Beating the Odds, Building Opportunities

1st Annual Conference: 2017

Our first annual conference was a power team of educators from all over New York State sharing stories of success with children in poverty.

2nd Annual Conference: 2018

Our second annual conference focussed on proven methods of data-driven methodology along with team building and emotional health. 

3rd Annual Conference: 2019 - theme: Courageous Leadership

Our theme for the third annual Beating the Odds Conference is: Courageous Leadership. 

Save The Date: Friday, November 15, 2019

Third Annual Conference: Courageous Leadership

November 15, 2019

Across New York State, most students in poverty do not achieve as well in school as their non-economically disadvantaged peers.

In some "ordinary" public schools (non-charter, non-magnet), however, students in poverty are doing well. WHY?

Come learn from some of these schools and share your strategies as well.


Registration: 8:15-9:00; Conference 9-3:00

Meals: Conference registration fee includes breakfast and lunch.

Lodging: Radisson Hotel - 5-minute walk to conference venue. To reserve, call 914-576-3700 ext. 237 or 0. The group name is Beating The Odds-Building Opportunities. Rates, only until October 14, are as follows: For 11-14-19, the night before the conference, $129.00 + tax.

If you decide to stay on after the conference, a weekend group rate of $169.00+tax applies.


Monroe College

Gaddy Hall 

434 Main Street 

New Rochelle, NY 10801 

Third Annual Conference: November 15, 2019


Breakout sessions

Will be posted here once confirmed

Implementation Snapshots

5-minute snapshots will be listed here once confirmed

Second Annual Conference: 2018

The Annual “Beating the Odds” Conference began in 2017 to share insights from a study by Better Outcomes Research.

At the conference, several schools who were identified in the study as successful in the achievement of students in poverty presented their methods and strategies. 

Click to read about study methodology and results

Please click here for the text of the 2018 keynote, and here for the powerpoint.

(To request a non-PDF form of the slides in order to activate the animations, please email me at

Feedback from 2018

“I used to think data was only for decision making. Now I think that data is for BOTH collaboration and decision making.”

“The best part of the conference was the break out sessions where we  heard from building leaders in charge of schools that are moving  forward.”

“What I liked best about the conference were the clear presentations of data with identifiable steps that can move students.”





Breakout Sessions

"You Gotta Start in the Dirt:" Cultivating Student Success and Achievement

Participants in this session heard how Kendall Elementary, a rural  high-needs school, has been growing its student achievement. Kendall moved from being the lowest performing school in the county to the top-performing, even among high SES schools! Attendees left with the keys of growing and cultivating a culture of instructional excellence: creating a collaborative culture, empowering staff to  assemble and draw conclusions from data, getting people in the right  seats, and using scheduling to create the results we needed.

Learn More


Sharon Smith, Principal


Kendall Elementary, Kendall Central School District, Orleans County


Making the Most with your MTSS*

Our session looked at the creative ways our school works to meet the needs of all their students using the MTSS spectrum. Included in this presentation is how data drives our MTSS decisions and the resources we use to support us with these decisions. We will be sharing ideas, strategies and resources so that you, too, can make the most with your MTSS! 
*Multi-Tiered Support System – similar to RtI, but including social-emotional supports

Ellen Saxby, Principal,  Christie Graves, Instructional Coach/Literacy Specialist
Williamson Elementary, Williamson Central School District, Wayne County

Riding the High Tide of Student Growth

In Jackson Main Elementary School, Hempstead, with 70% ELLs, and 77% poverty, success for all is a reality. This session outlined the instructional strategies, interventions and use of assessments to support student growth. The presenters addressed strategic teacher empowerment, building a warm and collaborative school culture where adults care about each other and the students, and the social and emotional well-being of all stakeholders. They also shared their systemic instructional approaches.

Learn More


Richard Brown, Principal; Saritha Perez, International Baccalaureate Coordinator


Jackson Main Elementary School, Hempstead Union Free School District, Nassau County

PLC Practices and Data Use to Support Students in Poverty in Rural Schools

This group from Windsor Central School District told us about how they are using data transparently and innovatively; creating PLC structures to meet the needs of all striving learners. Their strategic co-laboring targets the needs of students as a whole, while focusing on results for individuals. Goal oriented and action focused!


Kristin Beriman, Building Principal; Nicole Weist, Teacher, Special Education; Liz Sharkan, School Counselor


C. R. Weeks, Windsor Central School District, Broome County


The Four Cs: Community, Collaboration, Climate and Consistency

Some days it seems like there is no end to the pressure we all feel! We all face different challenges in our schools. In 2013, our school was identified by NYSED as needing improvement in the performance of our students in poverty. Through collaboration and academic consistency, we moved forward. Five years later, our students performed in the top 20% of schools with our demographics on the New York State ELA assessment. We're excited to share what's worked for us with you, with concrete ideas and materials to help get the conversation going in your school!

