Special Education Conference 2020

Supporting Inclusive and Evidence-Based High Leverage Practices for Students with Disabilities

Our 15th Annual Special Education Conference will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at Hayfield Secondary School. 
Register for the Special Education Conference

Our student strand on self-determination will be led by FCPS career and transition services (CTS) staff and youth volunteers.
Learn about the Self-Determination Student Strand

Increasing Student Performance with High Leverage Practices

Dr. Mary Brownell, Keynote Speaker (All Grades)

Mary Brownell
Dr. Mary Brownell, Keynote Speaker

High-leverage practices are essential educational practices that all preK–12 special educators should understand and implement for improved student outcomes. These practices, when successfully implemented, can improve results for struggling learners. These practices also are broadly applicable across content areas. Dr. Mary Brownell will discuss why practice is important in developing expertise and the role high leverage practices play for higher level performance for students. She will address parent, educator, and administrator perspectives for increased performance specifically for students with disabilities. She will delve into examples of these 22 practices and demonstrate how they promote increased learning outcomes for students with learning and behavioral needs. She will also present resources that have been developed to support the implementation of these practices. 

Dr. Mary Brownell, Ph.D., is a professor of Special Education at the University of Florida with research interests in teacher education, teacher quality, and collaboration. Currently, she is the Director of the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center. Dr. Brownell has secured multiple grants from the U.S. Department of Education, totaling more than 64 million dollars, focusing on students with learning disabilities, beginning special education teacher quality and teacher attrition, professional development for multi-tiered systems of support, Reading First coaching, and teacher education. She has published widely and won multiple awards, including the TED Pearson Award for Excellence in Teacher Education, the Division for Research Hallahan and Kauffman Distinguished Researcher Award, the Division for Learning Disabilities Jeannette Fleischner Career Leadership Award, the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE), and the David Imig Teacher Achievement Award for lifetime achievement in teacher education.

In addition to the keynote presentation, Dr. Brownell is presenting "Improving the Implementation of High Leverage Practices Through Professional Development: Strategies that Work!" during Session 2.

Guest Speakers

Rachel Bailey and Juliana Miner
Our guest speakers include Rachel Bailey (left) and Juliana Miner (right).

Rachel Bailey is a Parenting Specialist who has been serving families in Northern Virginia for over a decade. 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 psychotherapist. Currently Rachel teaches parents hands-on tools for raising responsible, resilient, confident children while reducing the stress and guilt in parents' lives.

Rachel is presenting "How to Raise Responsible Children Without Yelling or Nagging" during Session 2. 

Juliana Miner is an adjunct professor of global and community health at George Mason University. With twenty years’ experience in the field of public health, she has served as the director of social marketing for the Alabama Department of Public Health and the strategic planning director of the Fairfax County Health Department. Miner is also the creator of the popular parenting blog Rants from Mommyland, Parents magazine’s funniest blog of 2013, and was named one of Babble‘s 10 Best Humor Bloggers. Her articles on parenting, public health, and technology have been featured in The Washington Post. She lives with her husband, three kids, and two ridiculous dogs in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Juliana is presenting "Raising a Screen-Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age" during Session 1.

Conference Schedule

Time Event
8-8:30 a.m. Registration
8 a.m.-12 p.m. Inclusive Schools Tables Available
8:30-10:15 a.m. 
8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Post-Secondary Student Strand 
10 a.m.-12 p.m. Exhibits Available 
10:15-10:40 a.m. Transition Time/Exhibit Hallways/Concessions
10:40-11:40 a.m. Session 1
11:40 a.m.-12 p.m. Transition Time/Exhibit Hallways/Concessions
12-1 p.m. Session 2 
1 p.m. End of Conference and Evaluations

Session 1: Session titles, presenters, and descriptions

Session 1 (10:40-11:40 a.m.)

Actively Engaging Transitions: Designing Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behaviors
Erin Snell, Joni Smith, and Heather Temple (Preschool)
Planning for and selecting books, art and play activities is important in the early childhood classroom, but what about planning for what happens between those activities. Often times, challenging behaviors occur when children are not engaged between activities. In this session, participants will learn how to explicitly plan for the before, during, and after of daily transitions and use transition strategies that ensure children are actively engaged.

