Keynote Speaker - Dr. Zacharie J. Clements
During his 30-year speaking career, Zach has addressed over two thousand education audiences in all 50 states, in Canada, and throughout the world. Their cheers and tears have reflected his gift for inspiring people to perform at their very best. Zach knows what it means to be a teacher: His audiences respond enthusiastically to his experience-based understanding of the education system. His unique use of humor and candor to address the truth about what’s happening in today’s schools is personally and professionally compelling.
After Zach’s dynamic presentations, people with a broad range of personal and professional diversity in districts just like yours understand how their attitudes affect behaviors which, in turn, affect performance. He keeps his listeners focused on personal responsibility while showing them how they can remain centered by laughing at life. Audiences at his keynotes, general addresses, and “all hands” presentations to entire school families have been brought to their feet time and time again by Zach’s crackling excitement and straight-to-the heart insights. He often returns to school districts to deliver his entire series of speeches. His acclaim continues to grow after each one.
His work has put him in the company of such speakers as President Gerald Ford, Jesse Jackson, Dan Rather, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Henry Kissinger, and Barbara Walters. Yet this respected, much sought-after speaker endured an orphaned, Depression Era childhood in an African-American and Italian ghetto. He’s been through it all – poor performance at public schools, trouble with the law, and the constant lure of easy money from the rackets that flourished openly in his neighborhood. But his indomitable will to succeed was nourished by love and wisdom from his immigrant grandparents and inspiration and help from his teachers, who started him on the road to respect for learning. As he proudly states, “If it weren’t for American public schools, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Zach has earned Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of New York in Albany, and a second Master’s and a Doctorate from the University of Buffalo. A former full-professor at the University of Vermont for 13 years, he has also been a classroom teacher of English, biology, history, and reading.
Much of the impact, emotion and honesty of Zach’s message is rooted in his inspiring upward journey from ghetto to public acclaim – energized by an avid hold on life, tempered by old-world values, and warmed by a teacher’s love of people.