Conference Overview | Schedule | Speakers | Registration

Below is the tentative schedule for our C5 Summer Institute. If you have any questions, please contact us. Thank you!

Day 1 - Thursday, June 16, 2022

8:00 - 8:30 am Breakfast
8:30 - 8:45 am Opening Message: Dr. Gail Angus
8:45 - 9:45 am Morning Keynote: Dr. Steve Perry
9:45 - 10:00 am Transition (15 minutes)
10:00 - 11:30 am Breakout Session #1 1 - A         Administrator Strand

Resilience: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners 

Dr. Shree Walker

1 - B      Support Provider Strand

The Social/Emotional Well-Being of Students

Yazan Khoury, PPS, LPCC, Chad Petties, LMFT, and Jeremy Stevens, LMFT

1 - C      Classroom Staff Strand

Brain Science: Relationships & Regulation in the Classroom

Sharyn Weinheimer

11:30 - 12:30 pm Lunch
12:30 - 2:00 pm Breakout Session #2 2 - A      Administrator Strand

Hands-On Work Exploration to Engage Your Students and Uncover Their Strengths and Abilities

Heidi Johnson

2 - B      Support Provider Strand

Building My Own Superhero 

Brittani Oliver Sillas-Navaro

2 - C      Classroom Staff Strand

Harnessing Universally Designed Co-Teaching To Create Inclusive Learning Environments

Juliet Anyanwu, Ed.D. and Janelle Mercado

2:00 - 2:15 pm Transition (15 minutes)
2:15 - 3:15 pm Afternoon Keynote: Justin Black 
3:15 - 4:00 pm Transition (45 minutes)
4:00 - 6:00 pm Featured Event: "The Mask You Live In" Film with Ashanti Branch


Day 2 - Friday, June 17, 2022

8:00 - 8:30 am Breakfast
8:30 - 9:30 am Morning Keynote: Ashanti Branch
9:30 - 9:45 am Transition (15 minutes)
9:45 - 11:15 am Breakout Session #3 1 - A         Administrator Strand

Healing through Equity, Resources, and Orchestration (H.E.R.O.)

Tara Crampton, Greg Fry, Vicki Law, and Kacey Rodenbush, LMFT

1 - B      Support Provider Strand

Raise Them Up!

Bryan Stephens

1 - C      Classroom Staff Strand

Bridging Behavioral Support with SEL in Action

Jenna Cataleta and Dr. Jessica Maiorca-Nunez

11:15 - 12:15 Lunch
12:15 - 1:45 pm Breakout Session #4 2 - A      Administrator Strand

Creating the Program We Needed, and Students Deserved

Eric Smith

2 - B      Support Provider Strand

Supporting Trans and Nonbinary Students

Evan Johnson and Kathie Moehlig

2 - C      Classroom Staff Strand

The Effects of Expressive Interactive Journaling Paired with Reading Intervention on Word Fluency in Middle School English Language Arts

DeShanna Reed, MS, BCASE

1:45 - 2:00 pm Transition (15 minutes)
2:00 - 3:00 pm Afternoon Keynote: Teresse Lewis, LCSW
3:00 - 3:15 pm Closing Message: Dr. Jon Eyler

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Steve Perry

Dr. Steve Perry is one of the most sought-after speakers in education and advocacy in America. Widely respected by grassroots community members and internationally renowned leaders, his charismatic and compelling voice inspires. He is the educator whom Oprah Winfrey, Sean "P-Diddy" Combs, Bishop T. D. Jakes, and Steve Harvey call to offer insight to parents and children.

The word often used to describe Dr. Perry is "passionate." His authenticity is a welcomed addition to any discussion rooted in improving the lives of youths and the community. His skills are hard-fought and have been bestowed by his difficult childhood all the way through his Ivy League school graduation. He's the voice of a generation, a people's champion who has been fighting for disadvantaged children and families for thirty years.

Justin Black

Justin Black is a graduate of Western Michigan University and a part of Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneurs for 2021. Justin and his wife, Alexis, have published an award-winning, bestselling book titled Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love that has impacted over 15,000 individuals and families. With the Redefining Normal company, they hope to continue the conversation on healthy relationships, mental health, community growth, and healing through speaking engagements, trainings, and book clubs.

Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch, born and raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, California, took the road less traveled to get out of the ghetto and attended one of California’s premier engineering colleges, California Polytechnic - San Luis Obispo. After tutoring struggling students and realizing his true passion was teaching, Mr. Branch changed careers from being a construction project manager to a teacher. He had suddenly found the “fire” that was missing in his life and he hoped to ignite a similar enthusiasm in his young students.

In 2004, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club to provide a support group for African American and Latino males, who were not achieving to the level of their potential. With over 19 years of mentoring youth and 10 of those years as a math teacher educating inner-city youth, Ashanti was awarded with a Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico, and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators. Mr. Branch is on a mission to change the way that students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students.

“When my students aren’t learning, it’s not usually because they can’t... it’s because they have deep-seated barriers that are holding them back. We can’t change their past, but we can teach them to hold safe space, increase their emotional toolbox, and help each other.” — Ashanti Branch

Teresse Lewis

Teresse Lewis is an Educational Consultant for CLS. She brings over a decade of experience in effectively and compassionately working with at-risk youth, families, and educational service providers. Teresse, a former at-risk youth herself, brings passion, knowledge, and skills to the clients she serves. She is dedicated to providing education and training that positively impacts the trajectory of students, families, and communities. This passion has led her to serve in the role of past Program and now Executive Director of The Empowerment Center - a Non-profit family training center, as well as schools and residential treatment centers.

Teresse is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Therapist, who also holds a credential in School Social Work. She brings a very well-rounded experience of working in the educational, government, and private sectors, to intervene on behalf of some of society’s most vulnerable populations; children. As a proud graduate of the USC School of Social Work, Teresse brings heart, education, and experience to the core of our community. 

Administrator Strand Sessions

SESSION #1 Resilience: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners 

Dr. Shree Walker

  • Description: What are your expectations for students experiencing trauma? How do you support an individual that is going through a crisis? Society often thinks people are products of their environment, therefore, improving educational outcomes, ensuring educational stability, minimizing disruptions, and creating endless possibilities for diverse learners in crisis is imperative. For such improvements to take place educators must have the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to build effective learning environments for diverse learners experiencing the challenges of life. Resilience: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners will expose educators to their conscious and unconscious biases related to diverse learners in crisis, provide tools to adjust automatic patterns of thinking, causing a mindset shift and ultimately empowering individuals to first seek to understand, separate facts from feelings, and cultivate high expectations and positive relationship with diverse learners through a crisis. Resilience: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners is a thought-provoking simulation that will cause magical disruption. 
  • Bio: Dr. Walker is the founder of Resilient Walker.  She formerly served as Director of Special Education and Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, California and as Director of Section 504 and Special Populations for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools in Nashville, Tennessee. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Belmont University and served on the leadership committee for the Sexual Assault Center, Nashville Tennessee. Dr. Walker utilizes practical resolutions to support diverse learners and develops policies and procedures to ensure students have improved educational outcomes, educational stability, minimal disruptions, and endless possibilities. She received a Doctorate of Curriculum and Instruction from Tennessee State University, Education Specialist of Administration and Supervision from Tennessee State University, a Master of Special Education from Lipscomb University, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Fisk University. Dr. Walker participated in a Public Education Leadership Project with Harvard University and published her first book, Resilient Walker (2018). 

SESSION #2 Hands-On Work Exploration to Engage Your Students and Uncover Their Strengths and Abilities

Heidi Johnson

  • Description: Learn how hands-on work exploration helps students see the relevance in their learning while igniting goals and plans for their future. Evidence-based practices that deliver robust reporting for individual student work/life planning will be shared.
  • Learning Objectives:
    • Gain a robust understanding of the various hands-on work and life skills programs, assessments, and evidence-based curriculum resources from
    • See examples of performance-based assessment reports that report individual students’ proven strengths, interests, and abilities. Take in how the reports will contribute to writing meaningful IEP and individualized transition plans and goals.
    • Learn how your students can develop workplace skills and build their self-esteem and interpersonal skills while they are learning how to work.
  • Bio: Heidi has over 30 years working in the business world ranging from big corporate, small start-up and entrepreneurship. For the past 11 years she has been a partner with school administrators and teachers in the provision of transition programming and assessments such as Project Discovery, Achieve Life Skills, Replicated Reality, and PAES© lab. This partnership goes long past the point of sale with a continuation of customer and implementation support. Heidi’s business experience makes her a great partner for educators who are focusing on the transition of their students to the world of work.

