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Breakout
Session 1

Breakout Sessions 2023-2024

The Power of Showing Up-How to Be an Awesome Parent (Aric Bostic)

 Being a Secure base and Safe Haven for your child so they can thrive in school and life. 

Young Adult Panel and Independent Living Center (Jenna Reinke, Rebeckah Garcia, Amari Nash, James G. & Dealean Stonemeier) 

Come hear how you can partner with statewide independent living centers. Also, hear from Young adults on a panel who will share their struggles and what support they are needing in order to become more independent. 

Interagency Collaboration in Support of Youth with Disabilities: Results from a National Study (Dr. Leslie Shaw) 

Interagency collaboration is a recommended practice in work to support youth with disabilities as they transition to employment. Research findings will be shared on best practices and how collaboration relates to job roles and agency type. Best practices will focus on actions that practitioners can implement in their own programs and agencies to improve collaboration in the coordinated set of services and supports for youth and young adults with disabilities. Quality collaboration practices presented can be applied to any person one would consider a partner in the work, whether that person is a colleague or those individuals receiving services 

Powerful Paraprofessionals (Jennifer Solomon & TJ Young-Burke) 

"With great power comes great responsibility." Paraprofessionals are playing an increasingly important role in the education and transition of students with disabilities. Grab your capes and build your capacity in a variety of classroom strategies. Also discuss how to plan for and, eventually, assist in transitioning students to post-secondary life. Powerful-Paras- ASSEMBLE for this phenomenal workshop that will prepare you to help your students fly "up, up and away" into adulthood. 

Student HireAbility Navigator &Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors: Maximizing Workforce Services & Outcomes for Students (Dr. Aubrey Jones, Deborah Dobis, Sonia White, Imelda Trevino, Reba Nesmith, & Amanda Rodriguez 

During this session attendees will learn how Student HireAbility Navigators & Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work together to increase awareness of Texas Workforce Solutions Rehabilitation Services. Educational attendees will learn how they can work with SHN's & TVRC's to increase pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) for students, what pre-ETS can provide for their students, and best practices on how ISD's can stay connected to TWS-VRS. Workforce staff & partners will learn how SHN's maximize awareness of services in the community and increase accessibility of TWS services.

Breakout
Session 2

Job Coaching Basics (Sandye Cox)

Job Coaching students with disabilities can be a difficult position. This session will cover the basic requirements for job coaching and techniques to use to help students become independent workers. This session will help participants reflect on current practices and provide ways to improve work-based learning support.

Resource Toolkit to use when Visiting 18+ Programs (SHSU Garrett Center)

When looking to support adult students with disabilities, educators often ask, "which 18+ program should I visit?". All 18+ Programs have strengths, but not all 18+ processes will work for every district, and some 18+ processes might not be recommended as best practice. During this session, we will share how to use the Resource Toolkit for 18+ Site Visits, and how to get the most out of visiting 18+ programs.

Trauma-Informed and Culturally Responsive Transition Practices to Address the Intersectional Needs of Youth and Young Adults with Disabilities (Adene Karhan)

This presentation will provide an overview of current trends in postsecondary and employment outcomes for Y&YADs. Kimberle Crenshaw's framework of intersectionality will be introduced as a means of considering factors which overlap to compound risk for Y&YAD (e.g., racial/ethnic and LGVTQIA+). This interactive session will invite participants to reflect on the systems in which they work and consider how trauma-informed and culturally responsive practices can help foster an environment in which the needs of the whole individual are met, contributing to a better future for Y&YADs with lived trauma and/or mental health experience. Promising state examples will be shared. 

Best Practices, Challenges and Strategies: What We've Learned about Transition RElated Professional Development for Youth Serving Professionals (Kaitlyn Jackson)

This session includes a discussion of a mixed-methods research study which reviewed what professional should know or how to do to effectively support young adults with disabilities in their employment journey. The two-phased study used Group Concept Mapping methodology and focus group interviews. Data were collected from a wide range of transition professionals (n=183), were analyzed and then represented in a series of interrelated maps and were used to inform focus group interviews. Findings will inform policymakers, educators, vocational rehabilitation and other workforce systems about pre-service and professional development strategies to prepare, hire, retain highly qualified professionals. 

RISEing to the Occasion (Amber Manzana & Sarah Cifarelli)

In Grand Prairie ISD, we have chosen to provide transition services to students beginning in 6th grade to improve post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities. Our RISE facility provides an opportunity for students in our specialized programs in middle and high school to develop skills related to Employment, Independent Living, Fine Arts, Sensory, and Fine & Gross Motor.  RISE is an extension of the classroom allowing for generalization of skills learned on our campuses. This presentation will share details about our RISE facility, differentiated learning opportunities for our specialized programs, collaboration with outside agencies and community partners, and ways RISE is leading to positive postsecondary outcomes for our students. 

