A ONEder-ful Day! ONEder’s “Promoting Leadership in Special Education” Conference

By: Jamie Lupia

Over the years, I’ve attended my share of conferences, seminars, talks, and workshops and have come to recognize some of the positive elements that make such events successful. ONEder’s first annual conference on promoting leadership for the success of students with disabilities was filled with many such positive elements and opportunities. It was indeed well worth attending. When I saw that the program featured high caliber speakers and presenters Alice Parker, Alexa Posny, Johnny Collett, and Kaylan Connally, I knew the event would be packed with useful information, helpful ideas, and would be well worth my time. I wasn’t disappointed.

The conference began with a warm welcome from Jon Izak, ONEder’s founder and president, who described how his own personal quest to help his brother planted the seeds of invention and innovation to assist others with disabilities. John’s welcoming address was followed by Issac Zablocki, the founder of ReelAbilities, an organization that, through its film festival, aims “to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities.” Issac presented a screening of the film Dancing on Wheels featuring dancer Kitty Lunn. Just as amazing as the film was the personal appearance of Kitty who spoke and participated in a lively question and answer session. As a dancer, teacher, and advocate, Kitty fit the bill as a perfect keynote speaker. Her passion for her craft, along with her strong advocacy, served as a reminder of why the work ONEder is undertaking in education is of such importance.
Dr. Alice Parker and Dr. Alexa Posny presented a comprehensive introduction and review of the latest Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL 2015) adopted by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration.

Their many years of experience helped to provide critical insight into the latest standards while highlighting the effectiveness of strong, informed, and compassionate leadership with regard to those with disabilities. They also shared additional viewpoints in an insightful question and answer session. Johnny Collett and Kaylan Connally also participated and shared their wisdom with conference attendees. A brief workshop got everyone involved to discuss and share their thoughts on the current standards, with the information that flowed around the room helping us focus on some of the work and challenges that are ahead.

A final capstone to the conference was a reception that was structured to allow for direct and meaningful networking with all of those who attended. I was pleased to discover that the conversations I participated in were just as interesting and thought provoking as the presentations at the conference. I look forward to future engagement with the many helpful and knowledgeable contacts I made at the conference.

ONEder’s conference was indeed ONEder-ful in every way, and I left feeling inspired, informed, engaged and uplifted as I continue my own work as an educator, and advocate.

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