We are honored to announce the speakers for 2017:
DAN HABIB—educator, author
Dan is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories, and many other short films on disability-related topics. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. He is currently working on a new documentary, with the working title of Intelligent Lives, which will examine our society’s narrow perceptions of intelligence.
|PAULA KLUTH—educator, author|
|Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, teacher, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities, and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners. Paula is a former special educator who has served as a classroom teacher and inclusion facilitator. Her professional interests include differentiating instruction, active learning, and inclusive schooling.
She is the author of numerous books and products including Universal Design Daily, 30 Days to the Co-taught Classroom, Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?, and You’re Going to Love This Kid!. Paula is also the director of a documentary film titled We Thought You’d Never Ask: Voices of People with Autism
|Hasan Davis will share his journey through the education, justice and social service systems. Systems that, more often than not, failed to provide him the support he needed to be successful. Hasan was lucky to find that on his journey there were, within each system, outliers and resisters who found a way to engage, encourage and empower him. With their support, he transcended his mounting list of “failures” to become an advocate for himself and eventually a champion for others facing difficult. Hasan believes that each person in the community has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to influence and change the way youth encounter the education, justice and social service systems. Hasan will share the simple strategies his personal champions employed to help him complete the “JD shuffle” and go from Hasan Davis Juvenile Delinquent to Hasan Davis Juris Doctor.|
KATHERINE MCKNIGHT—educator, author, and consultant
Katherine’s career in education began as a high school English teacher in the Chicago Public School system more than 25 years ago. She received her B.A. degree from George Washington University, her M.Ed. from Northeastern Illinois University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently serves as a Distinguished Professor of Research at National Louis University. She travels worldwide as a professional development consultant and a sought after speaker in the fields of adolescent literacy, inclusive classrooms, Common Core State Standards, Interdisciplinary literacy, and integrating technology in the 21st century classroom. She is passionate about creating curricula that engage all students in the regular education classroom. And she is completely committed to the development, sharing, and promotion of ideas and strategies that develop literacy skills in adolescent students so that they can grow to be active, creative adults.
SUSAN FITZELL—educator, author
Susan has been consulting, writing, and presenting since 1993 and has spent the past 15 years onsite in organizations throughout the United States working hand in hand with business and education leaders, teachers, and employees helping them to embrace change and increase productivity, learning, and problem solving to reach their goals. An author of over a dozen books, she’s a dynamic, internationally recognized speaker as well as an innovative change agent, compassionate coach, and effective productivity & learning expert.
Michele is the Director of Special Education and Principal of Lyndon Station Elementary School for the School District of Mauston. She has served in this roll since 2013. Ms. Yates-Wickus believes in equity for all students and strongly advocates for least restrictive environment for all students. Inclusionary practices are at the forefront for all the decisions that are made for students. She supports teachers in their co-teaching practices and encourages professional growth in this area for all teachers. Collaboration with outside agencies is one of the keys to successful students and teachers using inclusionary practices. Ms. Yates-Wickus is continually focusing on the opportunity gaps and their elimination for marginalized groups of individuals.
KATHY OEHLER—educator, author
Originally trained as a speech-language pathologist, Kathy has worked with individuals with autism for over 30 years. Kathy currently works as an independent Autism Consultant, traveling around the country presenting workshops, seminars, and trainings on a variety of topics related to meeting the educational needs of kids with ASD. Along with Cheryl Boucher, Kathy is the author of I Hate to Write! Tips for Helping Kids with ASD and Related Disorders Increase Achievement, Meet Academic Standards, and Become Happy, Successful Writers.
CHERYL BOUCHER—educator, author
Cheryl is an Occupational Therapist with 30 years of experience. She earned a Master’s degree in special education. Cheryl currently works as an OT for a large, urban school corporation. She also is in demand as a speaker and presenter, specializing in strategies to meet the sensory and motor needs of students with ASD. Along with Kathy Oehler, Cheryl is author of I Hate to Write! Tips for Helping Kids with ASD and Related Disorders Increase Achievement, Meet Academic Standards, and Become Happy, Successful Writers.