SESSION #3 Healing through Equity, Resources, and Orchestration (H.E.R.O.)

Tara Crampton



Greg Fry



Vicki Law



Kacey Rodenbush, LMFT

  • Description: Healing through Equity, Resources, and Orchestration (H.E.R.O) represents an innovative approach to collectively align behavioral supports and mental health services for ALL students. This presentation will detail how Monterey County was able to create an interconnected, multi-tiered system of behavioral and social-emotional services that supports and cultivates mental health and wellness for ALL students, families, and learning communities.

  • Learning Objectives: Attendees will be shown a roadmap of how to align and forge partnerships that include the county office of education, behavioral health, district, school, and community partners.  In addition, they will learn:

    • How to build increased partnerships between mental health and education through training geared to increase knowledge of trauma, adverse childhood experiences, providing trauma-informed education, and expansion of the multi-tiered system service array for students and staff.

    • How to support school-based and community-based strategies to improve access to care through increasing the number of school-based mental health clinicians available on school sites, thereby supporting students with interventions and supports that directly treat or address the mental health needs of ALL students.

    • How to enhance crisis services for youth on campus. With an increased mental health presence on campuses, any student identified as having an urgent or crisis need will have risk assessment and crisis triage services available to them.

  • Bios:

    • Tara Crampton has been in education for 18 years. She has been an administrator, an instructional coach, a teacher, a district professional development committee co-chair, an educational technology liaison, an induction mentor, and a McKinney-Vento liaison. She currently serves Monterey County as the Coordinator of Multi-tiered System of Supports and Tobacco Use Prevention Education. Tara is passionate about enhancing knowledge of Equity, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching, and Universal Design for Learning. She is dedicated to using a strengths-based approach towards continuous improvement. Together we can create transformational change and meet the needs of the Whole Child with inclusive academic instruction, inclusive behavior instruction, social and emotional instruction, and mental health support.

    • Greg Fry is the Program Coordinator II of School Climate for Monterey County Office of Education.  After spending many years running summer camps and after-school programs, Greg came into education over 14 years ago. Greg has worked as a special education teacher, a site administrator, and most recently as a district administrator. He brings experience supporting school sites with Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and school climate development, while also leading teams of school counselors, LGBTQ+ task force, site/community partnerships, and equity systems. In his MCOE role of Program Coordinator of School Climate, Greg brings an equity-centered passion to ensure that no student falls through the cracks by working with Districts and Sites to develop school climates where every student has at least one adult that cares about them, knows them by name, and sees them for both who they are and who they can become. Greg’s primary focus is around building capacity in PBIS/SEL, supporting the strengths of community partnerships, and promoting Equity-centered learning.

    • Vicki Law is the Executive Director for Partners for Peace Monterey County. Vicki’s love for the communities she lives in began as she traveled from state to state as a child and later as she began her nonprofit career with an entry-level position with Girls Scouts of Napa-Solano in 1989. Then she began to work for Girl Scouts USA Overseas North Atlantic as Director of Membership and Marketing. She worked in 56 locations, in nine countries on military bases and posts. The mission of Partners For Peace (P4P) is to build strong families for a peaceful community. Since 1995, the agency has been providing prevention/ intervention family education workshops and classes. P4P serves parents/caregivers and youth ages 5-17. The three class series and mentoring program focus on building love and limits, family communication, and connectedness, and giving families tools to work on challenging teen behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, gang adjacent activity, violence in the home or community, and chronic truancy. P4P gives parents/caregivers 21st Century tools for 21st Century youth behaviors. Vicki goes above and beyond to make sure the parents/families in our community have what they need to thrive; as a result, she is highly involved in the community and is always looking out for opportunities to provide services. Vicki has big plans for Partners For Peace. “I want to increase the footprint of P4P in Monterey County; I want to continue to serve families both online and in-person, and give them the tools and compass they need to navigate the challenges that their youth face in today’s world." 

