Association of Teachers of Exceptional Children

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Association of Teachers of Exceptional Children (ATEC)

Association of Teachers
of Exceptional Children


Empire Theatre - Dartmouth Crossing
October 25, 2013

Host Hotel

Hampton Inn & Suites - Dartmouth Crossing  $145 per night (includes hot breakfast and parking).

Professional Association Membership and Conference Fee - $100

No Onsite Registration

Registrar: Rick Mac Kinnon

If you are registering by mail, please make your cheque payable to ATEC and send it along with the registration form (click here) to Rick MacKinnon, 51 Yendys Street, Sydney, NS  B1S 2W6

Please note this cheque must be sent within ten days or your name will no longer be registered


Please register early to avoid disappointment.
ATEC will only accept the first 1000 participants.


Please register early to avoid disappointment. ATEC will only accept the first 1000 participants.

Deadline for mail-in is:  postmarked by October 7th.
Deadline for online registration is October 11th.

Conference Agenda

9:00 a.m.   -   10:15 a.m. A - Sessions
10:15 a.m.  -    10:45 a.m.  Break
10:45 a.m.  -    12:00 noon B - Sessions
12:00 noon  -    1:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
1:15 p.m.   -    1:30 p.m. AGM - Theatre 5
1:30 p.m.   -    2:45 p.m. C - Sessions


Guest Speakers

Beth Olshansky: Beth Olshansky is the founder of two engaging alternative approaches to literacy learning that have been proven particularly effective for at-risk students. She is the founder and director of the Center for the Advancement of Art-Based Literacy at the University of New Hampshire and the author of The Power of Pictures: Creating Pathways to Literacy Through Art book/dvd (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Beth has written numerous articles and teachers manuals and produced several DVDs to support teacher practice. She has trained close to 10,000 teachers across the United States and Canada in her innovative methods.

Steve Richard:  Steve Richard is President and CEO of Teachers Plus Credit Union. He has over 30 years in the financial services industry in various management roles including personal and commercial lending, human resources, finance, as well as being a national sales manager for a Canadian insurance company. Steve has his BBA from St. F.X. University as well as many banking and credit union industry designations and is a Certified Financial Planner.

Dr. John Almarode:  Dr. John, an educator and staff developer for many years, has worked with all age groups in education from pre-kindergarteners to graduate students. John began his career in Augusta County, Virginia teaching a wide-range of students. John has presented locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally (Canada, Qatar, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Thailand). He has worked with thousands of teachers, dozens of school districts and multiple organizations. John’s action-packed workshops offer participants ready-to-use strategies and the brain rules that make them work. He has authored several publications on brain-based learning and Corwin Press released his new book on student engagement this past April. John is a faculty member in the College of Education at James Madison University.
He lives in Waynesboro with is his wife Danielle, a fellow educator, their daughter Tessa, and their two dogs, Angel and Forest.

Fran Reddy Chisholm:  Fran Reddy Chisholm is a Registered Social Worker, currently employed as Supervisor of Counselling Services for the members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.  She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Dalhousie University, and a B.A., Psychology Major from St. Francis Xavier University.
In her current position, which she has held for twenty-four years, Fran provides a counselling service, which addresses the personal and work-related concerns of NSTU members in Nova Scotia.  As well as individual and family counselling, she frequently presents workshops on topics such as:  Teacher Wellness, Transition into Retirement, and dealing with Crises in Schools.  Prior to this position, she worked as a Social Worker in Ontario.  These settings included a Children’s Hospital, a Children’s Mental Health Centre, a school system and an Employee Assistance Program for teachers.
Fran is a member of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers and Family Mediation Nova Scotia.

Erin Walsh:  Erin Walsh, M.A. is a dynamic, knowledgeable speaker who has addressed a wide range of audiences on topics related to brain development and raising resilient young people in the 21st century. Erin was instrumental to the development of the MediaWise movement and enjoyed working with her father for the past 10 years at the National Institute on Media and the Family before creating Mind Positive Parenting in 2010. Erin presents on adolescent brain development as well as the powerful role of media in youth and children’s lives. She explains how to use this information to understand, communicate with and stay connected with young people.
In addition to working with Mind Positive Parenting, Erin is a keynote speaker for Search Institute, an organization that provides leadership, knowledge and resources to promote healthy families, youth, and communities. She also teaches undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota and the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs, an off-campus study organization dedicated to education for social justice. Erin taps into her experience counselling and leading young people in outdoor and wilderness experiences. She has consulted with schools, school districts, parent groups and other youth serving organizations throughout the country on issues related to children’s health and development.

Danielle Criss:  Danielle Criss has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology from Mount Allison University, and a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Dalhousie University.  She is currently working as a Speech-Language Pathologist in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board.  She has been involved in specific programming and training in the use of visual supports and strategies for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has presented at school and board-level inservices.

