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Inclusion Summit

4th Annual Inclusion Summit: Transitioning Across the Lifespan

June 14 - June 15, 2019
Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC
5pm to 9:30pm on Friday (Check-in opens at 4pm)
8am to 3:30pm on Saturday


Group of students eating dinner


The Annual Inclusion Summit was started to bring a wide variety of disability inclusion stakeholders together to discuss current practices and future innovations. Thus, we invite participants and presenters from among educators, school administrators, related service providers, individuals with disabilities and their families, employers of individuals with disabilities, community-based service providers, vocational support service providers, researchers, policymakers, and all others who participate in inclusive practices across the lifespan.

This year's theme reflects our understanding that every step of life development involves small and large transitions, whether they be from one stage of schooling to the next, from one setting to another, from one skill to the next, or from childhood to adulthood. The events of the 4th Annual Inclusion Summit will help equip our entire community to practice and advocate for better inclusion of individuals with disabilities.


Regular Attendee Presenter Group Rate (4 or more) price per person NCTASH or CEC-TED members
$100 $75 $75 $75

Conference Attendees

Conference Attendees


The overall conference learning objectives will empower attendees to identify current innovations in inclusive practices, identify inclusive practice supported by research, describe inclusive practices for various types of learners and community members, and discuss issues important to inclusive practices in the Western region of North Carolina as well as the state as a whole. 


Below you'll find a list of resources and talking point to help facilitate attending the conference. 

Parents and Families

You can request funding support for the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities for both Conference Speakers and Conference Attendees.

Teachers, Supervisors, and Administrators

Need principal or school district leave time and/or financial support to attend the Inclusion Summit? Download our Sample Letter to Supervisors and Sample Talking Points with Supervisors documents.

Presentations and Speakers

Conference schedule overview

4pm                     Conference Check-in

5pm – 6:15pm     Happy Hour/Posters in Illusions

6:30pm               Dinner in UC including:

                              Welcome by CEAP Dean Dr. Kim Winter


                              Keynote #1

8:30pm – 10pm Film in Theater w/popcorn machine: “Intelligent Lives”



8am                               Breakfast in UC

9am – 9:50am              Breakout Session #1

10am – 10:50am           Breakout Session #2

11am – 11:50am             Breakout Session #3

12pm – 1:30pm              Lunch including Keynote #2

1:40pm-2:30pm             Breakout Session #4

2:40pm – 3:30pm          Breakout Session #5

3:30pm                            Conference Concludes

Presentation list

Student to Volunteer: A School and Student Story
Meghan LeFevers, Principal, and Aubrey Bridges, Student
In this session, participants will meet Aubrey Bridges, graduate of Gaston County Schools, and hear her perspective of K-12 education as a student with Autism. We will also share how she is currently working with Kindergarten students to teach them both American Sign Language and Exact English Sign Language. This has led to a dramatic increase phonemic awareness, fluency and building a strong foundation for reading practices.

Inclusive Supported Living Resources and Options
Gretchen Reece, UP Program Assistant, with UP Program Graduates
There are a variety of different types of resources to support adults with intellectual disabilities in
living independently. This presentation will discuss community services and the development of
different support systems to facilitate independent living. University Participant (UP) Program
graduates will discuss their experiences transitioning to living on their own.

Transitioning on the Spectrum
Malinda Pennington and Karyna Parrish
Currently, 1 in 58 NC children has an autism spectrum disorder. Increasingly, students with autism are
educated in regular classrooms. This session will provide you with differentiation strategies based on
characteristics of autism and take-away tools you can use to build success for your students in the
classroom and community.

Beyond Service Learning: Outcomes of a Powerful Collaboration
Research Associate, Debra Holzberg, Ph.D.
Special education majors engaged in service learning with students from a four-year postsecondary
educational program. At the end, special education majors wrote reflections and produced artifacts
describing their experiences. Examples will be shared to demonstrate the depth and impact of this meaningful collaboration.

The Use of UDI in Higher Education: What the Data Say
Research Associate, Debra Holzberg, Ph.D.
This study evaluated the extent to which university instructors use UDI practices in their courses. Participants were
also asked their preferred format for professional development in the area of UDI. Results of the survey will be
discussed as will implications for practice.

One Story of Inclusion
Exceptional Children’s Teacher, Amber Lavin, and Coordinator, Kathy Norris
This presentation will tell the collective stories of a school community’s journey of inclusion. Participants will hear the
voices of the student, family, staff and peers. The presenters will cover modifications, social support, collaboration,
peer support, and technology. In addition, participants will learn how inclusion can positively impact lifelong learning
for all.

The Calming Classroom (An Alternative to Suspensions)
Mrs. Caroline Black
Do you have students who experience emotional breakdowns? The Calming Classroom is an innovative way to help
students gather their emotions and return to their regular classroom instead of being sent home for the day. This
program can be used at any grade level school wide or in individual classrooms to improve discipline and increase
student achievement.

