2019 Administrators Conference



Building Resilient Kids, Schools, Family and Community

KAIRS Annual Administrators Conference
February 11, 8:30 am – February 12, 11:00 am
Location: The Capitol Plaza Hotel
1717 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka, KS 66612

Building strength and resilience in children… experts tell us it’s the combination of ability and protective factors that enables them to adapt in the face of poverty, trauma, adversity, high levels of stress and/or tragedy and overcome. Why do some children fare well and others do not?

Relationships with caring adults in schools and surrounding communities are an important factor in building resilience. Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz brings her life experiences and passion about creating Trauma-Informed schools. Her goal is to help, “ALL people find the tools necessary to turn kids from at-risk to at-promise!

Keynote Speaker

Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz is Director of Learning Centers – ESSDACK Poverty Consultant. She works with kids in poverty and directs 10 high school completion programs in the State of Kansas. Growing up poor, she knows firsthand what poverty means and is committed to helping resolve poverty’s impact within education and in communities.

She is convinced that the Trauma-Informed movement, together with community collaboration and restorative justice principles, puts everyone in a winnable game.  Her work to resolve “pOVERty” within education and communities is robust.

Rebecca’s story:

At age 37, Rebecca was living with her three little boys in a trailer house that should have been condemned.  Every day was beyond a struggle. Rebecca’s life taught her two things: Hard Work. Survival.

She grew up poor, dropped out of high school on her 16th birthday and was doing a fantastic job of repeating the cycle of generational poverty. Then by accident, she bumped up against a non-profit that helped people get out of pOVERty. They wrapped support around Rebecca, fed her powerful doses of hope and taught her a better way. Later, Rebecca ended up running that non-profit and building it into the largest and most successful Circles site in the country.

Rebecca’s Presentations:

Building Brains Through a Heart Shift

Understanding the common denominator between poverty and trauma brings us to the “Why and How.”  These are connected. Once we gain insights and awareness, we can begin to concentrate on how to heal both and move forward toward academic and life success. But it’s more than just filling our heads with knowledge and strategies…. it’s transforming hearts as well.

Now That We Know – Nuts and Bolts of Implementing a Trauma-Responsive School

So once we have our why, the bigger question becomes, so what do we do about it? In this interactive session we will unpack implementation of a trauma-responsive school. But schools cannot do this alone. A portion of the afternoon will be spent on understanding how communities are coming alongside schools to take on this imperative mission of building resilience to create better lives for everyone.

Breakout Sessions

Christian Character Formation – Rev. Matthew Hoehner

Rev. Dr. Matthew Hoehner serves as the Regional Executive Director of Open Sky Education. With leaders from Open Sky Education Rev. Hoehner helped to develop the Character Formation Project, a licensed set of character formation content and programming with two versions — one for public schools based on civic character, and the other for Christian education based on Christian character. Rev. Hoehner will present the Christian version of this innovative program that has helped catalyze the character formation of thousands of children and adults around the world.


In his work with Open Sky Education, Rev. Hoehner has also been a leader in the development of a region of four EAGLE Schools and Compass Christian Educational Programs in St. Louis. Additionally, he serves on the pastoral staff at Messiah Lutheran Church in St. Louis.


Addressing Mental Health in a Religious Context – Dr. Neil Buono

Rev. Dr. Neil Buono will provide administrators and principals within a religious context the foundation for a clinically effective and theologically sound approach to the mental health needs of their students, families and teachers. Attendees will gain an awareness of the balance of the clinical and the theological in identifying and caring for their at-risk students. Attendees will also gain awareness on the place of the “community” as a source of healing. Rev. Buono is a Clinical Marriage, Family Therapist and Pastoral Counselor for Heritage Mental Health Clinic in Topeka. He previously served as pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Topeka.



Oratory & Art Resources in the Classroom – Dave McIntire

How can art and oratory be a catalyst for student-driven inquiry and action? As a Ford’s Theater National Oratory Fellow, Mr. McIntire’s presentation is filled with wonderfully stimulating visual and intriguing auditory examples of the protocols developed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Ford’s Theater. His design-thinking strategies are designed to help build classroom communities and foster student engagement in learning.

Mr. McIntire teaches American and World History and coaches the Middle School Scholar’s Bowl team at The Independent School of Wichita. He was recently one of two national recipients of the 2018 Lincoln Teacher Leader Awards sponsored by BP America, and was the 2012 Ford’s Theater National Oratory Master Fellow.


Supporting the Growing Brain – Dr. Dennis Kear

The greatest rate of brain growth and development is during the first few years of life. Because of such rapid brain growth during those years, early experiences have a disproportionately greater impact on the newly growing brain’s development.

Utilizing concepts from The Growing Brain curriculum (which consists of 21 clock hours training), Dr. Kear will highlight the importance of building a strong early foundation and demonstrate practical ways to help teachers and administrators compensate for those students who missed the firm foundation during years 0-5.

Dr. Kear is the Executive Director of the Kansas Masonic Literacy Center (KMLC) at Emporia State University. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Education at Missouri State University and spent 30 years on the faculty of Wichita State University.

Kansas Social-Emotional Character Development – Kent Reed

Kent is an Educational Program Consultant for the Kansas State Department of Education.  As such, he is integrally involved with the promotion of the Social, Emotional, and Character Development (SECD) Standards that were adopted in 2012 and revised in 2018. Social-emotional growth is one of the State Board Outcomes. He will present an overview of these standards, which are “designed to provide a framework to schools for integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) with character development so that students will learn, practice and model essential personal life habits that contribute to academic, career and personal success.”



    Register Today! Registration deadline is February 4.
Registration Fee: $80 (for first registration) $70 (additional attendees from same school)

2019 Professional Administrators Conference Flier
includes registration form for you to print, complete, and submit…

Special Events

Throughout the two days of the conference, special events highlight the agenda. After lunch on Monday, February 11, the Women Administrators Roundtable provides the opportunity for collegial fellowship and discussion of current events. The Hall of Fame Banquet takes place Monday evening and features the 2019 Distinguished Teachers presentation. Prior to the banquet, selected legislators are invited to a reception. Then, early Tuesday morning, members of the Kansas Board of Education join conference attendees for breakfast and a panel discussion of the latest legislative developments.

Hotel Information

The beautiful Topeka Capitol Hotel is hosting the 2019 Conference. Call today to reserve a room!

The Capitol Plaza Hotel
1717 SW Topeka Blvd
Topeka, KS 66612
Toll-free: (800) 579-7937
Local: (785) 431-7200
Email: topek@atriumhospitality.com