PA Community on Transition Conference

2018 Session Descriptions & Handouts

  • May 11th, 2018
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(2018 PA Community on Transition Conference Brochure)

Please note: Session handouts will be posted as they become available.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 – Planning Today for a Winning Tomorrow: Purposeful Planning

Opening Keynote Address: 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

KN1. From Disability to Possibility: The Power of an Inclusive Life

An effective transition and inclusive life starts in school! Focusing on the best practices of inclusive education, collaboration and creating an innovative support plan, essential tools and processes are highlighted for the purpose of effective person-centered learning and service delivery. Using a person’s dreams, visions, and goals will be emphasized to create effective planning, implementation, and achievement of successful educational and life outcomes. Insights from school to post-school practices will be presented. Real-life learner examples are illustrated and participants are guided into creating a plan for an individual they represent for authentic and meaningful applications that can be utilized immediately.

Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D., Louis University & Creative Culture Consulting LLC

Breakout Session 1 – (10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.)

A1. Caring For Your Loved One with Special Needs – What Every Caregiver Needs to Know

An overview of financial and estate planning for families that have dependents with special needs will be shared. Critical areas of concern such as navigating and maximizing government benefits and considerations for financial and estate planning to ensure that quality of life and lifetime care are maintained will also be addressed.

Pat Bergmaier, 1847Financial

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

A2. Cancelled – Eliminating the Barriers to Employment and Community Involvement

The Chester County Intermediate Unit will highlight programs and resources offered for transition age students. These options are a collaborative effort of community partners, post-secondary education institutions, Career and Technical Education programs, OVR, as well as related services supports through job training, mental health support, and travel training instruction. Supports and training provided to community partners will be previewed.

Patti Ciufetelli, Chester County Intermediate Unit 24
Michelle MacLuckie, Chester County Intermediate Unit 24
Laurie Masino, Chester County Intermediate Unit 24
Sharon Shoemaker, Chester County Intermediate Unit 24
Lisa Tzanakis, Chester County Intermediate Unit 24

A3. Engaging Students with Disabilities with Brain-Based Learning Activities

Active learning supports success at school and work. Participants will design engaging learning activities using six brain-based learning principles. Enhance your teacher/trainer role by incorporating active learning into whatever you do. Sara Gales is a Certified Trainer for Sharon Bowman’s “Training from the BACK of the Room!”

Sara Gales, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

A4. PETS Pittsburgh Panel: Collaborative Pathways to Post Secondary Success

A panel presentation will discuss strategies to plan Pre-Employment Transition Service (PETS) events like those developed by OVR’s Pittsburgh Office for high school students with disabilities aged 14-21 in Allegheny County. Pittsburgh OVR has designed these events to be engaging, hands-on, and interactive to promote career exploration, post-secondary education, and independent living skills.

Brett Glavey, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Ashley Mullen, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Cindy Rosentreter, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)
(Handout 4)
(Handout 5)
(Handout 6)
(Handout 7)
(Handout 8)
(Handout 9)
(Handout 10)

A5. Vision Boards and Self-Awareness: Who Do You See in The Mirror?

“Vision is merely a dream without action.” – Joel Barker. Vision boards are any sort of board or paper where individuals display images that represent whatever they want to be, to do, or to have in their lives. These images can be people, words, phrases, things, or anything individuals feel will create their ideal life and identification of support systems that already exist or may be needed. Vision boards show a link between behavioral health, healthy lifestyles, and transition to promote a successful adult life through self-awareness, self-development, and self-advocacy.

Tamani Love-Molett, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

A6. Beyond Academic Knowledge and Skills

Youth with disabilities need a combination of academic and personal competencies to succeed in postsecondary education and careers but may lack opportunities to develop their personal skills and knowledge. This session offers opportunities to learn what personal competencies contribute to postsecondary and career success and strategies to facilitate competency development.

Jessica Queener, Institute for Educational Leadership

A7. Disability Voting Issues – Access, Assistance and Accommodations

Voting is a key means by which citizens, including those with disabilities, can impact policy at the local, state, and federal levels. Learn what it means for a polling place to be fully accessible. What should a person do if s/he is unable to vote in his/her polling place because it is inaccessible?

Gabe Labella, Disability Rights Pennsylvania

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)

A8. Just Give Him the Whale!

Considering the fascinations, passions, and interest areas of learners, provides powerful new ways of viewing these areas as positive support tools that motivate individuals, improve learning, and assist with meeting person-centered goals. Using authentic student examples, participants will discover how to make the most of fascinations, passions, and interest areas to help learners they support. Areas included will be transition, making life worth living, developing social connections, minimizing anxiety, boosting literacy learning and academic skills, expanding communication skills and much more.

Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D., National Louis University & Creative Culture Consulting LLC

A9. Healthy Relationships: The Youth Perspective

The Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network (PYLN) will utilize their partners to discuss different types of healthy relationships with attendees. Parents and youth will receive tips, engage in discussions about experiences with the Governing Board, and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

A10. Navigating the Physical and Behavioral Health Systems

This panel presentation will provide an overview of the resources available in PA to help coordinate and to navigate the physical and behavioral health systems. Scenarios will be utilized to illustrate the role that each resource can play in supporting youth and families.

Kelly King, The PEAL Center


Breakout Session 2 – (12:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.)

B1. Evolution of Understanding Autism: Preparation for Adulthood

As systems evolve and we learn more about supporting people with autism, our understanding of best practices and approaches to support evolve, as well. Experiences in administering two adult autism programs in Pennsylvania will be shared in an effort to shape what we know about autism and how to best support students with autism in preparation for adulthood. Data and research will also be presented, where applicable, to support concepts and experiences.

