Friday Sessions


8:15 AM  -  9:30 AM


What Might I Be Wrong About?  

Presented by Doc. Brown

Dr. Brown believes that learning is the easy part, and UNLEARNING is the hard part. Join Dr. Brown on a journey of professional and self-revelation. He incorporates elements of the sciences of neuroscience research, humanistic psychology, educational theory and cultural anthropology to help us overcome faulty perceptions, stereotype threat, ego-centrism and blind spots. You are sure to leave this session a better human-being. Learning Objectives 1. Participants will learn about the concept of "psychological safety" in the workplace. 2. Participants will learn strategies to create and sustain healthy, supportive, positive and safe work environments.

Session 1 

10:15 - 11:25 AM

Creating Resilient Minds: Body/Mind Connections

Presented by: Lynn Knight, Ph.D. 

In this session, you will be exposed to different fields of study to discover how to listen and use body information to increase resiliency in your own mind and support your students to do the same. This session will be lecture intertwined with body/mind work to support a variety of ways your body and brain can recover from internal and external stressors. Learn tools and hands-on, bodywork movements to support yourself and your students to be more body/mind aware when dealing with issues related to emotional/physical trauma, identity issues and/or academic stress. Learn how to move and process emotions through the body with school appropriate techniques, and a variety of ways the body and brain can recover from emotional and physical trauma


Creating Resilient Minds Handout (PDF).

Developing and Sustaining a Trauma Informed School Community (TISC) 

Presented by: Callico Vargas & Peter J. Vargas 


Define and understand trauma and how trauma affects the mind and body. Be informed about sources of trauma, how traumas interact, behaviors associated with trauma and best practice interventions for those behaviors. Ensure students feel safe, supported, and welcome, and staff understand their roles in building and sustaining a TISC.

Demystifying Dyslexia in the General Education Classroom

Presented by Kate Riedell, Ph.D., Julia Scott, M.A.  

Are you wondering how to effectively meet the needs of students with dyslexia during your literacy block? During this workshop, guidelines on how to create a systematic curriculum, hands-on activities, and assessment tools to meet the needs of all learners (grades 3-8) within a general education classroom will be provided.

Demystifying Dyslexia Handout (PDF)

Incorporating Theories of Neurodiversity in Special Education

Presented by: Laura K. Anderson


Neurodiversity is a concept where neurological differences (such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc…) are recognized not as deficits but as differences to be respected. While traditionally, neurodiversity and special education seem to be at odds, viewing neurological differences through the lens of neurodiversity can help IEP teams develop better interventions, adaptations, and supports for students. In this presentation, participants will learn about neurodiversity and how to incorporate neurodiversity into developing and implementing the IEP for students with neurological differences.

Integrations of Literacy and Joint Attention in Young Children with Autism

Presented by: Amy Green 

Joint attention is a foundational skill for literacy and play activities in young children with autism. Strategies to gain and maintain joint attention while increasing literacy and play related activities will demonstrated. Interventions that creatively use materials in a naturalistic that can be done in both home and school will be discussed and shared.

Integrations of Literacy Handout (PDF)

Neurocognition and Strategies to Address Reading Deficits

Presented by: Jenny Nordman

This presentation will identify neurocognitive factors that contribute to reading difficulties, to include: phonologic processing, working memory, rapid naming, and word recognition. Practical classroom strategies for addressing these difficulties will be provided.


Paraeducator Supervision 101: Coaching and Collaboration Strategies

Presented by: Katrine Gosselin & Aimee Massafra


Special education teachers receive education on working with individuals with disabilities but may need additional support and strategies with developing and growing their paraeducators. This presentation will focus on providing special education teachers with supervisory and coaching strategies rooted in best practices for developing and sustaining a collaborative team.


Resilience Can Be Taught: 4 Keys to Unleashing Resilience

Presented by: Bruce Bushnell

Resilience is something we’re all born with. Learn about vital skills of resilience and 3 keys to creating a resilient climate. This engaging presentation will empower you to deliver these skills to students of any background and learning style, enabling them to thrive not only in school, but in life.

This Is Us: Attachment, Abandonment, & Identity

Presented by: Caron A. Westland, Ph.D., Alissa Rausch & Abby Anderson  

This session explores the intersection of trauma-informed care

and special education services for children in foster care/adoption. Theories of development, attachment, abandonment and identity formation, and self-regulation will be identified. Using the voices of parents and educators, the participants will learn how to support these families, students, and peers.


