Special Education Conference 2023

Unity Within our FCPS Community. Every Student. Every Educator. Every Family.

Thank you for attending our live sessions on April 29!

Our Virtual 17th Annual Special Education Conference was held Saturday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (EST)

You can view the recorded live stream presentations by our guest speakers and asynchronous (pre-recorded) conference presentations by FCPS staff and community partners below. The entire conference playlist is also available on the Family Resource Center YouTube Channel

Exhibit Hall

Learn about Fairfax County Public Schools groups, local government agencies and non-profit organizations.
Visit the Virtual Exhibit Hall

Inclusive Schools Hall

Learn how Annandale High School, Poplar Tree Elementary School, and Woodson High School support a culture of inclusion.
Visit the Virtual Inclusive Schools Hall

Guest Speakers

Guest speakers are well-known professionals in the community and will cover a variety of high interest topics for parents, FCPS educators, and administrators. Each presentation title links to the recording of the guest speaker's presentation.

Rachel Bailey

Rachel Bailey
Rachel Bailey, Guest Speaker

Rachel Bailey is a Parenting Specialist who has been serving families for more than 12 years. Besides being a mother of two, she also has a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology, a certification in Positive Discipline, and has provided services as an ADHD Coach, in-home mentor, and therapist. Through her podcast, programs, and services Rachel teaches parents hands-on tools for raising responsible, resilient children... while reducing the stress and guilt in parents' lives.

Fostering Resilience and Healthy Self-Esteem in Children With Big Emotions

  • The definition of resilience and healthy self-esteem
  • Why children with big emotions are at a higher risk for low self esteem 
  • How we (unintentionally) focus on fostering resilience at the expense of self-esteem 
  • Specific actions you can take to foster both resilience and confidence in your child with big emotions 


Dr. Erin Berman

Dr. Erin Berman
Dr. Erin Berman, Guest Speaker

Dr. Erin D. Berman is a Clinical Psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She received her clinical psychology doctoral degree from Rosalind Franklin University / The Chicago Medical School. Her clinical training continued with attending the Boston Consortium of Clinical Psychology where she was a Harvard Medical School Fellowship recipient. She completed post-doctoral re-specialization in child and adolescent Anxiety Disorders at Temple University. Her main area of interest continues to be in cognitive behavioral interventions for children, adolescents, and adults with anxiety disorders. Dr. Berman is a Clinical Psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. She received her clinical psychology doctoral degree from Rosalind Franklin University / The Chicago Medical School. Her clinical training continued with attending the Boston Consortium of Clinical Psychology where she was a Harvard Medical School Fellowship recipient. She completed post-doctoral re-specialization in child and adolescent Anxiety Disorders at Temple University. Her main area of interest continues to be in cognitive behavioral interventions for children, adolescents, and adults with anxiety disorders.

Worry and Anxiety: Using Evidence Based Strategies to Help Kids, Adults, and Caregivers Cope

  • How to identify anxiety
  • How to change anxious thinking
  • The science and biological roots of anxiety
  • How computer technology is transforming the understanding of anxiety
  • Current treatment options (medications & CBT: cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Discuss coping strategies


Dr. Lauren Kenworthy

Dr. Lauren Kenworthy
Dr. Lauren Kenworthy, Guest Speaker

Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, is a Professor of Neurology, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry at the George Washington University School of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Associate Chief of the Neuropsychology Division at Children’s National Health System. Dr. Kenworthy received her BA from Yale University and PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Maryland. She completed internship and fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research interests are in describing and treating the cognitive antecedents of behavior problems in children with developmental disabilities, particularly self-regulatory executive functions.  She has partnered with educators and families within FCPS for years to evaluate and improve school-based Unstuck and On Target interventions. She also is working closely with autistic self-advocates to describe the presentation of autism in girls and women. She is an author of more than 85 peer-reviewed publications, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF; BRIEF2), and four books on executive function interventions.

Unstuck and On Target: Improving Executive Function, On-Task and Flexible Behavior in Students from Pre-K through High School

  • Recognize executive functioning weaknesses in children, distinguish among different executive functioning skills and how they relate to social skills and emotion regulation in a range of conditions, including ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, traumatic brain injury
  • Apply specific techniques to support improvement in executive functioning at home or at school
  • Learn specific scripts or vocabulary and when to use them to increase executive function skills
  • Learn how an executive function intervention aligns with VDOE Social Emotional Learning guidelines


Kirk Martin

Kirk Martin
Kirk Martin, Guest Speaker

CelebrateCalm.com Founder and Calm Parenting Podcast host Kirk Martin has shown almost 1,000,000 parents how to stop the yelling, defiance, and power struggles with the most strong-willed children. Kirk is known for very practical strategies and scripts delivered with humor and compassion. Learn how to get your kids to listen the first time while building a close, trusting relationship. 

