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Past Conferences

2023 Amplify

2023 Amplify Theme

Equitable Education Post-Pandemic

Friday, November 10, 2023

Curtis Valentine at the 2023 Amplify Conference.
Curtis Valentine leads Amplify attendees through team-building activities. Photograph by Kamiasha Tyner.

Friday’s conference kick-off began with networking and Real Men Teach Founder Curtis Valentine, who guided participants in a networking and team-building activity to build and foster connections.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Saturday morning we opened with an early morning optional yoga session led by Dr. Auburn Ellis with Studio 5400.  

The KCK All-Star Band students, under the direction of Kevin Reliford, Katja Otto-Gentry, and Deandre Tatum Sr., greeted the attendees with musical talents as they arrived for breakfast.  

Curtis Valentine was the opening keynote speaker. He walked participants through their connections in history and shared the necessary tools to lead students in a post-pandemic world with the collective approach to addressing inequitable education today.  

Amplify 2023 attendees during the Boxout Stress session led by Ritchie Cherry
Ritchie Cherry leads Amplify attendees through his Boxout Stress class. Photograph by Kamiasha Tyner.

Session 1 Breakout:

Pre-pandemic educational experiences had been deemed “normal.” However, we know that this claim was, and still is, far from the truth for many when considering the predictability of student achievement by race and socioeconomic status. Educators and members of the larger community have witnessed a plethora of education inequities, some of which have historically pervasive roots.

In this session, participants were asked to reject deficit ideas of “learning loss” and instead considered what unfinished teaching and learning may have occurred as adults come together to create, enact, and maintain a new system, anchored in the instructional core, that all of our children deserve.

Latino families hold essential knowledge about the conditions that best promote learning and well-being for the children in their care. However, a language barrier and lack of familiarity with the American education system become limitations in their engagement in schools.

In our session we dove into lessons learned from Familias Latinas Por La Educación (FLE), a community power-building program for adult relatives of school-aged children who gain the resources and tools for durable advocacy. Session participants familiarized themselves with a framework that empowers families to become advocates for their children and their community.

Learn more about facilitators Mara Gilyard and Sandra Nuñez >

There is a myriad of data that says Black men in schools make schools better, yet creating an environment within which Black men thrive is not an easy task. If we want Black men to come and stay in education, we must let them tell us how. This session outlined the environmental elements that draw Black men in schools and keep them.

This session was an empowering and transformative session designed exclusively for school district leaders of color. As leaders advocating for equitable education in the post-pandemic landscape, it’s essential to prioritize self-care and well-being. This interactive and participant-centered session offered practical tools, resources, and strategies tailored to the unique experiences of leaders of color in predominantly white environments.

Our session highlighted a post-Covid-19 leadership coaching program for Black and Latinx/Hispanic principals in two districts. Pandemic challenges like learning loss and staffing shortages are addressed. Research emphasizes the positive impact of Black and Latinx/Hispanic principals on retention, student success, and belonging. However, only 17% of principals are from these groups and face systemic obstacles. We explored our tailored support methods, detailing our approach, impact, data insights, and systemic suggestions. Delving into why, how, and what we did for our cohort of 21 principals, our session provided participants a comprehensive understanding and conversational space.

Learn more about facilitators Naomi Fortis-Gebreselassie and Sha Fanion, Ed.D. >

The Black Girl Magic movement has become a powerful force, but unfortunately, Black girls are often not given the opportunity to showcase their magic in the classroom. Utilizing Black girl storientation can be a powerful tool to address this issue. In this session, participants dove into multimodal critical literacies that specifically center around Black girlhood, ensuring that all Black girls feel seen, heard, and pulled into learning spaces instead of pushed out.

Post-pandemic, educators are stretched thin yet working incredibly hard to accelerate learning, provide mental health supports, adjust to new initiatives, and more for their students, oftentimes with limited support. Capacity building provides partnership, builds knowledge and skills, and helps educators re-think systems to meet students’ needs better. Too often, however, capacity building is driven by top-down decisions, resulting in “one-size-fits-all” inequitable support. This session explored a vision of equity-oriented capacity building, dove into how Kansas City educators use capacity building to maximize their impacts with staff and students, and left with actionable next steps toward meeting your capacity-building needs.

Learn more about facilitators AntoniÁ (Toni) White and Jeremy Tullis >

2023 Amplify Conference attendees
Amplify attendees participated in team-building workshops over the course of the two-day conference. Photograph by Kamiasha Tyner.

