenter: Kathy Slattery, Star Net Region II

Eye See What You’re Feeling

Presenter: Jac McBride, Star Net Region II

We have finalized plans for what will be your best opportunity of the school year to reach directly the leaders, decision-makers, teachers, and other stakeholders in Illinois public schools.

This combined conference brings together educators from throughout Illinois who work daily in an extremely broad range of programs and content areas, including but not limited to early childhood education, programs for linguistically and culturally diverse students, special education, general education academic programs, and more. During the conference, our community of educators will focus on ideas, products, software solutions, infrastructure support services, and other effective ways to improve teaching and learning during pandemic times. Of particular interest are ideas, products, and services that can help close the technology gap and bring complete computer and internet access to all Illinois students, regardless of their location or personal, community, and institutional resources.

Depending on the level of your sponsorship and participation in this ESSA/Multilingual Illinois Conference, we offer you the opportunity to showcase your latest products and services through our virtual exhibit hall and sponsor profiles. With the ability to upload a company video, to digital company banners, and direct participation in conference sessions, you will have high visibility in this event and recognition for your support of Illinois schools. There are options designed to assist you in finding the right level for your budget and your time. 

We offer a comprehensive list of sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities to support Illinois public education, from pre-K through high school, with your financial and intellectual horsepower. Teachers, administrators, and decision-makers want to hear from you about your best ideas and ways to help schools achieve student academic goals despite the obstacles we all face this school year. The conference offers you an opportunity to highlight your brand and to offer your latest interactive software, books, infrastructure enhancements, and online resources designed for this large and very interested market.

If you have any questions, contact Silvia Rogel at or Yvonne Baginski,

We look forward to your participation!

Sponsor & Exhibitor Registration
ESSA/Multilingual Conference 2021 – Can I Register Per Day?2020-12-07T13:15:49-06:00

There is no “per day” registration for this event. This virtual conference is a package deal with access to all four days including “live” keynotes and a mix of “real-time” and pre-recorded presentations. Additionally, real-time sessions will be recorded so they will be available “on-demand”. Participants will have access to all 4 days of the conference through June 2021, in order to accommodate everyone’s so no working time is lost unnecessarily. The conference overall provides 16 professional development hours.

I’m Not Receiving Emails About An Event, What Could Be the Problem?2020-12-07T13:33:48-06:00

If you haven’t received information regarding an event in your email, one likely culprit may be your spam filter. We try to tailor our email communications to avoid this filter, but some emails end up there anyway. Please first check the spam folder of your email. The sender may be listed as CVENT or CrowdCompass. If there is no email in the spam filter, please email

What sponsorship, advertising, and exhibit opportunities are available?2020-01-24T12:41:42-06:00

There are various sponsorship opportunities. For more information, please contact Yvonne Baginski,

How to create your own schedule with Crowd Compass2021-01-22T09:51:10-06:00
  1. Open the Schedule. After logging in, tap the Schedule icon.
  2. Browse the Calendar. Switch days by using the date selector at the top of the screen. Scroll up and down to see all the sessions on a particular day.
  3. See something interesting? Tap the plus sign to the right of its name to add it to your personal schedule.
How do I access Crowd Compass?2020-12-03T09:39:28-06:00

You will be sent a link via email prior to the event to access our virtual platform, Crowd Compass.

You may use it via either:

On an iOS device, access the App Store and on an Android device, the Play Store. Search for CrowdCompass AttendeeHub. Once you have found the app, tap either Download or Install. After installing, a new icon will appear on your home screen.  Open the AttendeeHub app.


Open any internet browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari) on your computer, smartphone, or tablet and enter through the link sent to you.

Once you log in you will be able to see the schedule, view pre-recorded sessions, access live sessions when they occur, create an agenda, and view all uploaded files.


What is Crowd Compass?2021-01-22T09:54:45-06:00

CrowdCompass is the online conference program and platform for the virtual conference.  You will access the conference by logging in to the CrowdCompass event website on your desktop or laptop, using any web browser.  You can also download the app CrowdCompass Events to access the conference on your phone or tablet.  You can even use both website and mobile app and access the event on multiple devices. You will receive an invitation email with instructions on how to do this about a week before the conference. 

When will session information be available?2021-01-22T09:55:37-06:00

Session information will be available on CrowdCompass approximately a week before the event.  You will receive an email invitation with details on how to access the virtual conference event.

Will I receive an Evidence of Completion of Professional Development?2020-12-07T13:22:14-06:00

Conference participants will receive an evaluation to complete via email at the close of the conference and will receive an ISBE Evidence of Completion form upon completing the evaluation.

Is there funding available to help with registration costs?2020-12-03T10:26:49-06:00

In many cases, school districts often cover this expense using funds from Title I, Title II, or Title III grants. Illinois Empower Funds may also be used.

What is the cancellation policy for the conference?2020-12-03T10:18:31-06:00

Cancellations and changes and duplicate payments received before February 18, 2021 are subject to a $25.00 processing fee. Cancellations received on/after February 18 will be charged the full conference registration fee. Registration changes will NOT be accepted after February 18.

I’m a presenter, do I need to register for the conference?2020-12-07T13:32:26-06:00

 Everyone who participates, including presenters, is asked to register. This virtual conference is a package deal with access to all four days including “live” keynotes and a mix of “real-time” and pre-recorded presentations. Additionally, real-time sessions will be recorded so they will be available “on-demand”. Participants will have access to all 4 days of conference presentations through June 2021. Therefore, we ask everyone who participates to register. School districts often cover this expense using funds from Title I, Title II, Title III grants or Illinois Empower funds.

When is the registration deadline?2020-12-03T10:34:51-06:00

Registration must be made online by February 18, 2021.

What comes with my registration?2020-12-03T10:36:22-06:00

Registration includes access to live and on-demand sessions as well as the exhibitor hall.

What forms of payment are accepted?2020-12-03T10:36:57-06:00

Online registration is available with Visa or Mastercard or purchase orders.

Highlights of the 2020 ESSA Conference

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