Diversity Symposium

Thank you to all who joined us for the 2019 Diversity Symposium! Check back here in the coming months for more information about next year’s Symposium. 

Many Paths to Success: The Diversity of Learning

The 7th annual Diversity Symposium took a deep dive into the diversity of learning. Experts in education and the helping professions lead sessions on a variety of topics focused on ensuring success for all learners, both in and out of the classroom. 

Registration Information

Check back here in the coming months for registration information for the 2020 Diversity Symposium. 

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Peggy Mason, Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Chicago. 

After 25 years studying the cellular mechanisms of pain modulation, Dr. Mason’s current work focuses on the biological basis of empathy and helping. A self-proclaimed “neuroevangelist,” Dr. Mason tweets as @NeuroMOOC and blogs at http://thebrainissocool.com. In addition to her work at the University of Chicago, Dr. Mason also teaches Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life, a massively open online course (MOOC) on Coursera. 


Event Highlights

  • A special kids track for students 3-10 years old will allow young learners to engage with the theme through art, dance, story time, and social skills practice. Students over 10 years old are invited to join the Symposium.

  • Panel lunch and Q&A featuring many of the Symposium’s presenters and other experts in the helping professions.

  • Stay on top of everything from school and extracurricular activities to laundry and dishes: Ancona parent and alum, Taylor Marsh, will be on-hand to provide 1-on-1 sessions to help you create and maintain a planning and organizational system for your family. 

Closing Plenary Session

Why Sleep Matters and How to Improve It

Dr. Lisa Medalie, PsyD, CBSM

In the Symposium’s closing plenary session, Dr. Medalie will explain the myriad reasons why sleep is important for children. She will discuss common sleep problems in children, focusing on insomnia, as well as evidence-based solutions for sleep problems in children. Lisa will also present information about a technology-based interface called DrLullaby. Attendees will learn how they can get involved as a free user of DrLullaby while we are collecting research data.

Dr. Lisa Medalie is a behavioral sleep medicine specialist and the Director of the Pediatric Insomnia program at the University of Chicago. She is one of less than 20 board-certified and formally trained pediatric insomnia specialists in the world. Lisa trained at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School, and has been in the sleep field for over 20 years.

Breakout Sessions

Breakout Session 1

Harmonizing Mind, Body, and Soul: Essential Oils for Your Practice**

In this session, Stephanie will provide participants with a brief overview of essential oils and how they can be implemented as a tool to treat ADHD and anxiety in the classroom, at home, or in your therapy practice. (CEU eligible)

Stephanie Pazmino is a third-year doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision Program at Argosy University. She is also a Counseling Intern at the Ancona School for the 2019-2020 school year.

Play, Academics and Social-Emotional Development

Join Erin for a session that will discuss the importance of play and how it affects a child’s social-emotional development and academic success.

Erin Anderson graduated from St. Louis University in 1998 and has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist specializing in pediatrics for almost 20 years. Erin has worked in various clinical and educational environments and in 2004 she established her own private practice – Erin Anderson and Associates. Erin has spoken to many schools and conferences, and has given webinars all over the Chicagoland area. Her private practice specializes in pediatric occupational therapy, working in the areas of development of motor skills and sensory processing.

Diverse Insights into Diverse Learning

This round-table session will focus on the hidden side of diverse learners and their education. Many key questions will be discussed, including: How do students experience their time in school and in various parts of the building? How do care providers navigate an oftentimes confusing job? What does it look like when a teacher doesn’t have help in their classes? How does home-life affect student performance? 

Taylor Mock is the Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the Head at the Ancona School. Previously, she taught computer science, served as a one-on-one paraprofessional at the middle and high school levels, and taught French, art (2 & 3-D), and dance in extracurricular environments. She has also worked as a school social media manager and photographer. Taylor has a BA from Earlham College in Comparative Languages & Linguistics/French & Francophone Studies.

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Educator: Implications for Teaching and Learning in Diverse Classrooms

Using vignettes and short case studies, Sadia will discuss the impact of childhood trauma on the educational and social-emotional development of students in elementary classrooms and how teachers can identify signs of trauma and then effectively address their students’ social-emotional and learning needs through a variety of curricular and environmental considerations. Collaboratively, participants in this session will identify what effective tools can be used in the classroom to create a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.