Breakout
Session 3

Best-Practices in 18+ Programs and Services (Dr. Vickie Mitchell, Dr. Christina Gushanas, Brynn Biggs, Kayla Daniel & Jeanette Driffill)

TEA's Student-Centered Transitions Network (SCTN) and Sam Houston State University: Garrett Center members will present on the topic of Best Practices in 18+ Programs and Services. While federal law states that students with disabilities may continue to age 21, state law mandates that students be served in age-appropriate instructional environments.  The question for many is, what are age-appropriate instructional environments for students 18-21? What is the curriculum? What are the best practices for program development and improvement? Participants will view resources developed by the Garrett Center on Transition and Disability Studies and TEA's Student-Centered Transitions Network for 18+ Programs, and discuss administrative barriers and solutions to implementing evidence-based 18+ programs/services.

Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Strategies for Collaboration and Support (Alyssa Kee & Kevin Markel)

This presentation will provide an overview of TWC-VR services including an introduction to the agency, eligibility considerations and service areas, as well as review serving unique populations, such as younger students or students touched by the justice system, as well as unique program offerings and opportunities on and off-campus. 

Self-Advocacy and Getting Involved, Parents and Students (Towanna Smith) 

Involvement is the best way to support your student. Find out what you can do to enhance your relationship with your school, student and your caregiver (parent). learn about resources that will able you to assist your youth through transition from high school to adulthood. Benefits that will help your student be successful. 

"Dream Small" A Collaborative Approach to Serving Rural Students (Kortni Collins & Lynette Wright-West)

The Student Hireability Navigator and Vocational Rehabilitation Staff from Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas will share their collaborative approach to serving rural students, schools, and communities. Learn how these collaborative efforts are overcoming barriers and building opportunities for rural students. 

Elementary Transition (Diana Azzouz & Aisha Morgan)

During this session you will learn how to empower your elementary students in order for them to have a successful future. You will learn how to meet their unique needs to improve their future academic and functional skills to ensure they are as independent as possible. 

Breakout
Session 4

Everything has changed. Does the vAC program still exist? I'm no longer a VAC, can I still place my students in the work program? How do I help my students receive credit for working and who do I talk to in my district about this? 

Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Strategies for Collaboration and Support (Alyssa Kee & Kevin Markel)

This presentation will provide an overview of TWC-VR services including an introduction to the agency, eligibility considerations and service areas, as well as review serving unique populations, such as younger students or students touched by the justice system, as well as unique program offerings and opportunities on and off-campus. 

Using the NEW SPPI-14 Reports to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities (Jennette Driffill, Kayla Daniel, and Brynn Biggs)

In this session, we will share the information contained in the NEW SPPI 14 Reports. Using this report, educators will have the opportunity to read and sue the data to see how students fare beyond high school, learn how to analyze the report results to improve outcomes and architect systems change. 

Navigating All the Resources (Amy Reeves)

Participants will explore state and national resources available to support transition planning. The information shared will be primarily targeted toward educators, but could potentially benefit families, students and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors.

Creating Sustainable, Integrated School-Based Enterprises: Lessons Learned from A&M's Work-Based Learning Project (Robin Miller & Joette Hardin)

Over the past two years, Texas A&M and Texas Workforce Solutions have funded, trained, and supported 50 work-based learning projects in schools across the state. An additional 30 projects will be funded for the 2023-24 school year. Whether you're considering applying for the project or working to sustain or expand an existing school-based enterprise, this session will provide insight into how to avoid pitfalls, build partnerships, and create sustainable, meaningful work experiences for students with disabilities. 

Breakout
Session 5

Best-Practices in 18+ Programs and Services (Dr. Vickie Mitchell, Dr. Christina Gushanas, Brynn Biggs, Kayla Daniel & Jeanette Driffill)

TEA's Student-Centered Transitions Network (SCTN) and Sam Houston State University: Garrett Center members will present on the topic of Best Practices in 18+ Programs and Services. While federal law states that students with disabilities may continue to age 21, state law mandates that students be served in age-appropriate instructional environments.  The question for many is, what are age-appropriate instructional environments for students 18-21? What is the curriculum? What are the best practices for program development and improvement? Participants will view resources developed by the Garrett Center on Transition and Disability Studies and TEA's Student-Centered Transitions Network for 18+ Programs, and discuss administrative barriers and solutions to implementing evidence-based 18+ programs/services.