ADHD Is Not a Choice: The Impact of ADHD on Teens
Patricia M. Hudak (Secondary)
Teens struggle in a variety of ways as they grow towards independence and maturity. These challenges can be amplified in teens with attention and executive function deficits. In this session, we will discuss the unique struggles for teens with an ADHD diagnosis and ways parents and educators can support these teens to create resiliency, self-advocacy, and improved learning skills.

The Art of Storytelling
Anne Buttarazzi and Susan Holland (Preschool) 
Storytelling in a preschool classroom is not about perfection. In this session, participants will  learn how you can push beyond your comfort zone and use song, art, and dramatic play to make stories come alive for your students. Enhance your classroom with realistic, humorous and interactive curriculum.

Building an Inclusive Community with Peer Buddies 
Olivia Yellen and Katie D'Andrea (Elementary) 
In this session, participants will learn how peer buddies can help build an inclusive community in your school. The discussion will include tips on starting a program and how to support friendships between students in general education and special education classrooms. Come and learn what the staff observed after just one year of having a peer buddy program in their school.

Building Self-Healing Communities
Liz Vater and Kelly Henderson (All Grades) 
This session highlights the impact of childhood adversity and the building blocks of resiliency. Scientific breakthroughs reveal that what is predictable is preventable. Participants will encounter the transformative power of communities to improve their health and well-being across the lifespan.

Communication: The Road to Independence and Good Behavior
Jennifer Fasching (Preschool and Elementary) 
Having behavior problems at home? Is communication an issue? Participants will learn how to teach communication skills to their children in order to decrease behavior problems. They will also learn how to engineer to home to ensure maximum success with communication. This training is for parents of students following an adapted curriculum.

Creating a Collaborative Relationship with Parents and Staff
FCPS Staff and Parent Panelists
Occasionally conflicts may arise between parents and staff when working to reach consensus during collaborative decision-making. Varied perspectives on what is best to meet a student’s  individual needs can carry emotional weight. During this session, a parent and staff panel will discuss the underlying issues and emotions which can interfere with building trusting relationships between staff and parents. Strategies to enhance collaborative processes, which include verbal and non-verbal communication in addition to mindfulness activities to increase calm, will be discussed. 

Diploma Options for Students with Disabilities
Ellen Agosta and Ellie Stack (Elementary and Secondary)
This presentation will explore diploma options for students with disabilities. Information regarding credit accommodations, Locally Awarded Verified Credits (LAVC), and Special Permission Locally Awarded Verified Credits Accommodation (SPLACV-A) will be shared.

Dyslexia for a Day Simulation
Elin Paier and Carrie Leestma (All Grades) 
Have you found yourself wondering what individuals with dyslexia experience during the reading or writing process? This highly rated simulation provides similar frustrations and feelings through targeted reading and writing tasks to help participants gain a better understanding of and empathy for those children and adults who struggle with dyslexia. 

Essential Executive Functions: Helping Students Build Study and Organizational Skills
Lindsey Thoms and Deborah Rosen (Elementary and Secondary) 
Executive Functioning (EF) skills, such as time-management, materials organization, planning,  prioritizing, and initiating and completing work, are critical for student success in school and in life. In this session, presenters will share proven and straightforward techniques for building the executive function skills to help children overcome their struggles with homework, and prepare them for middle school, high school, and beyond. Participants will learn specific strategies to help a child push through their frustration and encourage independence.

Exploring Postsecondary Education Options: Postsecondary Education Considerations for Students with Disabilities
Jacqueline Gaston, Employment and Transition Representative, Mountain View High School
Maggie Contreras, Employment and Transition Representative, Woodson High School
Naomi Martinez-Jones, Director of Disability Services, George Mason University
Join FCPS Career and Transition Services staff to learn about postsecondary concerns for students contemplating college. Highlights of this session will include disclosure, accessing accommodations, disability support services, and understanding the differences between high school and college.

