VKC Has Wide Reach at the 2015 Partners in Education Conference

Dr. Erik Carter, keynote speaker at Partners in Education Conference. Photo by Rachael Jenkins.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s presence at the Tennessee Department of Education’s 2015 Partners in Education Conference (PIE) in January included 16 sessions that reached over 750 attendees.

VKC faculty, staff, and students represented the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, TennesseeWorks, and Next Steps at Vanderbilt. In addition, Erik Carter, Ph.D., associate professor of Special Education and a VKC investigator, delivered a keynote presentation to more than 1,500 educators on the topic of promoting equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for children and youth with disabilities.

The annual conference provides educators across Tennessee with an opportunity to hear from national and state experts on the latest trends, frameworks, research, and initiatives in special education. An overarching theme this year was the need for holding high expectations for students in the classroom and beyond. Carter’s keynote addressed this, highlighting the collective responsibility to ensure that all people with disabilities can achieve fulfilling lives. Too often, Carter emphasized, focus is placed on what young people with disabilities cannot do rather than cultivating strengths and gifts to pave the way for success after graduation. Click here to download Dr. Carter’s presentation.

TRIAD was well-represented at the conference, with a total of nine breakout sessions addressing topics such as self-management skills, Universal Design for Learning, strategies for addressing emotional or behavior disorders, peer support networks, mindfulness for educators, and improving sleep in children with autism spectrum disorder.

“The PIE conference is an opportunity for educators from across Tennessee to access information and resources aimed directly at helping them best support students with special needs,” said Pablo Juarez, M.Ed., BCBA, TRIAD associate director. “As practitioners and educators, our experts at TRIAD were able to add to the diversity and utility of these resources. We are so pleased that we were able to connect with educators and to offer essential strategies and information for managing and better understanding specific dynamics in the classroom. We look forward to returning next year.”

Tammy Day, M.Ed., director of Next Steps at Vanderbilt, presented along with members of the Tennessee Postsecondary Education Alliance to tout the benefits of postsecondary education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Megan Hart, M.Ed., director of Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, facilitated a breakout session and shared practical tips on accessing disability resources related to transitioning from school services to adult life.

For more on the Conference, including more detailed program information, click here.

Pictured top of page: Dr. Erik Carter, keynote speaker at Partners in Education Conference. Photo by Rachael Jenkins.

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