    • Kacey Rodenbush, LMFT is the Education Services Manager for Monterey County Behavioral Health (MCBH). Kacey leads a comprehensive team that provides a continuum of school-based mental health services and supports for students in both General Education and Special Education. She works in close collaboration with her partners from the Monterey County Office of Education and local school districts to integrate mental health services into PBIS and MTSS frameworks, supporting mental health for ALL students, teachers, school staff, and administration.

SESSION #4 Creating the Program We Needed, and Students Deserved

Eric Smith

  • Description: The focus of this presentation is on developing and maintaining a district-run day treatment program. For the school year 2018-2019, Morongo Unified School District (MUSD) opened the PLUS Program to service students with severe social-emotional and behavioral needs. The students were previously referred to a contracted non-public school. The results of this decision have been very positive for the students, families, and MUSD.
  • Learning Objectives: This presentation will cover different aspects of the process including:
    • Developing the program
    • Learning pitfalls and planning strategies for developing and maintaining the program
    • Nuts and bolts of the business end
    • Staffing
    • Results after four years
    • Connecting with district home schools
    • What is making it work
  • Bios: 
    • Eric Smith has been working in Morongo Unified School District since 2001. He has held positions as Noon Supervisor, Substitute Teacher, School Counselor, School Psychologist, and is currently a Program Specialist. Over the last 15 years, he has specialized in working with students and families during NPS and residential placements.

Support Provider Strands

SESSION #1 The Social/Emotional Well-Being of Students

Yazan Khoury, PPS, LPCC


Chad Petties, LMFT

Jeremy Stevens, LMFT

  • Learning Objectives: 
    • Define Social-Emotional Learning
    • Establish positive classroom climate, structure, culture
    • Addressing Student Needs
    • Prevention and Intervention - Tiered Levels of Support
    • Evidenced-Based Programs and Practices
    • Exploring Functionally Equivalent Replacement Behaviors 
    • Communication 
    • Addressing Crisis Situations
    • Documentation and Resources
  • Bios:
    • Yazan Khoury is a highly accomplished Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with over 8 years of experience in Southern California’s public and charter schools. He has worked directly with students on managing challenging behaviors and helping with ongoing significant social/emotional skill deficits, and mental health needs. He has built school-wide programs around PBIS, while training and supervising adults in Educational and Mental Health settings. Yazan has extensive knowledge and experience working with school districts, Desert Mountain’s Children’s Center, nonpublic schools, residential treatment facilities, WRAP around, group homes, and currently Riverside County SELPA. As an Educationally Related Mental Health Case Manager, he specializes in providing consultation and guidance along with connecting school districts, families, and professionals to community resources. He also focuses on professional development, as well as Tier 3 level interventions such as ERMHS Wrap around management, NPS, and RTC oversight.
    • Chad Petties is a highly accomplished Licensed, Marriage, and Family Therapist with over 24 years of experience in managing challenging behaviors and helping individuals with ongoing significant social/emotional skill deficits, and/or mental health needs. Along with working with youth from many cultures and economic backgrounds, Chad also has over 20 years of experience training and managing adults in the education field. Chad’s years of experience working for school districts, private practice settings, residential programs, group homes, and currently Riverside County SELPA office is a tremendous asset to his professional development capabilities. As an Educationally Related Mental Health Case Manager he specializes in staff development, Educationally Related Mental Health consultation and guidance along with connecting school districts, families, and professionals to community resources. Chad will continue to work with mental health professionals, school counselors, school psychologists, teachers, and school personnel in general to meet the needs of students K-12. 
    • Jeremy Stevens is a Licensed, Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience supporting students and families impacted by disabilities. Initially, he worked at a local Nonpublic School and residential treatment center as a mental health therapist and case manager. Following AB 114, he began working in the public school system as a behavioral/mental health therapist for Hemet Unified School District. Most recently, Jeremy has been working for Riverside County SELPA specializing in educationally related mental health guidance and targeted support for 26 local education agencies. He is driven to ensure that ALL students receive fair and equitable access to education, opportunities, and resources. Jeremy also teaches undergraduate psychology as an adjunct professor, currently with Azusa Pacific University. Finally, he remains committed to professional development from a multi-disciplinary perspective and inspires his colleagues through servant leadership. 