Dr. Sadia Warsi is a special education professor at National Louis University, and has been an educator for 20 years. Her teaching and research includes social-emotional development of students with disabilities, incorporating children’s literature on social justice and global citizenship into teacher education, and trauma-informed teaching for pre-service and in-service teachers.

Differentiation, Accommodations, and the Parent/Teacher Relationship

This session will explore the use of differentiation and accommodations in the classroom as well as navigating the relationship between parents and teachers.

Meagan Harlow is a Learning Behavior Specialist (LBSI). She obtained a BA in Elementary Education and Special Education from Manchester College (now Manchester University) and a Masters degree in Technology in Education from National Louis University. Meagan taught for 8 years as an LBSI at The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School and currently works as a full-time Learning Specialist at Psychoeducational Resource Services. Meagan specializes in working with students with diverse learning and emotional needs as well as supporting students as they develop their emotional regulation and executive functioning skills.

Breakout Session 2

Helping Children within a School Setting to Navigate Loss After the Death of a Loved One**

Most children experience the death of a family member or friend by the time they complete high school. The loss, and resultant sadness, can significantly impact a child’s social and emotional health, as well as their ability to learn at school. As such, it is essential that those that work with children are equipped to help children understand and manage the bereavement process. This seminar works to help school personnel and professionals feel better prepared and comfortable with assisting their students to cope with death and provide the necessary support and resources during such a critical time in their lives. The presentation will review a child’s capacity to understand death through a developmental perspective, typical reactions to a loss and examples of how it may manifest within a school setting, activities to utilize with individuals and groups of students, and working closely with families and teachers to support a child. (CEU eligible)

Renee Raap is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who primarily works as an individual psychotherapist at her private practice seeing mostly children and their families. She also works as a psychotherapist, consultant, and trainer for Barr Harris Children’s Grief Center. Renee earned her Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Chicago and then later completed the Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy training program at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. She has worked in a variety of settings, including community mental health centers, residential treatment, public schools, and nonprofit organizations and has provided individual, group and family therapy, case management, consultation, and clinical supervision.

Executive Function: Ours and Our Kids

This session will redefine executive function and take a look at individual functional practice as well as how we prepare others (our kids) to engage with the world and develop effective strategies.

Liz Iverson is an educator, parent, and advocate for equity. She teaches seventh and eighth-grade Humanities at Ancona and serves as the middle school division head. Over the past twelve years, she has learned with and supported children between the ages of two and 15. She has a Masters in Education from Bank Street College in New York and a degree in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on Urban Studies from NYU.

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.

Relationships, Community, and Why it Works: Insights from the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School

Pete and Kristin, both leaders at the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School, will present on the therapeutic impact of relationships, what “mileu therapy” is, and dispel myths and stigmas associated with students with emotional problems. They will also lead a panel discussion on the landscape of residential treatment and therapeutic schools.

Pete Myers is Co-Executive Director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School. He has spent most of his professional career at the O-School and has broad experience in a variety of diverse therapeutic environments. Pete’s education and training is in clinical psychology. He holds a bachelor’s and earned his master’s at the University of Chicago, while working at the O-School. He earned his doctorate from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

Kristin Friesen is a licensed clinical social worker and director of admissions at the O-School. She has worked for nearly 15 years assessing students and families for therapeutic and residential services and connecting them to various resources. Kristin earned an undergraduate degree in social work from Goshen College followed by a master’s degree (MSW) in social work from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. 

The Impact of Language on Learning

Language is everywhere and plays a crucial role in the learning process. Participants will gain an understanding of the scope of practice of a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). The five areas of language will be covered, specifically as it connects to academic success. Learning is a social process and requires effective use and understanding of language. “Speech” services cover more than just “fixing R”! 

Sarah Scheurich is a Licensed Speech Language Pathologist who has been providing speech and language services since 2008 in schools, clinics, and privately. She currently works at Hyde Park Day School. Sarah has both a Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a Masters in School Leadership and Administration.

Breakout Session 3

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.

**Breakout session eligible for professional counselor continuing education credit. Breakout sessions are subject to change. 

About the Diversity Symposium

Ancona welcomes professionals, parents, school leadership, students, and community members to this day-long event. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. A special student track will allow young learners to engage with the theme via sessions and activities geared especially for them.

The annual Diversity Symposium honors the Ancona School’s longstanding commitment to social justice and multicultural education by bringing noted scholars and activists to campus to address issues of diversity and identity.