23rd Annual SURN Leadership Conference

June 17-18, 2019 at the W&M School of Education


Once again, SURN offers your team of leaders a customized, just-in-time leadership conference designed to meet the needs of Virginia schools! As we innovate and reimagine schools aligned with the Profile of a VA Graduate and grounded in the smart age, we invite you to bring your team to think, learn, and share with us! 

In Humility is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age, Hess & Ludwig (2017) assert that “what is needed is a new definition of being smart, one that promotes higher levels of human thinking and emotional engagement. The new smart will be determined not by what or how you know but by the quality of your thinking, listening, relating, collaborating, and learning. Quantity is replaced by quality. And that shift will enable us to focus on the hard work of taking our cognitive and emotional skills to a much higher level.” To help us ENGAGE as learning leaders, we’ve put together a conference punctuated with thought leaders, hands on learning, designing and reflecting, and time to connect, think, and plan. 


Pam Moran, co-author of Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools. Dr. Moran passionately advocates for contemporary, innovative, student-driven learning environments. A 2016 finalist for the National Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Moran appeared on the cover of Education Week’s Digital Directions magazine as a “National Mover and Shaker” for her advocacy of a curricular digital integration model and has also delivered several TED talks on the importance of shaping the learning environment around the personalized needs of students. Pam Moran will be joined by co-author, Ira Socol, to continue the conversation in a follow up concurrent session.

Pam Moran

Katherine Rowe, William & Mary’s 28th president, is deeply interested in design thinking, entrepreneurship and the digital humanities and is nationally recognized as an innovator in higher education. Her keynote will challenge leaders to think critically and respond as they consider the future of knowledge, the future of work, and the future of service.

Katherine Rowe

Alyssa Gallagher, co-author of Design Thinking for School Leaders: Five Roles and Mindset that Ignite Positive Change, is an experienced public school educator, school & district administrator, facilitator and educational consultant.  A leader at the forefront of the design + education movement, Alyssa understands firsthand the complexity of educational leadership and is passionate about improving the learning experiences we create in schools.  Design inspired leadership is one of the most powerful ways to spark positive change and address education challenges. By nurturing design inspired leadership habits in yourself and those around you, you’ll be able to create momentum for innovative ideas. Shift your leadership and empower your team through design thinking. This keynote will explore how leaders practice new mindsets, explore how to manage new roles and find balance as we push forward. Alyssa will dive deeper with leaders who choose to continue in a follow up concurrent session.

Alyssa Gallagher

To wrap up our learning and focus our reflection, James Lane, VA State Superintendent for Public Instruction, will close the conference on day two. Immediately following, you and your teams are invited to stay, debrief, reflect and continue to work as we offer you spaces and time to work as a division.

James Lane

And there’s more:

Knowing that a picture really is worth thousand words, Lisa Nelson, CEO of See in Colors, joins us to capture and summarize our keynotes using hand drawn pictures and text. She’ll also deliver a concurrent session for leaders who want to try their hand at sketchnoting. 

Lisa Nelson


Concurrent sessions are aligned with the keynotes and the Coherence Framework, with strands in focusing direction, cultivating collaborative cultures, deepening learning, and securing accountability. They include designing for deeper learning, unpacking the Profile of a VA Graduate at the system level, communication and generational needs, innovative classrooms and more!

We’ll provide breakfast, lunch, and healthful snacks each day, a conference bookstore where you can pick up professional literature to complement the sessions, free parking, and conference rate lodging at the Hilton Garden Inn.


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The SURN Leadership Conference offers a forum to learn and exchange ideas on the campus of the William and Mary School of Education. SURN invites researchers and practitioners to share their work in a combination of interactive general and concurrent sessions to promote dialogue. Participants from our SURN programs share their experiences from year-long, job-embedded professional development that can be applied in other settings. Leading education writers, researchers, and consultants provide international and national perspectives on their work. The opportunity to share with other educators, discuss topics with leading researchers, reflect on the prior school year, be inspired, and plan for the upcoming year are all reasons individuals and school division teams attend.

Conference participants are primarily from Virginia, and they include: superintendents (5%), central office personnel (35%), principals and assistant principals (45%), teacher leaders (5%), and other educators such as The College of William and Mary faculty, VDOE personnel and retired school personnel who coach in the schools (10%).

We are pleased to offer a wonderful slate of speakers and presenters, as well as concurrent sessions, and a post-conference session!


The conference is business casual for all conferences and meals. Dress comfortably for possibly cool meeting rooms.


Please contact our office with any special dietary needs that you may have by June 13, 2018. After this date, we are not able to accommodate requests.


SURN is pleased to recommend The Hilton Garden Inn for our guests that plan on staying locally. Payments are to be billed individually. Please call to reserve your room at 757-253-9400 and let them know you're attending the SURN Leadership Conference. Reservations must be received by May 18, 2018.  After this date reservations will be accepted on a space available basis only.


The conference is being held on the campus of The College of William and Mary in the School of Education's Professional Development Center. The address is 301 Monticello Avenue, Williamsburg, VA 23185. A parking pass is required and will be emailed to participants.

 From Richmond and points west:

  • Take Interstate 64 East to exit 234 (Route 199 East) towards Lightfoot.
  • Follow Route 199 approximately 6 miles to the Monticello Avenue exit.
  • At the bottom of the ramp, turn left at the stop light onto Monticello Avenue.
  • Stay on Monticello Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles. At the sixth light, you’ll see a large sign on the right for the School of Education. Turn right at the light.
  • Park in the lot specified on your parking pass. Be sure to display your parking permit which will be emailed.

From Norfolk and points east:

  • Take Interstate 64 West to exit 242A (Route 199 West) towards Williamsburg and Jamestown.
  • Follow Route 199 approximately 6 miles to the Monticello Avenue exit.
  • At the bottom of the ramp, bear to the right onto Monticello Avenue.
  • Stay on Monticello Avenue for approximately 1.5 miles. At the sixth light, you’ll see a large sign on the right for the School of Education. Turn right at the light.
  • Park in the lot specified on your parking pass. Be sure to display your parking permit which will be emailed.

Travel Time from Air Transportation:

  • Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport – 30 minutes www.nnwairport.com
  • Richmond International Airport- 40 minutes www.flyrichmond.com
  • Norfolk International Airport- 1 hour www.norfolkairport.com