Resiliency Conference 2021



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Important Information: The Resiliency Conference is two days. Please note there are separate session registration numbers.
Once registered, you will receive instructions on how to access schedules and Zoom® links.


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Participants will receive two free books:


180 Days of Self-Care for Busy Educators

A Moment for Teachers: Self-Care for Busy Teachers

After registration, participants will recieve a link to 

order their books.


Wow, what a year! The global pandemic, social change, AND the snowpocalypse. We also can not ignore the everyday stressors of day-to-day living. We have survived an unbelievable year. In education, we band together, support each other, and move forward despite the challenges. The Resiliency Conference is a special time to acknowledge the capacity of educators to be resilient. Most importantly, your wellness matters.

The Resiliency Conference is an opportunity to expand your knowledge with magnificent strategies to continue building resilience in yourself. The conference will begin with our phenomenal keynote speaker Ben Nemtin and powerful plenary presenter Principal Kafele. Both presenters will focus on the power of positive actions to bounce back and become even more resilient. Come and enjoy the great breakout sessions that will focus on practical self-care and self-compassion strategies to enhance your daily practices, as well as support your well-being. 

WHEN EDUCATORS ARE WELL, STUDENTS WILL BE WELL, and students will learn from our actions.



Important Note:
These sessions are virtual. Prior to the each session, participants will receive an e-mail with information regarding how to access the event. Participants should ensure the correct e-mail is on file to ensure receipt of the login information. Each session will have a separate registration and notification.



Meet the Presenters


Keynote Speaker



Ben Nemtin


5 Steps to Make the Impossible Possible
Whether you need to set bigger goals or reach the ones you already have, Ben Nemtin will help you get from “ambition” to “accomplishment.”
Nemtin’s message of radical possibility combined with his 5 Steps to Make the Impossible Possible leave audiences not only inspired but also equipped with tools to tackle the seemingly insurmountable. His system of achieving impossible goals demystifies daunting tasks by turning dreams into projects and creates inspiration through action and accountability.
Nemtin reminds us that it’s never too late to start your list and leave your lasting impact on the world.



Ben Nemtin and his three childhood friends started The Buried Life in Victoria, BC, in 2006. They made a list of 100 things to do before you die and for every list item they accomplished, they helped a complete stranger cross something off their bucket list. Since then, they have crossed off writing a number one New York Times best-selling book, making a TV show that aired on MTV®, being interviewed by Oprah, reuniting a father and son after 17 years, and surprising a young girl with a much-needed bionic arm. Ben Nemtin and his friends have crossed off 91 of 100 dreams and are currently filming The Buried Life documentary film.





Plenary Speaker


Principal Baruti Kafele


Your Bounce Back Matters

The past year has been unlike anything we have ever experienced in our lifetimes. In addition to healthcare workers, it has been immeasurably challenging for educators on countless levels. So many educators across the US have felt the pressure of continuing to be phenomenal but in the midst of a global pandemic and social change. Educators have even expressed feeling worn down to the point of burnout. In this presentation with a focus on resilience, Principal Kafele will discuss the importance of the “bounce back” while providing attendees with strategies toward getting back on their feet and moving forward.


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 a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four New Jersey urban schools. This includes "The Mighty" Newark Tech that went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition and was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America's best high schools.
One of the most sought-after school leadership experts and education speakers in America, Principal Kafele is the leading authority on providing effective classroom and school leadership strategies toward closing what he coined the "Attitude Gap.” He has authored eleven books, including six best-selling ASCD books Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life, Closing the Attitude Gap, The Teacher 50, Is My School a Better School BECAUSE I Lead It?, The Principal 50, and The Assistant Principal 50. His latest book, The Equity and Social Justice Education 50, will be released May 2021. 
Principal Kafele is the recipient 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 to be Baruti Kafele Day.




Breakout Session Presenters


Catherine Landry


Reconnect with Your Passion to Educate and Build Relationships with Students
Think about why you chose to start a career in education. Many would say it was to connect with and make a difference in students’ lives. Join this session and see how restorative practice can reignite that passion for connecting with students. See how this efficient process integrates with what you do every day and does not add to your workload. 


Landry is a behavior instructional specialist with the Inclusive Practices Team at Region 4 Education Service Center. Landry has more than 10 years of experience supporting the implementation of positive behavior practices at state, district, and campus levels in Texas and Louisiana. Her passion for this work came from her own experience as a classroom teacher in both regular and special education settings.   


Brianna Brazle, LPC


Radical Self-Compassion

This session will be engaging, relaxing, and transformative. You will have an opportunity to acknowledge the difficulties of the past year, celebrate your successes, and learn to ways to be intentional about self-compassion. Join me in an affinity space using interventions from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.



Brianna Brazle is a Region 4 wellness counselor working directly with the Santa Fe ISD community. She received her education from the University of Houston and the illustrious Clark Atlanta University. She also has received advanced training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She has a deep passion for assisting individuals to break the molds that hold them hostage from achieving personal fulfillment. Random fact: she LOVES corn!