Stacy Nonnemacher, Office of Developmental Programs/Bureau of Autism Services

B2. Promoting Self-Determination for a Successful Future

A great deal of research shows the importance of self-determination for students beginning in elementary school through college and life in general. When applied throughout a child’s education, the application of this necessary life skill, yields high-quality learning experiences, enhances knowledge, and improves necessary post-school outcomes as well as personal growth and adjustment needed for life.

Erin Grimm, Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Crystal Vogtsberger, Allegheny Intermediate Unit

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)

B3. SSA Benefits Counseling: What It Means to Your Student’s Future

Benefits counseling is an in-depth discussion with Social Security Administration disability beneficiaries to assist them in understanding their benefits and the effect that earned income may have upon those benefits. Who is eligible under OVR’s program, who should be obtaining this service, and how it can impact benefit status will be explained.

Patricia Vasco, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


B4. Developing a Winning Mindset: Exploring Techniques of Self-Expression

Psychological Services Associates from the Hiram G. Andrews Center will present a variety of strategies related to the autism spectrum compiled through work with young adults. The presentation will emphasize approaches which have been found to be most beneficial in empowering young adults with skills for a winning future.

Kelly Dumm, Hiram G. Andrews Center
Cherylann Falsone, Hiram G. Andrews Center
Kimberly Seigh, Hiram G. Andrews Center
John Stibich, Hiram G. Andrews Center

B5. HGAC’s Year-Round Pre-Employment Transition Opportunities

This session will spotlight the variety of unique pre-employment transition opportunities available to high school students at the Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC). Students can learn how to take advantage of these opportunities as they transition to post-secondary endeavors and professionals can gain insight regarding replication of such programming.

Stacie Andrews, Hiram G. Andrews Center
Kate Kohne, University of Pittsburgh


B6. Transition Councils: Cross-Systems Strategies in a Time of Change

How can local Transition Coordinating Councils facilitate effective understanding and communication among stakeholders from diverse systems to collaborate more effectively as regulations and resources change? A panel of Berks County Transition Coordinating Council members will provide an overview of strategies for facilitating collaborative cross-systems planning. In addition, participants will engage a facilitated discussion related to local collaboration for school-to employment transition. This experience will assist participants to consider similar facilitated cross-systems dialogue through their local Transition Coordinating Council.

Nicki Habecker, Parent
Mary Mazzoni, Berks County Intermediate Unit
Jackie Nagle, Abilities in Motion
Allison Smale, KenCrest EmployNet
Lynn Zale, PA Statewide Community of Practice for Transition

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)

B7. Employment – Let’s Make It Happen! Dressing for Success

Are you graduating soon? A great way to learn about the world of work and make a little extra cash is to get a part-time job. This youth focused session will prepare students for the mock interview session. Attendees will learn about body language and how to dress for success.

Kim Robinson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Melissa Wert-Thrush, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network

B8. iDREAM – Creating a Successful Path to College Transition Curriculum

Post-secondary education programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities have evolved from a dream to an expectation. Planning early is the first step in preparing for college. Information will be presented regarding how the DREAM Partnership has developed the iDREAM P.E.T.S.curriculum which assists educators and students in having a successful transition to post-secondary education.

Jordan Knab, DREAM Partnership
Sherri Landis, DREAM Partnership

B9. Ensuring Successful Outcomes for Transition-Age Youth in PA

During this session, learn about the Pennsylvania Bureau of Special Education’s secondary transition projects, programs, and activities designed to ensure the success
of middle and high school students receiving special education services and supports throughout Pennsylvania.

Hillary Mangis, PaTTAN Pittsburgh


B10. OVR’s Early Reach Initiative-Reach Out and Seize the Pre-Employment Transition Opportunities 2.0

Early Reach is an outreach, education, and consultation endeavor designed to increase student employment outcomes. It is a vital component of OVR’s Pre-Employment Transition Services. Meet the Early Reach Coordinators and discover the transition possibilities for students by learning about Early Reach services offered for students, families, and professionals.

Sara Vogel, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

B11. Managing Stress: Tips and Tricks for Self-Care

Youth Family Partnership Collaborative Session
Youth and family members will learn strategies and techniques for developing and for maintaining healthy lifestyles from the PYLN. The importance of making one’s own health a priority and how self-care can enhance one’s ability to work will be communicated.

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

Breakout Session 3 – (2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

C1. Addressing Eating and Weight Challenges in Children and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Challenges related to eating and weight with a special focus on overeating and obesity that youth and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often experience will be reviewed. Additionally, evidence-based interventions for neuro-typical populations with suggested modifications and applications for individuals with ASD will be discussed.

Erin Edwards, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Jamal Essayli, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Amanda Pearl, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center


C2. Exposing Visually-Impaired Youth (0-21) to Vocational Opportunities that Create a Winning Tomorrow

Pittsburgh Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services (BBVS) staff will discuss a BBVS Continuum of Services between OVR, families, school districts, and employers. BBVS staff will explain how to connect and to expose blind and visually-impaired youth to prevocational, career exploration, career planning, transition, and work-based learning opportunities.

Shannon Austin, Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services
Caroline Hilliard, Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services
Kimberly Robinson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Larry Shock, Bureau Blindness & Visual Services
Diane Whitney, Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)
(Handout 4)

C3. Brain Stem: Investigate Your Elements of Success

BRAIN STEM: Brilliance, Resilience, and Achievement in STEM provides youth opportunities to develop STEM-related skills, to realize their academic potential, and to prepare for future educational aspirations. Youth and young adults will actively participate in a STEM-related activity, develop a plan for post-secondary goals, and participate in a collaborative discussion.

