FCSN // Newsletter // 2014 // Winter 2014 // Register Now for “Visions of Community” 2015
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Register Now for “Visions of Community” 2015

girl_chairThe Federation is pleased to announce its annual statewide conference “Visions of Community, a Conference for Parents of Children with Special Needs and the Professionals Who Serve Them” will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

keynotesThis year’s keynote presentation will feature Dr. Joseph Petner and Dr. William Henderson. Well-known for their innovative approaches to creating whole school inclusive communities, the two not so retiring former principals will use music, anecdotes, and data to share their experiences and perspectives for improving opportunities and outcomes for students with disabilities. They will take a look back to the early days of Special Education laws and the how those laws played out to current practical strategies for teaching and including students with disabilities both in school and in the community setting. The presenters have a combined 90 years of experience as educators and will inspire conference participants with their shared vision of community.

Dr. Petner has worked in public education for 47 years. He began his career in teaching in 1967 in the Philadelphia Public Schools. He earned a doctorate from the University of North Dakota’s Center for Teaching and Learning in 1974. That same year, Joe joined the Cambridge Public Schools as a staff and program developer for its Follow Through Program, a sequel to Head Start, under the instructional sponsorship of Bank Street College in New York. He was director of the Cambridge Follow Through Program from 1979-1989. In 1989 he became Principal of the Haggerty Elementary School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a position he retired from in July 2007. Joe currently is working for MADESE’s District and School Assistance Center serving the Greater Boston Region. Dr. Petner has been recognized by and received awards from many educational and disability organizations for his outstanding work as an educator and administrator. Joe has collaborated with Dan Habib, filmmaker, on his award winning documentary, Including Samuel.

Dr. William Henderson began his career in education as a middle school teacher in the Boston Public Schools in 1973 and later became an assistant principal at a two-way, bilingual school. In 1989, Bill was appointed principal of the O’Hearn Elementary School with a mandate to include students with significant disabilities. The school gained widespread recognition for inclusion, academic progress, arts, and family involvement. Upon his retirement in 2009, the O’Hearn was renamed the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School, and it now serves students in 2 campuses from early childhood through grade 11. Bill continues to advocate for inclusion through consulting and by presenting at universities and conferences. His book, The Blind Advantage, describes challenges and offers practical strategies for developing successful inclusive schools.

After a morning of inspirational and energetic presentations, including the annual recognition of individuals receiving the 2015 Community Partnership Awards, participants can attend breakout workshops which will include topics on special education advocacy, managing challenging behaviors, transition to adulthood for students with disabilities, inclusion, policy initiatives, assistive technology, healthcare, bullying, parent leadership opportunities, early childhood, autism and more. In addition to the more than 30 sessions in English, a full conference strand of many of these topics will be offered in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Somali, and Vietnamese.

The Visions of Community Exhibit Hall typically features over 75 vendors and resources for families. The conference is a wonderful opportunity for families and professionals to network and learn about important resources.


Free bus transportation from 5 locations across the state, a limited number of childcare slots, and interpreting services will be available for the conference. Registration opens on January 5th with an early bird registration fee of $75. A limited number of partial scholarships for families of children with special needs will be available and can be applied for when registration begins. Please check the conference website, www.fcsn.org/voc2015 for further details.

***Joe and Bill’s hoto courtesy of Melanie McLaughlin***