To receive CEU or SEMI credit, when you click on "Attend Session", you will need to ensure to register on your own device; if you are with a group of people in one room, you will need to register on another device (tablet, phone, laptop, etc) so we have YOUR name and email. If this is not done, we will be unable to award you the credit.

MARCH 4, 2021







4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Gerry Brooks

Personal Climate and Culture...It’s Up to You!
Gerry uses his videos to develop a strategy for making the workplace a pleasant place where faculty, administrators, and support staff all maintain mutual respect, regardless of personal differences, resulting in more efficient and fulfilled workers.
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Gerry Brooks has been an educator for 25 years, beginning as a third grade teacher in Palm Bay, FL. He earned his masters in administration and has been an elementary principal for 15 years. Originally using humorous videos to encourage his staff, Gerry has become a national encourager for teachers through social media and speaking events. He is a voice for teachers, but his passion is leading others to be responsible for their own personal climate and culture in the workplace. His book, “Go See the Principal,” outlines strategies for taking on this responsibility. Gerry and his wife, Kelly, have 3 adult children and live in Lexington, KY.

MARCH 5, 2021







8:00 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.

Robin Lemonis
Dr. Jennifer L. Boykin

Welcome / Introductions

Keynote A

8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Dr. Chuck Beningo

Teaching...A Game of Inches
Teaching...A Game of Inches is filled with music, educational research, short video clips and real-world scenarios that is designed to celebrate teachers and to challenge them to continue to fight for the needs of all children.

This high-energy presentation has been shared with thousands of teachers and focuses on the importance of teaching with passion and empathy. Most importantly, teachers will leave this presentation with several tips to remind them that it's the little things that make all the difference.
Chuck Beningo C

Chuck Benigno is currently an associate professor at William Carey University. Prior to this positon, Dr. Benigno was the superintendent of the Laurel Schools and has also served as vice president for Student Services at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and principal of North Forrest High School and West Jones Middle School.

He has been named Who’s Who Among American Teachers, Coach of the Year and was the 2014 Mississippi “Superintendent of the Year”. Dr. Benigno was a participant in the Project Zero Classroom at Harvard University and is the author of Teaching: Excellence or Survival? He has served as a motivational speaker for schools and corporations across the Southeast and he also serves as the Executive Director for PREPS.

Keynote B

8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Dwight Owens

H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Pursue Excellence)
Educators, what you do Matters! This pandemic has put a wrench into the plans for many of us. It's altered the way we do things, but there is HOPE for our educators and our students. Your purpose remains intact.

Realizing that educators need encouragement too, H.O.P.E is a motivational platform designed to show educator appreciation in a unique, uplifting way. This session will deliver motivation and empowerment for our beloved special educators and beyond. It will show educators how to pursue excellence in and outside of the classroom, despite an ongoing pandemic.

H.O.P.E will be delivered by Dwight Owens, a former Special Educator whose career was cut short after being hit by a drunk driver on the way to school in 2005. Despite being physically paralyzed as a result of the accident, Dwight turned tragedy to triumph and has been nationally recognized as a disability advocate and motivational speaker. Be prepared to be inspired, learn, laugh, and even cry.
Dwight Owens - Photo 2 copy

They say if you want to make God smile, tell him you have a plan. Dwight’s plan was to live his dream; teach math and coach football; and build a comfortable life for himself. Fate had other things in store for him.

In 2005, at the age of 23, Dwight was in a horrible car accident. A 72-year-old drunk driver crashed into Dwight’s vehicle, and his life was changed forever. Dwight had broken bones, punctured lungs, a broken back, a severed spinal cord, and a life time of paralysis ahead of him. He is permanently paralyzed from the waist down. In fact, Dwight coded immediately after the accident and the doctors gave him no chance to survive. But survive he did, and what could have become a life of depression, self-pity, and bitterness has instead transformed into one of uplifting courage, self-reliance, and forgiveness. After surviving life support and an entire year in the hospital, Dwight even found the strength to forgive the driver and helped to reduce his sentence. He found the courage to turn tragedy into triumph, and he has become a motivational speaker sought after throughout Mississippi and beyond.

Dwight takes service seriously. He speaks at high schools & colleges throughout the U.S on his personalized campaign or tour called “Before You Drink, Think Dwight,” where he brings awareness to alcohol and substance abuse. Dwight has inspired countless thousands, and no doubt saved many lives. He often speaks at jails, before groups of people with disabilities, at schools and municipal gathers, and before rehab groups. He is big on helping others with self-empowerment or value, mentorship, giving hope where needed, teaching leadership, forgiveness, suicide prevention, substance abuse prevention, and helping others realize their own greatness. Dwight is also an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Specialist. He proudly helps companies to implement ADA. They welcome his wisdom and knowledge, and he counsels them on what they need to do to be compliant. He is well known in the disability community as a disability advocate. As a result of Dwight's service, many people with disabilities are active, productive members of their communities. Says Dwight: “There are no guaranties in life, and it can change on a dime. All I know is that you have to face things head on, put them in the best possible light, and help others every chance you get.”