Louise Smith:  Louise has been employed with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 23 years; the first 17 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, and the last 6 years as the Board's Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Consultant.  Louise's interest has always been in programming and supporting students with special needs.  Over the last six years in her position as ASD Consultant, she has provided professional development for administrators, teachers and support staff with respect to programming and supporting students diagnosed with ASD.  Louise is the designated teacher trainer for specialized programming that is part of the CBVRSB's autism initiative (e.g., STAR program, TEACCH methodology , TTAP assessment and programming).  Louise is a certified PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) School Based provider and she and members of the Board's ASD lead team have developed a comprehensive social skills curriculum for junior/senior high students, with UCLA's  PEERS  program as the focus of this program.

Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt:  Tracy Vaillancourt is a Canada Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health and Violence Prevention at the University of Ottawa where she is cross-appointed as a full professor in the Faculty of Education (counselling program) and in the School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences. Dr. Vaillancourt is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour at McMaster University and a core member of the Offord Centre for Child Studies. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia (human development), her post-doctoral diploma from the University of Montreal and Laval University (developmental psychology), and post-doctoral re-specialization in applied child psychology (clinical) from McGill University. Dr. Vaillancourt’s research examines the links between aggression and children’s mental health functioning, with a particular focus on social neuroscience. She is currently funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Dr. David Gardner:  Dr. David Gardner is a Professor with the Department of Psychiatry and has a joint appointment with the College of Pharmacy at Dalhousie University. He received his undergraduate degree in pharmacy from the University of Toronto (1988), his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of British Columbia (1997), and his Master of Science in Community Health & Epidemiology from Dalhousie University (2003).
David is an active researcher and educator with over 60 peer reviewed publications, multiple research projects, author of the book Antipsychotics and Their Side Effects among others, and he has received several awards, both locally and nationally, for his teaching excellence. In 2012 David was selected by the Canadian Pharmacists Association as Pharmacist of the Year for his leadership and achievements in mental health. He was a founding member of the Science Advisory Committee of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Clinically, David is a member of the Early Psychosis Program of Nova Scotia in Halifax.

Dr. Lisa Kaenzig:  Lisa Kaenzig is the Associate Dean at William Smith College at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Dr. Kaenzig has over 20 years of administrative and academic experience, including several years working in politics in Washington, D.C.  She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership from the College of William and Mary, her M.A. in Human Resource Development from the George Washington University and her B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University.
Dr. Kaenzig served as the Executive Director of the Women’s Information Network (WIN), an organization in Washington, D.C. dedicated to providing career support to women interested in politics and public service. She also worked on the staffs of the National Governors Association and the Women’s Campaign Fund.  She has served as a Project Coordinator at the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary, Director of a Montessori school in North Carolina, and Principal for a career-consulting firm.
Dr. Kaenzig’s article (co-authored with Dr. Jill Burruss) in 1999, “Introversion: The often forgotten factor affecting the gifted” is frequently cited as one of the earliest published articles on this now popular topic and is referenced in the bestselling book, Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain. She is a frequent speaker on issues relating to introverted learners, gifted and talented populations and the development of girls and women.

Andrea Murphy:  Andrea has been a pharmacist, professor, and researcher in Nova Scotia for over a decade. She is currently involved in several research projects exploring improving mental health service access and delivery in Nova Scotia.

Nick Cardone:  As an educator for 17 years at the junior and senior high school levels, Nick has been a teacher with the IWK Mental Health and Addictions Services for the last 7 years. With a Masters in (Education) Counselling, and as a consultant on the creation of a private school for adolescents with mental illness (in Ottawa), Nick brings a diverse perspective to mental illness in school settings.

Allyson MacKay:  Allyson MacKay M.Ed is a teacher at the Adolescent Centre for Treatment found within the IWK Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She works with children experiencing both internal and externalizing mental health disorders. Her teaching experiences include 12 years at the P-12 level within the public and private school sectors. She is involved with the Academy in School Mental Health in both 2011 and 2012. Her personal interests within mental health are school refusal and RAD. She is currently developing a curriculum that supports the siblings of patients and at-risk youth.

Kathryn White:  Kathryn White is a teacher at the Adolescent Centre for Treatment at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Adolescent Centre for Treatment (ACT) provides rehabilitative mental health treatment for teens aged 13 - 19 years. Kathryn has been a Mental Health teacher since joining the IWK in 2009. Kathryn was involved in the Academy in School Mental Health in both 2011 and 2012. Kathryn has a passion for working with diverse learners and at-risk youth.

