Preparing for the New School Year
Mia Rutherford is a Pre-K to 4th grade teacher at Excel Academy, a public school in the District of Columbia. She begins her eighth year of teaching this school year, and currently serves as a lead teacher in the early childhood education team. Mia graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Human Development, with a focus on early childhood. She says that the best part of teaching is building community and creating meaningful experiences for our youngest learners.
Vision and Eye Health for Young Children
Kay Nottingham Chaplin, Ed.D., is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Prevent Blindness, working primarily with its National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health. She provides technical assistance about all aspects of a vision and eye health program, including early detection through screening and program evaluation and improvement. Dr. Nottingham Chaplin has worked in vision screening for 21 years. She assisted states in creating or revising vision screening and eye health guidelines, and serves as a panelist or presenter at webinars and lectures at international and national venues.
Gregory Facey is a husband and father of children with hearing loss. Gregory is also a special education resource consultant and literacy advocate for students with disabilities. He serves on the Citizens’ Commission on Public Service and Compensation and is a member of the National Alliance of Black School Educator’s Parent Commission. Gregory lives by a quote from Booker T. Washington: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”
Supporting Children’s Mental Health
Amy Hunter is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) who earned her Masters of Social Work degree at Boston University. Amy has a post graduate certificate from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Early Childhood Mental Health. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development. In her capacity at Georgetown she co-leads the post-graduate clinical certificate program on infant early childhood mental health and co-directs the mental health section of the Head Start National Center on Health, Behavioral Health and Safety. Additionally, Amy serves as a lead on the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI), a training and technical assistance center funded by the Office of Special Education Programs. Amy has worked in the field of infant early childhood mental health for over thirty years.
Supporting Military Families with Young Children
Dee Bosworth is a military spouse and mother of a twice exceptional child. Married for twelve years to an Active Duty Sailor, Dee was a Navy Command Ombudsman for six years, cumulatively. As an American Military Families Autism Support Community Leader and Florida Partners in Policymaking graduate, Dee is active in local, state, and national programs for persons with disabilities. Driven by the experiences of military families like her own, Dee is passionate about empowering military parents to advocate for a better world for our loved ones with exceptional needs. At home, she is mom, teacher, and telehealth therapy facilitator. In her work capacity, Dee supports individuals with disabilities and their families as a STOMP, Specialized Training of Military Parents Parent Instructor and Helpline Coordinator for Washington State’s parent and information center, PAVE.
Promoting a Healthy Smile for Young Children
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
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.