Supporting LGBTQ+ Students’ Well-Being**

In this session, Dr. Ramirez will discuss GLSEN’s new survey findings and best practices for LGBTQ+ identified students. She will also provide an overall of current terms related to LGBTQ+ populations and how to help create safe and affirming spaces for LBTQ+ identified students. (CEU Eligible)

Milka Ramirez, Ph.D, LCSW, PEL received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work in Philosophy of Social Work. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed School Social Worker in the state of Illinois, and is the Associate Dean and Director of the MA program in Counseling and Psychotherapy at the Institute for Clinical Social Work, in Chicago. Dr. Ramirez has over 15 years of experience in diverse settings such as: schools, child welfare, juvenile criminal justice settings, substance abuse, community practice, and mental health. She maintains a small private practice with older adults experiencing depression, anxiety, and trauma. In 2006 she co-founded En Las Tablas Performing Arts in Chicago to provide a safe and affirming space for self-expression, grounded in social-emotional learning with a trauma-informed lens. Dr. Ramirez has written extensively on LGBTQ+ populations and has presented locally and nationally on topics related to LGBTQ+ populations.

The Sensory Impact on Learning and Behavior

Participants in this session will learn about red flags for development from an occupational therapists perspective, looking at sensory processing, motor development, and emotions. Kathy will also discuss how a strong foundation of sensory processing and integration of the body is important for academic learning and regulating emotions.

Kathy Flentge is a pediatric occupational therapist, working at Amy Zier & Associates, where she "plays with a purpose" to support children and families. As an occupational therapist at AZ+A, Kathy looks at the whole child and family through a sensory processing and emotional lens and uses a relationship based approach to help shift patterns and behavior. She graduated from Utica College of Syracuse University in 2001 and has experience working with children in Early Intervention, schools, hospitals, home care, and private clinic settings. Kathy also holds a professional DIR-FCD Model certificate in Emotional, Social and Cognitive Development through Profectum and spoken internationally as well as within Chicago. 

Professional Connection: Collaboration between Educators and Therapists

Creating a sense of collaboration and community when working with professionals from many different settings with many different areas of expertise can be challenging. In this session, Dana will address these challenges from a multi-disciplinary lens and discuss strategies to create a collaborative environment to best support students with diverse needs.

Dana Hutchins, MS, DT is the Clinical Program Director at LEEP Forward, a multidisciplinary therapeutic clinic. She is practicing Developmental Therapist with a Master’s in Child Development from the Erikson Institute. Prior to being at LEEP Forward, Dana was a certified general education teacher in the South Carolina public schools.

The Private/Public Connection: Evaluation, Documentation, and Service

This session will provide information on the connection between private and public schools in relation to the law and special education. Jacki will cover the law and the process of how evaluation looks in the City of Chicago, discuss the type of documentation students may have, and what services are provided with varied plans. 

Jacki Neistat is a Learning Specialist at the Ancona School and has been working with children ages 3-18 for the last ten years. Her undergraduate degree is in Elementary and Special Education and her masters is in Special Education. Jacki also has a private tutoring business that focuses on learning strategies, math, reading, writing, and executive function. As the leader of the Student Support Team, Jacki teaches and also supports families and students as they navigate the public school evaluation process.

Just Education or: School Really Shouldn’t Suck as Much as it Obviously Does (For Most)

Learning is truly one of life’s great joys. Yet many find school to be a completely miserable experience. What gives? This session will explore the authoritarian tendencies, rotten history, and irrational incentives that conspire to create the boring, ridiculous, mindless, and self-defeating school system that most people are subjected to. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Jack Murphy has been a teacher in Chicago for 9 years, mostly at an alternative high school serving students aged 16-21 who have dropped out of the Chicago Public School system. He holds a Masters degree in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University and has self-published two collections of poetry and flash fiction.