5 Ways to De-escalate Dysregulated or Defiant Children
You will learn very practical ways to:

  • De-escalate and stop emotionally charged power struggles.
  • Turn defiance into opportunities to bond and problem solve.
  • Teach your kids how to control their emotions and impulses.
  • Stop yelling, lecturing, and reacting angrily.
  • Calm upset kids using movement instead of words (and why it's important NOT to give eye contact).

Conference Presentations

Presentations are offered by FCPS staff and community partners. Presentation titles link to the asynchronous (pre-recorded) presentation.  Information on our guest speakers and their presentations is available in the Guest Speaker section above.

10 Assistive Technology Tools for the Workplace
Judith Lieberman   
For educators and parents of secondary students
Come and learn about technology tools to help students transition to the workplace. This presentation will explore resources in the area of time management, self-regulation, workplace accommodations and career exploration. Participants will leave this session ready to try out some new tools and dust off some old resources in your toolbox. 

AAC Basics: The What, Why, and How     
Kelly Kapalka and Jessa Boehm
For all parents
In this presentation we will cover what augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is, why we use it, and how to implement it with a focus on home and community.  This presentation is geared towards families that are unfamiliar with what AAC is and will provide a general overview on high and low tech AAC, core and fringe vocabulary, and a multi-modal communication system.

ADHD and Substance Use Disorder
Kelly Rankin and Charlisa Becklund                
For all educators and parents
Have you ever wondered if children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at a higher risk for Substance Use Disorder (SUD)? Research shows that many young adults with ADHD may have another condition, for example, conduct disorder, mood disorders and/or SUD to name a few. In this presentation, participants will learn the risk factors associated when children have ADHD and SUD, prevention strategies, and different options for treatment. 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) - Supportive Actions Matter       
Kori Joseph and Catric Marshall
For all educators and parents
This presentation will describe the ACE’s study and its potential to identify how multiple forms of childhood stressors can affect many important public health problems. It will also create an understanding of ACE’s as a powerful pathway to health and wellbeing. Participants will learn the three core protective systems that interact and guide positive adaptation. Participants will also learn about capacity building processes.

Calm Creators: Tools to Help Students Process Feelings 
Lisa Phifer, Jugnu Agrawal, and Kelly Galbraith            
For all educators and parents 
Come watch this presentation to unlock clues and discover tools to become calm creators! Participants will learn about the importance of understanding and managing their own emotions so that they can model these skills for students in times of stress. Presenters will share the settings, people, and skills that help your student to feel relaxed and ready to learn. Proactive strategies will be shared to support student regulation and help access their calm.

College Success for Students with Disabilities 
Lynette Henry, Karen Huffman, Sarah Blake, and Maggie Contreras          
For parents of secondary students
Is your student prepared to embrace new challenges as they transition from high school to college? While a disability can be an obstacle, it should not prevent students from attending or completing college. This presentation will help participants understand their student’s rights and responsibilities and the process and resources available to help your student transition to college. Students that recognize their talents and strengths, demonstrate self-advocacy skills, and know how to access accommodations and support in college, are much better equipped to succeed in postsecondary environments.

Early Childhood AT...Easy as 1,2,3      
Celeste Rodrigo and Jenni Pazmino
For educators and parents of preschool students
This presentation will share assistive technology (AT) tools that can support students in the early childhood classroom. Presenters will share AT strategies including visual supports, AAC, and adapted access. This presentation will also explore resources to create an accessible environment for your youngest learner.

Early Childhood Language at Home: Making the Most of Daily Routines
Laure Grove                              
For parents of preschool students
This presentation will share strategies for parents to help break down common home routines such as mealtime, dressing, bathroom, and nighttime, in order to develop easy language opportunities to increase communication skills for their child. The presenter will share different forms of language modeling, reinforcing and expanding expression, and how to contrive communication situations. The presenter will also include a variety of forms of communication such as vocalizations, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, and pictures.

