Meagan Ackerman is a second grader teacher at Adventure Elementary with Mapleton Public Schools. She holds a dual licensure in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as an MA in Special Education. This is her second year presenting at Courage to Risk.

Session: “You’ve Got the Power!” Teaching Students Brain Physiology

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Dr. Adair is the Director of Mathematics and Technology Integration Specialist at Denver Academy. For the past thirty years Dr. Adair has shared her passion for learning mathematics with her students, by helping them to believe they can do maths. She appreciates and enjoys learning and collaborating with colleagues.

Session: Mathematical Identities: Honoring Development, Navigating Differences, Structuring Delivery



Colleen Anthony is a Twice Exceptional Consultant at CDE. She has served in the field of gifted education as a teacher at the district, university and state levels and as a GT consultant.     Her presentations at the state and national levels support gifted education, math, and creativity.  

Session: My Students are on IEPs; They Can’t be Gifted!

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Laura K. Anderson is the academic coordinator of the GOAL Inclusive Higher Education program at the University of Northern Colorado.  She is also a doctorate student at the University of Northern Colorado.  Her research focuses on Autism Spectrum Disorders and inclusive school practices.

Session: Using UDL as a Framework for Inclusive Reading Comprehension Instruction for Students with IDD



Courtney Berry is a school-based administrator, collegiate faculty member, and consultant. Courtney has a doctorate in Educational Studies from UNC, has consulted for a number of school districts, and presented nationally around collaboration, co-teaching, and instructional strategies for unique learners

Session: Not This, But That – Meeting Needs of All Learners



Jeanne Bonds is an instructional coach and MTSS specialist at the middle school level and a collegiate faculty member. She has worked at the elementary and middle school levels. Jeanne has consulted and presented nationally on collaboration, co-teaching, data-driven instruction, and literacy. Jeanne has an EdS in Reading.

Session: Not This, But That – Meeting Needs of All Learners



Robin Brewer is an Instructional Coach for the Colorado Department of Education assisting schools develop inclusive services for students with significant support needs. Robin is an emeritus professor from UNC and started the GOAL program for students with Developmental Disabilities. During her career she taught in Oklahoma and Colorado.

Session: Beginning Communicators: Assessment and Strategies to Facilitate Communication

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Bill Brown MSW is a licensed School Social Worker through the Colorado Department of Education and the Affective Needs/Serious Emotional Disability Specialist for the Exceptional Student Services Unit at the Colorado Department of Education. Bill has 12 years of experience working as a therapist in community mental health systems and 13 years of experience in education.  He worked 9 years as an elementary school social worker, 2 years as a middle school social worker and 2 years at the district level as a Behavior Interventionist. He has been certified as a Behavior Specialist for the Developmental Disability population and the Traumatic Brain Injury Population. He is also a crisis intervention instructor. At the school level Bill has coordinated the implementation of MTSS and PBIS and has published papers on the implementation of MTSS and PBIS. His last clinical job before joining the CDE team was a private practice providing High Conflict Co-Parenting groups/classes.    


Session: Trauma Informed Practices



Diane Carroll, is an instructional coach for the Colorado Department of Education supporting inclusive practices for students with significant support needs. She was a Special Education professor at Metropolitan State University before her retirement and prior to that she taught special education in public schools.  

Session: Beginning Communicators: Assessment and Strategies to Facilitate Communication



Barbara Coloroso is an international bestselling author and for the past 49 years an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on parenting, teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, grieving, nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice.

Her uniquely effective parenting and teaching strategies were developed through her years of training in sociology, special education, and philosophy, as well as field-tested through her experiences as a classroom teacher, laboratory school instructor, university instructor, seminar leader, volunteer in Rwanda, and mother of three grown children.