Cléo Burke:  Cléo Burke, M.Ed in Counselling, has nearly 20 years experience working with children and youth in a variety of educational and recreational settings, including 8 years as a classroom teacher. She is currently a therapeutic classroom teacher at the IWK Child and Family Day Treatment Service (CFDTS). She works with children aged 13 years and under with various mental health diagnoses including Disruptive Behaviour Disorders, ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, and Learning Disabilities.

Denise Murnaghan:  Denise Murnaghan works as a therapeutic teacher for the Compass Program (formerly Children’s Response Program) at the IWK Health Centre. Denise has worked with children under 13 years of age diagnosed with Disruptive Behaviour Disorders, ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, and with Severe Learning Disabilities.

A - Sessions

A1/C1  From Snorkelers to Scuba Divers: Building and Engaging Deep Thinking Brains.
Dr. John Almarode

Did you know that your students actually use 100% of their brains? You do as well! How about the fact that our brains are designed to forget? So what can we do in our classrooms to encourage students to use their 100% as efficiently as possible and to help them remember the information needed to be successful in school? The answer is: MAKE THEM THINK! This action-packed, edge of your seat session looks at the latest research on student engagement, student thinking, and how to design classrooms that promote deep thinking and understanding. Practicing what we preach, audience members will take part in an "out of your seat and on your feet" experience that models the brain rules for deep thinking and understanding: simple to complex, concrete to abstract, and we only remember what we think about. This institute will address classroom and student barriers to engagement and thinking by looking at brain differences in students with attention or processing challenges such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

A2/C2  Bullying and Mental Health
Tracy Vaillancourt

The important role peers play in healthy cognitive, emotional, and social development cannot be underestimated. Research clearly shows that children and youth have a fundamental need to belong and when they do not belong, healthy development is derailed. Indeed, children and youth who are rejected, ignored, and/or abused by their peers do not thrive—they tend to have significantly more mental health issues, poorer physical health, and lower academic achievement. What is more, longitudinal research points to the fact that these associations represent causal outcomes of poor treatment by peers.

A3/ C3  Strategies for Teaching Introverts: Creating learning environments where introverts (and all students) thrive
Lisa Kaenzig

Recent research about introverts reveals the importance of approaching introverted learners from a strengths perspective. Introverts have the potential for exceptional creativity and innovative thinking. Workshop participants will learn about the basis of the introverted temperament and personality and develop strategies for classroom management, group work and rubric creation to ensure full participation by introverted learners.

A4/C4  Picture This: A Simple Shift in Paradigm Can Transform Literacy Learning for All Students
Beth Olshansky

Treating words and pictures as parallel, complementary, and equal languages for learning can transform literacy learning for all students, especially those who struggle. Learn how you can close longstanding achievement gaps by a simple shift in paradigm that will help your students discover their strengths and rediscover the joy of learning. Visit two high-need elementary classrooms. Observe multimodal, brain-based proven practices in action: witness students’ engagement, listen to their reflections, and observe the outstanding content-based picture books created by each student. Experience the power of transmediation through a simple participatory activity. Then participate in a picture book walk that will demonstrate how to use illustrations in quality pictures books to teach key literary elements. Leave this session with new understandings and new tools to apply Monday morning.

A5/B5  An Interactive Session on Medications for Mental Health Problems in Youth
Dr. David Gardner/Andrea Murphy

This session will aim to answer your questions regarding medications for mental health problems. The presenters will provide a short overview of psychotropic medications and tools and resources that support their informed, safe and effective use. Thereafter, the floor will be open for questions.

A6/B6  “I See What You Mean”
Louise Smith/Danielle Criss

Using Visual Supports and Structure to Support Classroom Success for Students Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
This workshop will provide practical and hands-on information that is appropriate for all teachers. It will include a brief overview of the strengths and challenges that students with a diagnosis of ASD bring to our classrooms. The workshop will focus on the principles of structured teaching and TEACCH methodology and provide a multitude of practical examples of visual supports and programming for individuals across the Autism Spectrum.

A7  The Brain Goes to School: What Science Tells Us About Student Achievement
Erin Walsh

Recent discoveries in brain science are revolutionizing many fields, including education. Erin Walsh connects the dots between brain science and the classroom to show how educators can improve students’ concentration and focus, boost energy, and enhance retention and creativity. Erin Walsh brings science to the art of teaching. Topics include:
Focused versus reactive attention

  • Working memory and learning: “The Rule of Seven”
  • Self discipline: the key to school success
  • Exercise, nutrition, and sleep as a brain boosters
  • Technology and the brain

A8  “Why Budget?”
Steve Richard

We start with the basics of why people should budget and some of the considerations and tools you should employ when setting up a budget. We talk about the value of savings and some of the products available like RRSP’s, TFSA’s, and other savings products. We then move into preparing for the longer term and talk about structuring debt properly, when to use term loans or lines of credit or mortgages. Then we discuss retirement planning, annuities, and CPP and strategies for the timing of when you should consider drawing these compared to accessing savings to maximize tax benefits. We wrap up with a Q&A but have found that people like asking questions as we go through the presentation.

