About HPD

The mission of Highroad Professional Development, LLC, is to organize and provide events that promote the ideals of professional excellence. Although effective professional development activities can occur practically anywhere, one ideal is that retreats should be held in a location that inspires deep thought and self reflection. We have provided retreats at hotel and conference facilities near such natural wonders as Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion Canyon. Our consulting services are available both nationally and internationally. We have collaborated with institutions and organizations to offer professional development workshops, retreats, and seminars in their selected locations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and China.

Event Leaders' Credentials & Experience

Event Coordinator and Director: Tom Cunningham has a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from Utah State University. In 2002, he established Highroad Professional Development, LLC, in order to provide consulting services to educational institutions. He currently works full time in this endeavor. During his twenty years as a professor at Southern Utah University (1994-2014), he served in a variety of additional roles, such as the SUU Faculty Development Director (for eight years) and more recently as the Director of Graduate Studies in Education. When Dr. Cunningham attended  his first Great Teaching event, which was directed by Dr. Gary Parnell, he was skeptical about its value; but he soon realized that "properly facilitated shoptalk" is the highest form of professional development. Since 1997, he has coordinated and directed numerous events based on the seminar model of the Great Teachers Movement (GTM). In the process, he has learned that the very flexible GTM model can be successfully applied to ANY group of professionals (not just teachers) and have very practical, powerful, positive results.

Event Director: Gary Parnell (ON TEMPORARY LEAVE) has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Utah. At the time of his retirement from full-time employment in higher education, he was Director of the Ephraim Education Center and a Clinical Associate Professor of Education at Utah State University. He was previously the Education Department Chair at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, where he also served for ten years as the Faculty Development Director. He continues to work as a private consultant and offers his valuable services to Highroad Professional Development as the director of various workshops and retreats. Since 1991, Dr. Parnell has been directing events that are based on the model of the Great Teachers Movement. He is an excellent facilitator, using his sense of humor to "break the ice" in a group, getting people to engage in useful "shoptalk," and effectively drawing all participants into an exchange of ideas.

Advancing the Great Teachers Movement: In 1997, Dr. Cunningham invited Dr. Parnell to help offer a great teaching retreat in southern Utah; and since that time, they have continued to collaborate, offering workshops, retreats, and seminars for higher education faculty, public school teachers, faculty/staff developers, librarians, administrators, staff supervisors, and cross-sections of employees from single institutions in Great College or Great University events. In 2001, Parnell and Cunningham both participated in a National Great Teachers Leadership Colloquium (held in Texas) that was directed by David Gottshall, who founded the National Great Teachers Movement in 1969. In 2005 and 2014, Cunningham attended leadership development events (both held in North Carolina) that were guided by Gottshall, who continues to personally direct seminars nationally and internationally although he has retired from full-time teaching.

In June of 2016, Cunningham will coordinate and host the International Great Teachers Leadership Summit, to be held June Monday-Friday, June 6-10, 2016, Ruby's Inn, Bryce Canyon, Utah; and David Gottshall will be attending and sharing his wit and wisdom in this event intended for professionals who lead (or want to learn how to lead) Great Teaching events.

Click the following link for more information and history about the National Great Teachers Movement.