Keynote Speakers

Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts has been a middle school educator for the past twenty-two years. In that time, he has received numerous awards for his outstanding teaching, including being named the 2014 Utah English Teacher of the Year and NCTE's Outstanding Middle-Level Educator in 2009. He currently is the instructional coach at Hillcrest Junior High in the Murray School District.
Mike's most recent book, Chasing Greatness: 26.2 Ways Teaching is Like Running a Marathon, breaks down the many similarities between the classroom and the road. In the process, he shares advice from some of the best teachers and runners from across the country as a way to help you reach your highest potential. He is also the author of Hacking Classroom Management - 10 Ideas to Help You Become the Type of Teacher They Make Movies About, which identifies a variety of strategies that empower students in the learning process. Finally, he is the co-author of The New Science Teacher's Handbook: What You Didn't Learn From URSA
Student Teaching, and was a featured columnist in English Journal.
In addition to his middle school duties, Mike also teaches college classes focused on classroom management and literacy in the content areas. He has served on many educational committees, and has been a featured speaker at dozens of state, regional, and national conferences.
When he's not teaching or presenting, Mike can usually be found running ultra-marathons in the mountains. And even after all these years, he's still not sure which takes more energy...a week with 8th graders or running a 100 mile race.
To find out more about Mike, check out
You can follow Mike on Twitter @BaldRoberts
You can email Mike at

Tom Schimmer
Tom Schimmer
Tom Schimmer is an education author, speaker, and consultant from Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada). He is recognized as a leader and expert in the areas of classroom assessment, sound grading practices, educational leadership, and RTI.
Tom has been an educator since 1991. He spent 7 years as a full-time classroom teacher, 11 years as a school-based administrator, and 2 years working at central office where, as a member of the senior management team, he was responsible for overseeing the efforts to support & build the instructional capacities of teachers & administrators throughout the district. After 20 years working in the school system, Tom resigned from his district position (in 2011) to work full-time as an author, speaker, and consultant.
Tom is an experienced, sought-after presenter who has delivered both keynote and workshop sessions and major conferences, as well as for schools and/or school districts internationally. Tom has worked in Canada, the United States, Vietnam, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Qatar, Bahrain, India, the U.A.E., the U.K., Russia, Singapore, and Spain.
Tom holds a Teaching Degree from Boise State University (1990) and a Master’s Degree (Curriculum & Instruction) from the University of British Columbia (1999).

Utah's First Lady Abigail Palmer Cox
Abby Palmer Cox became the first lady of Utah when her husband Spencer J. Cox was sworn in as governor January 4, 2021. She and Governor Cox, her high school sweetheart, have been married for 24 years.
Born and raised in the small rural town of Mt. Pleasant, Utah, Abby grew up on the Palmer family farm where the values of hard work and grit were a way of life.  Her parents are Ken and Charlene Palmer, and she has seven sisters and two brothers.
Both she and Spencer graduated from North Sanpete High School and Snow College. He willingly followed her to Utah State University where she earned her degree in Special Education with a dual emphasis in Early Childhood and Severe Disabilities while he pursued a degree in Political Science.
Throughout the seven years Spencer Cox served as lieutenant governor, the Cox family lived in Fairview, a town of about 1,200 residents, located two hours south of Utah’s population center. Connections to their rural community remain strong.
As Utah’s first lady, Abby hopes to inspire Utahans to break down the barriers that separate people from treating one another as equals. She is an outspoken advocate for “getting proximate,” connecting through our differences, and combating the empathy crisis our country is facing. Specifically, she will use her platform to convene, contribute to, and champion projects related to social and emotional learning, statewide service, foster care awareness and sporting opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities.
Abby has always been active in her community through PTA involvement, church youth groups and service to the homeless. Abby enjoys horses, reading, music, hiking, running and family outdoor activities.  She and Governor Cox are the proud parents of four children — Gavin, Kaleb, Adam and EmmaKate.

Kyle Schwartz

Kyle Schwartz is a third grade teacher at Doull Elementary in Denver, Colorado. Doull Elementary has a strong community and the school faces challenges. At Doull, about 90% of students live below or very near to the poverty line and about half are learning English at school.

Ensuring that all children receive a quality education has been the driving force in Kyle Schwartz's career. She has worked with education focused organizations such as City Year, the Denver Teacher Residency, America Achieves, and TeachStrong.

Due to the high academic growth and the strong instructional practice observed in her classroom, Kyle Schwartz is designated as a "Distinguished Teacher" by Denver Public Schools. She has lead professional development at national and local conferences and has spoken to organizations across the country on many issues including building strong classroom communities.

Recently, a simple yet powerful lesson created in Kyle's classroom received international attention. She asked her students to finish the sentence "I wish my teacher knew _." Her students' candid responses inspired the #IWishMyTeacherKnew movement and were covered by every major media outlet. This sparked a conversation about the realities American students face and how schools can support all students. To continue this dialogue, Kyle has written a book entitled "I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for our Kids" published by DaCapo Press in 2016.

Above all else, Kyle dedicates herself to ensuring that every child receives the excellent education they deserve.

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