A9  Classroom Mental Health- Secondary
Allyson Mac Kay/Kathryn White/Nick Cardone

Teachers are not mental health clinicians…but they are considered the front line in helping detect, diagnose, manage and even treat their students who are living with a mental illness. With minimal mental health training from most teacher-education programs, it is no wonder both students and teachers are overwhelmed with the range of realities facing them when mental illness presents. Since 1 in 5 children and adolescents are said to be living with a mental illness, based on class size averages, teachers can expect 5-6 students to require additional support in ways teachers were not trained to provide for. This interactive session could be considered an ‘Emergency First Aid for the Classroom’ – covering basic vocabulary, presentations to be aware of, community networks to be aware of, how to create supportive communities in schools, and strategies on how to work with community agencies who work with those same students.

B - Sessions

B1  Creating Captivating Classrooms: Maximizing Student Engagement
Dr. John Almarode

Getting students engaged in learning and keeping them engaged from start to finish can be a significant battle in today's classrooms. So how do we do it? How do we get our students to the edge of their seats for new learning? Recent brain research suggests what we, as teachers, have believed for years: we don't pay attention to boring things. This exciting, out of your seat session looks at the key "must have" ingredients for maximum engagement in your classroom — starting with captivating participants and discovering what grabs the brain's attention, making it thirsty for new learning. Then, experience the necessary steps to activating the brain so it's "rocking and rolling" in the classroom. Finally, keeping the brain engaged requires an invigorating experience that keeps students coming back for more . . . each and every day!

B2  Peer Relations of Children with Exceptionalities
Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt

A bias exists whereby the support focus for children with exceptionalities is often on their cognitive and physical development with far less attention and concern paid to their social and emotional development. This paucity of attention is curious in that social/emotional development are inextricably linked to physical well-being and cognition. It is clear from the research literature that children with exceptionality have the same need as typically developing children to form healthy relationships with peers. Indeed, the desire for interpersonal attachment is a fundamental human motivator that is not diminished in the presence of an exceptionality.

B3  Teaching the Gifted Introverted Learner
Dr. Lisa Kaenzig

The majority of the regular population is extroverted while the majority of gifted/talented learners are introverts. New strategies for approaching instruction and development for gifted introverts reveal that different learning environments and teaching strategies are better for these learners. Workshop participants will learn specific strategies for helping gifted introverts (and all gifted learners) maximize their potential for high achievement.

B4  Picture This: Engaging All Learners Through an Interdisciplinary Multimodal Project-Based Approach to Literacy Learning
Beth Olshansky

True interdisciplinary, multimodal curriculum integration provides students with the opportunity to cross disciplines as well as think in multiple modalities. For students who struggle, providing concrete visual and tactile tools for thinking and expressing their ideas can make all the difference. Two lively DVDs will showcase an innovative, proven project-based, integrated curricular approach to teaching writing designed to engage all learners, teach to the standards, strengthen essential literacy skills, and increase content knowledge. Experience the power of translating images to words, and then of simultaneously processing the two. Experience what happens when a third modality is added. Learn about documented gains in reading, writing, and visual literacy of at-risk learners. Then witness a brief overview of several multimodal integrated curriculum projects in one high-need elementary classroom.

B5  An Interactive Session on Medications for Mental Health Problems in Youth
See A5 for description.

B6  “I See What You Mean”
See A6 for description.

B7  The Character Challenge: Nurturing Resilience and Citizenship in the 21st Century
Erin Walsh

Fostering honesty, integrity, respect, courage, compassion and kindness in our youth is more important than ever. Erin Walsh will describe the critical connections between character and academic achievement and the challenge of building character in a culture that promotes “me first” and breeds a corrosive sense of entitlement. She will explain how our distorted notion of self-esteem and misguided efforts and constant praise have harmed our youth and what we must do to foster resilience and citizenship.

B8  Wellness for Members
Fran Reddy Chisholm

In the current climate of increasing work demands, members are challenged to develop a balance between care for others and care for themselves.  This session will focus on the concerns expressed by members using the NSTU Counselling Services and on strategies for promoting self-care, well-being and resilience.

B9  Classroom Mental Health- Elementary
Cléo Burke/Denise Murnaghan
This session will examine emerging mental health issues as they pertain to students grades K-7. It will include exploring how to work collaboratively across family, health and educational settings. It will outline the referral process to mental health services and what services are available for this population.

C - Sessions

Repeat Sessions – See  A1, A2, A3, A4

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