2023 NAPSA Annual Conference Re-cap:
Another Terrific Conference Experience!

NAPSA’s 57th Annual Conference was held from October 15-18, 2023 at the Drury Plaza Hotel Cleveland Downtown. The conference was presented in a hybrid format, with opportunities to attend in person or via virtual means.

The conference led off with an excellent presentation by Adaptive Sports Ohio CEO Lisa Followay, which was followed by a tour of the Cleveland Cavaliers facility by Security Officer Jenn Pfeister and an opportunity to experience wheelchair basketball. All who participated in these Sunday sessions had a terrific time!

On Monday, the conference began for both virtual and in-person attendees with a keynote address by USDE Deputy Director Dr. David J. Cantrell, whose presentation titled “Update from D.C.: The 3E Initiative and Other Important Issues” provided great insight as to the latest initiatives from USDE, with a particular focus on the 3E Initiative. NAPSA is extremely grateful that Dr. Cantrell took time from his busy schedule to address our attendees. Following Dr. Cantrell was OCALI’s Shawna Benson. As always, Shawna provided us with a terrific presentation on “Effectively Educating Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities.” Her expertise in this regard was readily apparent and highly beneficial.

Following the opening Monday sessions were two excellent legal issues presentations. Erstwhile presenter Christina Henagen Peer did her usual super job of providing attendees with an update on “Legal Issues Related to Pupil Services.” Her session provided everyone with invaluable information that is salient to our field. Christina’s session was followed by a “Title IX and Schools Legal Update” by Lisa Burleson and Aaron Ross, who provided a great presentation with excellent material with regard to a very hot topic.

Monday ended on a very high note with “MTSS and Meeting the Needs of the Struggling Learner.” Dr. Kim St. Martin, Director of Michigan’s MTSS Technical Assistance Center, infused everyone with her infectious energy along with her great wealth of knowledge. Dr. St. Martin showed why she is at the very top of her field.

The Tuesday, October 17, 2023, sessions began with “Creating Safe & Supportive Learning Environments for Girls” by Dr. Lisa Hinkelman, Founder/Executive Director of ROX. Her presentation, which was immediately followed by “ROX ‘n Roles: How Schools Put ROX into Practice,” by Kristi Taraschke, Erin Smith, Sara Meyers, and students from both Huron City and Olmsted Falls City Schools, provided everyone with an awareness of the importance of helping girls cope with drops in confidence, navigate difficult friendships and deal with unhealthy relationships, prevent sexual violence, plan for their futures and develop leadership skills. A special treat was the information provided by students who have benefited from the ROX program and insights from staff who have implemented it.

Next, “Using a Residency Program to Address a Staffing Shortage While Increasing Diversity and Improving Retention” was presented by Lisa Baker, Traci Koon, and Dr. LaVetta Radford from the Educator Pipeline Program, Clarksville-Montgomery County (TN) Schools. Their presentation on a very timely topic provided attendees with information on a program that has been effectively implemented and has been very beneficial to their school district.

Tuesday’s program concluded with “School Safety: Ohio’s Threat Assessment Protocols” by the ESC of Northeast Ohio’s Director of Innovation Dr. Lonny J. Rivera and Administrative Mentor Dennis Doughty. As schools struggle with how to keep students and staff safe, this practical presentation provided attendees with valuable insight regarding a pressing issue that all schools must address. 

On Wednesday, the conference came to a conclusion with a terrific presentation by Jeanne M. Knouse, Director of Student Services for the State College Area (PA) School District. Her presentation titled “Build Relationships, Build Community, Recognize Trauma, and be Culturally Responsive through the Lens of Restorative Practices” is a prime example of how gifted our NAPSA members are. Jeanne, a longtime NAPSA member, demonstrated a great wealth of knowledge in an area that has truly come to the forefront in today’s world. Her command of the topic and evident enthusiasm provided a positive ending to a tremendous conference.

To complement the vast opportunities we provide to learn and grow, NAPSA likes to inject some fun into our conference. To that end, those who chose to participate in our tour of the Cavaliers facility, to ride the Funny Bus for our networking activity, and to enjoy Dr. Larrissa Henderson’s relaxing and team building activity had some golden opportunities to enjoy themselves through interacting with their pupil services colleagues.

Many Thanks to Our Sponsor Exhibitors

Of great importance to our organization is the support of our sponsors. The conference provided a great opportunity for attendees to visit our sponsors at their exhibitor tables and learn about the outstanding resources they can offer our members. Their programs and resources have been test-driven by our members, which is a testament to their quality. NAPSA encourages you to look first at what these fine organizations have to offer when exploring your needs for programming and resources. This year’s conference sponsors/exhibitors are:

  • Chancelight – President’s Reception
  • psi – Business Luncheon
  • Lexikeet – Sunday’s Sessions
  • Scribbles – Monday’s Sessions
  • SchoolCare – Tuesday’s Sessions
  • Gaggle – Wednesday’s Sessions
  • Oasis – Virtual Streaming
  • Presence – Swag Items & Snacks
  • Vector Solutions – Networking Activity
  • Maxim – A-V Expenses
  • Right at School – Exhibitor

From October 20-23, 2024, NAPSA will hold its 58th Annual Conference at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Richmond, VA. This month, the NAPSA Executive Board began planning for the conference. Led by President-elect Sophia Allmond from the Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, VA., the conference is shaping up to be an excellent blend of presentations that cover the many areas of the pupil/student services field.

Stay tuned to this page and keep an eye on NAPSA mass emails for more details as they develop.

For additional information, please contact NAPSA Executive Director Dr. Douglas Arnold, at napsa@ptd.net or call (570) 656-4286.