SESSION #2 Building My Own Superhero

Brittani Oliver Sillas-Navarro

  • Description: In this presentation, attendees will be introduced to existing research and application for working with individuals through the lens of Pop Culture Psychology and Superhero Therapy through exploring identity and how to utilize strengths to build resilience. Attendees will be offered opportunities to reconstruct narratives of previously believed weakness into redefining their ideas of who they are as people and how they influence the lives of other. Using current literature, attendees will learn how to utilize Pop Culture Psychology as an intervention for students struggling with identity and trauma and build insight into different forms of learning. Attendees will be encouraged to brainstorm future school based and therapeutic possibilities and implications to examine how pop culture influences overall functioning and lifespan development.
  • Learning Objectives:
    • Learners will have expanded their knowledge of Pop Culture Psychology and Superhero Therapy and the influence of culture, internal working models, strengths, and resilience.
    • Learners will have executable ideas for integrating Pop Culture Psychology and Superhero Therapy for at-risk youth and those who experience an increase of mental health issues.
  • Bio: Brittani Oliver Sillas-Navarro is an adjunct professor at Alliant International University and doctoral candidate at AIU specializing in Death and Dying in the Couples and Family Therapy program. The presenter is a registered associate Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in the United States. The presenter has presented at international and national conferences including AASECT, TAMFT, and the Taos Institute. The presenter has paneled twice at the 2021 Comic-Con and has been interviewed on Wizard-Con and the “What If” podcast integrating Pop Culture Psychology and Superhero Therapy and has a book chapter published in Black Panther: Hidden Kingdoms on grief and loss.

SESSION #3 Raise Them Up!

Bryan Stephens

  • Description: In this workshop, we will engage staff and address self-regulation in areas of mindfulness, healthy behaviors, tolerance and empathy, and digital/social consciousness. This workshop provides a BRAND-NEW approach to helping staff and students develop motivation, positive behavior, and resilience. We will provide team building and hands-on activities to implement in your organization as soon as tomorrow! SEL strategies are a powerful tool for helping young people and staff become culturally connected and allow them to have their own identities without judgment. This session provides myriad ways for staff to connect with each other as well as in the same ways as when they work with their students.

    Cultural Competency and Responsiveness:
    SEL offers the opportunity of acknowledging, addressing, and healing how we as a culture have been impacted by racism and systemic oppression. We can create inclusive and robust learning environments in which all students and staff experience a sense of belonging, and agency to shape the process of their learning, and thrive. The potential for success will only be realized if we are intentional and prioritize equity and belonging as a primary goal of social-emotional learning. In this session, we will strategically apply what we know from research and practice for participants so they can develop a more equitable and enriched toolbox to better serve their stakeholders.

  • Learning Objectives:

    • Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how mindfulness and social-emotional learning is a relevant and powerful tool to implement with staff, urban, rural and suburban youth.

    • Participants will leave with practical activities in the areas of mind, body, community, digital and social awareness, and service learning to apply with staff and in their programs as soon as the very next day.

    • Participants will learn how to use the CASEL wheel and understand social-emotional learning and how to embed these strategies into their programs. 

  • Bio: Bryan Stephen’s passion is teaching students. Bryan has over 25 years of experience in youth development serving as a Special Education teacher and Behavior Support Specialist for the Palm Springs School District.  Whether in the classroom or on the court as a coach, he can make quick and long-lasting connections He is a catalyst for student dreams and goals, always supporting them with a plan for growth. He spends intentional time equipping students with the mental, physical, and social skills they need to grow and succeed, caring for each one holistically. His sense of humor and 6’11” stature is a magnet for mentorship. It is a guarantee you will find his students cracking up at his endless jokes and hanging out with him after class. Prior to his classroom experience, he served as a Senior Probation Correction Officer for the Riverside Probation Office where he managed mental health programs, interventions, and drug treatment programs for youth ages 14-19.