Unified Theatre: A Community of Inclusion

Presented by: Jennifer Moriarty & Jace Smykil


Adapted (or Unified) Theatre offers students with all abilities the opportunity to assist instructors in preparing, organizing, and delivering theatre course curricula. The ultimate culmination has resulted in a fantastic high school plays for the entire community to enjoy. This class is comprised of peer coaches that assist students with Autism, Down Syndrome, and Intellectual Disabilities improve their social and behavioral skills by being mentors in our theatre program. Acting partners are trained by the instructors throughout the season about best strategies to use with a variety of different needs. This is a touching and fun program for all.

Unified Theater Handout (PDF)

Want to improve preschool outcomes? Use Effective Teaming! 

Presented by: Kristen Klaassen & Sandi Link


Child outcomes improve when all classroom staff communicate well and plan together. Collaboration is critical for everyone’s success. Staff need to communicate effectively, coordinate work, and have clear roles and expectations. This workshop will identify—and participants will practice—tips for improving adult teaming skills in ECE inclusive settings.


Want to Improve Preschool Outcomes Handout (PDF)

Session 2

1:45 - 2:55 PM

Self-Determination, Self-Determined Learning, and 21st Century Education

Presented by: Michael Wehmeyer

This session will provide an overview of self-determination and its importance to 21st century skills and education. Attendees will learn what self-determination means and why it is critical in the education of learners with disabilities. The session will introduce assessments and evidence-based interventions to promote self-determination and self-determined learning.

Self-Determination Handout (PDF)

Developing the Whole Teacher: Identity in the Mentor/Mentee Relationship

Presented by: Dr. Eron Reed

This work has three aims: (1) to provide clarity from the literature around teacher identity, (2) to justify the importance of both/and development in teachers’ skills and self, and (3) to offer a university and school partnership model of mentor development based on identity and relational teaching and learning.

Developing the Whole Teacher Handout (DOCX)

Books Inspire Play: For Children With Special Needs

Presented by: Jessica Tremblay, Drue Engleman 

Reading and play should be a part of every child’s day. Reading with all children, beginning in infancy, boosts language development and exposes them to ideas and stories outside their immediate worlds. Reading and play do not need to be separate activities. They can go hand in hand.

Building Blocks of Brain Development and Challenging Behaviors  

Presented by: Nicole Crawford, Ph.D. 

Participants will learn about the Building Blocks of Brain Development to understand the cognitive, academic and behavioral needs of all children and to consider behaviors through the lens of Can’t vs. Won’t. Resources that include strategies and interventions as well as suggested assessments related to the Building Blocks will be shared.

Building Blocks or Brain Development Handout (PDF)

Cultural Literacy for Unique Learners - All Voices Heard!

Presented by: Jeanne Bonds & Courtney Berry

Join us to explore the meaning of cultural literacy and provide ideas to incorporate multi-modal literacy strategies in the classroom, to ensure that All unique learners get the opportunity for deep, analytical thinking, and that ALL students, get their voices in the room.

Gifted with SLD: Identification, Interventions, and Strategies

Presented by: Cynthia Rundquist  & Veronica Fiedler   

Identifying giftedness in a student with specific learning disability can be challenging. In this session educators will come to understand the characteristics of a gifted learner with SLD, how to navigate the challenges of identification, and useful interventions and strategies to support learning.

Hot Topics in Special Education Law

Presented by: Jennifer Levin, Emily Harvey

This session will cover current hot topics in special educationlaw. This will include disciplinary procedures and knowing your students rights when transitioning out of high school. Additional topics may be discussed depending on statewide trends.

Hot Topics Handout (PDF)

Mind-Body Strategies for a Trauma Informed Classroom

Presented by: Ashley Goodwin


Want to make your classroom mindfulness practices more

inclusive for all students? Welcome to an interactive session where you will experience the strategies first hand. Walk away with knowledge of trauma informed mindfulness strategies that you can apply on Monday! Bonus: learn strategies for your self-care too!


Mitigating Mathematical Pressure: We worry too damn much!

Presented by: Mindy Adair

Mathematics is challenging; our students feel the pressure. We worry. From social comparisons to emotional angst, from performance expectations to intellectual identity, this session will provide participants the opportunity to examine how cognitive resources, working memory, and environment can impact mathematical anxiety. It is time to expand our definition of success in maths.

Successful Transition Planning in 10 Easy Steps

Presented by: Kara Halley, Rebecca Canges & Lisa Altemueller 

Best practices in transition services are not only mandated by law but are important because they affect the future lives of children with disabilities. In this session, 10 easy steps to successful transition planning will be discussed. Participants will apply these steps to students they support. Resources will be provided.

