Improving Literacy in Our State!

MRA Conference Agenda
Wednesday, November 29th 
 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Exhibitor Setup
 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Registration 
 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. “Exhibit Sneak Peek” (Exhibit Hall Open) 
 3:00 p.m. – 3:55 p.m. Concurrent Sessions 
 4:00 p.m. – 4:55 p.m. Concurrent Sessions 
 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. WELCOME PARTY with Mrs. Donna Porter Hosted by DJ Batiste and Music by DJ Todd!
 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Invitation Only Vendor Reception 
 Thursday, November 30th 
7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Registration
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Opening Session: Brice Wiggins and Jane Feber
8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Exhibit Hall Open
9:30 a.m. – 9:55 a.m. Exhibit Hall/Teacher Tips - Door Prizes Awarded
9:55 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Concurrent Sessions - Some feature Dr. Johnoson Crutchfield, Jr., Dr. Linda Brooks, and Jane Feber
10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Break/Teacher Tips/Exhibit Hall - Door Prizes Awarded
11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. Concurrent Sessions - Some feature Dr. Johnoson Crutchfield, Jr.
11:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Break/ Exhibit Hall
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. General Session – Luncheon – featuring Marshall Ramsey
1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Break/ Exhibit Hall
1:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions - Some feature Marshall Ramsey
2:30 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. Break/Teaching Tips/Exhibit Hall - Door Prizes Awarded
2:50 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Concurrent Sessions - Some feature Marshall Ramsey
3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions - Some feature MRA Vice President Cortez Moss and the Quitman Middle School Staff
4:35 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Thursday Closing Session - featuring Margaret McMullan, Nathan Oakley, and CASINO-LAND GIVEAWAY - TRIP TO THE BEAU!
5:30 p.m. Exhibit Hall closes
Friday, December 1st
7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Registration
8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m. Concurrent Session - Some feature Bradley Golden
9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. Concurrent Session - Some feature Bradley Golden
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Brunch/Closing General Session - featuring Sue Mitchell and Final Door Prizes Awarded - TRIP TO THE BEAU! 

2017 MRA State Conference 

November 29th - December 1

Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, Biloxi, MS

Keynote Speaker #1 

Marshall Ramsey


Marshall Ramsey is a two-time Pulitzer Finalist (2002 and 2006). His editorial cartoons are nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate and have appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger. He is the author several successful books including three cartoon collections, two short story collections (Fried Chicken and Wine and Chainsaws and Casseroles) and the delightful children’s book Banjo’s Dream. Ramsey’s cartoons, photos, stories and posts are frequently shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.   He’s also the host of the weekly statewide radio program, Now You’re Talking with Marshall Ramsey and the television program Conversations on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Ramsey’s also a cancer survivor.  Diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2001, he has been honored by both the Melanoma Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society for paying his survival forward. He actively promotes skin cancer awareness and sun safety through cartoons, speeches, skin screenings and a 5K race. He even ran the Marine Corps Marathon to raise funds for melanoma research. (He completed the race, raised $13,000 and developed some wicked leg cramps). Ramsey, his wife Amy, their three sons and precocious dog Pip live in Mississippi, the best state for politics, storytellers, sweet tea and raising a family.

Featured Presenter # 1

Bradley Golden

So, imagine yourself sitting in ELA or Math class and being given an assignment, but you are afraid if you do well in this art-related assessment that it might change everyone's impression of you. You are no longer the great Pontotoc Warrior football player but an artist. So, what do you do as a high-schooler- You hide it, unfortunately! Hear more about this story from Bradley Golden, featured presenter, at the MRA State Conference in Biloxi, MS on Nov. 29th- Dec. 1st