Nicholas Bell, BRAIN Education
Brandon Brown, BRAIN Education
Damon Johnson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
David Miller, BRAIN Education
Carlos Ojeda Jr., CoolSpeak

C4. Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?

Join the Executive Team from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) as they highlight the agency’s accomplishments over the past year and describe the future innovative employment services being developed for transition age youth. Learn about OVR’s leadership role in Employment First and other collaborative efforts with state agencies providing services to transition age students. This is an interactive session where questions, comments and discussion from the audience is encouraged.

Michele Bornman, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Ryan Hyde, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Jill Moriconi, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Joe Strechay, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


C5. Winning Today for a Successful Tomorrow: Here to Now

The Transition Coordinating Council of Allegheny County (TCCAC) and the City of Pittsburgh is a collaborative effort between educators, parents, and agencies serving the 43 school districts and private schools in Allegheny County. The TCCAC was formed in April of 1994 in an effort to promote effective transition for the students with disabilities from school to adult life and to identify the best ways to meet the needs of these individuals in their local communities. Information regarding the importance of this essential collaborative council in Allegheny County and across the state will be shared. Participants will gain an understanding of what it takes to establish a council and thrive through ongoing system changes.

Leslie Corey, The Watson Institute
Erin Grimm, Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Kristen McIntire, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Chris Rodocker, Allegheny County Office of Intellectual Disability


C6. Disability Disclosure: Is It for Me?

As youth transition to adult life, they must make important decisions about disclosure. The 411 on Disability Disclosure guide helps youth and young adults make informed decisions about disclosure. Participants will learn best practices for helping youth and young adults understand their disability, their rights and responsibilities, and to make personal decisions about disclosure.

Jessica Queener, Institute for Educational Leadership

C7. Career Education and Work Standards and General Education

Career Education and Work Standards required by Pennsylvania will be reviewed. The presentation will provide insight from special and general education teachers and counselors to enhance grades 9-12 lesson plans to include career-based experiences. Tips to create meaningful career exploration opportunities will also be provided.

Laura Budd, PA Distance Learning Charter School
Kelly Crooks, PA Distance Learning Charter School
Jamie Desrochers, PA Distance Learning Charter School
Bridget Green, TIPSS, LLC
Mandy Rauenzahn, PA Distance Learning Charter School

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

C8. Smart Homes Made Simple

The focus of this session will be defining and learning about “smart home” technology and how these devices can be integrated into your home and work environments to enhance independence, safety, and quality of life. Funding resources for the acquisition of smart home devices will also be discussed.

Josie Badger, Consultant
Tracy Beck, Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation
Suria Nordin, Ernst & Young
Kirby Smith, SunKirb Idea

C9. So You Want to be a Leader?

The PYLN presents a new game show – So You Want to be a Leader? Governing Board members will lead attendees in a series of activities that will teach and test leadership skills. Individuals and groups will be asked to complete tasks that will test their skills in advocacy, organization, teamwork, communication, and more!

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network


C10. The Power of Youth Led IEPs

When youth lead their own IEP meetings, it changes the conversation! Participants will discuss the importance of sharing dreams and goals, and what works or doesn’t work using video, PowerPoint, flash cards, and other tools. Participants will gain an understanding of the benefits of youth leading their own IEPs and how families can support this.

Kelly King, The PEAL Center
Diane Perry, The PEAL Center


Breakout Session 4 – (4:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.)

D1. Plan for a Winning Career: CTI @ HGAC’s Work-Based Partnerships and Learning Experiences

Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) and the Commonwealth Technical Institute (CTI) staff will highlight CTI’s programming initiatives available to students. Staff will discuss work-based partnerships and learning experiences that give students hands-on experience with employers and mentors to aid in working towards their job goal and subsequent gainful employment.

Karen Bilchak, Hiram G. Andrews Center
Elaine Moxley, Hiram G. Andrews Center


D2. Collaborative Partnerships Between Students, Schools and Community

This session will demonstrate how Smart Futures, an online career planning platform, is working with Pa Virtual Charter School and other schools and agency partners to develop and deliver curriculum and resources to meet all Career Education and Work Standards.

Heidi Bazillian, Pa Virtual Charter School
Lisa Krystofolski, Pa Virtual Charter School
David Mosey, Smart Futures


D3. I Don’t Mind Being Blind: Surviving School and Work in a Sighted World

It’s tough sometimes being the only blind or visually impaired individual in your school or workplace. You may not know the help you can ask for or even know who to ask. Participate in a dynamic discussion with blind and visually impaired professionals about the power of perseverance.

Harriet Go, School District of Philadelphia
Lynn Heitz, Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services
Rebecca Knaub, Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services
Alexander Shay, Bureau of Blindness & Visual Services
Joe Strechay, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

D4. PETS: A Collaborative Approach to Urban Workforce Initiatives

The success of a pilot initiative that used an innovative approach to PETS services creating opportunities for paid summer employment for urban youth with autism will be shared. Learn how supports for youth and young adults were provided inclusively and built the capacity of the agencies involved to develop a more neurodiverse workforce.

Shari Brightful, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Dianne Malley, Drexel University
Randall Rupp, Student Conservation Association
Susan Schonfeld, Community Integrated Services


D5. Using Evidence-Based Strategies to Improve Transition Outcomes

Teachers and transition coordinators will be educated to recognize and to use evidence-based practices identified by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT)
in areas of secondary transition instruction.

