October 27, 2016 marked the beginning of the 3rd Annual Inclusion Collaborative State Conference. This two-day event, held at the Santa Clara County Office of Education in San Jose, California, hosted more than 360 in-person and 300 virtual participants. The theme for this year’s event was “Harvesting Equity for All Children and Youth: Inclusion through Integrated Services.” The conference presented an opportunity for participants to learn about evidenced-based practices for individuals involved in the care and education of children with and without disabilities -birth through high school. Kristin Brooks, first year doctoral student in the School of Education, served as a steering committee member and presenter for the event.
Sessions focused on building, enhancing, and sustaining inclusive practices in educational settings and community programs throughout the state. Her session topics included:
• Longitudinal Outcomes of Inclusive Practices
• Universal Design for Learning: Infusing the Guidelines into Our Daily Instruction
• From Problems to Power: Collaboration Making a Real Difference with Implementation of a Multi-tier System of Support
Keynote speakers included Dr. Wendy Murawski, Dr. Ann Turbull, and Dr. Richard Villa who all gave powerful and motivational speeches on topics from co-teaching to social justice for marginalized learners.
An event of this caliber demands passion, dedication and hard work. One cannot simply feel passionate about creating a social just education system to engender awareness and equity.
Improving the quality of life of diverse learners begins with the desire to acknowledge people as human beings.
Bringing advocacy to life demands organization and skillful planning. Brooks admits that preparations began an entire year before the conference. Needless to say that the committee involved in the planning has an acute passion for educational justice. The state conference had a grounding effect on the committee. Kristin affirms that the conference gave the committee a sense of purpose, and “was representative of the reasons why educators choose their careers.” Kristin hopes to inspire students in the School of Educations and is hopeful that colleagues from the University of Redlands will consider becoming members of the steering committee and respond to next year’s call for papers.