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2024 Summer Institute for Authentic Learning and Leadership

"Creating Beautiful Work"

The 2024 Summer Institute for Authentic Learning and Leadership will again bring together hundreds of K-12 educators and community leaders from Ohio and neighboring states to explore innovative, effective strategies for “Making Learning Irresistible.” As a result of their involvement, participants will positively impact thousands of students in their respective settings.


During the Institute, attendees will engage in meaningful conversations and activities about “what really matters” for students and their schools. We hope that each participant will personally experience authentic learning – a variety of instructional techniques that connect what students are taught in school to real-world issues, problems, and applications. These strategies include service-learning, Project Based Learning, design thinking, STEM/STEAM, and other experiential approaches.

We hope you will consider developing a breakout session that helps our participants reimagine education, reconnect with the joy of teaching, and empower students to change the world. We know you have inspiring stories to tell, tools and strategies to share, techniques to demonstrate, and topics you’d like to explore with colleagues. This is your chance!

Whereas in the first two years of the Institute we focused largely on why authentic learning and leadership is vital, this year we will focus especially on how we can make it happen. This shift is based on input from previous participants and their colleagues about what they need most—in addition to inspiration and rejuvenation, of course.

Call for Presenters

So, we’re especially looking for session facilitators who’ve tried authentic approaches with students and/or demonstrated authentic leadership to support innovation—even if they’ve faced some challenges along the way. There’s so much we can learn from each other’s “ journeys.”

We’re also especially looking for sessions that can help participants connect authentic learning and leadership with other current priorities, including literacy, career awareness/workforce development, mental health, and equity. Providing students with real-world skills and experiences can integrate these areas rather than treat them as silos. So, maybe you can help colleagues explore how to accomplish this. (This certainly isn’t a requirement for every breakout session, but we’d like to make sure it’s addressed in several.)

With this in mind, please tell us how your proposed session(s) will connect with the idea of “beautiful work” done by students and teachers. We’re looking for a variety of workshops that will help our participants see, understand, and experience authentic learning, authentic leadership, and “beautiful work” in action.

When a student finishes her schooling and goes on to adult life, she will be judged for the rest of her life not by standardized test scores, but by two things . . . by the quality of her character and the quality of her work. Imagine what school would be if the focus of school . . . was creating meaningful, valuable, beautiful, important work — work that matters in the world."

Ron Berger |  Summer Institute 2024 Opening Keynote Speaker

Finally, please consider this special frame of reference for this year’s Institute…Ron Berger, our 2024 opening Keynote Speaker, will focus on “The Power of Beautiful Work.”

"Experiencing Authentic Learning"

(usually 2 hour workshops)


These experiential/design challenge sessions are designed to help attendees discover or rediscover what authentic learning feels like! Facilitators will provide opportunities for participants to collaborate in solving authentic problems, creating authentic products/designs, or using “maker spaces” in other creative and purposeful ways.


These sessions will be led by a variety of educators and community resource experts who will engage their groups in actual service-learning, PBL, STEM/STEAM, and/or design thinking challenges based on best practices. Participants will be involved in investigation/inquiry, preparation, action, reflection, and demonstration/celebration regarding their specific real-world endeavor.

"Reflecting on Success"

(1 hour session)


As a presenter/facilitator in this “showcase” category, you’ll share your school or district’s accomplishments/progress re: authentic learning and/or school transformation and reflect with colleagues about next steps. What were your goals/objectives? What worked and why? What would you like to change or improve? What feedback would you like from those attending your session? Remember, we want participants to hear your highlights, but we also want them to engage in lots of interaction and reflection!

"Growing New Ideas"

(1 hour session)


Want some help from colleagues in “building out” a plan for a new authentic learning project, program, or strategy? Host an “idea incubator” session in which you share your concept, facilitate related brainstorming/ideation, and identify next steps for your planning process.

"Connecting with Thought Partners"

(1 hour session)

Is there a specific topic, issues, or challenge on your mind re: authentic learning and leadership? Specify your focus, frame several related questions, and facilitate a productive discussion among colleagues who share your interest.

Types of Breakout Sessions

Join us at the 2024 Summer Institute!

Want to create “beautiful work” and help “make learning irresistible”? Join us for two inspiring days filled with hope, creativity, collaboration, and innovation where we:​ reimagine education, reconnect with the joy of teaching, and empower students to change the world!

Presenter Proposal Application

Proposals Due: March 15, 2024

We will notify Summer Institute presenters beginning April 12, 2024. All confirmed breakout presenters must also register for the 2024 Summer Institute and will receive a reduced registration fee of $350.00.

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