FCPS At-A-Glance for Preservice Teachers
Lena Cohen (Preservice Teachers)
College students currently involved in a teacher licensure program are invited to learn more about the advantages of working in FCPS, the resources available to novice teachers, and living in the Northern Virginia area.

High Leverage Practices for Students Accessing an Adapted Curriculum
Jennifer Skarke and Brittany Brown (All Grades)
This session will provide an overview of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) High Leverage Practices and how to apply them for students accessing an adapted curriculum. These practices will span across four intertwined components: collaboration, assessment, social/emotional/behavioral practices, and instruction.

The Impact of Mindfulness
Elyse Cooner (All Grades) 
Mindfulness practice is bringing full, non-judgmental attention to what is happening in the present moment. This session introduces mindfulness as a means to help understand the practice and its benefits more fully. Participants will look at research, neuroscience, and engage in experiential practices to optimize general well-being.

Just Break it Apart? Syllabication Explained
Melissa Johnson and Eileen Mazzone (Elementary)
Have you ever found yourself telling a student or child to break a word into syllables, only to realize they don’t know what you are talking about? In this session, participants will learn how to approach syllabication from the eyes of a struggling reader. Participants will learn the six syllable types along with strategies for teaching students’ rules for syllable division.

Play is Children’s Work-So Let’s Get To It!
Christie Johnson (Preschool) 
Play is the serious work of children although sometimes it is really hard for us, as adults, to remember how to do it! In this session, participants will learn about everyday opportunities to play with children in the home and classroom to increase skills across all areas of development. We will leave the electronics behind and help you find your inner child.

The Power of Assistive Technology for Student Success
Mollie Kropp, Caitlin Radek, and Assistive Technology Student Ambassadors (All Grades) 
Come to this session to learn about the power of assistive technology from the people who use it daily! The Assistive Technology (AT) Ambassadors Program highlights the leadership, advocacy, and technology skills of FCPS students with unique abilities. Student ambassadors will share how personal challenges have impacted their lives and educational journeys, and the ways that assistive technology tools and strategies have helped them achieve their goals. This session will include first-hand stories, information, demonstration, and Q&A. Audience participation is encouraged.

Providing Equity Through Easy Low-Tech Means
Diana Houston, Amanda J Walter, and Victoria Bowen (Preschool and Elementary) 
In this session, participants will learn low tech solutions and strategies to support students with a variety of needs following an adapted curriculum. Highlights include specific accommodations for students with low vision, no vision, and physical limitations in order to gain access to evidence-based programming used in FCPS. Participants will also have an opportunity to engage in adapted play through switch toys and learn how to make simple accommodations.

Raising a Screen-Smart Kid: Embrace the Good and Avoid the Bad in the Digital Age
Julianna Miner, Guest Speaker (All Grades) 
For parents who didn't grow up with smartphones but can't let go of them now, expert advice on raising kids in our constantly connected world will be shared. This session will focus on how to help kids navigate friendships, bullying, dating, self-esteem, and more online.

Strategies to Promote Successful Transitions from Elementary to Secondary
David Lojkovic, Erin Woodward, and Shauna Gardziel  (Elementary and Secondary)
In this session, participants will gain information on how to promote successful transitions from elementary to middle and middle to high school. Strategies and resources for preparing students for the transition to the secondary level will be shared.

What We Know in 2020: Vaping 101
Elizabeth Knudson and Heather Price (Elementary and Secondary) 
This session will cover types of electronic devices and their uses for nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) delivery. The latest national, state, and county trends will also be presented. In addition, presenters will discuss the impact of vaping on student health, wellness, and brain development. The FCPS response to the teen vaping epidemic and interventions currently being used will be discussed.

Session 2: Session titles, presenters, and descriptions

Session 2 (12-1 p.m.)

An ADHD-Friendly Model for Developing and Improving Emotional Intelligence
Pamela Barton and Jon Thomas (All Grades)
Emotional intelligence correlates with a greater sense of well-being, positive self-concept, healthier social interactions, and subsequently, improved academic performance among students with ADHD. This session demonstrates a unique and effective multisensory, ADHD-friendly model that rapidly empowers students to identify, understand, monitor, and manage their emotions.

The Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD)
Mike Bloom, Cheri Belkowitz, and Connie Lorentzen (All Grades)
Have you ever wondered what the ACSD is? In this session, participants will have an opportunity to test their knowledge of special education and learn more about the functions of this Citizen Advisory Committee and how we help support students with disabilities in FCPS. Come to this session to learn how you can support the work of the ACSD and have a voice in helping to identify needs in the education of children with disabilities in our schools.

Anxiety, School Refusal, and Special Education Supports
Whitney McDonough, Noreen Hill, and Lisa Vanlahr  (All Grades)
This session will address how anxiety and school refusal often go hand-in-hand, and the supports available to students who receive special education services. Parents will gain insight into these complicated issues. Participants will learn tips for working with school staff to ensure that your child has what she/he needs to transition back to and feel supported at school.

Being a Superhero: Managing Challenging Behavior at Home
Devin Coleman-Houff (Elementary)
In this session, participants will learn how to manage behavior challenges in the home. Participants will learn useful strategies that will decrease the possibility of tantrums and increase the positive skills we want all our students to learn. This training is for parents of students following an adapted curriculum.

Better Together: Successful Collaboration Between School, Parents, and Outside Providers
Shauna Gardziel and Jane M. Barbin (All Grades)
To create best educational outcomes, we must create effective teams that collaborate across disciplines and settings. In this session, participants will learn ways to strengthen collaboration across staff and parent teams and with private professionals who support students. The use of specific communication skills (e.g., shared goals, using translational language, and open communication), necessary professional behaviors that can improve outcomes in interdisciplinary collaboration, and critical system components that support collaboration within educational environments will be discussed.

Beyond the Buzzwords: Creating Trauma Sensitive Schools for All
Kelly Henderson, Jenna White, and Beth Spivack (All Grades)
We are hearing more and more about childhood trauma and its impact on families and schools. Join this parent-led workshop and take the next step towards understanding how educators and families can fill their toolbox with practical and proven strategies that build resilience of students, staff and families. We will also examine how other districts have successfully fostered inclusive classrooms and schools that really work for all, especially those impacted by trauma and traumatic stress. 

Beyond the School Day-Access to Extracurricular Activities 2020
Dawn Schaefer, Kathy Murphy, and Cameron Hibshman (All Grades)
This session will cover the requirements for providing access to after school and extracurricular activities for students who are eligible for special education and Section 504. Participants will gain an understanding of how to navigate requests for accommodations and access for students and ways to address students' needs in these environments.

Building Independence in Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities
Aimee So and Mo Chi (All Grades)
This session will provide strategies for fostering independence in students following an Adapted Curriculum. Topics will include the use of task analysis, reinforcement, and prompt/prompt fading for setting goals to promote independence.

How Screen Time and Sleep Impact Early Childhood Development
Amy Sheldon and Anne Brosnan (Preschool)
The topics of both screen time and sleep are two subjects commonly referred to within the area of early childhood development. This session will look at how these areas may impact early learning, as well as physiological and mental health functioning. Information will be provided on the differences between learning through screens versus interpersonal experiences, as well as how screen time usage may contribute to overall health and development. This session will also explore the mechanisms of sleep, how it impacts our mental and physical health, and how we can help parents develop better sleep habits for their children. 

How to Raise Responsible Children Without Yelling or Nagging
Rachel Bailey, Guest Speaker (All Grades)
You want your children to do what they’re supposed to do, but yelling, begging, bribing, and punishing don’t seem to motivate long-term responsible behavior. In this session, participants will learn the real reason kids don't listen (it's not what you think!) and how to handle their lack of cooperation effectively and respectfully. Additionally, participants will learn specific tips for fostering internal motivation so children will make responsible decisions, even when a parent is not there to remind them.

Improving the Implementation of High Leverage Practices Through Professional Development: Strategies that Work!
Dr. Mary Brownell, Keynote Speaker (All Grades)
If educators are going to use high leverage practices, then they need access to quality professional development around high leverage practices. In this breakout session, Dr. Brownell will discuss the features of effective practice opportunities and professional development strategies that support implementation and use across classroom settings. Participants will have an opportunity to examine resources that the CEEDAR Center provides to improve practice opportunities.