How Public Separate Schools Can Still Change Lives
Barbara Eccles
Webb Street School is a public separate school in Gastonia, NC that serves students with disabilities kindergarten
through age 22. The Transition Academy serves students 18-22 with a variety of vocational training programs to
prepare students for post-secondary life. See what a public separate school can offer students and the community to
support inclusion.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Amplifying the Voices of People with Disabilities
Educator, Photographer, Advocate, and Parent of child with disability, Jen Vogus 
Jen Vogus' passion for photography began years ago when she started taking pictures her son who is non-verbal. She
captured his daily life and interests so he could share them with peers and teachers at school. Jen shares her story and
the process of working with others to create photo books to enable communication between home and other
environments. She shares how this activity has evolved and the many benefits of having individuals with disabilities take pictures of their own.

The Journey of Autism: From Student to Employee
Meghan LeFevers, Principal, and Aubrey Bridges, Student 
During this presentation, meet a graduate of Gaston County Schools, Aubrey Bridges, that now is giving back to our school system. Come learn how skills she learned, perfected and gleaned are now allowing her to make a meaningful
impact on the academic performance of our school community.

Legal Principles for Fully Inclusive Educational Practice
Carl Lashley, Associate Professor at UNC Greensboro, and Jennifer Brown, Director of Special Education in Lexington City Schools 
Five fundamental elements (Individualization, Evidence-Based Decisions, Least Restrictive Alternative, Appropriate
Education, and Parent Involvement) form the legal and instructional improvement basis for teaching, learning,
decision-making, and program operations in special education. Participants will take away strategies for improving
academic outcomes for students with disabilities in fully inclusive programs.

Building an Inclusive School Culture
Alicia Saunders, Ph.D., and Shawnee Wakeman, Ph.D.
Creating a positive school culture is the starting point for building an inclusive school. This presentation will focus on
results from a qualitative research study examining how a NC School has worked to build an inclusive culture with
meaningful membership for all students, including students with the most severe disabilities, using a school-wide
approach. Examples of how to build a program like this will be shared.

Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) Facilitates a Coordinated Continuum of Employment

Supports and Services During Post-Secondary Transition
Webster Enterprises Pre-Employment Transition Services Coordinator, Laura H. Smith
Panel discussion about implementation outcomes of Pre-Employment Transition Services in public secondary school
as a means to enhance student employability and facilitate a coordinated continuum of employment services for
transition-aged individuals as they move from protections under IDEA to WIOA and ADA.

Coaching Others to Implement Strategies for Facilitating Inclusion
Robert Pennington, Ph.D. BCBA-D, and Alicia Saunders, Ph.D.
In this exciting session, the presenters will offer a model and supporting strategies for building the skills of teachers
and paraprofessionals in the use of instructional strategies to support the learning of students with disabilities in
inclusive settings.

Effects of Video Modeling and System of Least Prompts on Completion of Transitions in Inclusive Settings
Elizabeth N. Reyes, ME.D. and Virginia Walker
This session will show the effects of Video Modeling (VM) and System of Least Prompts (SLP) on completion of
transitional routines for a student with extensive support needs (ESNs). The presentation will explain and define ESNs, as well as detail how VM and SLP can be used to support these students. The presentation will show how a balance of
high-tech (VM) and low-tech (SLP) can be combined as an intervention to support independence of a student with
ESNs in an inclusive classroom setting. Information and materials will be shared so teachers and practitioners can
recreate some aspects from this research study in their own classrooms or settings.

The Things They Carried: Using Reading, Writing, and Art to Include All Learners in History Classroom
Lisa Camichos and Jessica Esposito
This presentation discusses how to implement Reading, Writing, and Art in the history classroom in order to help all
students achieve positive results. The presenters will discuss their use of collaborative strategies (KAGAN), as well as
reading and writing strategies in all classrooms.

Keynote speaker

Dr. Jennifer Kurth is Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of Kansas, and affiliated faculty at the
University of Kansas Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
Her research and interests include:

  • Methods of implementing inclusive education, specifically:
  • Methods of embedding critical instruction within the context and routines of general education and
  • Methods of providing appropriate supports and services for individual learners;
  • How teachers, students, and family’s interactions support and constrain learning and socialization in general education classrooms;
  • How preservice teacher candidates develop their dispositions and skills in inclusive practices; and
  • Outcomes of inclusion in terms of skill development and quality of life indicators for students with disabilities.

Dr. Kurth’s University of Kansas Webpage

Destination Information


We will have a discounted nightly rate available at Comfort Inn located in Sylva, NC. A short drive from Western Carolina University's Cullowhee campus. Please ask for the WCU Inclusion Summit Rate when calling (828) 477-4950.

additional information About local accommodations


Dinner Friday evening, Saturday breakfast buffet, and a Saturday box lunch will be provided with your registration fee. 

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