VAISEF Spring Conference Presentation Descriptions

The presentation schedule for the VAISEF spring conference on April 5-7 is packed with content covering all aspects of private special education! Register now for the conference! 


8:00 AM – 9:45 AM          

Diagnosing Accountability Challenges in Specialized Education

Scot McCarthy

All industries experience performance gaps and accountability issues, but with the ever changing landscape of special education and the impact these changes may have on current and future practices, diagnosing these gaps is a critical leadership competency.

This interactive keynote presentation will provide an opportunity to assess your individualized accountability challenges and introduce a model that helps to diagnose the root cause of performance gaps in your organization.



9:45 AM – 10:45 AM

Diagnosing Accountability Issues is Fine, But Now What?

Scot McCarthy

This break-out session is a natural progression building upon the Keynote “Diagnosing Accountability Challenges in Specialized Education”.  You will be able to fine tune your root cause diagnosis and then learn how to craft your influence strategy and tactics to bring performance levels back to where they need to be to effectively address the key business challenges of your organization.


Supporting English Language Learners in Career Assessment

Catherine Burzio, Career Assessment Center, Loudoun County Public Schools

Vocational Evaluators facilitate an exploratory process in which a student/client obtains a greater self and work knowledge through participation in work activities designed to evaluate vocational skills, interests, abilities, and aptitudes. Identifying bias and perspective, better understanding culture and its impact and embracing resources necessary for continued learning are key factors in supporting English Language Learners in the career assessment process.


Taking Evaluation and Accountability “Off the Shelf”: A 3D Design and Printing Program Targeting Quality Implementation, Resiliency, and Positive Student Outcomes

Lindsay Harris, Ed.S., PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families

Samuel Son, M.Ed, Phillips School ~ Annandale        

Rose Ann M. Renteria, Ph.D., PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families

The intention of this presentation is to share insights on our 3D Design and Printing program with the explicit goal of framing the program as a case study and model towards effective program, evaluation, and outcomes planning that embodies high-quality implementation as well as efforts-to-positive youth outcomes. The talk integrates key staff, including the Director of Career Partners, a special education teacher, and an evaluation researcher, to highlight the team effort used to support and be accountable to positive outcomes, while establishing this innovative program, focused on increasing student and family engagement, supporting strong and lasting community partnerships, and establishing a high-quality program with program evaluation and guidance. With this in mind, our session incorporates the following discussion areas:

First, we will share background information on our 3D Design and Printing program, called Designing Futures. We will discuss program goals, core components, quality implementation strategies, and working with community partners. We will also share the process used by the team to develop a program logic model with targeted youth outcomes and data collection tools, which were linked to the overall program goals, evaluation, and accountability efforts. Second, we will discuss how and why the 3D Design and Print program remained focused on key, emerging outcomes such as resiliency, self-sufficiency, and critical social and thinking skills as well as supporting students on how to express their creativity and learn to deal with challenges and/or making mistakes along the way. Here, our accountability focuses on the assurances to effectively serve youths’ needs, academic as well as their social and emotional needs. Third, we will discuss efforts to build out student data, Youth Voice feedback, and family engagement to inform our evaluation and accountability efforts. We will share our lessons learned and emerging youth outcomes, while providing background information on focus group data, Youth Voice, family feedback, and our interpretation sessions, which currently inform our program design and future implementation strategies.

Audience members will benefit by: Walking away with a great case study of a new 3D design and printing program, and its emerging efforts-to-better-outcomes and strategies to support taking evaluation and accountability work “off the shelf,” towards high-quality program design, implementation, and evaluation and accountability.