The Dynamic Duo: Working with Paraprofessionals (Jennifer Solomon & TJ Burke)

Today's teachers welcome the extra hands a paraprofessional brings to the classroom, but may struggle with knowing exactly how to leverage this help. Join this session to better understand the rules and best practices for working with paraprofessionals. Leave empowered with tools to create your own dynamic duo in the classroom.

College Connections (Jamie-Lee Moyer)

Campus Connections is an innovative college support program designed to support students with disabilities as they attend the post-secondary institution of their choice. Our team uses the Wraparound Planning Process and the Birkman Method Assessment to build an individualized support team, which pairs each student with a coach who provides mentoring, guidance, and navigational support. The goal of the program is to empower students to problem solve their concerns more effectively and efficiently while also fostering informed choice and greater self-advocacy. Whether it's community college, trade school, a four year university, or a certification program, Campus Connections is equipped to support any post-secondary students with disabilities at any institution as long as they meet all admission requirements. 

Successful Alliance Building Between Districts/ Charters and Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitations (VR) (Dr. Theresa Cortney & Janeen Gordon)

It is imperative for positive post-secondary outcomes that an effective partnership, or alliances, be built to support and serve students with disabilities. A major partner in providing services is the Texas workforce Commission, VR Services. Learn strategies to build sustainable alliances to serve students receiving special education or 504 service in the area of Employment and Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). 

Roadmap of Assessments: Putting Students in the Driver's Seat During Transition Planning (Dr. Linda Mack)

This presentation will examine one district's overall assessment process for determining student's strengths, preferences and interests in order to develop appropriate post-secondary goals. All assessments for each grade level are provided to teachers and transition staff in an easy to access electronic document. Participants will leave with access to this "Roadmap" as well as an understanding of how to use it. 

Breakout
Session 6

Job Coaching Basics (Sandye Cox)

Job Coaching students with disabilities can be a difficult position. This session will cover the basic requirements for job coaching and techniques to use to help students become independent workers. This session will help participants reflect on current practices and provide ways to improve work-based learning support.

Young Adult Panel and Independent Living Center (Jenna Reinke, Rebeckah Garcia, Amari Nash, James G. & Dealean Stonemeier) 

Come hear how you can partner with statewide independent living centers. Also, hear from Young adults on a panel who will share their struggles and what support they are needing in order to become more independent. 

Toss the Task Boxes (Jeanette Driffill, Brynn Biggs & Kayla Kaniel)

Curious about how to provide your students with authentic work experiences? This session is for you! Learn what the research says about commonly used practices in the classroom and community and how students best acquire work-based skills. You will learn how to convert your established classroom activities into evidence-based practices.

Champion Your Students: Career Education's Role in Transition Success (S. Johnson-Delgado)

Transition can be scary, but it doesn't have to be! Providing ALL students with access to career education can be a crucial first step in transition success. In this session, you'll learn:

What to look for in a quality career education curriculum

The value of hands-on components for transition success

How to incorporate soft skills into career education planning

Roadmap of Assessments for Students with Complex Needs (Dr. Linda Mack) 

This presentation will take a deeper dive into one district's assessment process for students with complex needs. Participants will leave with access to this "Roadmap" as well as an understanding of what is required to obtain information regarding a student's strengths, preferences, and intertests when the student is unable to make thier own voices heard. 

Breakout
Session 7

Next Steps to Independence: Skills and Strategies (Heidi Pease & Sam Gonzalez

The Next Steps checklist lets educators, families, and students monitor continue progress on skills needed for future success, in four domains: Choice Making and Decision Making, Goal Setting and Independence, Self-Management and Self Awareness, and Self-Determination and Self Advocacy from Birth to Age 22. Join this session to hear how the state transition network created this resource and see how East Central ISD implements this state resource to support their families from birth to age 22.

What are Pre-ETS? (Towanna Smith)

What are Pre-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services) and how can it enhance self-determination in students with disabilities.

Transition Compliance (Amy Reeves)

Participants will review the components of State Performance Plan Indicator 12 and the Desk Review Rubric. This information is geared toward compliance in education. 

The Texas ABLE Program: The State's New Saving Program for Texans with Disabilities (Venessa Goodson)

Come learn about the Texas Achieving A Better Life Experience (Texas ABLES)) program and how Texans with disabilities and their families can save for disability- related expenses in a tax-advantaged ABLE account without losing eligibility for certain public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Texas ABLE is based on federal and state legislation and is maintained by the state through the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Funds in an ABLE account can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses that relate to the beneficiary's blindness or disability and are used to maintain or improve his or her health, independence or quality of life. This presentation will cover all the basics of ABLE and give you details on how to open an ABLE account in Texas. Learn more and enroll online at TexasABLE.org

Roadmap of Assessments: Putting Students in the Driver's Seat During Transition Planning (Dr. Linda Mack)

This presentation will examine one district's overall assessment process for determining student's strengths, preferences and interests in order to develop appropriate post-secondary goals. All assessments for each grade level are provided to teachers and transition staff in an easy to access electronic document. Participants will leave with access to this "Roadmap" as well as an understanding of how to use it. 