Because of Dwight’s service, in 2010 he was selected for a “Spirit of Service” Award, hosted by Al Roker. In 2011 and in 2017, he was given the Cabot Community Celebrity award. Each above of those awards are national awards given annually for people that excel in volunteer service. In recent years, he has received numerous local and national awards for his service.

Dwight remains active nationally on the speaking circuit. He is also known for his inspirational memoir, “Still Standing.” The book has inspired and given hope to many people. Dwight also writes a weekly blog for empowerment. In addition, he continues to be a disability advocate and more. Twelve years ago, Dwight married Tamika, the love of his life, and the couple had their first child, Brailey Samara Owens, on 12/12/12. Dwight says, “God has a plan for all of us, and we all have challenges to face. He also gives us the strength and resources to overcome those challenges.”

You can learn more about Dwight and his ongoing journey at

Concurrent Sessions


10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Dr. Sarah Seabrook

Supporting Directors of Special Education: Defendable Decisions – Manifestation Determinations and Implementing Behavior Plans
Dr. Seabrook will discuss and provide examples of defending Manifestation Determination decisions. Manifestation Determinations are not based on preconceived ideas about specific disabilities, such as stealing cannot be a manifestation of a SLD student’s disability. Manifestation Determinations are often litigated, and advocates and parents press that the misbehavior was a manifestation of the student’s disability. Implementing Behavior Plans, progress monitoring data collection and data driven revisions of behavior plans will be discussed with Dr. Seabrook. This session will provide examples and opportunities for questions and discussion. She will provide information gathered from her experiences in Mississippi schools providing therapy to students and implementing behavior plans.


10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Missy Tatum

Vizzle: Online Learning for Students with Special Needs
Vizzle is an online learning technology specifically designed for learners with special needs. It has a library of over 15,000 standards-based lessons for PreK-12th grade that teachers can assign to students to address IEP goals/objectives or specific skills. Automatic reporting and data collection make progress monitoring a snap. Vizzle also provides the ability for teachers to customize the program to meet student needs, preferences and accommodations. Built in reinforcers and end-of-lesson games keep students engaged. This session will provide an overview of Vizzle.


10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Christy Hunt

Inclusive Strategies to Transform Teaching
During this session participants will analyze the Professional Growth System (PGS) Teacher Rubric and Special Education Teacher Rubric to identify inclusive strategies that supports all learners in an inclusive environment.


10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Dr. Sara Platt
Dr. Diane Lowry

Creative Tech Ideas You Could Try Tomorrow
This session will focus on no cost ideas that teachers can use in the classroom regardless of format (hybrid, virtual, or in-person instruction). Google Chrome Extensions, Google Jamboard, and Microsoft Flipgrid will be demonstrated. Google Chrome has extensions for accommodations for students with disabilities such as read aloud, audio recording and transcription. Google Jamboard is a free virtual whiteboard that could be used simultaneously with all students participating. Flipgrid allows for students to record presentations or have class discussions outside of the classroom. Classroom examples of these tools will be shared.


11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Bonnie Granger
Phylis Campbell
April Rice

What Administrators and Aspiring Administrators Need to Know
• All things Fiscal – What you need to know • Implementing efficient procedures for setting up and managing the budget, including the procurement process • Working with the Key Players – Tips for good communication and collaboration with district and school administrators on such topics as staffing, compliance requirements, and documentation • Maintenance of Effort – How it should work and the critical need for MSIS data and proper coding of expenditures


11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Tanisha Washington

Identifying and Closing Learning Gaps: Instructional Strategies and Supports That Work
As a result of the worldwide pandemic, we have seen devastating effects on student learning. Learning gaps have always been present; however, they have been intensified due to school closures and loss of traditional instructional time. This affect has an even deeper impact on our students with disabilities. In this session, we will take a deep dive into identification of specific learning gaps and focus on research-based instructional strategies and support to help close these gaps. In particular, we will engage in those instructional strategies that have been proven to work with special populations.


11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Denise Harrison
Dr. Brittany Herrington

One Step at a Time: Ensuring Students with Significant Cognitive Deficits are in their Least Restrictive Environment
This session is designed to provide participants information on how to address the steps in determining a Significant Cognitive Disability (SCD) eligibility criterion and how to effectively use the SCD Determination Guidance Document from the Mississippi Department of Education. This session will discuss the importance of the most appropriate Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for students with a Significant Cognitive Disability, including graduation options and resources.


11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Jim Franklin

Number Line to 10,000,000 and Other Math Manipulatives
Join us for a hands-on presentation by Jim Franklin, teacher of special education from Rome, GA, who invented a number line to help students round numbers up to 10,000,000. View a variety of math manipulative and learn different strategies and tips that address the standards of fractions, decimals, money, elapsed time, capacity, and weight.


12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Robin Hurst
Renee McNeal

Supporting Special Education Directors: Navigating the Storm
This session is designed to support special education directors in their overwhelming responsibilities of developing and designing project applications, submitting state and federal reports, overseeing purchasing and meeting state goals and standards. It will provide support for special education directors in implementing IDEA and State Policies and developing procedures for ensuring compliance, providing training for special and general education teachers to ensure appropriate programming for all students with disabilities.

