Keynote Address: “Once Upon a Time Even the Troubled Kids Ran to School Excited”


Professional development gets a facelift when learning from Stephen de Groot. Putting children’s strengths and interests first, educational stakeholders will find a voice that echos their own belief in what’s best for children. Beyond this empowering scope of attending to children in the most empowering light, de Groots’ expertise, matched with his humor, will leave you more informed, and with a deeper commitment to, changing the face of education.

Lydia Criss Mays, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Georgia State University
Atlanta Georgia USA


This thought and heart provoking address is a must for all teachers, educators and administrators. It can be delivered as a stand alone keynote or, precede the “Creating Conditions for Success” Workshop.

This honest and straightforward dialogue has been developed out of evidence-based practice and the direct work with over 1000 children and youth who have been identified as the “most troubled” or “too difficult to work with” kids.  While the address focuses on creating conditions for successful engagement with the “challenging” student in ways that promote optimal respect, responsibility and learning, the message provides practical and tangible insights for working the most effectively with ALL students.

Through lecture, stories and case examples some important areas covered within this address include:

  • Appreciative acknowledgement for the important work of all educators
  • The most important factors in optimizing learning
  • The importance of a Relational Focus in the classroom and schools
  • The importance of a Strengths Focus in the classroom and schools
  • Identification of barriers to Relationship and Strengths Focus
  • Understanding and approaching opposition and resistance
  • How to promote respect, responsibility and resilience
  • Concrete suggestions for a relational and strengths focus in the classroom
  • Tips for fostering motivated, focused and enthusiastic students

Here is a clip taken from the Keynote Address