MORNING BREAKOUT SESSIONS (10:30 AM - 11:45 AM)

Student Empowerment Through Effective Paraeducator Support, Sean Smith
This presentation will focus on the critical attributes of an effective paraeducator. Strategies will be shared that will ensure needed supports while balancing student empowerment, skill development, and promoting independence in school and beyond. While many educators and family members may see the para as a caretaker ensuring the child is safe and engaged, the level of support being provided by the para may actually be fostering a level of learned helplessness. Together, session participants will explore ways to foster student empowerment, self-regulation, and learning through effective para intervention.

Maximizing Language Skills in Children with Down Syndrome from Preschool to Elementary School, Libby Kumin
With the help of speech-language pathologists, regular and special educators, and families, children with Down syndrome master language and communication skills that they need to support academic learning. This workshop will highlight characteristics of children with Down syndrome that impact on communication. Dr. Kumin will present a model that she developed to categorize, evaluate, and teach school-based language skills that promote success in inclusive classroom settings, including Language of the Curriculum, Language of Instruction in the Classroom, Language of the Hidden Curriculum, Language of Testing, Language of Classroom Routines and Social Interactive Communication.

Transitioning Out of School - Breath! It will be OK!, Rene Averitt-Sanzone
Our kids grow up so fast! Now they are 14 (or older),  the parents are being asked to "step aside" or "take a back seat.” Talk about scary! And teachers are being asked to prepare the students to transition out of school.  How does it all happen? How do families and schools work together to support the students?  This interactive and hands-on session will support families, teachers, and caregivers as they begin helping their youth and students to develop self-determination and soft skills, both are showing to be critical for life beyond high school. Learn how all this ties to the IEP and the Transition Plan. This is a 2-part session. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend both sessions.

Preparing for Puberty: What every educator need to understand to be supportive to their students with Down syndrome, Barbara Obst
This workshop is for any professional in the educational setting that works with students with Down syndrome ages 7-13. Puberty is a time of change that occurs rapidly and if the student and educators are not prepared it can impact the students’ learning in a classroom environment.

Teaching Math to Middle School Students with Down Syndrome, Pam Booth
In this session geared toward children in upper elementary and middle school, we will discuss strategies to solidify math skills that are critical to independence. Most of the session will address specific teaching methods and adaptations to learn and maintain core math skills and promote good number sense, including place value, multi-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping,multiplication and word problems.If time permits, we will also touch on time and money.


AFTERNOON BREAKOUT SESSIONS (1:00 PM - 2:15 PM)

Planning for Adult Speech and Language Needs during the School Years, Libby Kumin
We have research and experience on the communication skills that help adults with Down syndrome be successful. This presentation will focus on how educators and families can work together during the school years to develop communication skills needed for success in employment and daily life including speech intelligibility, conversational skills, following complex directions, expressive language, and pragmatics and social skills. The presentation will include a discussion of transitioning and planning for the post-school years.

Fostering Meaningful, Inclusive Participation for Students with Down Syndrome: From the Parents' Perspective, TFS Parent Panel
Schools have come a long way since the 1975 passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Today schools and parents continue to strive for better learning and social experience for children with Down syndrome. This workshop gives parents the opportunity to talk about the roles they have played in their child’s schools to help make school more inclusive. In a panel style presentation, parents from diverse backgrounds share their experience and thoughts about meaningful participation for children with Down syndrome.

Transitioning Out of School - Breath! It will be OK!, Rene Averitt-Sanzone
Our kids grow up so fast! Now they are 14 (or older),  the parents are being asked to "step aside" or "take a back seat.” Talk about scary! And teachers are being asked to prepare the students to transition out of school.  How does it all happen? How do families and schools work together to support the students?  This interactive and hands-on session will support families, teachers, and caregivers as they begin helping their youth and students to develop self-determination and soft skills, both are showing to be critical for life beyond high school. Learn how all this ties to the IEP and the Transition Plan. This is a 2-part session. Participants are strongly encouraged to attend both sessions.

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: Improving Access and Outcomes for Students with Disabilities, Nancy Schmitt
In this session, participants will understand how to improve access and outcomes for students with disabilities through the following:

  • Maryland’s education frameworks (curriculum, instruction, and assessment) 
  • IEP goal development
  • Least restrictive environment

Promoting Student Learning and Independence Through Strong Collaboration Between Home and School, Mary LaRocco and Patricia Mack-Preston
This workshop will provide proven strategies that have been successful in promoting student learning and independence in the school setting. Many of the strategies involve developing positive relationships with families based on trust and effective communication. Building a culture of collaboration and understanding with families will also lead to positive student development in the home setting. We will discuss proactive ideas that are effective in getting to know our students and their families before school officially begins. Exploring practical approaches and establishing meaningful goals that foster the team perspective between home and school will be shared and examined. It is so often the small things we do as educators that have big impact to the students and their families.

"Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be
achieved." -- 
Mattie Stepanek