Equitable Access to Literacy: Preventative Measures for Students with Dyslexia and/or Dysgraphia
Rachel Rubio, FCPS Dyslexia Specialist
For all educators and parents
Literacy is the cornerstone of all learning and the key to lifetime success. Every child has the right to learn to read. During this presentation we'll explore the Equitable Access to Literacy (EAL) plan that focuses on providing a literacy education that ensures all students have the skills and confidence they need to succeed. The EAL provides an action plan for continuous improvement in PreK -12 literacy by using evidence-based practices grounded in science based reading research, expanding learning opportunities that intentionally support individual student’s needs, and ensuring students receive explicit instruction in reading and writing to achieve proficiency in literacy.  

Families as Partners: Supporting Your Student’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)
Familias Como Socios: Apoyando el Aprendizaje Social y Emocional (ASE) de su Estudiante     
Debbie Perez                                                                
For all parents       
Families are our students’ first teachers for social and emotional skills. They are the school's most valuable partners in supporting the academic and social emotional growth of students. This presentation will highlight key components of social emotional learning and its connection to lifelong learning and academic success. This presentation will be conducted in SPANISH.

Las familias son los primeros maestros de nuestros estudiantes en enseñar habilidades sociales y emocionales. Son los socios más valiosos de la escuela para apoyar el crecimiento académico y socioemocional de los estudiantes. Esta presentación destacará los componentes clave del aprendizaje socioemocional y su conexión con el aprendizaje permanente y el éxito académico. Esta presentación se llevará a cabo en ESPAÑOL.

Inclusive Technology Tools to Support Literacy
Jarrod Andros, Sara Husein Bazar, and Karen Hom                
For all educators and parents 
This presentation will explore technology tools that support the writing process, ways to better access reading, and the organization of information to support literacy. These accessible tools will support all learners across all grade levels in FCPS. Presenters will share inclusive tools that include Google Keep, Google Voice Typing, and Natural Reader. 

Introduction to the Science of Reading for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities 
Adapted Curriculum Team
For educators and parents of elementary or secondary students
Are you interested in learning more about the science of reading and how it can apply to students with intellectual disabilities? This presentation is designed to provide participants with an introductory understanding of the Science of Reading. Participants will explore the five components of reading and corresponding instructional practices designed to support reading development for individual students accessing an adapted curriculum. Participants will leave with ideas of activities that can be easily incorporated throughout a child's day.

Neurodiversity, Neurodivergent, and Neurotypical: What Does it All Mean?
Kristen Haynor, FCPS Neurodiversity Specialist
For all educators and parents
All human beings are neurodiverse. There is infinite variation of thinking and experiencing the world due to our identities, experiences, and brain wiring that is a valuable form of human diversity (Büdy, 2021; Singer, 2019). The brilliance and advantages of neurodiversity can only be experienced when we affirm, appreciate, and foster each individual’s abilities and ways of thinking. In this presentation, participants will learn about neurocognitive functioning and the presenter will share the different ways of human cognition as it relates to neurodivergence or neurotypicality.

Outdoor Learning: Why and How to Make Learning Happen in Natural Outdoor Spaces
Christie Johnson, Erin Snell, and Joni Smith
For educators and parents of preschool students
Outdoor play is important learning that is fun, accessible, and free for all children and families. In this presentation, strategies will be shared about the many different ways outdoor play supports a child’s overall development and meaningful ways it can easily be built into the day. Participants will leave with many ideas and resources to get started or continue to grow their facilitation of outdoor learning experiences.

Overview of the Office of the Ombuds
Kathy Murphy
For all educators and parents
In this presentation, participants will learn about the services and supports available through the Office of the Ombuds. The FCPS Office of the Ombuds provides an independent, confidential resource for students, families, community members, and employees who are seeking informal help to answer questions, resolve concerns, and voice complaints regarding FCPS matters. Participants will learn about the role of the Assistant Ombuds for Special Education and how she may serve as a resource and provide information and support to parents and students regarding special education and Section 504 concerns.

Seven Tips for Behavior Success at Home        
Delinda Hinnant                                                 

For all parents
Do you ever find yourself saying, "How do I get my child to ____."? This presentation will provide parents and caregivers with seven quick tips for behavior success. Participants will be provided with simple steps to develop a positive working relationship with their child. Often, the root cause of negative behaviors is a lack of behavior management, and these tips should help.

Specially Designed Instruction: eSpecially Designed for One, Beneficial for All          
Kimberly Farmar, Wendy Boehm, and Katherine Adams
For all educators and parents
This presentation will cover resources and supports around specially designed instruction provided to an individual student based on his or her learning needs to remove barriers that result from a students' disability. Participants will leave with an understanding of individualized educational supports and strategies for instruction.