Welcome Party 

Keynote Speakers 

Mrs. Donna Porter and DJ Batiste

Passionate. Dynamic. Motivational. Donna Porter and DJ Batiste have a story that is sure to inspire all audiences. Porter has dedicated her life to the field of education, and has gained a breadth of wisdom and experience that she now pours into audiences across the nation. Early in his life, DJ Batiste was kicked out of Head Start. Some years later, he was in Juvenile Detention and leading a large violent gang in Mississippi. High School came around and after constant suspensions and trouble with the law, he was introduced to Conscious Discipline in a single moment, by his beloved teacher, Donna Porter. Donna Porter is a certified instructor in the Conscious Discipline method of classroom management, and has been profiled with DJ Batiste on the CBS Evening News and in the book American Teacher. Porter continues to use the concepts of Conscious Discipline in her classroom, and as her former student, DJ has become an integral part of that classroom. Over the years, he learned new skills and strategies to handle conflict in life at home and at school. A true renaissance educator, Porter has served in a wide variety of specialties: special education, early child education, speech pathology, dyslexia education, speech and debate, theater, and secondary education. Batiste leads and teaches from a different point of view and in turn inspires hundreds around the country with the message of Connection instead of Correction. Throughout Porter’s journey, the common thread is a passion for using innovative techniques to unlock the boundless potential of every student. Those innovative techniques have made her one of the Southeast’s foremost experts on classroom management. Her skills transformed Batiste’s life, turning him from gang member and drug abuser to graduating senior. She has been recognized with numerous awards: Mississippi Congressional District IV Teacher of the Year, Thad Cochran Arts Integration Teacher of the Year, Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher of the Year, and the Promethean Organization’s Thank-A-Teacher Competition. Porter holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in speech-language pathology with a concentration in speech education from the University of Southern Mississippi. This “teacher of teachers” will challenge the way you view education and DJ Batiste will inspire you to “shoot for the moon” as you impact the next generation.


Featured Presenter

Dr. Johnoson Crutchfield

Dr. John Crutchfield is an Assistant Professor of Leadership and Counselor Education at the University of Mississippi passionate about K-12 school climate turnaround efforts with at-risk populations. He also serves as Founder and CEO of Teacher on the MOVE, a consulting firm which supports local and state level teacher and leader professional development efforts. Dr. Crutchfield served as a teacher and instructional coach for 5 years at the middle school level in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is a native of Tallahassee, Florida and graduated from Florida State University. He earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Louisiana-Monroe conducting research on the relationship between PBIS implementation and perceptions of student motivation. His core focuses of instruction involve efforts to improve school climate and culture through training building administrators and teachers. Dr. Crutchfield believes the most valuable asset in education is the teacher. He believes the teacher is important, so quality teacher retention and recruitment are crucial to his approach. Dr. Crutchfield is also a husband and father of two children, and aims to treat the children and community he serves like his very own. Dr. Crutchfield's core turnaround strategies center on building trusting relationships with students and teachers, positively reinforcing desired behavior, and ensuring consistent school discipline practices. 

Keynote Speaker 

Sue Mitchell 


Portrayed by Kathy Bates as “Miss Sue” in the best-selling book and Oscar nominated movie The Blind Side, Sue Mitchell famously tutored NFL Ravens #74 Michael Oher from a .6 GPA to a 2.05 in high school, and finally to a 3.75 Dean’s List student in college. Sue Mitchell’s career spans more than four decades in education, with experience from elementary to the collegiate level. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Mitchell earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Science from University of Tennessee. Sue began her teaching career in Atlanta, Georgia, but after three years returned home to Tennessee and taught Elementary School for three years, Middle School for 10 years, and high school for 23 years. Her work with Oher didn’t end once he began attending Ole Miss. Mitchell retired from teaching and moved to Oxford, Miss., to be near family and accepted a position with Ole Miss as a learning specialist. From 2005 to 2009, Mitchell worked for the athletic department, tutoring Michael Oher and other athletes with similar backgrounds. As she says, “There are so many Michael Oher’s out there.” In February 2013, Mitchell and the whole Tuohy family were on the sidelines cheering Michael and the Baltimore Ravens on to his first Super bowl victory.

Senator Brice Wiggins 


Senator Wiggins will share with us an update concerning hot topics that will effect us in the classroom over the next few years from the Mississippi Legislature and the Senate Education Committee. 

Nathan Oakley 

MDE Executive Director of Elementary Education and Reading Staff


Nathan will share an update from MDE and changes that will effect us in the classroom. 

Jane Feber 

Award-Winning Educator


As a middle school language arts teacher for 36 years, Jane Feber’s innovative approach to instruction has earned her several awards including the AMLE Distinguished Educator Award, the Gladys Prior Award for Teaching Excellence, Florida Council of Teachers of English Teacher of the Year, Duval County, FL, Teacher of the Year, and the NCTE Edwin A. Hoey Award. Jane was a National Board Certified Teacher and is also the author of Creative Book Reports: Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction, Active Word Play, Student Engagement is FUNdamental, and Engage Striving Students in the Common Core Classroom published by Maupin House/Capstone. Engage Striving Students in the Common Core Classroom received the LMC/ARBA award for Best Professional Guide for School or Youth Librarians. It’s been 45 years, and Jane is still in the classroom teaching reading at Dixie County High School. Her workshops are all based on the premise that “learning sticks” when students are engaged. Her workshops are fast-paced as participants create sample activities to take back to model in the classroom. 

MRA Registration Form 2017
MRA Call for Proposals 2017