Beyond Academics: Preparing Students with Special Needs for the Transition to College

Janet Price, College Living Experience

More and more, students with special needs are considering a post-secondary transition that includes college. Educational interventions have yielded a generation of special needs students who can perform academically and achieve the grades necessary for acceptance to college. At the same time, these students who are considered “high functioning” are typically not receiving instruction in the soft skills necessary for success that are routinely practiced with students earning a Certificate of Completion. Studies suggest that these basic life skills, such as using public transportation, grocery shopping, or utilizing executive function strategies to get to appointments on time, are actually better predictors of future success than grades. And higher education programs are starting to recognize this as well. An article published in the New York Times in November 2016 reports that for college students with an autism diagnosis, success in college is still a long-shot without support to address these needs. (

This presentation describes strategies that educators can use with all students, as well as to guide parents and families, in order to gain the skills necessary for a successful post-secondary transition. These include: executive function; self-advocacy; social skills; and independent living skills. The presentation introduces the concept of backwards design (McTighe and Wiggins) as it applies to teaching independent living skills. It will also cover the significant differences between supports under IDEA, which end at high school graduation or through age 21, whichever comes first, and ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Participants will understand what it means for special needs students to transition from an entitlement model of support (FAPE) to a model based on equal access, and will gain an understanding of how and why college accommodations differ from those in high school, and how to prepare for a successful transition.


11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Technology Planning


Transition Assessment

Catherine Burzio, Career Assessment Center, Loudoun County Public Schools

Transition Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering information related to an individual’s skills, interests, values, strengths and needs as they relate to life after high school. By understanding how to gather and use this information, professionals and families may better assist the transition of their youth.


Taking Evaluation and Accountability “Off the Shelf”: A 3D Design and Printing Program Targeting Quality Implementation, Resiliency, and Positive Student Outcomes

REPEAT SESSION – See above for details


Beyond Academics: Preparing Students with Special Needs for the Transition to College

REPEAT SESSION – See above for details


2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Results-Driven Accountability and the Role of Private Schools

Bonnie B. English, Virginia Department of Education, Division of Special Education and Student Services

Dr. Patricia Radcliffe, Virginia Department of Education, Division of Special Education and Student Services

In recent years, the U.S. Department of Education has included student performance or results in its assessment of programs designed to educate students with disabilities. The Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) response to this new requirement was to develop a Results Driven Accountability (RDA) review process for local education agencies (LEA) in the Commonwealth. As private day and residential schools in the state are an extension of LEAs’ special education programs, they too need to know and adhere to both compliance and results-driven expectations in their provision of special education services to students with disabilities who have been placed in their facilities. This presentation will provide private school facility owners and instructional leaders with information regarding what an RDA review entails and what role their facilities play in delivering special education services in this new RDA era.


Neurological Effects of Trauma on Learning and Health

Marcus Vandiviere, LPC, Rivermont School – Dan River

This presentation will focus on summarizing more recent research pertaining to neurological effects of trauma on learning and health. The ACES research study will be highlighted, as well as applied educational programs based in Massachusetts and Washington. 1) The learner will be able to state typical neurological, educational, and health outcomes from adverse childhood events. 2) The learner will be able to state basic tenets of trauma-informed practices, which can be initiated in work, educational, and healthcare environments. 3) Learner will begin to visualize how trauma-informed practices can be instilled in their personal work, home, and intra-individual environments.


Response Able Paths to Grow Youth (Rap2grow)

Erik Laursen, Responsive Practices

Response Able Paths to Grow Youth (Rap2grow) provides youth practitioners with knowledge and practical strategies – called practitioner response abilities – to support young people to thrive throughout childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Regardless of the context in which a young person grows up, they need safety, caring, the opportunity to learn, the ability to manage stress, and a strong sense of purpose. Their path toward a fulfilled life in community with others involves healthy integration of internal strengths and strengths drawn from their social ecology.

More information at


Management of Behavior in the Residential Group Home Setting

Anthony John Gage, III, L.C.S.W., Pathways Day School

Will discuss current concepts and applied techniques regarding the Management of Behavior in the Residential Group Home Setting.  Will discuss reasons for resident “misbehavior” to include differential diagnosis, substance abuse issues, the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) / Trauma and how ACE’s affect behavior in children and adolescents with an emphasis on child and adolescent resiliency.  Will also discuss how maladaptive behaviors are often simply coping mechanisms for survival and learned responses.  Will discuss in detail Behavior Interventions in the Residential Group Home Setting such as Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques, Positive and Negative Reinforcement, the importance of teaching problem-solving skills that can be applied to real-life situations, and teaching independent critical thinking skills.