"Talk to Me!" Home Ideas for Supporting Children Who use AAC
Colleen Kalamajka and Jeff Powers
For all parents  
Are you looking for basic strategies to support and interact with your child who uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)? This presentation will focus on basic implementation strategies and will also provide ideas around daily family activities that can expand communication.

Understanding the Criteria for the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP)
Katie Aldridge, Amber Terry, Michelle Henry, and Brittany Vigil
For educators and parents of elementary or secondary students
In this presentation, an overview of the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) will be provided. Participants will gain an understanding of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) VAAP guidance document in determining a student's participation in the VAAP assessment. Eligibility criteria and the impact for participation in the VAAP will be discussed.

Understanding Extended School Year (ESY) Services
Katie Aldridge, Amber Terry, Michelle Henry, and Brittany Vigil
For educators and parents of elementary or secondary students
In this presentation, an overview of Extended School Year Services will be provided. Participants will gain an understanding of Extended School Year (ESY) services, including different services options an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team may consider and factors IEP teams must consider when determining if a student requires ESY.

Understanding the Nature and Needs of Twice-Exceptional (2e) Students       
Nonye Oladimeji, FCPS 2e Specialist                            
For all educators and parents
This presentation aims to provide an overview of the characteristics and needs of twice-exceptional (2e) learners. The presenter will focus on helping participants understand the roles and responsibilities of the district's 2e specialist. Highlights include the importance of parents and educators working together as partners to meet the needs of 2e learners.

Work Based Learning for Special Education Students
Sue Eaton

For educators and parents of secondary students
Work-based learning (WBL) provides students with a continuum of career related experiences that support their career goals and prepares them for education and employment beyond high school. In partnership with businesses and community organizations, WBL extends the classroom into the workplace, transforming acquired knowledge and abilities into the skills that employers are seeking for their workforce. During this presentation, participants will be provided with an overview of FCPS’ current career awareness, exploration, preparation and training opportunities for special education students through Career and Transition Services (CTS) and in turn begin to consider the possibilities for your student’s future.

Fairfax County Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA)

A Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) is a PTA organization affiliated with the State and National PTA but specifically established to address the unique needs of special education, special needs, and disabled students and families. To learn more about the Fairfax County SEPTA and watch webinars hosted by their organization, visit the exhibit hall.

Event Support

General Conference Information
For general conference information, questions, or accommodations to attend/access the conference materials or presentations, please email [email protected].

Navigating Zoom
Tips for navigating Zoom for participants may be found on the Technology Support for Families website.

Interpretation and Multilingual Support

FCPS offers telephone support to parents who do not speak English as their first language. Participants can access the Parent Information Phone Lines and a school system employee will respond to your call in your preferred language within 24 hours, Monday through Friday. 

How do I change the Zoom Registration Form Language?

  1. Click the Zoom Registration Link to open the Zoom Registration webpage.
  2. Scroll to the Language dropdown located at the bottom (footer) of the Registration webpage.
  3. Select a language from the Language dropdown. The webpage will appear in the language you selected.

How do I change the Google Form Language ?

  1. Open the Google Form
  2. Right click on the form and select “Translate to English.”  A Google Translate window will appear.
  3. Click the “Translate Options” menu (indicated by 3 dots).
  4. Select “Choose another language” from the menu.
  5. Select a language from the drop down menu and hit the “translate” button. The form will appear in the selected language.

How do I access the interpreter when I log into Zoom?

  1. Login using the link emailed to you when you registered. 
  2. Click on the interpretation icon, found on the bottom row of the displayed meeting tools in Zoom. 
  3. Select your preferred language.

How do I change the language through Closed Captions (CC) in YouTube?

  1. Click on the settings icon on the bottom row of the YouTube video you wish to watch.
  2. Click subtitles/CC
  3. Click Auto-Translate. This will display a list of available languages.
  4. Select your preferred language for subtitles/CC.

Evaluation and Feedback

Thank you for attending the 2023 Special Education Conference! We value your feedback and want to hear from you. Please complete the evaluation form (available in English, Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese) by May 15, 2023 to share your opinion with the FCPS Conference Planning Committee. 

Educator Credit and Certificates of Attendance

Educator Credit for FCPS Educators
FCPS Educators can receive 5 recertification points for attending 5 synchronous and/or asynchronous sessions. Complete the attendance form by May 15 to request recertification points. Note: You do not need to sign-up in MyPDE, credit will be awarded once the form is completed.

Certificates of Attendance available for Non FCPS Educators
Non FCPS Educators can receive a certificate of attendance. Please complete the attendance form by May 15 to request a certificate of attendance. You will be provided with a certificate of attendance via email.