  • Teaching with Wit and Wisdom in Times of Loss, Grief, Chaos and COVID19

  • Just Because It's Not Wrong Doesn't Make It Right: Teaching Students to Think and Act Ethically

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Dr. Joe Hendershott is a sought-after speaker about the effects of trauma, SEL, and wellness.  He provides training & has authored three books.  With over 30 years in education, he is the recipient of multiple awards.  His experiences give a unique perspective that is engaging, thought-provoking, and inspiring.  

Session: Understanding and Reaching the Wounded Student



Heather Hotchkiss, MSW, is the CDE Principal Brain Injury Specialist. She provides consultation and training on acquired brain injury, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and co-coordinates the BrainSTEPS CO Program. She brings nearly 30 years of leadership experience in school mental health and special education services for children in CO.

Session: Exploring Brain Development, Executive Function and Emotional Regulation

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Toby Karten is an award-winning special educator, dynamic presenter, and author who is passionate in sharing her knowledge with others. She has taught students ranging from preschool to graduate level across the least restrictive continuum. Toby works with school districts across the country and internationally as a staff developer, inclusion coach and educational consultant, author and adjunct professor. Toby focuses on creative, practical solutions for helping ALL students gain not only access, but also ongoing successes in inclusive classrooms. She has collaborated with administrators, staff, students, and their families at local, national, and international school sites and conferences as an invited speaker and consultant.


  • Inclusion Do's, Dont's & Do Betters! 

  • Saturday Sessions

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Christian Moore is an internationally-renowned speaker, licensed clinical social worker, and advocate for youth. He is the author of The Resilience Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning Adversity into Action. He was a commencement speaker in the School of Education at John Hopkins University, and spoke at a White House convening for the Reach Higher Initiative. Christian found his passion in social work. He created the WhyTry Program, which has been implemented in over 25,000 organizations. Christian has flown over 6 million miles and reached over 3 million kids. He lives in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, two sons, and their dog, Bandit.

Session: Resilience Can Be Taught: 10 Strategies Proven to Motivate Any Student

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Tara Mason, Ph.D. is  an Assistant Professor of Inclusive Education with 20 years of special education and assistive technology teaching experience. She teaches and advises students in the special education licensure program Western Colorado University. Her special education public school background encompasses self-contained and resource classrooms working across K-12 special education and working as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). Tara's research interests are related to learning, accessibility and student empowerment; technology and Universal Design for Learning (UDL); trauma-informed teaching practices; and equitable assessment practices used to diagnose student learning needs from a neuroplasticity, strength-model framework. She believes we need to celebrate student strengths, identities, and cultural backgrounds. One way we can achieve this is having tough conversations with teacher candidates about diversity and inequity in our schools, thereby empowering future educators to be student advocates and teacher leaders in their buildings.

Session: Using Technology Tools to Implement HLPs

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Jessica teaches at Olander Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colorado. She works with students with low incidence disabilities in inclusive environments. She holds special education degrees from the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Kansas along with a graduate certificate in leadership in special and inclusive education. 

Session: Including ALL Students in Their Own IEP Meetings



Cynthia began her work in education as an English composition teacher at the university level. Since then, she has taught preschool through twelve-grade, but spent the most years as a fifth-grade teacher. She is a gifted education specialist and is currently the coordinator of the Twice Exceptional Project at CDE.

Session: My Students are on IEPs; They Can’t be Gifted!

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Dr. Dorothy Shapland, is an Assistant Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver where she teaches early childhood and culturally & linguistically diverse education. Dr. Shapland’s areas of expertise include effective, intentional, anti-biased, culturally-responsive and trauma-informed teaching and learning in early education, and trauma-informed equity leadership for schools and centers.

Session: Building Practitioner Resilience in the time of COVID 19

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Caron A. Westland, Ph.D., an associate clinical professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver, teaches undergraduate and master’s level courses in teacher education, special education, and human development.  She also serves as a site professor for teacher candidate cohorts at Carmody Middle School.

Session: Emotional Literacy: Acknowledging Feelings and Fear Everywhere