SESSION #4 Supporting Trans and Nonbinary Students

Evan Johnson


Kathie Moehlig

  • Description: Led by two professionals dedicated to supporting transgender and other gender non-conforming people, this session offers tools and resources to better understand issues around gender diversity and to support, respect, and empower employees and/or students of all genders.
  • Learning Objectives: Participants who attend this session will come away with strategies to help them:
    • Explore, understand, and affirm the spectrum and language of gender identity.
    • Comprehend current state laws around gender identity, and how they affect employees and students.
    • Identify what effective policy looks like for employers.
    • Incorporate best practices to support transgender and gender-diverse folks in their jobs, schools, homes, and communities.
    • Apply leadership principles that create safe and inclusive environments.
  • Bios:

    • Kathie Moehlig (she/her) is committed to supporting transgender and gender non-conforming people and their families, and to growing continually in her understanding of the diversity within this population. Mother of a transgender son and a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, she was named “Woman of the Year” by then California Assemblyperson Todd Gloria, and one of the “Best People of San Diego” by CityBeat Magazine. A certified life coach and parenting instructor and a member of numerous nonprofit and government advisory boards, Kathie has been featured in the New York Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and on NBC News.

    • Evan Johnson (they/them) has fostered connection and understanding over the past six years by sharing their own journey as a nonbinary youth, student, and young professional with many audiences, from national conferences to local organizations. Evan has a bachelor’s degree in social work and helps train people—in healthcare, legal, education, and other environments—on gender diversity and policy. They are dedicated to educating, advocating, learning, and listening to create a safer world for all trans and gender non-conforming youth. 

Classroom Staff Strands

SESSION #1 Brain Science: Relationships & Regulation in the Classroom

Sharyn Weinheimer

  • Description: The information presented in this session will translate to improved practice in education through the use of easy-to-implement tools and techniques. These recommended strategies will support classroom regulation through music, movement, breaks, choice, and other key practices. Relationship building tools will be discussed to help support classroom instruction and social-emotional learning. Finally, the rationale of providing strategies that support regulation and relationships to support increased reasoning and learning in the classroom will be explored. Practitioners will understand the "why" of brain science and have strategies to use for the "what" and "how" of supporting classroom regulation, relationships, and reasoning. The presentation itself is based on the Neurosequential Model of Education (NME) by Dr. Bruce Perry. Classroom behavior challenges and academic deficits are significant problems right now. In this session, you will learn about Dr. Bruce Perry's Neurosequential model of brain organization and the implications for teaching and learning. We will identify practical, easy-to-implement classroom tools and techniques to encourage regulation, improve classroom relationships, and increase reasoning in the classroom. Within our district - Brain science has been shared with district administrators, school staff, students, and parent superintendent council. The content has had wide-reaching applications and implications to supporting our classroom communities. Feedback has been very positive and our implementation continues to broaden over time. 
  • Learning Objectives:
    • Participants will develop knowledge of Dr. Bruce Perry's Neurosequential Model of brain organization and its implications for teaching and learning.
    • Participants will be able to develop techniques to encourage regulation, improve classroom relationships, and increase reasoning in the classroom.  
  • Bios:
    • Sharyn Weinheimer is an Academic Intervention Coordinator for the Kyrene School District in Phoenix, Arizona. She was an Education Program Specialist at the Arizona Department of Education and an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University. She’s also taught 6th, 5th, 3rd grade to English Learners and Reading Intervention in a Title I District. Her passions include Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, brain science and early childhood literacy. She is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, holds a BA from Arizona State University, and a MA from Northern Arizona University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling with her family and dog.

SESSION #2 Harnessing Universally Designed Co-Teaching To Create Inclusive Learning Environments

Juliet Anyanwu, Ed.D.