Preparation for real world challenges must be an integral part of the focus of Residential Treatment.  Also, the six stages of change, which apply to a vast variety of therapeutic situations, created by Dr. Carlo C. DiClemente and J.O. Prochaska will be discussed in detail as it relates to children and adolescents in the Residential Group Home Setting.  The emphasis of this presentation will be on Hope and Recovery and how structured therapeutic environments where basic needs are met, starts the healing process for children and adolescents.


3:15 PM – 4:15 PM/4:45 PM*

Results-Driven Accountability and the Role of Private Schools

REPEAT SESSION – See above for details


Safely Through the Rapids: Changing the Entrenched Negative Behaviors of Teenagers

Steve Welsh, M.A., LPC, The Discovery School of Virginia

Nancy MacConnachie, Ph.D., LCP, The Discovery School of Virginia

Matt Browning, The Discovery School of Virginia for Girls

Frequently having defeated several traditional outpatient and inpatient interventions, our students admitted to The Discovery School of Virginia face failure in schools, in their families, and within the community.   Presenting current information regarding the neurobiological basis underlying our emotional system, the highly effective intervention program of Discovery School of Virginia will be described.   Grounded in providing a predictable environment in a therapeutic, wilderness campus, the staff of DS of Va. initially identify the 4 self-defeating, entrenched neural reactions in our students.   Using standardized educational and emotional measures, the Discovery School of Virginia will present both statistically significant, and perhaps even more importantly, clinically significant data supporting the successful rescripting of our students’ dysfunctional behaviors.   The program at DS of Va. teaches the students to monitor their own emotional states, and enhance their ability to modulate their negative affects and work the triggering issues through until the problems are fully resolved.

*This is a 90 minute session


Accountability in Mind: Slowing Down our Thinking to Better Serve our Students

Luke Hartman, PhD., Liberty Point Behavioral Healthcare

How does background impact how we see the world and others? During this presentation, the audience will become aware of the power of one’s own implicit bias. This interactive program is designed to help individuals explore their thinking and how thought impacts behavioral responses when working in heightened intensity situations. At the end of this presentation the audience will understand how implicit bias relates to the care of our students, as well as, several different ways to impact that which is unconscious.

*This is a 90 minute session


Self-Care 101 For Providers in the Trauma-Informed Era

Shaina Chandler, Hallmark Youthcare

Being trauma-informed no longer means just having a basic understanding of trauma theory; it means being equipped with the ability and emotional capacity to work with the many layers of a person’s trauma. These layers include the impact on the victim and the service provider working with them. This highly interactive presentation will provide training on the impacts of chronic stress, compassion fatigue and burnout on human service providers and the clients they work with. With an emphasis on self-resiliency and self-care, this training will provide education and coping strategies for both workers and clients who have been exposed to trauma. Each participant will walk away with their own engaging self-care pack, education on the impacts of stress and trauma and even at times, some humorous examples of the toll stress can take on service providers.

*This is a 90 minute session



9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Report from the Virginia Department of Education



10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Emergency Preparedness

Liuetenent Jesse Ellis, Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office

Michael Triggs, The Hughes Center

Cray Callahan, Bridges Treatment Center

Matthew Kreydatus, St. Joseph’s Villa

The Health & Safety committee is proud to present a panel discussion regarding Emergency Preparedness.  Lt. Ellis from the Fluvanna County Sherriff’s Office will be the primary speaker, sharing information regarding what you and your program should be thinking about as you prepare your individual safety plans.  Focus will be on global issues, as well as specific insight into training protocols, and policy reviews. Topics include:

  • Emergency Management
  • Profile of an Active Shooter
  • Indicators of Potential Violence
  • “Run, Hide, Fight”
  • Active shooter (video)
  • Response to an active shooter
  • Situational Awareness
  • Law Enforcement Response
  • Preparations
  • Prevention
  • Managing the consequences of an active shooter incident
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