Learn More


Jackie Van Nosdall, Principal

Kiersten Waruch, School Counselor


Kerhonkson Elementary, Rondout Valley Central School District, Ulster County

First Annual Conference: 2017

Breakout Sessions

Creating High Performance in a High-Poverty, High-Minority, High-ELL School

Presenter: Ivan Tolentino, Principal, Thomas A. Edison School

About the school:  Gr K-5; Westchester County; Portchester-Rye UFSD; 430 students; ED 61%;  ED student performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 80% 2,3,4; 34% 3,4; ethnicity:  H/L 89%; W 7%

Embracing the Adventure: Encouraging Risk-Taking - Giving Permission to Fail

Presenter: Dr. Ann Pedersen, Deputy Superintendent and future Superintendent, Lawrence UFSD, Nassau County

About the school: Nassau County, Lawrence UFSD

Lawrence  Middle School: Gr. 5-8; 581 students; ED 78%; ED student performance on  2016 NYS ELA: 72% 2,3,4; 33% 3,4; ethnicity: H/L 48%; B/AA 25%; W 20%

Lawrence  Elementary School: Gr. 3-5; 569 students; ED 82%; ED student  performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 65% 2,3,4; 37% 3,4; ethnicity: H/L 51%;  B/AA 19%; W 22%

Clear and Loving Structures: How Our “What I Need” (WIN) System Builds School Culture and Ensures Every Student’s Needs Are Met

Presenters: Paul Kesler, Principal of John Kennedy School; two Gr 3 teachers

About the school: Gr 2-4; Genesee County; Batavia City School District; 530 students; ED  64%; ED student performance on 2016 NYS ELA (343 students tested): 65%  2,3,4; 33% 3,4; ethnicity: W 74%, Mult. 12%, H/L 8%

Steps to Success: The Process of School Improvement 

Presenters: Dr. John McKenna, Principal of Fletcher Elementary School / Past  President, SAANYS; Dr. James Newton, Superintendent of Tonawanda City  School District

Deciding Moments: Factors that Motivate Students to Choose to Learn and Persevere

Presenters: William (Bill) Frandino, K-5 Principal of Emma C. Chase Elementary School, and Teachers

About the school:  Gr K-5; Sullivan County; Monticello CSD; 300 students; ED 55%; ED  student performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 72% 2, 3, 4; 34% 3, 4; ethnicity: W  70%, H/L 16%, Mult 6%

Building a Culture of Belonging and Success

Presenters:  Gina Cappiello, Principal of Valley Cottage Elementary School; Michelle  O’Sullivan, Math Specialist; Amy Leibel-Farrugia, Reading Teacher

About the school:  Gr K-5; Rockland County; Nyack CSD; 453 students; ED 41%; ED student  performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 69% 2, 3, 4; 38% 3, 4; ethnicity: W 43%,  H/L 24%, B/AA 18%

Recipes for Success: How Malverne Students Achieve

Presenters:  Dr. James Hunderfund, Superintendent; Steve Gilhuley, Assistant  Superintendent; Rachel Gross, Common Core Chair; Daniel Nehlsen,  Principal, Howard T. Herber Middle School; Ed Tallon, Principal, Davison  Avenue Intermediate School

About the schools: Gr 3-5 and 6-8; Nassau County; Malverne UFSD; 776 students combined

Middle School: ED 48%, ED student performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 70% 2, 3, 4; 40% 3, 4; ethnicity: B/AA 55%, H/L 28%, W 19%

Intermediate School: ED 49%, ED student performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 82% 2, 3, 4; 49% 3, 4; ethnicity: B/AA 48%, H/L 23%, W 23%

Target and Eradicate: Let’s Get Off the Hamster Wheel: How One School’s RtI Program Took the Challenge and Won!   

Presenters: Patricia Sotero, Principal of Center Street Elementary School; two reading specialists

About the school:  PK-4; Chemung County; Horseheads CSD; 370 students; ED 49%; ED student  performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 78% 2,3,4; 35% 3,4; ethnicity: W 89%, Mult.  6%, H/L 3%

Looking at EACH Student as an Individual

Presenter: Dr. Nancy W. Hackett, Superintendent, Sullivan West CSD

About the schools: Sullivan County; Sullivan West CSD; 1,100 students combined

SW High School: Gr 7-12, ED 43%, ED student performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 69% 2,3,4; 48% 3,4; ethnicity: W 88%, H/L 6%, A 2%

SW Elementary: Gr K-6; ED 50%; ED student performance on 2016 NYS ELA: 67% 2,3,4; 31% 3,4; ethnicity: W 84%, H/L 10%, A 5%