Math Matters!
Helen Rose and Angeli Tempel (Preschool and Elementary)
Math matters for all young children: young children with special needs, young children who are learning English, and young children from all economic backgrounds. Research demonstrates that early math skills are important for later school readiness and future academic success. In this session, participants will learn about the basic math principles and ways to incorporate these math concepts into fun everyday home and school activities. No prior math experience necessary!

Reading Brains at Work
Dottie Skrincosky and Tracy Puckett (Elementary)
Phonemic awareness and phonics are two foundational building blocks for the development of reading. In this session, participants will learn about the science of the fascinating processors at work in your child’s reading brain. Join this session to learn practical information and strategies to support and enhance these two very important components of reading instruction.

Strategies to Diffuse Unexpected Behavior
Sarah Korfonta, Jen Blasko, Denene Loosle, Sheryl Schneider, and Reggie Mitchell (All Grades) 
This session will focus on key components of unexpected behavior. Participants will understand why behavior escalates and how to use proactive strategies to prevent behaviors from escalating further. Participants will also walk away with proactive strategies on how to respond to unexpected behavior using relationship-based skills.

Supporting Anxious Children at School and at Home
Michelle Cades and Kasey Cain (All Grades)
Exploding, shutting down, refusing to follow directions... these “non-compliant” behaviors can actually be related to underlying anxiety disorders. Understanding the “why” behind these behaviors makes a difference between helpful or hurtful adult responses. Stop walking on eggshells at home or in the classroom. In this session, presenters will focus on the relationship between brain, behavior, and executive functioning, plus strategies to best support anxious children and reduce stress using a strengths-based perspective will be shared. 

Technology Tools for All Learners
Jeff Sisk (All Grades)
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. In this session, participants will explore these quick and easy school-based resources that can facilitate learning for diverse students.

Tips for Successful Middle School, High School and Post-Secondary Transitions    
Susan Kannengiesser (Secondary)
Transitioning a child from one “level” of school to another can involve additional challenges and planning to help a child adjust to a new atmosphere and changed expectations of independence, behavior, academics, and organization. Proactive planning and support can go a long way in helping a child effectively transition and thrive in a new environment. Participants will learn tips and strategies to help facilitate transitions from elementary to middle school and middle to high school. This session will also provide information about diploma options, graduation requirements, and a brief overview of postsecondary options, with tips on how to start planning in middle and high school for your child's postsecondary transition.

Twice Exceptional (2E) and Special Education
Layne Kalbfleisch (All Grades)
What learning paradigms should teachers in gifted and special education share? Executive functions are skills for managing ourselves and everything else around us. These executive functioning skills are constantly maturing during the school age years. Recent evidence suggests that there is asynchrony, meaning an absence or lack of concurrence in the relationship between certain aspects of cognitive abilities or ‘natural capacity’ and executive function. This dynamic may account for the idiosyncrasies observed among the individual differences in our students. During this session, more information will be shared to explore a pragmatic approach for bridging the gaps between assessment, identification, and support in the classroom and therapeutic environment for executive functioning skills.

Two Heads are Better Than One: The Benefits of a Co-Taught Classroom for Exceptional Learners
Jessica Boger and Alecia Carroll (All Grades)
During this session, led by a co-teaching pair who have been teaching together for five years, participants will learn about the benefits of a co-taught classroom for all learners. Presenters will showcase how to build an inclusive environment that leads to a strength-focused educational approach.

Understanding the Criteria for the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) 
Ellen Agosta, Amber Terry, and Debbie Miller (Elementary and Secondary)
In this session, 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.

Interpreter Requests and Conference Accommodations

If you need a foreign language interpreter, an ASL interpreter, or accommodations to attend this conference, please contact the Parent Resource Center at prc@fcps.edu or call 703-204-3941.

Preservice Teachers: Please contact Nicki Conners at 571-423-4178.

Conference Flyers