Meeting the Needs of Special Learners in the 21st century

Submitted by Dr. Christine Siegel on August 11, 2011

The stressors facing parents of students with disabilities was only one of the topics presented at the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) continuing series “Community Dialogues: Conversations in Education and Allied Professions.” This summer’s program centered on “Reimagining Education: Meeting the Needs of Special Learners in the 21st Century.” GSEAP Advisory Board member Susan Carroll hosted a reception and conversation for students, alumni, and friends of the GSEAP at the Brooklawn Country Club on Thursday, August 4, 2011.

The event, also supported by the Alumni Association, drew a crowd of 125 who came to hear the following panel speakers share their visions for a future in which the needs of all learners are met:

  • Dr. Mary Monroe Kolek, deputy superintendent for the New Canaan Public Schools
  • Dr. Evelyn Bilias, assistant professor of School Psychology and Special Education
  • Dr. Christine Siegel, GSEAP associate dean and associate professor of School Psychology

Dr. Mary Frances Malone, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, opened the conversation with welcoming remarks in which she extolled the recent accomplishments of the GSEAP. Dean Susan Douglas Franzosa introduced the panel and moderated the discussion, during which Dr. Kolek encouraged all members of the educational community to be leaders in educational innovation, and challenged teachers to work in collaboration on behalf of all students. Dr. Bilias described the need to nurture the social-emotional as well as academic skills of special learners through classrooms and instruction that promote self-efficacy in students, and Dr. Siegel described methods to promote parenting expertise. Audience response was favorable as school administrators, psychologists, teachers, and parents responded with engaging questions and comments following the speaker’s remarks.

The next program in this series of conversations will be held during the fall semester. Check the GSEAP website for dates and speakers.

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