Janelle Mercado

  • Description: The cornerstone of designing inclusive learning environments is instruction using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and elements of a high-quality co-teaching program. Providing students social opportunities with their peers and access to grade-level standards are critical components to college/career success. This work begins in early childhood and continues through the K-12 system. In this session, participants will: 
    • Understand the critical nature of aligned grade-level standards with student needs.
    • Deepen their knowledge of UDL as an equity-based instructional framework. 
    • Recognize the connection between UDL principles as they relate to equity, access, and valuing the variability of all students.
    • Explore the three elements of a high-quality co-teaching program: Co-Planning, Co-Teaching, Co-Assessing.
  • Bios:
    • Juliet Anyanwu, Ed.D., is a Program Support Specialist with the Supporting Inclusive Practices Project. She is a passionate educator with a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences in special education that spans over 15 years. She has supported PK-12 schools in developing quality inclusive programs through various instructional and administrative roles. Her tenure in the classroom is rooted in Inclusion, Co-Teaching, and Universal Design for Learning. Juliet earned her M.S.T in Childhood Education with a concentration in Students with Disabilities. She received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Teacher Education in Multicultural Societies. 
    • Janelle Mercado is a passionate educator dedicated to creating equitable education in inclusive environments for all. She wants to support and inspire others to create learning experiences and opportunities for students to thrive. As a special education teacher, Janelle worked collaboratively with colleagues to develop a co-teaching program. Because of Janelle’s experience in an inclusive co-taught setting, she specializes in universal design for learning (UDL), co-teaching, social-emotional learning, and behavior supports. Janelle has extensive experience in education as a SELPA program specialist, SIP project coordinator, statewide and national conference presenter, system change and improvement coach.

SESSION #3 Bridging Behavioral Support with SEL in Action

Jenna Cataleta


Dr. Jessica Maiorca-Nunez

  • Description: Have you ever worked with a student that meets their behavioral goals in the classroom but once the student transitions beyond your instruction, things fall apart? If so, you are not alone as this is a common trend when supporting students with intensive emotional and behavioral needs. When we traditionally structure supports around a student to shape and change behavior, we may be missing critical underline lagging skills that are impeding students from transferring demonstrated behavior to all learning settings. Understanding the underlying social-emotional gaps of our students, we can intentionally plan and prepare our learning environments and educational structures in order to integrate SEL skills that are transferable and lasting. 
  • Learning Objectives: Participants will:
    • Recognize the importance of an integrated approach and how values and expectations go hand-in-hand with building equitable outcomes for students.
    • Increase their knowledge of self-awareness around the power of response instead of the act of reacting. 
    • Walk away with a deeper understanding of student behaviors and connections to SEL gaps.
    • Develop ways to plan for integrated SEL in action, making connections to current practices and reinforcing existing behavioral strategies
  • Bios:
    • Jenna is an Educational Consultant with Collaborative Learning Solutions and carries experience as a special education teacher, school-wide behavioral interventionist, parent educator, and district coordinator. She is passionate about creating and sustaining positive and inclusive educational practices that support all community members through a humanistic and holistic lens. Jenna enjoys weaving in her knowledge as a certified mindfulness and meditation instructor to support both youth and adult learners with building social, emotional, and cognitive competencies.
    • Dr. Jessica Maiorca-Nunez is an Educational Consultant with Collaborative Learning Solutions and is an advocate for equity and inclusive opportunities for all children. She brings her 20 years of experience as a Special Education Teacher and Program Specialist in the fields of Early Education and Special Education. She thoroughly enjoys supporting educational systems’ stakeholders to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Jessica has focused her efforts to become a Master Practitioner in Compassionate Systems as she believes collaboration and building positive relationships are essential to success

SESSION #4 The Effects of Expressive Interactive Journaling Paired with Reading Intervention on Word Fluency in Middle School English Language Arts

DeShanna Reed, MS, BCASE

  • Description: The presentation is designed to explore the elements of Expressive Interactive Journaling and explain how to implement the practice within English Language Arts and Reading as well as in restorative practices based on research conducted as an Administrator in a K-8th charter school. Participants will have the tools to implement this strategy on their campuses as well as  how to measure the success of the practice based on improved word fluency, reading comprehension, as well as 
  • Bio: DeShanna Reed, MS, BCASE (Board Certified Advocate for Special Education) is a Special Education 18+ Life Skills Transition teacher, and owner of D. Reed Coaching, Consulting & Advocacy in Houston, Texas.  Her primary focus is integrating the five core competencies of social-emotional learning within academic content using therapeutic techniques from the fields of psychology and restorative practices.