LeeAnn Wagner Cica, STRIVE- Autism Transition Consulting and Coaching

D6. Employment – Let’s Make It Happen! Preparing for a Mock Interview

Are you graduating soon? A great way to learn about the world of work and make a little extra cash is to get a part-time job. This youth focused session will prepare students for the mock interview session. Attendees will learn tips to build confidence and be ready to meet employers.

Rob Hodapp, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Kim Robinson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)
(Handout 4)
(Handout 5)

D7. Supporting Students with Significant Disabilities in Planning for Employment: A Closer Look

Case studies of students with multiple significant disabilities, families, and transition teams identifying work strengths as well as support needs to plan for success will be highlighted. This session will explore accommodations to meet post-graduation employment goals in integrated settings. In addition, school district and community collaboration, teaching self-determination and soft skills, and applying best employment preparation practices will be emphasized.

Kathleen Locmelis, Pittsburgh Public Schools
Rachel Whealdon, Pittsburgh Public Schools

D8. Essential Resources for Families: Navigating Secondary Transition

Navigating secondary transition planning with youth 14 years of age and above can be confusing when families do not otherwise have access to essential, user-friendly guidance materials. This session features three resources that are designed to help families and youth chart a learner’s path for career, education, and independent living. The presenters will feature the Planning for the Future Checklist; a compendium of family-friendly one page documents that feature transition essentials; and a website designed for Pennsylvania youth and families that situates cross agency information on secondary transition. The presenters will discuss how the three resources can be used by family members and youth to better inform the transition planning process.

Judy Baker, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
James Palmiero, PaTTAN Pittsburgh


D9. What Happens When the School Bus Stops Coming?

This interactive presentation will explore a holistic, calculated approach of blending and braiding community and financial supports to support goals that are owned and self-directed by the individual with special needs. Through real examples and audience interaction, the process of assembling a team of both family and non-family members to encourage and provide aid to the individual with special needs will be explained.

Michele Leahy, M. Leahy and Associates


D10. The Power of Volunteering: Connecting to Community

The importance of volunteerism and relationship-building for successful outcomes relating to health and wellness, community participation, and employment will be discussed, as well as, practical strategies and tools for successfully matching students with volunteer roles. The creative use of technology and digital portfolios will be highlighted.

Bev Weinberg, Access Services
Rich Levin, Hatboro-Horsham School District

Breakout Session 5 – (8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

E1. Top 10 Skills for Employment Success

Are you a youth who is seeking employment and unsure if you have the skills to be successful on the job? If you are looking to keep your job once you land it, the Top 10 Skills for Employment Success workshop would benefit you!

Carole Kalinowski, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Lavinia Ritter, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


E2. OVR’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Summer Academy: Transition in Action

Learn about OVR’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Summer Academy, a three-week program for deaf and hard of hearing high school students to learn about critical skills needed to transition to a post-secondary educational option. This session identifies what worked, the partners who made it possible, and what’s ahead.

Russ Goddard, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


E3. C.A.S.E. – Community Awareness, Safety & Empowerment for Students with Disabilities

People with disabilities are vulnerable to bullying, harassment, abuse, and even assault. Various self-protection techniques and safety skills will be demonstrated. This session will increase safety awareness and self-protection, particularly in the workplace and community.

Erica Chang, Lackawanna Trail School
Shawn Diggs, World Class Boxing
Kristen Leary, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Lacey Timms, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


E4. Don’t Put the Breaks On Before You Start: Parent to Parent

This session will focus on the reflections of a parent/advocate about the systems of support starting in grade school through high school, what it takes for family members to support and to prepare for transition, and how the family has worked as a team to bolster independence.

Mary Hartley, United Way of Southwestern PA


E5. Pennsylvania’s Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Programs-Inspiring Success!

College is a reality for students with intellectual disabilities. Postsecondary education programs are increasing in Pennsylvania. Participants will learn about Pennsylvania’s eight inclusive programs: Arcadia University, Drexel University, Mercyhurst University OASIS Program, Penn State-Harrisburg, Slippery Rock University, Temple University, West Chester, and Duquesne University.

Robert Arnhold, Slippery Rock University
Sherri Landis, DREAM Partnership
Dianne Malley, Drexel University
Kathy Miller, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
Linda Rhen, Penn-State, Harrisburg

E6. College and Career Pathways in Partnership with Community and Agencies

The School District of Lancaster has established community and agency partnerships to provide unique transition programming for secondary students. Pathway One (Employability/Career Readiness) includes classroom-based instruction related to employability skills and participation in various types of work-based educational experiences. Pathway Two (College/Career) Readiness Transition provides a college campus for half a day through the duration of one college semester with the use of a vocational special education teacher.

Beth Campagna, School District of Lancaster


E7. Employability is More Than a Resume

Importance of hands-on foundational skills is rarely addressed in relation to employment AND to independence. During this interactive session, presenters will discuss foundational skills and engage the audience in brainstorming ways the skills can be incorporated at school, in the community, or at home to prepare students for success after high school.

Diane Mooney, Goodwill of Southwestern PA
Holly Opatick, Goodwill of Southwestern PA

E8. Cancelled – From Toys to Tools: Mobile Technology to Support Full Citizenship of Young Adults

During this highly interactive session, participants will discuss the status of the information and technology world, along with the factors that impact digital inclusion of youth and young adults with disabilities. Potential uses of digital technology in transition will be presented, along with brainstorming on how to enhance youth’s digital literacy and use of mobile technology to promote success.

Matthew Flanagan, George Washington University
Julie Stella, George Washington University

E9. Read, Write, Remember: Tech Tools for School Life Smackdown

Join us as we return to the popular ‘tech smackdown” session format. We will focus on tech tools and apps that can support you in academic tasks. Some are new; some are tried and true. In this session for youth, families, and professionals, we will all discover or share cool tools and ways to use them. Come prepared to talk briefly about your favorite. A list of the featured resources will be compiled during this fast-paced, interactive session.

