Celebrating 25 Years of BARR


Over 700 educators, administrators, school support organizations, and state leaders from across the country attended the 2024 BARR National Conference in Rancho Mirage, California on April 24 and 25 to focus on building stronger schools and helping each and every student succeed.

As the nation’s leading evidence-based school improvement model, BARR transforms education through intentionally deepened relationships and a data-driven, personalized and supportive approach. The BARR National Conference was created to provide the time and space for BARR educators to unite as a national network, share successful strategies, and find solutions to common challenges through collaborating with BARR coaches, trainers, and other strengths-focused professionals. The energy and enthusiasm when hundreds of BARR educators unite is something that lasts well beyond our time together in Rancho Mirage.

Conference attendees also had the opportunity to hear from some of the most inspiring voices in education in a variety of keynote sessions. General sessions included:

April 24, 2024  |  Day 1

  • Opening – Emcee Robert Brough, Chief Program Officer, BARR Center
  • The Importance of Continuous Improvement in Education and Life – Reggie Love
  • Lunch & Learn with Treopia Green Washington – Facilitated by Megan Reder-Schopp, BARR Center
  • Lunch & Learn with Denise Forte – Facilitated by Jillian Balow
  • ONE: How the Power of One Educator Can Impact the World – Rebecka Peterson, Council of Chief State School Officers – National Teacher of the Year, 2023
  • Message from Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor – Jacqueline Coleman
  • Leading with Heart and Soul: Three Mini Lessons – Dr. Irvin Scott, Author and Faculty Member, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Throughout the conference, BARR hosted leaders from 12 states, including nine State Superintendents and Commissioners of Education and key leaders from Governor’s offices. Some of the states being represented include: Alabama, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming. 

On Wednesday BARR’s main stage featured a State Panel facilitated by Dr. Melody

Schopp, former Secretary of Education from South Dakota, and Director of Education Industry Consulting at the SAS Institute.

The panel featured:

  • Dr. Eric Mackey, State Superintendent, Alabama State Department of Education
  • Pender Makin, State Commissioner, Maine Department of Education
  • Willie Jett, State Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
  • Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, State Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Dr. Jill Underly, State Superintendent, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Click here to learn more about our esteemed panel of State Superintendents and State Commissioners!

Also in attendance:

  • Debbie Critchfield, State Superintendent, Idaho State Department of Education
  • Dr. Sydnee Dickson, State Superintendent, Utah State Office of Education
  • Conference main stage presentations will also include:
  • Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, Kentucky Office of the Governor
  • Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent, California Department of Education
  • BARR Center also hosted key leaders from the Maine Office of the Governor,
  • Wyoming Office of the Governor, and leadership from the Alabama, California, Idaho,
  • Maine, and Rhode Island Department of Education.

“Throughout the past few years, this incredible network of educators has developed plans across the country on how to help support staff, communicate to the community, and support students and families to make sure that no student, teacher, administrator, school or community is alone,” said BARR’s Founder and Executive Director Angela Jerabek. “We are grateful for the time to celebrate these outstanding leaders who have been pivotal in building an education for a nation.”

April 25, 2024  | Day 2

  • Welcome from California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tony Thurmond
  • Disruptors at the Gate: How to Survive When Everything is Changing and Nothing Works Anymore – Dr. Jeffery Cole, Founder and Director, Center for the Digital Future
  • Special Video Message for BARR Conference Attendees – Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO, Learning Policy Institute
  • Magic for Humans Live! – Justin Willman, Star and Creators of Netflix series: Magic for Humans

But the most prominent voices in education were heard in our breakout sessions led by our very own BARR educators. Conference attendees chose from a variety of breakout sessions every morning and afternoon. The topics ranged from leveraging data to facilitating effective meetings to creating community partnerships.

Similar to past years and always a conference highlight, attendees were treated to several performances by California high school students. Three previous BARR students moved the audience with their rendition of “Rise Up” by Andra Day and “I’ll Be There” by Walk Off the Earth, the Compton High School Marching Band brought down the house with their energy, and the Perris High School Ballet Folklorico Club brought beauty and grace to the closing session with their extraordinary dance performance.

Since the beginning, it’s always been about you and your commitment to serving our youth. BARR would not be what it is today without your continued support, efforts, and strengths. Building on strengths — that’s how we continue to grow and move forward. Each and every one of you contributes something special to this field, most importantly, to the ones who pull up a chair each day. We are incredibly humbled by your choice to spend time with us and for the valuable insights, stories, and wisdom you brought with you and continue to bring to your schools. 

“I’m incredibly inspired by the national network of BARR educators —they are truly the ones most likely to change the world!”

Angela Jerabek, Founder & Executive Director of BARR