Alexa Carrier, MS, RD


Strategies for Eating Well and Living Your Best Life!
Eating right can be a struggle but it doesn’t have to be. Join us for an insightful session on how to choose the right foods, how to use them in your everyday meals, and how to feel good about the choices you make. The key to eating right and living your best life is to remember that all it takes is to be good MOST of the time!


Carrier received her Bachelors of Science in Human Science and her Master of Science in Human Science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She has been a registered dietitian for 18 years practicing in numerous fields of nutrition including clinical, community, higher education and school nutrition. She is currently a child nutrition specialist with Region 4 Education Service Center.


Janet Carroll 


The Amazing Heart: The Ultimate Super Power of the Body 
This presentation will include

  • the three stages of resiliency;
  • the physiology of COHERENCE;
  • heart-focused breathing that can create COHERENCE within 3–5 minutes;
  • a brief overview of how stress affects your heart rhythm and your life; and
  • how to listen to the wisdom of your heart. 

Change your heart rhythm. Change your life.


Laughter Yoga: The Ultimate Superpower 
This presentation is experiential and powerful as Carroll shares the impressive science, research, and healing of Laughter Yoga. She focuses on the physiology of stress and burnout and its catastrophic effects on the body, especially women, as well as how to laugh yourself into health, happiness and increased resilience.


Carroll's 50 years in nursing, 37 years in massage therapy, 8 years in Laughter Yoga, and 2 years in HeartMath have given her experiences in health services and also special insight into physical, mental and emotional well-being. 


We are in the era of awakening the heart with a focus on self-love, self-compassion, and self-care. Are you ready for this amazing adventure?

Anne Douglas-Rowald, RYT 200

Yoga Asanas for Your Workday
Join me for yoga—a union of the body, mind, and spirit with the goal of achieving stillness of the mind. Engage in a brief discussion to understand the eight limbs of yoga, one of which is the asanas, the physical poses we think of when someone says yoga. We will engage in a series of physical practices you can use daily when you wake, at your desk, or as a break in a workshop you are leading. Use these individually as short breaks or combine them for a single practice. We will conclude with a short meditation and moment of gratitude.



Douglas-Rowald, RYT 200, is the director of the Innovation Center 4 Educator Preparation, a center dedicated to improving the quality of teacher preparation through alternative certification pathways focusing on quality preparation and supports. Yoga has brought peace and provided a way to center her being for the past 20 years. Daily practice of the asanas and meditation provided a healthy way to process the stress of working in education, first as a science teacher and then in various administrative roles.

Ange Dickson Finn 

Tap into Relaxation
This session will provide a variety of simple body-based relaxation techniques, including Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and others. Dickson Finn will give participants a brief background in how these techniques have an essential role in relieving stress and improving mood and cognition, especially when experiencing reactions to traumatic experiences. Participants will use these techniques during the session and learn how best to use them for self-care and how to teach them to students.



Dickson Finn is an advanced emotional freedom techniques and a thought field therapy-algorithms practitioner, working with clients using simple, fast techniques to help people overcome fear, worry, and stress. She is certified and accredited with EFT International. She is also a member of ACEP where she serves on the Humanitarian Committee, teaching their Resources For Resilience techniques.

In addition to her tapping coaching practice, Dickson Finn works with the University of Texas McGovern Medical School as a facilitator for the Sacred Vocation Program for medical residents.

Mor Regev


Creating a Joyful, Thriving Staff Culture in a School

Part of resiliency and a thriving culture is creating opportunities for joy and celebration within your school team. This looks different in the virtual world, but is still possible. Please join this session if you want to both learn about and work on a plan to build staff joy among your colleagues at your school or organization.


Regev is a licensed social worker, counselor, and educator. She has worked as a middle school counselor at KIPP in Spring Branch ISD for the past 7 years and more recently as an adjunct professor at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. She earned her BA in sociology from Rice University in 2006 and earned master's degrees in teaching from Pace University and social work from Washington University in St. Louis. She taught grades 5–6 through Teach for America and has been teaching yoga and mindfulness to students of all ages since 2017. Regev has worked with hundreds of students and their families engaging in both short- and long-term mental-health counseling and case management to address a variety of issues. Together with her graduate social work interns, she created and oversees the implementation of a 4-year social justice and character curriculum, The Identity Project. Throughout her career, Regev has also worked in the areas of fundraising, charitable giving, grant writing, and event planning.

Ann Friedman, PhD


Simple Mindful Practices for Teacher Stress and Burnout and Using Gratitude Practices to Increase Your Joy
In recent years, mindfulness has been popularized in the media. Mindfulness is now being taught to educators and implemented in classrooms across the nation. Mindfulness is not just about breathing, although the breath can relax your body. It's learning to bring a quality of attention that can change your daily stress. Through this training, you will realize that you don't create most of your thoughts, and you don't have to believe your stressful thoughts. You can question beliefs, quit making assumptions, and become more curious. You can also bring kindness and compassion practices to yourself and others when you are hurting.


Ann Friedman, PhD, is a psychologist who has studied mindfulness intensively with various national teachers since 2007. She began teaching as a volunteer in 2012 and in 2015, Dr. Friedman received a Certification in Mindfulness Facilitation from the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Friedman has also completed courses for teaching mindfulness to children and teens through Mindful Schools, Sitting Like a Frog, and A Still Quiet Place.