Scott Dougherty, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
Susan Gill, PaTTAN East
Ali Hrasok, Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living
Justin Laffey, BBVS
Doug Williams, PaTTAN Harrisburg
Bill Ziegler, Bucks County IU 22

E10. From the Source: College and Students on the Autism Spectrum (or What I Wish I Knew Then)

This session will provide students, teachers, and families the opportunity to hear about college life from those who know it the best – college students with autism and the college staff who support them. By hearing about college from the student perspective, attendees can reflect on and adjust their transition planning.

Jane Thierfeld Brown, College Autism Spectrum

Breakout Session 6 – (10:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.)

F1. See Transition in Action

This session highlights numerous transition activities for students who have varying disabilities. Information will be shared on work internships, transition seminar curriculum, how to utilize local agencies to enhance transition services, and business opportunities that teach vocational skills which can lead to community-based employment.

Cathy Grow, Warrior Run School District

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)

F2. How to Plan to Increase Graduation Rates in Pennsylvania

Participants will complete a planning document that guides them through five phases of how to increase graduation rates in their schools. The five phases of implementation include: teaming, using an Early Warning System (EWS), aligning evidence-based strategies and interventions, action planning, and monitoring student progress.

Michael Minor, PaTTAN Pittsburgh

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)
(Handout 3)

F3. HIRE ME! A High School to Work Collaboration for Students With Disabilities

This presentation outlines a collaboration between two school districts and a university to provide initial on-the-job work skills training for high school students with disabilities for the overall goal of competitive employment. Attendees will learn how and why this program was developed and the tangible benefits for participants and stakeholders.

Eric Foust, Shippensburg Area School District
Thomas Gibbon, Shippensburg University
William Gillet, Big Spring School District
Ashley Gleeson, Big Spring School District
Kathleen Prest, Shippensburg University

F4. It Takes a Village

Three innovation and expansion contracts from OVR to increase Pre-Employment Transition Services to students were developed and will be shared during this session. Vocational & Psychological Services (VPS) Project Educate provides school to work transition workshops for families. Lawrence County Community Action Program (LCCAP) holds two innovation and expansion contracts which links students with employers. The J.O.B.S. (Job Opportunities to Benefit Students) programs provides work-based learning opportunities for transition age students with disabilities. Students are given practical work experience with paid stipends. The V.O.T.E. (Vocational Opportunities for Transitioning to Employment) provides professional training before providing paid learning experience for high school seniors.

Kristen Anthony, Lawrence County Community Action Partnership
Ian Hricik, Vocational and Psychological Services
Gail Steck, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

F5. Cancelled – Healthy Lifestyles: A Key to Successful Transition from School to Work

The Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) assists individuals in achieving independence and employment. The importance of health and wellness as it relates to employment will be the focus of this session. In the holistic approach of educating customers about healthy lifestyles, individuals are better prepared to make a successful transition from school to work.

Cindy Martin, Hiram G. Andrews Center
Ileene Mattis, Hiram G. Andrews Center

F6. Section 511 & OVR Supported Employment – What Youth and Families Need to Know

Laws have changed regarding how youth access certain employment services including new requirements which often involve a referral to OVR. Specialists from OVR will discuss the laws, requirements, and changes to OVR’s supported employment policy to better meet the needs of youth with disabilities and to promote competitive integrated employment.

Beth Ann Fanning, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Kathleen McGrath, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


F7. K-12 Plan for Career Readiness and Transition

PA Distance Learning Charter School has developed and implemented a Career, Education, and Work (CEW) plan that includes all K-12 students and most subject areas. The plan meets CEW standards, PDE requirements for career readiness, and transition goals for students with Individualized Education Plans. The plan allows all team members to be part of the transition process, including the student. Each year, students will have activities to include in their virtual portfolios that can be taken with them wherever they go.

Kelly Crooks, PA Distance Learning Charter School

F8. Cancelled – Youth & Families Front and Center to Improve Transition Practices

Improving secondary transition practices in Pennsylvania has the potential to positively impact the post-school outcomes of transitioning youth with disabilities. During this interactive session, participants will learn about the Transition Quality Indicator research project, culminating in the Transition Discoveries Quality Indicator metric and Infographic collection. Participants will also learn how teams can utilize data collected through the metric from youth, families, and transition stakeholders to develop and to implement data-driven action planning to improve transition practices. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on how Transition Discoveries Quality Indicator metric can be utilized to support LEAs throughout Pennsylvania.

Joan Kester, George Washington University

F9. The Youth-Led, Youth-Driven Model

The PYLN believes in a youth-led, youth-driven model. This session will focus on what it really means to give youth the lead and the impact it can have. Adults will learn how to create these opportunities every day and youth and young adults will learn how to be empowered to make the most of them.

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network


F10. A Team Approach to Transition

Transition is an exciting and often uncertain time for students and families navigating service systems and determining what comes next. This session provides guidance on linking employment providers, OVR, and schools to provide high quality transition services that support students to explore employment goals and to gain real-life work experience!

Shari Brightful, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Andrea Consigny, SPIN
Chelsea Lutts, SPIN

F11. Promoting the Health Literacy of Youth

From managing prescription medications to preventative healthcare, many people need to improve their health literacy. Since improved health literacy leads to better health outcomes, it is an important skill set for transitioning youth. We will explore ways that family, school, and medical professionals can enhance health literacy and how young people can be empowered to encourage professionals to interact with them in ways that increase their health literacy.