Successful Transition Planning Handout (PDF)


Teaching the Student Beyond the Flying Chair

Presented by: BJ McDonald 


It is easy to recognize and label students displaying behaviors that are impeding their learning, but those behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg. In this session, attendees learn will more more about the correlation and mental health risk factors associated with learning differences. Additionally, attendees will learn a framework to plan a multi-pronged approach to better meet the behavioral and learning needs of struggling students. This framework can be used 1:1 to support students in an RtI or MTSS intervention model.

Widening the Path: Differentiation Strategies for all Learners 

Presented by: Jamie Black & Erin Roof 


This session will dispel the myth that differentiation means creating many versions of the same lesson in order to meet the needs of diverse learners. Educators will gain the tools to improve presentation clarity and increase the quantity and quality of student responses.


Session 3

3:15-4:25 pm

There's an "Elephant" in the room; What Are You Going to Do?

Presented by: Ahmad Sedaghat:

An “elephant” is sitting in your classroom…so how can you be a major asset to your classroom? How can you keep your students safe and predictable? How can you keep your classroom a place for students to shine? For many students, the classroom is beyond just a place for learning. It is a place of predictability, a place to explore, a place to be creative. How can you maintain that?

Developmentally Appropriate Naturalistic Interventions of Children with Autism

Presented by: Scott Schwartz

The developmental profile of a child with autism should guide intervention. Creating that developmental profile and using developmentally based interventions in a naturalistic setting will be discussed. These naturalistic interventions reduce prompt dependence, increase generalization and address core deficits of autism such as social communication, emotional/behavioral regulation, and adaptive behaviors.

Growth Mindset: Can Students Make Progress Without It?

Presented by: Dr. Tara Mason


In an Active Learning Center (ALC) students are empowered by direct instruction regarding growth mindset and personalized learning pathways. In a technology-rich classroom, the curriculum focuses on literacy, growth mindset and strategic instruction across core subjects using a Universal for Design framework where students are empowered to learn. This session will present Year #1 & Mid-Year #2 findings for our aggregate student data in the areas of growth mindset and literacy growth using a technology-rich personalized learning plan in an ALC. Our essential question, can students make progress if they don't believe in their abilities, will be answered with recommendations

Growth Mindset Handout (PDF)

Inclusive Mindfulness in the Classroom

Presented by:  Charlie Merrow

This session equips educators with the basic tools, philosophies, and strategies necessary to begin implementing mindfulness in their classroom. Participants will experience the benefits of mindfulness first-hand through various mindfulness practices that they can bring back to their classroom and personal life. This session offers evidence-based practices and research to support successful implementation of mindfulness practices in school with a focus on students with diverse needs as well a trauma-informed lens.

LEAD STUDENT VOICES: Learning & Educating About Disabilities

Presented by: Cheyenne Mountain Students and Alumni

LEAD is a unique program that aims to educate students about the teenage brain, disabilities, strengths, rights, advocacy and neuroscience. The power of this class comes from the students and their commitment to educate themselves and others.

Now What? Moving on After Dispute Resolution

Presented by:  Amy Kilpatrick

This session will provide participants with strategies to help repair relationships between parents and school staff damaged by the special education dispute process. Participants will learn how to apply restorative practices to heal after conflict, communicate effectively, and move forward to improve collaborative educational decision making for students.

Push, Pull, or Falling Out: Catch 'Em Before They Fall

Presented by:  Gloria Durosko & Gail Lott

Join us to explore Colorado's graduation and dropout rates, look at why students dropout of school, discuss the four types of student engagement, and discover strategies and tools to improve in-school and post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.

Push, Pull, or Falling Out Handout (PDF)

Stand Back: We're Going To Try Science (And Social Studies)

Presented by: Laura Keathley, Sarah Mair 

Get ready to use ideas for creating an alternative and fun Science and Social Studies curriculum for Multi Needs students. Using a variety of sources and hands on experience, we will show how we created a differentiated and customized curriculum. Your students will actually want to participate!

Stand Back Handout (PDF)

Trauma and Intervention at the School Level

Presented by: Kelly P. Phares-Zook


The Laradon School serves children with intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders. Although rarely an official diagnosis, many of these children have also experienced extensive trauma. This presentation will focus on the challenges and successes of implementing Dr. Burke Harris’ remedies (from the Center for Youth Wellness) throughout the Laradon School.

Trauma and Intervention Handout (PDF)


The In’s and Out’s of Disleckzeea, disleckia, dislexea...—dyslexia...

Presented by: Tammy Curran & Jay Mayer


Come and hear some stories, strategies to guide you through your dyslexic bundle of joy! There are so many things to consider when it comes to understanding dyslexia. It's an overwhelming topic to understand and discuss. We will share some strategies to help you with the in's and out's of your dyslexic child or student.

The In's and Out's Handout (PDF)


© 2017/2018 Courage to Risk Conference