Dr. Friedman teaches mindfulness classes for adults, teens, and parents with their children through her company, Mindful Being, P.C. Dr. Friedman trains counselors, teachers, and school staff in Houston-area schools and school districts in collaboration with the Mental Health America of Greater Houston. She previously served as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. She holds doctorates in Counseling Psychology and Jurisprudence from UH. She completed her residency in Clinical Psychology at UT Medical School and her post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Marisol Mendez


Mindfulness Modalities
In this session, we will review both theory and tools on ways to manage stress. We will cover a brief review of the science of stress and practice mind-body modalities: desktop yoga, guided breathwork, and quiet meditation. In addition, participants will walk away with ready-to-use self-care tools for themselves and their students and staff.



Marisol Mendez is a mental health counselor and stress-management facilitator. She volunteers in the service of mental health through different nonprofit organizations. She sees the ability to regulate one’s emotions as the foundation of a happy and healthy society, understanding that when we are still, we can see more clearly what action needs to be taken, intentionally and peacefully.

Ashley Whitley


Make an Appointment with YourSELF 
How many times do you put others first? How many times do you say “That wasn't enough" when confronted with personal challenges? Let's flip the switch and instead of focusing on everyone else, let's make an appointment with ourselves. During this session, we will do more than talk about self-care and self-compassion, but we will cover tools for intentional steps toward self-care and self-compassion. The goal is to initiate positive change and a proactive response to life's changes. Join us as we make an appointment for self-care and self-compassion.


Ashley Whitley is a licensed marriage and family therapy associate. She has worked in the mental health community for more than 10 years. She is currently a non-physician mental health professional under the leadership of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD and is currently at Region 4 Education Service Center. She serves as a liaison between multiple local mental health authorities, the Region 4 Education Service Center, and the learning community and community stakeholders. While serving the community, she provides multiple trainings such as Mental Health First Aid, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, A.S.K. about Suicide and other carefully curated trainings on mental wellness for diverse audiences. Whitley is an advocate for reducing stigma concerning mental health and self-care. She additionally works with children, adolescents, and families in support of healthy family systems that create a foundation for life satisfaction and abundant living.




Resiliency Conference Administrator's Day Presenters

Join us for the second day of the Resiliency Conference that is designed specifically for administrators. Please note a separate registration is required. During this exciting day, administrators will share how they creatively and intentionally created a multi-tiered system of support for a culture of care on their campuses or in their district. The administrators will share their celebrations and their struggles, as well as share valuable resources. 
Wellness matters because when everyone is WELL, QUALITY EDUCATION CAN HAPPEN.



Amy Cmaidalka 

Dickinson ISD


Gator Wellness

Gator Wellness is a holistic approach that is dedicated to the mental and emotional wellness of students, families, and staff. Through Gator Wellness, we focus on social-emotional learning, character education, resiliency, relationship building, trauma-informed practices, and overall wellness. As administrators and leaders, we need to be intentional about advocating and supporting staff wellness. Through a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework, I will share suggestions on supporting staff throughout the year. 



Amy Cmaidalka is the social-emotional learning specialist for Dickinson ISD. She has been in education for 17 years. Cmaidalka was a kindergarten teacher for 7 years, a professional school counselor for 8 years, and a social-emotional learning specialist for 2 years. Prior to her current position, Amy was the lead counselor for elementary through middle school and the lead Section 504 coordinator for the district. Cmaidalka earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Cmaidalka instructs the Youth Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health First Aid, Psychological First Aid, As+K About Suicide To Save a Life, and Trauma-Informed classes. She is certified in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), National Organization of Victim’s Assistance (NOVA) and a member of the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Team. Amy was the recipient of the 2018 Walter Kase Educator Excellence Award presented by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Cmaidalka is implementing a Gator Wellness Initiative for Dickinson ISD. Cmaidalka enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and family. 






Karen Haynes, PhD, LPC-S  

Galena Park ISD


Wellness is FundaMENTAL

In this session, we will review the practices that have been put in place in Galena Park Independent School District. Focus will be placed on the importance of wellness. 



Karen Haynes, PhD, LPC-S attended Lamar University where she earned her BA in social work in 1994. She earned her MA in counseling from Prairie View A&M University in 2002. Dr. Haynes earned her PhD in psychology from Walden University in 2017. 

Dr. Haynes has served in many roles in her district. She began her career in Galena Park ISD as a community youth services (CYS) worker in 1997. Since then, she was promoted to coordinator and then later to program director for social services. She currently and proudly serves as the director for Mental Health and Social Services. Dr. Haynes was instrumental in developing a comprehensive mental health and crisis response team in Galena Park ISD. In her free time, Dr. Haynes enjoys spending time with her family and friends.



Main Office
Region 4 Education Service Center
7145 West Tidwell Road Houston, Texas 77092-2096
713.462.7708 | PHONE
Region 4 is making improvements to the McKinney Conference Center and will invite guests to experience the difference in September of 2024.
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