Kelly King, The PEAL Center


Breakout Session 7 – (12:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.)

G1. PRE-ETS Behind Prison Walls: A Collaborative Approach in Serving SCI Pine Grove Youth

Educating imprisoned youth on self-advocacy and workplace readiness skills can guide youth to brighter futures. In this session, the development, planning, and implementation of providing PRE-ETS services with incarcerated youth in the State Correctional Institution (SCI) prison system will be outlined.

Stephanie Ackley, SCI Pine Grove
Michelyn Foreback, Skills of Central PA
Charles Lansberry, Skills of Central PA
Heidi Speidel, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


G2. Empowerment and Independence through Attendant Care, Technology and Self-Advocacy

An overview of the new Transitional Living Coordination (TLC) service at Hiram G Andrews Center will be highlighted. Focus is on the importance and process of developing an effective attendant care plan, utilization of various technologies to maximize independence, and empowerment of the individual to take charge of both.

Fred Lego, Hiram G. Andrews Center
Michael Kiel, University of Pittsburgh


G3. A Day in the Life: Tales of College from Students Enrolled in TPSID Programs

Learn about college life firsthand. Students attending colleges and universities in Pennsylvania enrolled in inclusive postsecondary initiatives affiliated with the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disability Grant will share typical college experiences with session participants.

Ann Marie Licata, Millersville University

G4. Making Connections: Mock Interviews for Youth

Are you graduating soon? A great way to learn about the world of work and make a little extra cash is to get a part-time job. This youth focused session will provide students with a mock interview to build confidence and provide tools to find, obtain, and maintain successful employment.

Kim Robinson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network

G5. PA Career Ready Skills for Employability: An Overview

In response to research and advocacy from the field, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is providing guidance to educators on how to address career ready skills in the context of teaching and learning for all students. The Pennsylvania Career Ready Skills (PA CRS) are aligned with, but do not duplicate, Pennsylvania’s Career Education and Work (CEW) Standards and are consistent with the intent of the Future Ready PA Index. The PA CRS situate learning progressions that support the development of student competence in the following three domains: self-awareness and self-management, establishing and maintaining relationships, and social problem solving. This session will situate the need for PA CRS, define the PA CRS, and feature the utility of the PA CRS Toolkit.

Pam Emery, Office of Safe Schools, PDE
James Palmiero, PaTTAN Pittsburgh


G6. Enhancing Emotional Support Programs through Secondary Transition

The purpose of this session is to enhance the knowledge and resources available to parents, youth, and educators regarding the impact of the post-secondary transition continuum for students with emotional disabilities. Additionally, participants will gain a better understanding of the programs, services, and resources offered to students with emotional support needs.

Erin Grimm, Allegheny Intermediate Unit
Michael Minor, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
Crystal Vogtsberger, Allegheny Intermediate Unit


G7. Cancelled – The PA Autism Needs Assessment Update

The Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment seeks to understand the needs of people with autism and their families. The number of individuals in Pennsylvania diagnosed with autism has risen dramatically in the last
20 years. New findings from the PA Autism Needs Assessment Update will be presented.

Kaitlin Miller, Drexel University
PJ Turcotte, Drexel University

G8. Customizing Success for Low Incidence Youth: Interventions to Support Community Placements

Youth and young adults with complex needs are often unsuccessful within community-based transition experiences (CBTE). Traditional on-the-job training often presents significant challenges for this population. Davidson School’s Skill Development Center duplicates current CBTE experiences in a small setting, providing individualized interventions to promote independence towards successful placement in unpaid work experiences.

Ethan Brazell, Elwyn Davidson School
Carol Lauser, Elwyn Davidson School
Rich Tinley, Elwyn Davidson School

G9. The Affiliates of PYLN

PYLN affiliates will share how they are making youth-led, youth-driven leadership work in their school, agency, or community. Group leaders, administrators, parents, and youth and young adults in attendance will learn how to start their own group and how to join PYLN today!

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network

G10. Youth ENVISION: An Empowering Youth Development Program

Youth ENVISION (Mission Empower’s response to promoting youth empowerment) assists youth with and without disabilities to engage more fully in self exploration, to develop their peer relationships/support, to become more involved with their high school experience, to serve their community through volunteering, and to grow into today’s leaders. Launching youth to a successful adult life takes a community of support and creativity. This presentation will take the participant on the journey of how the youth development program of Mission Empower, the Community Parent Resource Center for Erie Pennsylvania, grew from a vision to a reality of Youth ENVISION!

Jill Hrinda-Patten, Mission Empower
Curtis Jones, Mission Empower
Britney Myers, Mission Empower

Breakout Session 8 – (2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

H1. Resource Sharing and Social Capital Building – Creating Community & Meaningful Lives

Social capital building and resource sharing can directly impact students working to increase inclusive, community-based experiences. Participants will learn about shared resources (example: time banks, maker spaces co-ops) and understand how to leverage them in their lives and community.

Allison Smale, KenCrest

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

H2. Healthy Transitions: Pathway to Adult Healthcare

Healthy Transitions is a program designed to assist adolescents and families through the process of medical transition. The goal of the program is to help educate adolescents and families on the core principles of medical transitions and to equip them with the tools necessary to transition well.

Andrew McCormick, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, UPMC


H3. OPTIONS – Organized Procedures Towards Integrated Outcomes in Natural Settings

Transition services include assessment employability skill training, job development and coaching, travel instruction, and community based instruction. OPTIONS provides an individualized approach for students to have multiple experiences in these areas to assist in their self-determination and future planning. OPTIONS also provides adult services through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Office of Intellectual Disabilities.

