Special education conference inspires local teachers

PUSD Special Education Teachers Linda Gay, left, of Quincy’s Special Day Preschool, and Jennifer Kimball from Quincy Elementary, enjoyed motivational workshops and speakers at the fourth annual Inclusion Collaboration State Conference in San Jose on Oct. 25-27. Photo submitted

Two special education teachers with the Plumas Unified School District found inspiration and encouragement at the fourth annual Inclusion Collaboration State Conference held in San Jose on Oct. 25 through 27.

Jennifer Kimball from Quincy Elementary School’s Alder Street campus attended the event with colleague Linda Gay who teaches the Quincy Special Day Preschool at PUSD’s Pioneer School campus on Mill Creek Road.

Kimball is a K-6 education specialist for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Gay’s class is being taught this year as a “reverse inclusion” program where special-education preschoolers are learning and growing together with typically developing preschoolers in a positive and encouraging environment.

Hosted by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, the conference theme was “Building Bridges for Equity: Engaging ALL Learners” and promoted inclusive practices for all students, working to ensure that children with special needs have access to high-quality learning opportunities alongside their peers.

The three-day event offered opportunities to learn about evidence-based practices for the education and care of children both with disabilities and without, from birth through 12th grade.

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Topics ranged from autism and culturally responsive teaching to the impact of traumatic injury on brain development and positive behavioral interventions, to name a few.

Kimball and Gay reported the speaker lineup was impressive with presentations from the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Special Education Programs, and a senior director of research and development.

Of particular interest were additional talks given by an education writer and literacy advocate as well as a blind author who survived 9/11, having walked down 78 flights of stairs with his guide dog. The conference closed with a performance by the Dream Achievers, a band comprised of musicians with autism.

“This conference experience was truly inspiring,” Kimball remarked.