Emily has worked in the field of early childhood education for 20 years. She worked as a developmental therapist in Illinois and holds a type 04 with a special education endorsement. Emily has worked in all early childhood environments as a teacher, coach and administrator: lab preschool, child care, Head Start, and private schools. She currently is LRE Specialist for Early Choices. Emily is a proud parent of an exuberant first grader.
Ann is the Project Director for Early CHOICES whose mission is to increase high quality inclusive opportunities for young children. She has been working towards inclusive education her entire career. Early CHOICES works with districts in Illinois to increase inclusive opportunities and increase the quality of inclusion. Ann has a bachelors in elementary education and masters in early childhood education. Ann is committed to this work as a professional and also as a parent of a young man with Down syndrome. Her son, now out of school, was included in general education classes from preschool through to his graduation and continues to be an active participant in his community.
Shannon is a professor in the Special Education department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she coordinates the Graduate Program and the Autism Spectrum Disorders program. She serves on the executive board of Wisconsin FACETS, a statewide non profit organization that trains and supports families and professionals. She also serves as the President of the Wisconsin Council for Children with Behavior Disorders. Her research interests and advocacy work center on supporting students’ mental health needs.
PATRICK SCHWARZ—educator, author
Dr. Schwarz is a dynamic and engaging professor, author, motivational speaker and leader in Education (Inclusive Education, Special Education, General Education, Educational Leadership) and Human Services. He is a professor at National Louis University, Chicago. Patrick’s company is Creative Culture Consulting LLC. He is the author of From Disability to Possibility™, You’re Welcome (with Paula Kluth), Just Give Him the Whale (with Paula Kluth) and Pedro’s Whale (with Paula Kluth). His new book is From Possibility to Success.
SHIELA DANAHER—educator, author
Sheila Danaher is the director of inclusive services for the Christopher L. & M. Susan Gust Foundation. She works with administrators, coaches and teachers providing strategies and supports to create more inclusive schools. She has over 25 years experience working in Chicago Public Schools as a special educator, administrator and inclusion facilitator. Sheila has co-authored two books with Paula Kluth and is lucky enough through her work with the Gust Foundation, to continue working closely with Paula providing supports to school districts throughout the Chicago area.
CHRISTINE M. WEYMOUTH—educator
Dr. Weymouth is the Superintendent of Schools for the School District of Mauston in Mauston Wisconsin and has served in this capacity for five years. She is motivated by the importance of advocacy in learning for all students and is inspired by her spirited passion for mentoring and coaching others in leadership that focuses on eliminating opportunity gaps for all students and families.
Barbara K. Gruber, Ph.D. has worked with the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE) for over 20 years. Her areas of expertise include working with teaching teams to support individuals with intensive support needs in general education and working with school leadership teams engaged in systems change work related to inclusive education.
Elissa has worked with the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE) for nearly 6 years. Prior to working with MCIE she worked as a paraprofessional and special education teacher in multiple different instructional settings. Her areas of expertise include working with schools to develop collaborative and inclusive practices that support all learners in general education classrooms.
Carrie, now 40 years old, is a former board member of the National Down Syndrome Congress and currently serves on the Self-Advocacy Council. She also participates in her local Speakers’ Bureau. She loves to share her experiences as a person with Down syndrome, hoping to give insights and encouragement to those associated with Down syndrome. She is the recipient of the “Voices” award from the National Down Syndrome Society as well as the Christian Pueschel Memorial Citizenship award from the National Down Syndrome Congress. She also was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014 at her alma mater, Herkimer Community College.
Her many roles include being a daughter, sister, volunteer, teacher’s assistant for toddlers with special needs, a first degree black belt holder, fitness enthusiast, friend, conversant in sign language, student, pioneer, dancer, along with being a motivational speaker. Her passion is to spread awareness that all people with Down syndrome and other disabilities should be given every opportunity to meet their individual potential and success. She does this as she gives many speaking events and presentations, highlighted by her signing of songs with creative interpretation and movement. As her quote states, “I have taken the “dis” from disability and made it my ability to advocate for those of us with special needs.”
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