Mary Keeley, Delaware County Intermediate Unit
Cathy Kildea, Delaware County Intermediate Unit
Jenifer Schiavo, Delaware County Intermediate Unit


H4. College Readiness is Not All About Academics: What Else You Need to Learn

Part of being successful in college is being able to transition from home utilizing skills to cope independently. Getting started in high school by learning strategies for organization, studying, self-care, socializing, and living independently is helpful. This session will help identify strengths, goals, and activities and how to get started learning college ready skills.

LeeAnn Wagner Cica, STRIVE- Autism Transition Consulting and Coaching

H5. Youth Innovation & Employment Initiatives Roundtable

A part-time job is a great way to learn about the world of work. This youth focused closed session will discuss effective techniques to assist students with disabilities in obtaining work experiences that help prepare them for employment after high school.

Shannon Austin, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Kim Robinson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

H6. Work-Based Learning Experiences: Keys to Effective Secondary Transition Planning

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) strives to encourage collaborative strategies that will benefit transition age youth by increasing students’ employment outcomes. SDP collaborates with local service providers to render Pre-Employment Transition Services (P.E.T.S.) for students with disabilities ages 14-21. Secondary transition initiatives as well as programs and activities are also designed to ensure successful transition planning.

LaQuenta Montanez, School District of Philadelphia


H7. Cancelled – Positive Personal Vocational Profile Workshop

This session focuses on how to make assessment a positive experience, with positive results! The approach focuses on ownership of the assessment process to promote self-determination. An assessment toolkit will be shared to promote positive use of effective transition and assessment in career planning. Participants will learn how to develop a strengths-based, person-centered Positive Personal Vocational Profile with transitioning youth.

Joan Kester, George Washington University

H8. PA Dept. of Education Employment Grant Showcase

During the 2017-18 school year, six competitive employment grants were awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education to educational entities across the Commonwealth. The purpose of these grants was to plan, to develop, and to implement transition goals that would assist at-risk students in completing school and community-based assessment(s) and instruction leading to competitive integrated employment. This presentation will showcase the grantees’ projects by providing participants with an overview of program goals and student data related to assessment(s), instructional techniques and strategies, resources, and professional development that were proven effective.

Hillary A. Mangis, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
2017-18 Employment Grantees

H9. Any Day, Anywhere: Tech Tools for Community and Daily Life Smackdown

Join us for another “tech smackdown” session. This one will focus on tech tools and apps that are helpful in daily life – at home, at work, or in the community. In this session for youth, families, and professionals, we will all discover or share cool tools and ways to use tech tools and apps. Come prepared to talk briefly about your favorite AT. A list of the featured resources will be compiled during this fast-paced, interactive session.

Scott Dougherty, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
Susan Gill, PaTTAN East
Ali Hrasok, Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living
Justin Laffey, BBVS
Doug Williams, PaTTAN Harrisburg
Bill Ziegler, Bucks County IU 22

H10. Youth Advocacy and Community Engagement

The PYLN Governing Board and their affiliates will review advocacy and community engagement. Attendees will hear examples and collectively participate in an activity that can impact communities across the state.

Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

Friday, July 27, 2018 – Planning Today for a Winning Tomorrow: Role of Youth and Family in Planning

Keynote Presentation: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

KN2. Person-Centered Approaches to Teaching Youth Self-Determination

Person-centered approaches are being used to teach youth self-determination, which involves self-awareness, assertiveness, creativity, pride, problem solving, and self-advocacy skills. Students are taught methods to take charge of their own lives, to actively participate in IEP meetings, to set goals, to evaluate options, to make choices, and to achieve their goals. By utilizing person- centered approaches, families, educators and professionals actively participate in partnership with students, increasing the likelihood of students staying in school, graduating and believing in the possibility of employment and rich, meaningful lives.

Because self-determination skills are most effectively learned and developed by practicing them, by utilizing person-centered approaches students with disabilities are given ample opportunity to use their self-advocacy, decision-making, and socialization skills well before they leave secondary school to prepare themselves for post-secondary education, working and living as independently as possible in their community.

Parents are usually the driving force for change in a student’s life. Planning in a way that is centered around the youth along with the support and participation of family, educators, practitioners, secondary and post- secondary educators, and potential employers will help students be at the center of planning their own lives.

The value of person-centered planning has meant an improvement in communication with students. The structured planning methodology supports learning about the individual requirements of each student by celebrating their gifts, and by helping students learn how they can be actively involved in their outcomes for a good life.

Lisa Meyer, Independent Consultant

Breakout Session 9 – (9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.)

J1. If Not Now, When is it Time to Think About “A Home of My Own”?

ACHIEVA’s “A Home of My Own” is an innovative way for people with disabilities to move out of their family home and into homes of their own. Key elements of “A Home of My Own” will be discussed including: true person-centered thinking and practice, the importance of support brokerage, people choosing where and with whom they wish to live, interviewing and choosing Life Coaches, and customized, individualized supports.

Michelle Stockunas, ACHIEVA

J2. Improving Outcomes for Transition Age Students with Collaboration: Implementation of Venture Bound

Venture Bound is aimed at helping students with cognitive challenges find employment after graduating by assisting individual students in developing new skills while maintaining their current functional abilities. Venture Bound is a collaboration between Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism, Bittersweet, Inc., Bowling Green State University, and The University of Toledo. An overview of the program at Perrysburg High School will be shared.

Kelly Elton, Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism
Brittany Joseph, Bowling Green State University
Catina Harding, Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism
Beth Ann Hatkevich, The University of Toledo

J3. How to Use the Maker Movement Model to Create Resources in Your Community!