Effective methods such as assessment and data coaching, curriculum and instructional supports will be discussed with service delivery including virtual and onsite training, coaching, modeling, consultation and technical assistance.


12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Christy Hunt

Connecting the Dots: Strategies for Inclusive Leadership
Mississippi educators commit to providing high-quality public education to every child. There are persistent gaps in the quality of educational opportunities available to Mississippi students creating a call to action. As students' needs become increasingly diverse, the importance of fostering inclusive learning environments continues to grow. Inclusive philosophies frame a system of accessible instruction and support that generate positive outcomes for everyone. The emphasis is systemic implementation from the district and school levels, where leadership bears as much responsibility for student success as educators. The session is designed to promote educator growth and development by strengthening inclusive practices to meet all students' needs in inclusive schools. This session will provide an overview of systemic inclusive practices, collaborative planning for systemic change, and building change around student feedback.

The session will focus on strengthening inclusive practices. Participants will be given time to reflect on current knowledge and implementation in connection with the professional growth system. Analyze ways to promote collective planning and shared responsibility. Discuss strategies to utilize student feedback to develop instructional practices based on individual needs.


12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Selina Merrell

Understanding Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
This session will provide participants with an overview of the characteristics of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, the impact of the adult's response on behaviors, and evidence-based strategies and interventions.


12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Alison Oliver
Christine Lewis Pugh

Reach Me to Teach Me: Plug Into the 4 Cs for Learning
Keeping students engaged and interested in their learning can be a challenge for teachers in today’s virtual or traditional classroom. In order for students to become independent thinkers and buy into the value of learning, the “4Cs” must be a part of their everyday routine. Join this session to learn about the "4Cs" for 21st Century Learning: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. The objective of this session is to learn how technology plays an important role in building these skills for students with disabilities and how teachers can integrate the 4Cs into their instructional practices with confidence.


12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Dr. Jonte’ (JT) Taylor

Doing STEM Stuff: Including Your Students in STEM
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) instruction provides a means for developing skills needed for independent living and increased quality of life. STEM education helps create careful consumers of information related to our everyday lives. Developing a student’s STEM literacy, equips students with the background knowledge and skills to make decision whether through work or personal life. This includes students of all types regardless of strengths and challenges. This session will provide attendees with effective strategies and additional considerations (e.g., strength-based teaching , collaboration, assessment) for STEM teaching specifically for students with disabilities.


1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Hope Ratcliff

There’s No ‘I” in Inclusion: Centering Learner Voice for Justness During the UDL Implementation Process
Systemic change is a daunting concept for any group or organization to confront. UDL implementation is no different. That challenge is multiplied when the people at the center of the process are not directly affected by the results. In this presentation, current systemic models of inclusion will be examined, deconstructed and rebuilt using the UDL Implementation Process as a guide with learner voices directly affected by the change as our leaders in the movement toward just educational opportunity and experience for ALL students.


1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Missy Tatum

Kurzweil 3000: Literacy Support Wherever Learning Happens
Kurzweil 3000 is a text-to-speech literacy technology that supports reading, writing, learning and test-taking. Students with complex learning needs can access a wide range of learning tools including talking dictionaries, highlighters, notes, graphic organizers, audible spell check, word prediction and more. Kurzweil 3000 makes all content accessible anytime, anywhere. This session will provide an overview of this comprehensive learning and literacy platform.


1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Dr. Courtney Berry
Jeanne Bonds

Not (Just) This, But That - Meeting the Needs of All Learners
How can we move beyond basic accommodations to create opportunities for students to experience deeper levels of thinking? Students with special education needs often struggle to access and engage in the classroom. Oftentimes, accommodations can reduce the rigor or fail to provide the intended access to learning. For example, for a student with lower working memory, it’s not just about reducing the problems but providing the definitions. In this session of “Not (Just) This, But That….”, two national presenters will provide an understanding of how to match student skills with practical classroom applications in order to enhance student learning.


1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Meaghan Elizabeth Oliver

Let’s Get Techy!! Transforming Teachers’ Toolbox to Optimize Instructional Time
This presentation aims to equip teachers with a collection of technologies to support student learning and increase engagement. Student engagement is critical in maximizing instructional time both traditionally and virtually. The objective of this session is to show teachers how to guide students learning by encouraging them to use technologies as cognitive tools and in meaningful ways to.


1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Kathy Dickerson
Paula Cox

STOP! Don’t Say “THAT” in An IEP Meeting…Say “THIS” Instead.
Join us for a fun, interactive discussion on conduction compliant and successful IEP meetings. Session will include “things” to avoid saying AND things that should be said at EVERY meeting. Very specific examples of “HOW” to share data- including placement, deficits, progress or the lack of progress, etc. – at IEP meetings. Our goal is for parent(s)/guardian(s) to leave IEP meetings “feeling” education, included, respected and empowered.

Closing Session

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.

Robin Lemonis
Dr. Jennifer L. Boykin

Closing Session
MS-CEC Business Meeting
Door Prizes