MSTA Leadership Conference

Where MSTA Leaders Meet

Thursday, July 18 &
Friday, July 19, 2024

Holiday Inn Executive Center • Columbia, Missouri

180 Days of Awesome: Celebrating Every Day of Education 

You are AWESOME and awesome is all around us. Every day you walk into your school something amazing is bound to happen. Some days that awesome is easy to see, it comes in the form of laughter, academic progress, achieving goals, and building relationships with kids. Some days that awesome is nearly impossible to see among all the meetings, curriculum changes, displeased parents, and behavior concerns.  Here is the cool part, focusing on the awesome has the power to turn each day of education into an exciting adventure in learning. Come along with me on this 180 day quest as we learn to focus on those little amazing moments that have the power to change everything. Because sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference. 

Monica’s goal is to transform teachers, leaders, and schools from seeing education as an ordinary job into an extraordinary adventure. Genta feels that every person who walks into a school deserves to love their experience! She is a believer in finding awesome and celebrating life every day! Genta is full of energy, full of passion, and full of love for helping others on their journey in life and learning.

She is a classroom teacher of 14 years, the author of five books including the best seller, 180 Days of Awesome, an international educational consultant and keynote speaker. Monica’s TED Talk has been viewed by of educators from all over the world. She has earned a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction and a Masters in Educational Leadership & Administration and is a National Board Certified teacher.

In her free time, she enjoys long road trips, accomplishing new challenges, eating unique pizzas, and impromptu dance parties. She is pumped to share her life and experiences with you and is confident you will laugh along the way. Monica lives in Illinois and is surrounded by loving friends and family. You can find out more at

Change Their Minds

Educators wear a multitude of hats, yet, in the ever-evolving world of education, one role stands out as pivotal—the role of the storyteller.

We possess an extraordinary talent for recognizing untold stories within each child, stories that are yet unwritten but brimming with potential. We help write the narratives that can shape students' perceptions of themselves and show them who they can become. This is perhaps the most rewarding part of our job. 

However, the narrative extends beyond our students. Within the walls and halls of our schools lie a trove of powerful stories—stories that need to break free. These narratives possess the transformative power to reshape society’s perception of public education.

As educators, you are uniquely positioned to unlock and share the narratives that have the potential to alter hearts and minds. Together, let’s harness the power of your stories, and collectively redefine the lives of children as well as the narrative of public education.


After ignoring several signs that she should be a teacher, Darbie Valenti Huff pursued the inevitable–a career in education. With over 20 years in the field, Darbie’s teaching experience spans grades third through eighth and includes serving as an adjunct professor. She has received numerous recognitions, including serving as a DESE selected STARR Teacher from 2006-2008 and then being named the 2017 Missouri Teacher of the Year. All those comments on her childhood report cards regarding her excessive talking have paid off as she now serves as MSTA’s Professional Developer, training and supporting teachers throughout the state.

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