The timeless saying goes “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!” Pennsylvania Youth Initiative began as a grass roots group of parents and professionals who were looking for ways to fill gaps in services and to give youth with disabilities and parents a voice. It serves as an example of how the Maker Movement and start up movement can be applied to the human service field and is now a rising nonprofit.

Pancho Timmons, Pennsylvania Youth Initiative

J4. Urban Youth – Employment Services for Culturally and Racially Diverse Students

Students from culturally diverse backgrounds in urban areas face unique barriers to employment. Community Integrated Services (CIS) has been awarded specialized grants through OVR and the Department of Education to serve youth in the underserved School District of Philadelphia. The challenges, strategies, and outcomes
of successful projects will be discussed.

Susan Schonfeld, Community Integrated Services
Meghan Stephens, Community Integrated Services

J5. Work Readiness: Skills Needed for Vocational Success

The Institute for Collegiate and Career Studies developed a program to help individuals with disabilities who enter the job market successfully obtain entry-level jobs. Upon entry, individuals can increasingly attain skilled occupational certifications for satisfying careers that pay well enough to support a family and that promote opportunities for future growth and development.

John Tomasetti, Institute for Collegiate and Career Studies

J6. A Transition Plan is Not Just a Form

The Transition portion of the IEP can be a powerful tool for building an IEP that presumes competence and leads to positive outcomes. However, the family and youth must have a vision and ambitious goals and understand the possibilities in order to maximize the power. Learn how person-centered planning can form the foundation for strong IEPs that support youth to learn and to achieve in ways that lead toward their dreams.

Lorie Brew, The PEAL Center
Jeanine Schultz, The PEAL Center


J7. Fostering Independence: What 21st Century Adults Need to be Successful

Learn the essential skills necessary to help students with learning difficulties become more independent, self-sufficient, and productive members of society.

Jennifer Scully, Institute for Collegiate and Career Studies

J8. Going to College? Tips for Teachers to Support Students with Intellectual Disability

Opportunities for students with intellectual disability (ID) to go to college are increasingly available. This session provides an overview of inclusive postsecondary education options. Practical tips for teachers to support students with ID and their families in learning about postsecondary education programs and preparing for college will be shared.

Clare Papay, Think College, Institute for Community Inclusion, UMass Boston

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

Breakout Session 10 – (11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

K1. Using SDLMI to Improve Goal Attainment in Students with ASD

The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) is an evidence-based strategy that can be used to improve transition outcomes and self-determination for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other disabilities. This step by step approach can be adapted and integrated into school, community, employment, activities, and goals.

LeeAnn Wagner Cica, STRIVE- Autism Transition Consulting and Coaching

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

K2. From Paper to Progress: Making Employment First a Reality

Pennsylvania is an Employment First state. But what does that really mean and how can we ensure the primary goal of all individuals is competitive, integrated employment? This discussion will explore promising practices and identify specific barriers which could change the employment success of people with disabilities.

Josie Badger, #IWantToWork
Mary Hartley, United Way of Southwestern PA
Kathleen Locmelis, Pittsburgh Public Schools


K3. Vocational Rehabilitation Transition Partners: The Juvenile Justice and Foster Care Systems

The importance of outreach to youth and young adults with disabilities in the Juvenile Justice and Foster Care systems will be examined. Many of these individuals urgently need vocational rehabilitation services to achieve a positive employment outcome. Ideas on how partners can collaborate to create solid transition plans for students and youth will be shared.

Randall Loss, Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Technical Assistance Center VR Y-TAC

K4. OVR 2017-18: Pre-Employment Transition Services in Review

Learn about Pre-Employment Transition Service (PETS) offered by the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Accomplishments of the 2017-18 school year and an update on changes for the upcoming school year will be highlighted.

Beth Ann Fanning, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Kim Robinson, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Melissa Wert-Thrush, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


K5. Interdisciplinary Transition Team Initiative (ITTI)

What is the ITTI? The Interdisciplinary Transition Team Initiative (ITTI) is a transition planning initiative that incorporates evidence-based practices for young adults who have combined hearing and vision loss, their families, and educational team members. Participation will refine the transition process for an individual student while building the local team’s capacity to expand transition planning for other students.

Michelle Andros, PaTTAN Pittsburgh
Molly Black, PaTTAN East

K6. Collaborations Toward Access for Inclusive Higher Education

Journey to a local community college’s efforts to cultivate an inclusive higher education experience for students with disabilities. Hear directly from students regarding this life-altering experience; from germination to harvesting SEED (Success, Engagement, Education, Determination).

Michelle Mitchell, Lehigh Carbon Community College

(Handout 1)
(Handout 2)

K7. OVR: An Opportunity for Success!

This session will help students, parents, educators, and providers understand the OVR process from pre-application to case closure. An overview of OVR services, as mandated by the Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, will be shared.

Lynn Heitz, Bureau of Blind and Visual Services
Gail Steck, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

K8. Work Early, Work Often

Family members play a vital, yet unrecognized role in helping students with disabilities explore careers, build social skills, and be successful in employment. Promising strategies that families of youth with disabilities can use to help their youth prepare and keep a job will be identified.

Jessica Queener, Institute for Educational Leadership

K9. Transportation: You Don’t Have Access If You Can’t Get There

For youth and young adults who do not drive, a lack of transportation can be a tremendous barrier to having quality of life and independence. Depending upon the community, a youth might need to learn to walk safely, take public transportation, arrange for adaptive transportation, or use the Uber or Lyft app. These skills should be included in the IEP but sometimes are not addressed.

The PEAL Center


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