Breakout
Session 8

Next Steps to Independence: Skills and Strategies (Heidi Pease & Sam Gonzalez)

The Next Steps checklist lets educators, families, and students monitor continue progress on skills needed for future success, in four domains: Choice Making and Decision Making, Goal Setting and Independence, Self-Management and Self Awareness, and Self-Determination and Self Advocacy from Birth to Age 22. Join this session to hear how the state transition network created this resource and see how East Central ISD implements this state resource to support their families from birth to age 22.

Charting the Course is a five year grant in collaboration with TWC-VRS. We started this journey with 2 districts serving 60 students total and a handful of parents as well. Year Five we have served 8 districts and over 200 students per event, even the parent participation has increased. By listening to the current needs of our LEA partners, we created a build-up learning model. Students have demonstrated gains that not only prepare them for job interviews, but they have left with the ability to self-advocate, identify their future interests, communicate what they see themselves and a variety of other natural skillsets to prepare them for independence. Now, CtC hosts agency fairs for the students, Pre-ETS sessions, and reverse job fairs. Join me to get a road map on how to replicate these sessions. 

Creating a Vision for Competitive Employment: Engaging Students, Families and Other Key Stakeholders (Robin Miller & Joette Hardin)

Texas Workforce Commission and Texas A&M University's Capacity-Building Project seeks to improve post-secondary outcomes by addressing barriers to Pre-ETS service provision for students ages 14-16. Younger teens often lack buy-in for transition planning because they can use to help students explore careers, develop a vision for employment, and take an active role in transition planning. 

Navigating the Employment Highway (Scott Miller & Dana MacDonald)

A presentation on career and job development strategies; utilizing a person centered or direct approach to employment; enhancing self confidence in performing job development; prioritizing time effectively to develop jobs; highly focused on facilitating transition into the working world. 

Roadmap of Assessments for Students with Complex Needs (Dr. Linda Mack) 

This presentation will take a deeper dive into one district's assessment process for students with complex needs. Participants will leave with access to this "Roadmap" as well as an understanding of what is required to obtain information regarding a student's strengths, preferences, and intertests when the student is unable to make thier own voices heard. 

Breakout
Session 9

Everything has changed. Does the vAC program still exist? I'm no longer a VAC, can I still place my students in the work program? How do I help my students receive credit for working and who do I talk to in my district about this? 

Charting the Course is a five year grant in collaboration with TWC-VRS. We started this journey with 2 districts serving 60 students total and a handful of parents as well. Year Five we have served 8 districts and over 200 students per event, even the parent participation has increased. By listening to the current needs of our LEA partners, we created a build-up learning model. Students have demonstrated gains that not only prepare them for job interviews, but they have left with the ability to self-advocate, identify their future interests, communicate what they see themselves and a variety of other natural skillsets to prepare them for independence. Now, CtC hosts agency fairs for the students, Pre-ETS sessions, and reverse job fairs. Join me to get a road map on how to replicate these sessions. 

Creating a Vision for Competitive Employment: Engaging Students, Families and Other Key Stakeholders (Robin Miller & Joette Hardin)

Texas Workforce Commission and Texas A&M University's Capacity-Building Project seeks to improve post-secondary outcomes by addressing barriers to Pre-ETS service provision for students ages 14-16. Younger teens often lack buy-in for transition planning because they can use to help students explore careers, develop a vision for employment, and take an active role in transition planning. 

Navigating the Employment Highway (Scott Miller & Dana MacDonald)

A presentation on career and job development strategies; utilizing a person centered or direct approach to employment; enhancing self- confidence in performing job development; prioritizing time effectively to develop jobs; highly focused on facilitating transition into the working world. 

The Texas ABLE Program: The State's New Saving Program for Texans with Disabilities (Venessa Goodson)

Come learn about the Texas Achieving A Better Life Experience (Texas ABLES)) program and how Texans with disabilities and their families can save for disability- related expenses in a tax-advantaged ABLE account without losing eligibility for certain public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Texas ABLE is based on federal and state legislation and is maintained by the state through the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Funds in an ABLE account can be used to pay for qualified disability expenses that relate to the beneficiary's blindness or disability and are used to maintain or improve his or her health, independence or quality of life. This presentation will cover all the basics of ABLE and give you details on how to open an ABLE account in Texas. Learn more and enroll online at TexasABLE.org

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