Jolynn Lee is the spouse of a Marine Veteran and a mother to three adult military-connected children. With two children still at home, Jolynn is also the mother of a child with exceptional needs. Jolynn worked as a special education teacher for 11 years. She joined STOMP, Specialized Training of Military Parents, in partnership with PAVE, Partnerships in Action, Voices for Empowerment to help bring awareness and training to families within the military community. She knows first-hand the challenges faced raising a child with exceptionalities and is motivated by a passion to support military families in need. One of her favorite mottos is, “People only know what they know,” but we can work together to expand that knowledge base as we learn and grow.
Katrina Holt is the director of the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center where she works to improve oral health services for pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents, including those with special health care needs, and their families. The center collaborates with federal agencies and professional organizations to provide technical assistance, training and resources.
Valerie C. Williams Director, Office of Special Education Programs Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Valerie C. Williams joins the Department as director in the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) within the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing the administration of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
If 20 years of serving educators has taught us anything, it’s that a return to the fundamentals of sound practice is always a worthwhile pursuit. As schools and teachers enter into a new school year marked by uncertainty and the ever-present possibility of sudden change, this foundational approach feels especially relevant.
In this spirit, the IRIS Center has just posted one new module and completed significant updates to two others that personnel in schools and districts can use for professional development and personalized learning. And, yes, these resources emphasize a back-to-basics method.
Lillian Durán has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon and an Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the College of Education. Her research is focused on improving instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged multilingual learners. She delivers presentations focused on recommended practices in assessment and intervention with young children of Color with and without identified disabilities who are immigrants and/or speak languages other than English
Hace 17 años, tuve la suerte de dar a luz a mi primer hijo, Emir. Le diagnosticaron síndrome de Down en el útero, pero no fue hasta el momento en que lo sostuve en mis brazos que me di cuenta de una de las verdades más poderosas que comparto con los nuevos padres de niños con síndrome de Down: era simplemente perfecto. Y aunque me esforcé mucho por ver el síndrome, todo lo que pude ver fue al niño más hermoso del mundo: mi hijo.
Rebecca Vitelli is a preschool special education teacher at the Colonial Early Education Program in New Castle, Delaware. Rebecca earned a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education with minors in human development and family studies and disabilities studies and a Master of Education in exceptional children and youth with a concentration in autism and severe disabilities from the University of Delaware. Most recently, she was named the 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year.
Paulette Tattersall is the Northeast Director of Prevent Blindness, a national organization whose mission is to prevent blindness and preserve sight. She is also Co-Chair of Children’s Vision Massachusetts (CVMA), a 70-member coalition of parents, health professionals, educators and organizations who work together towards building a statewide systematic approach to vision care for Massachusetts children.
The U.S. Department of Education welcomes Katherine “Katy” Neas as the new deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).
“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but children with disabilities and specially those of color experienced great challenges. I am over the moon to be at the Department of Education at this historic time and to be part of the team of individuals who are working to ensure all students succeed in the upcoming school year.”
Deborah Jackson is the proud mother of Desmond Jackson, a member of the 2021 USA Paralympic Track and Field Team for the 100m event and the long jump. Desmond was born with a congenital birth defect, which resulted in an amputation when he was nine months old. He was the first above-knee amputee to run on a high school track team in the state of North Carolina. Desmond encourages other individuals with physical challenges to “get off the sideline and into the game!”