Henderson Training Series, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder team up for Spring 2023 workshops

On left side Happy black elementary school teacher taking to her students in the classroom. On right side The Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators on green background with TN Pathfinder logo.

Each year, the Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators provides free training opportunities for educators and school administrators through workshops that focus on innovative, evidence-based practices to improve the quality of education for students with diverse learning needs. In 2023, the annual spring series partnered with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Tennessee Disability Pathfinder disability information and referral program, offering educators even more information on disability resources in their communities.

The Henderson Training Series (HTS) was established in 1996 through an endowment from the Robert and Carol Henderson family in memory of their son Britt. This year’s focus was on “Practical Evidence-Based Strategies to Improve Instruction for Students with Diverse Learning Needs.” Tennessee Disability Pathfinder’s Education & Resources coordinator Mimi Sanders, M.Ed., facilitated the three HTS workshops virtually, thus expanding reach to educators both within and outside of the Nashville area.

“We know that having Mimi use her previous experience as a classroom special educator to inform her leadership of these sessions made them that much more meaningful to the participants,” said VKC UCEDD director Elise McMillan, J.D., who has helped plan the Henderson Training Series. “The Henderson family’s gift has allowed us to continue to offer HTS sessions focused on issues critical to educators working with students with disabilities and their families.”

Mimi Sanders headshot

Mimi Sanders, M.Ed.

“Educators, professionals, and family members need support when locating disability-related resources. Our goal with the topic this year was to help connect others with resources and create a supportive environment to ask questions,” said Sanders. “Topics included locating disability resources in Tennessee, writing high quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, and best practices in the IEP meeting. Social workers, educators, non-profits, parents, and Head Start providers are just a few of the participants who joined us during this year’s workshop.”

HTS workshop topics have varied each year according to the expertise of the VKC faculty and staff leading the sessions. Past workshop series have centered around mindfulness-based stress reduction, assisting struggling readers in the classroom, and transition resources for adolescent students preparing for life outside of high school, among others.

“This is Pathfinder’s first year facilitating this training,” said Sanders. “I created case studies to help HTS participants learn how to navigate the Pathfinder website to find various resources. In one session, participants had hands-on time to practice writing IEP goals together and how someone could write an IEP goal about locating resources in the community. In another session, we also discussed best practices in the IEP meeting so meetings can be collaborative and effective.

“Our goal was that educators would gain knowledge about locating various resources in Tennessee and also a sense of community/support,” Sanders added. “We did this through intentionally setting up time to discuss and real-life examples to aid the discussion. We wanted this to be a practical training that they can apply in their classrooms.”

Learn more about the Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators by checking out the HTS webpage here.

Top left photo by Adobe Stock

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