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2024 Strands

New for 2024, the Convention will feature two topics area strands identified by our 2024 Program Chairs and our 2024 President: Inclusive Leadership at the Building Level and School Mental Health. These strands are intended to help you identify sessions relevant to some of the most important topics in special education.  


School Mental Health

National school mental health experts will share strategies, resources, and evidence-based practices that will help develop, strengthen, and support mental health services and programs within our schools. Implementation of these supports will accelerate positive results for all children, youth, and staff within our schools. 


Inclusive Leadership at the Building Level

Our 2024 Presidential Strand will kick off at our Opening General Session on Wednesday, March 13, from 5-6:30 pm with our Keynote speaker Curtis Hill.


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Sponsors of the School Mental Health strand

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Sponsors of the Inclusive Leadership at the Building Level strand

Inclusive Leadership

Presenters will share results of a statewide survey and follow-up interviews of coordinators of educational leadership preparation programs in California. Because the academic achievement of students with disabilities typically lags behind that of their peers, inclusive approaches are deemed essential to addressing this issue in classrooms and schools. School leaders play a critical role in supporting inclusive schools and practices. The current study was conducted to gather information from preparation programs (both in higher education and in school districts) in California to understand the extent to which these programs integrate knowledge and experiences regarding inclusive practices. Obtaining and interpreting these data provide insight into the needs of programs in the preparation of leaders to meet the needs of the diversity of students in today’s schools.

Colorado has built a community of principal preparation faculty dedicated to the implementation of inclusive, equity-driven leadership practices in Colorado schools. Through a statewide professional learning community on Exploring Educational Leadership Preparation with an Equity Mindset, Presenters will describe how conducting a crosswalk between Colorado’s Principal Quality Standards and the CEEDAR Innovation Configuration tool created a strong foundation and common language for a productive discussion of inclusive principal preparation. In addition to work conducted within leadership preparation programs to review and revise principal coursework and field experiences, presenters will describe the importance of convening faculty to discuss the broader implications of state policies on preparation programs.

Our nation's principals work tirelessly to ensure each child in their schools is provided with an excellent education. For many children this depends on the special education services they receive. Special education teachers have high expectations of their principals for necessary support. This session will provide practical guidance for principals in maximizing the learning of students with disabilities by giving them the expertise to provide leadership to teachers and parents as they work together to meet the unique needs of students who receive special education services. 

Your opportunity to engage with the national experts, share insights, ask questions,  get access to additional resources, recommend future  activities, supports and resources.   

What is inclusive leadership, and why does inclusive leadership matter to everyone? The participants will identify data sources that inform inclusive leadership. In addition, participants will discuss best practices to operationalize inclusive leadership and address the needs of each learner.

School Mental Health

Facilitator: Mark D. Weist, Ph.D., Professor, University of South Carolina


This session is intended for college and university faculty involved/interested in pre-service training on mental health (MH) for undergraduate/graduate education majors, and in-service training for education staff to enhance their MH skills. Following a brief review of the landscape including teacher workforce issues, management of student mental health challenges, mental health literacy integrated into schools’ multi-tiered systems of support (and other), we will share examples of successful strategies, and develop plans for next steps to significantly improve pre-service and in-service training on mental health. We will also develop ideas for a CEC-led agenda for this work to occur over the next few years.    

Presenter: Kimberly Yanek, Co-Director, Center for Social Behavior Support at Center for Implementation & Evaluation of Education Systems (CIEES), Old Dominion University and Technical Assistance Director, Center on PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Support)


Youth spend a great deal of time in classrooms, making classrooms an ideal protective factor and support for youth mental health and wellbeing. The collective effort of districts, schools, and classroom teachers is often overlooked as a powerful source of wellbeing. In this session, we will explore ways to uncover and enhance efforts to support youth mental health and wellbeing in classrooms through a collective effort.

Your opportunity to engage with the national experts, share insights, ask questions, get access to additional resources, recommend future activities, supports and resources. 

This session will address the growing concerns related to teacher and staff wellbeing, including a review of strategies and resources to support a healthy workforce. We will provide an overview of recommended resources (e.g., podcasts, resource directory) developed with practitioner and researcher input. We will highlight the role of staff equity as a foundation for promoting a supportive work environment for both students and staff. We will also consider the importance of staff wellbeing as a cornerstone for student mental and behavioral health. We will conclude with a review of additional resources, tools, and materials freely available through the National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE).

Given that schools are recognized as a key location for youth to receive mental health services and supports, Dr. Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General, called on educators, school staff and districts to “provide a continuum of supports” in response to the growing mental health needs of students (US Surgeon General’s Advisory, 2021). Schools are emerging from the early clutches of the pandemic, but recent results from the Merrimack College Teacher Survey (2023) suggest that youth mental health continues to adversely affect student learning, educators’ classroom management capacities, and work satisfaction. For example, one respondent said, “We are told to be aware of students’ trauma but do not have the training or skills to assist the students in dealing with trauma.” Educators are attempting to meet the mental health needs of youth without the training needed which increases susceptibility to burnout, demoralization, and turn-over. This session will focus on building educators’ capacities for addressing the mental health needs of students as a strategy to promote teacher competence, job satisfaction, and retention. Accessible professional development resources will also be shared and discussed.


Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
900 E Market St, San Antonio, TX 78205


March 13, 2024 - March 16, 2024
Last Updated:  7 February, 2024

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