Programs + Events

Inspiring Keynote Speakers and Presenters

Every year, convention attendees hear from exciting and powerful keynote speakers and special guests during the annual convention in each action-packed general meeting. And the 2018 Convention will be no exception.


National PTA President James L. Accomando
First General Session

James L. Accomando was elected as the 55th President of the National PTA Board of Directors at the June 2017 National PTA Convention. Jim has been engaged in fulfilling the mission of PTA since his oldest child began kindergarten. For the past 18 years, he has volunteered at every level and has had the pleasure of being president of his child’s high school PTA, the district’s PTA council and the State of Connecticut Parent Teacher Association.

Jim believes that family and community engagement is one of the key strengths of PTA in providing equity and quality in our educational system today. He advocates to look beyond the school community to develop partnerships with other educational stakeholders in order to further the mission of the association.

In 2012, Jim was instrumental in the Snow Flakes for Sandy Hook Elementary School Healing Initiative and the fundraising of $1.1 million dollars to support potential mental health issues within the Sandy Hook school community. He is also actively engaged in other civic and youth programming as a coach, Boy Scout leader and church.

Jim is a small business owner, the parent of two children educated in public schools and the husband of a public school teacher.

Executive Director Association of California School Administrators Dr. Wesley Smith
Third General Session

Dr. Wesley Smith is executive director of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the largest school leadership group in the nation. ACSA is foremost a champion for the state’s more than 6 million students. Having served in a variety of school leadership roles, including elementary and middle grades principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent, Dr. Smith understands the intricacies and influences in public education. He believes in a bold new future for ACSA and ensuring it is the most influential voice in public education for years to come.

Changes in the standards taught and tested in California, a new school funding formula and the redesign of education accountability systems will require ACSA leadership. Dr. Smith is uniquely poised to lead that charge to protect the present and the future of all students.

2018 Teacher of the Year Dr. Brian McDaniel
Fifth General Session

Brian McDaniel, one of five California Teachers of Year, was selected by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to represent California in the prestigious National Teacher of Year competition.

McDaniel is a band and choir teacher at Painted Hills Middle School, a Title 1 school in Palm Springs Unified School District in Riverside County. His classroom includes gifted and talented students, English language learners, special needs students and students from socioeconomically disadvantaged families. He is passionate about helping students overcome systemic poverty through academic opportunities.

McDaniel founded “The Regiment” — his student-led music organization that serves as a safety net for students and helps them overcome the trials of school and life. In the last 12 years, McDaniel has raised over one million dollars through grants, donations, partnerships and fundraisers to ensure every student can participate in his program at no cost.

“Dr. McDaniel teaches in a community in which gang recruitment, adolescent parenthood, and low graduation rates victimize the students he interacts with daily,” said Edgar Garcia, a student attending Georgetown University. “I was one of those students, destined to drown. Dr. McDaniel positions himself as not only an academic advisor, but also a fatherly figure. He housed me when I needed it most, drove me to college interviews I otherwise would have been unable to attend and embraced me as my family witnessed financial perils of their own”.

“Every day, I tell my students, together we will rise, together we will win and will forever be remembered,” said McDaniel. He believes student achievement is not an accident, it’s the result of dynamic, engaging and rigorous instruction.

Special Event

Gubernatorial Forum
Second General Session

California State PTA, in partnership with Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), will put the spotlight on education during the Gubernatorial Education Forum. Join this lively discussion, moderated by ABC7 Eyewitness News co-anchor Marc Brown, to learn more about each candidates’ vision for California’s public schools.

*Invited candidates include:

  • California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom
  • California State Treasurer John Chiang
  • California Assemblymember Travis Allen
  • Former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin
  • Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
  • Businessman John Cox

($25 for forum‐only participants. All funding will benefit PTA’s mission to positively impact the lives of all children and families.)

*Current at time of printing. Subject to change. Participation or sponsorship in this event does not  denote endorsement of gubernatorial candidates by either California State PTA or PACE.