GAAE Conference Speakers 2015
Georgia Association for Alternative Education
The GAAE welcomes the Georgia State School Superintendent!
Richard Woods was born in Pensacola, Florida and while growing up in a military family, lived in California, Hawaii and Virginia before moving to Georgia. He graduated from Fitzgerald High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Kennesaw State University and a Master’s Degree from Valdosta State University.
Woods has over 22 years of pre-k through12th grade experience in public education. Woods was a high school teacher for 14 years, serving as department chair and teacher mentor. During his tenure, he was also selected as Teacher of the Year. For eight years Woods served in various administrative roles such as assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, testing coordinator, pre-k director, and alternative school director.
Woods also brings a business background to the superintendent's
Ms. Sylvia Christine Hooker
Diane L’Heureux is currently in her 41st year in education. She has been very fortunate to have been able to follow her passion of serving the children of Georgia in education in a variety of settings.
She has years of experience at the elementary level and most recently, working alongside adult educators to provide the best learning environment for students.
She firmly believes that great teachers aren’t born, but made by the teacher next door. She owes much gratitude to her next door teachers for shaping her into the teacher she has become.
Dr. Pamela L. Bruening
Dr. Pamela L. Bruening is the President and CEO of Progressive Bridges, Inc., an educational services company that empowers educators nationwide through cutting edge professional development, consulting, and curriculum research and product design. She is also the Founder and CEO of DeeperDive Learning, Inc., publisher of EdQuest, an innovative online professional development library for educators. Dr. Bruening has had extensive experience in consulting with more than 10 educational product companies nationwide to support cutting edge product development for effective data analysis and intervention in K-12 classrooms, specifically in the area of social-emotional learning (SEL). Formerly the Collier County, Florida’s Coordinator of Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavior Support (PBIS), Dr. Bruening oversaw the planning, implementation, data collection, and monitoring of one of the nation's most accomplished and acclaimed RTI/MTSS programs. Dr. Bruening holds a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership and Human Resources Development and a Masters of Education degree in Reading. An educator for 27 years, Dr. Bruening is recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent experts in RtI/MTSS, PBIS, behavior initiatives, intervention, curriculum development, and alternative education. Dr. Bruening spent much of her education career in alternative schools, opening and leading a juvenile detention center and an expulsion program, as well as consulting to numerous juvenile justice programs and detention centers around the country. She has presented at many state and national conferences over the past 6 years, and has incredible experience as an administrator, strategist, consultant, and implementer of services. In addition to serving on the National Alternative Education Association Board of Directors, Dr. Bruening also serves on boards of companies such as Continental, Inc. and Innovative Technologies in Print.
Ms. Jessica Ainsworth
Ms. Jessica Ainsworth has a passion for equipping leaders to be path changers for students so they are prepared to take the road less traveled. Recognized as a leader, she was recently named the 2015 Georgia and National Assistant Principal of the Year, received the 2015 GAEL Presidential Citation and named one of the Chamber’s Top Ten Young Professionals. Prior to moving into a role to support district improvement, she was an assistant principal, educational evaluator, and special education teacher. She focuses on using data to support interventions while meeting each student’s needs. Using this as her purpose, Jessica has presented at numerous regional and national conferences on topics including school improvement, assistant principal leadership, response to intervention for teachers, and retaining effective teachers. Jessica is pursuing her doctorate degree in school improvement and will finish in May.
Dr. Melinda Strickland
Dr. Melinda Strickland retired from education after working 32 years in the Floyd County School System in Rome, Georgia. She served as principal of the Floyd County Education Center for 13 years prior to it being closed due to budget cuts. She is currently in her fourth year as president of the Georgia Association for Alternative Education. She also works as an adjunct professor at Berry College in the Teacher Education Department. She is an Independent Ambassador for Plexus Worldwide and author of More Than a Test Score: Strategies for Empowering Youth At Risk, published by Rowman & Littlefield.