2014 Mega Conference


The 2014 Mega Conference, Making Connections – Linking Instruction to Student Success, will be held April 4 – 6, 2014 in Stateline, Nevada and will offer quality professional development on how to provide effective instruction using innovative practices in the classroom and school setting.

In addition to thought provoking keynote presentations, breakout sessions will be offered that focus on featured topic areas including: Connecting Curriculum from Early Childhood through College and Careers, Aligning Assessment with Common Core Standards, Linking Student Learning through Technology, Connecting Educators to Practices that Work in Successful Schools and Linking Instruction for Diverse Learners to Educational Success.  Presenters will include educators from across the state and the nation, including the renowned International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). Mark your calendar for this incredible opportunity, made possible through the collaboration of the Nevada Department of Education, the University of Nevada, Reno, and ICLE.  


The 2014 Mega Conference will be held at Harvey’s Hotel & Casino, Lake Tahoe. A block of rooms has been set aside for the conference at the special rate of $89.00/night on Thursday and Friday, and $129/night on Saturday.

You may book your room anytime by calling (800) 455-4770 and reference the Mega Conference using the code S04MGC4.  You may also click on the following link to reserve online:  Room Reservations.  The room block cutoff is March 4, 2014.


Mega Conference registration is now open.  Please register online here:  Mega Conference Registration.

Registration fees are $100 per person for Participants, $400 per table for Vendors.  



  Opening Keynote


Erin Gruwell, Educator & Catalyst for Social Change 

Erin Gruwell has earned an award-winning reputation for her steadfast commitment to the future of education. Her impact as a change agent runs deep. So deep, in fact, that her story attracted Hollywood’s attention. In January 2007, Paramount Pictures released Freedom Writers, starring two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Gruwell. The film is based on The Freedom Writers Diary, The New York Times bestseller that chronicled Gruwell’s extraordinary journey with 150 high school students who had been written off by the education system.
By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students’ lives. She encouraged them to re-think rigid beliefs about themselves and others, reconsider daily decisions, and ultimately re-chart their futures. With Gruwell’s support, they chose to forego teenage pregnancy, drugs, and violence to become aspiring college students, published writers, and citizens for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers” –in homage to civil rights activists The Freedom Riders—and published a book.
Inspired by Anne Frank, Gruwell and her students captured their collective journey in The Freedom Writers Diary. Through poignant student entries and Gruwell’s narrative text, the book records their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” In early 2007, Teach with Your Heart, Gruwell’s powerful memoir and call to arms was published.

While Gruwell has been credited with giving her students a “second chance”, it was perhaps she who changed the most during her tenure at Wilson High School. She decided to channel her classroom experiences toward a broader cause, and today her impact as a teacher extends well beyond Room 203. She founded the Freedom Writers Foundation where she currently teaches teachers around the country how to implement her innovative lesson plans into their own classrooms. Recently, Gruwell’s teaching methods from her time in Room 203 have been published in the Freedom Writers Diary Teacher’s Guide. Proceeds from the sale of all books directly fund the Freedom Writers Foundation.

Gruwell and her students have appeared on numerous television shows, including Oprah, Prime Time Live with Connie Chung, The View, and Good Morning America, to name a few. Their story has earned them dozens of awards, including the Spirit of Anne Frank Award.

Gruwell is a graduate of the University of California Irvine, where she received the Lauds and Laurels Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Master’s Degree and teaching credentials from California State University Long Beach, where she was honored as Distinguished Alumna by the School of Education.

  Closing Keynote


Tierney Cahill, Teacher/Congressional Candidate 

A mother of three and sixth-grade teacher at Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School in Reno, Nevada, Tierney Cahill did not expect herself to become politically active. Her expectations changed, however, while teaching her students a simple civics lesson on how elections and the government work. After telling her students that any American can run for political office, they disagreed, and said that they didn’t believe “normal” Americans could be a legitimate candidate. They challenged her to prove that ordinary Americans can run for office, and in order to inspire her students, she dedicated herself to running for the District 2 Congressional seat.

Cahill ran as a Democrat, and to her surprise, beat the other Democratic candidates to take on Republican incumbent Jim Gibbons. While she did not have a lot of money for her campaign, she threw herself wholeheartedly into the race, talking about the important issues – education, mental health, and nuclear waste. In spite of the vast difference in campaign budgets between Cahill and Gibbons ($7,000 to $320,000), Cahill received an unexpected 34% of the vote. Although she lost, she succeeded in teaching her students the value of civic duty. On the night of the election, with her students in tears by her side, she said, “Think about why we did this and what we did. Can an everyday American run for office? Yes. We have lots to be proud of.”

Cahill’s story is the subject of an upcoming film, Class Act, starring Halle Berry and written and directed by Doug Atchison. Her personal memoir, Ms. Cahill for Congress, was published in 2008 by Random House. She has also been featured in the nationally-published book, Teachers: The Enlightened, the Exceptional, the Extraordinary. Her story is a true inspiration – not only because it shows the value of education and civic duty, but also because it proves that one person can change the lives of others. She is highly energetic, humorous, and motivating, and has made a true impact on the world of education.


Nominations are currently being accepted for Highlighted Nevada Schools.  The nomination form is available here: HS Nomination Form.  Nominations are due by January 17th and selected schools will be notified by February 10th.  Selected schools will have all travel and registration fees covered for up to four team members as well as be given a $150 speaking fee.