Dr. Jennifer Collier, the first African-American female superintendent of the Kansas City Public School District, provided powerful words of inspiration by sharing why educators must continue to fight for Black and Brown children. “We are not here by happenstance. We have been chosen for such a time as this. We keep doing this because we understand that while we seek hope and refuge for ourselves, we are the hope and refuge for our children.” 


Amplify attendees witnessed an educational spectacle like never before at this year’s conference, the EduTank pitch contest. Four Kansas City schools each won $25,000 – a $10,000 DonorsChoose gift card and a $15,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation – to fund school projects. Educators from Brookside Charter School, Hogan Preparatory Academy, Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy, and North Kansas City High School were selected to present their visionary projects at the EduTank Pitch Event. University Academy and the Kauffman School also received $10,000 DonorsChoose gift cards.  

2023 Amplify Conference EduTank winners
Students from North Kansas City High School celebrate their EduTank win at Amplify 2023. Photograph by Kamiasha Tyner.
2023 Amplify Conference EduTank winners
Educators from Hogan Preparatory Academy, Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy, Brookside Charter, and students from North Kansas City High School celebrate their joint win during the EduTank pitch contest. Photograph by Kamiasha Tyner.

Session 2 Breakout:

Across the nation, racist leaders are waging a relentless assault on public education. States like Florida and Virginia are witnessing a deliberate erasure of the truthful historical narrative, especially concerning communities of color and marginalized groups. The extremist agenda seeks to eliminate accurate history from classrooms, constituting a direct attack on the Black community. What is more, this campaign negatively impacts white children, depriving them of an honest understanding of their ancestors’ contributions to America’s political and societal evolution. In this session, attendees were introduced to the practices that educational leaders can employ to dismantle these initiatives effectively.

The “Nurturing Purpose and Sparking Post-pandemic Change” workshop is designed to empower educators of color in the context of education in a post-pandemic world. We will embark on a journey to reconnect participants with their profound “Why I Teach” while equipping them with actionable tools to initiate immediate action items, projects, or initiatives. With enriching research, practical strategies, and relatable models, our aim was for participants to leave with renewed purpose, resilience, and concrete steps to affect meaningful change in the evolving educational landscape.

Learn more about facilitators Richard Abram II, Deon Whitten, and Adrianne Ford, Ph.D. >

The literacy crisis disproportionately affects students of color, leaving an indelible impact on their academic and life trajectories. This urgent issue calls for a radical, systematic approach that not only identifies the challenges but also provides actionable solutions. In this interactive 75-minute session, participants will dive deep into the literacy crisis and discover concrete strategies that educators of color can implement for systemic change. This empowering session was full of enriching research, practical tools, and proven models designed to invigorate your teaching practices and instill a love for reading in all students.

This session explored the importance of equity work in schools and discussed strategies for promoting diversity, inclusion, and social justice in education. Equity work in schools is critical to creating inclusive and socially just educational environments where all students have equitable access to opportunities and resources, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or socioeconomic status. School districts have been comfortable talking about equity for far too long. It’s time to put action behind the words.

A 75-minute workshop that explored utilizing trauma-informed practices, understanding complexity, and Bloom Frames for Educator Equity-Centered Sustainable Transformation to limit educator overwhelm, build capacity in order to fuel agency, and create access that will lead to student success. An interactive workshop with opportunities to learn proactive versus reactive responses to the current complex trauma experienced by all school stakeholders. But mostly, understanding how to lead your classroom with love.

This workshop is based on James Baldwin’s 1965 “A Talk to Teachers.” It focuses on exploring the themes and ideas presented in the essay and their relevance to contemporary issues in education. Participants engaged in group discussions, reflective writing exercises, and interactive activities designed to deepen their understanding of Baldwin’s message and its implications for their teaching practice related to Black students. By the end of the workshop, participants had a deeper understanding of how education and educators can both perpetuate and challenge systems of oppression and be better equipped to create more inclusive and empowering learning environments for Black students.

Tyrone Bates, Jr. at the 2023 Amplify Conference.
Dr. Tyrone Bates closes Amplify 2024. Photograph by Kamiasha Tyner.

The closing keynote was Dr. Tyrone Bates, the CEO and President of True Empowering. He discussed some of the challenges minority teachers often face within the education system that causes a focus on their “Why.” He shared action plans and practical tools to ground themselves and remember what keeps them in the education fight, share in the celebrations of their successes, and contribute to their stories of triumph.