Author: Dina Gentry | El Dorado County Office of Education

More than 250 educators from across California attended the annual EDCOE Charter SELPA Inspiration to Action Symposium held in San Diego on Thursday, February 16. This year’s theme, Breaking Barriers, focused on system-wide collaboration and practices to meet the needs of students with disabilities. EDCOE Associate Superintendent, David M. Toston, noted, “When we begin planning for this event, we look at current trends and challenges within our educational system. We look for those who are influencing education and how we can learn from them. The fact that this room gets bigger year-after-year is a testament to our incredible speakers and the leadership shown by each of you.”

The California Department of Education Director of Special Education, Kristin Wright, was the featured speaker in the morning and told a personal story about raising her daughter who has disabilities. She explained her experiences and how they translate to the work she does at the state level, “It’s important for us to move from a separatist culture to inclusive. Every child is in general education, and special services are a support component.”

The keynote speaker, Randy Lewis, is the former Sr. Vice President of Walgreens and pioneered a disability employment model at Walgreens’ distribution centers that resulted in ten percent of its workforce consisting of people with disabilities. This initiative is being rolled out nationwide in Walgreens stores across America, changing the lives of thousands, and is a model for other employers in the U.S.

Along with distinguished presenters, the conference included several breakout sessions that empowered educators through topics such as leveraging a growth mindset to support students with disabilities, multi-tiered systems of support – integrated implementation for academic and behavior success, and inspiring an organizational culture that benefits students, educators, and community stakeholders.

After the event, David recognized his team, “Each year, I am amazed by the impressive event that our team works so hard to produce. It would not be possible without them.”

The El Dorado County SELPA and statewide Charter SELPA provide services and support to schools that serve students with disabilities. While the El Dorado County SELPA focusses attention on county-wide programs and school districts, the Charter SELPA provides guidance and support to almost 300 charter schools throughout California.

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