Inclusion-fest 2018
Leading WILDLY Inclusive Schools

2018 Summer Leadership Institute

10th Year Anniversary

Join us for 3 interactive days with national experts in making schools and districts wildly inclusive. Take away a multitude of practical ideas and inspiration to do this important and timely work.

When? August 6-8, 2018 (additional time August 9 and 10 for graduate credit)

Where? Schine Student Center, Goldstein Auditorium, Syracuse University

Travel to Syracuse

  • Air – The local airport is Syracuse Hancock International Airport, 1000 Colonel Eileen Collins Boulevard. Most major airlines fly through Syracuse. For more information you can call the airport at 315-454-4330.
  • Train/Bus – The Syracuse Regional Transportation Center services AMTRAK train services, as well as Greyhound and Trailways bus services.
  • Taxi – A list of recommended taxi companies is available.

Hotel Accommodations

A limited block of rooms for Summer Leadership Institutes attendees is available at the Syracuse University Sheraton Hotel at 801 University Avenue. The discounted group rate is available by calling 315-475-3000 and mentioning the institute. Other hotels within walking distance of the Syracuse University campus:


We have made arrangements for you to park at the University Avenue Garage free of charge. The map for the University Avenue Garage and Schine Center is below. When you arrive each morning, please take a parking ticket. When you exit the garage, you’ll just hand the ticket to the parking attendant and let them know that you’re a part of the Summer Leadership Institute. The garage will be open until 6:00 pm on Monday 8/6 and Tuesday 8/7 and 5:00 pm on Wednesday 8/8. Also, unless you are staying at the Sheraton Hotel, please do not park there.

University Avenue Garage and Schine Center Parking Map:

View PDF

Keep Connected

We are creating a Facebook group so that we can all stay in touch prior to, during and after the Summer Leadership Institute. Please go there and join. Introduce yourself, so we can learn who you are. This way, we can start the conversation early.

SLI Facebook Group

During the institute we will be using a padlet to keep an electronic conversation going in real-time along with the institute. Here is the link to use during the institute to engage in this conversation:

SLI Realtime Padlet

High fiving at the inclusion conference
Julie speaking at the event

Monday, Aug. 6th

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Tuesday, Aug. 7th

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Wednesday, Aug. 8th

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Post-Conference Community Building Fun!

Look at the agenda, and you will notice we’ve added Post-Conference Community Builders – as a way to decompress, reflect and socialize. On Monday 8/6, we’ll be hosting an Inclusion-Fest Happy Hour at Sitrus on the Hill (in the Sheraton Hotel) – we’ll supply tasty snacks and a cash bar will be available. On Tuesday 8/7, we’ll be having the first ever “Wildly Inclusive 0.5K on the Syracuse Quad.” That’s right, a 0.5K (one lap around the quad – about 400 yards!) This highly social and non-competitive event will include customized 0.5K race bibs, finisher swag, action photos and a special guest appearance by Otto the Orange. We’ll also plan to take a group photo on the steps of Hendricks Chapel. We encourage you to bring comfortable clothes (shorts, sneakers, etc…) – should be a blast

Registration Fees


  • $650 per person for individual registrations
  • $600 per person for teams of 3-9 people from the same district/organization
  • $450 per person for teams of 10+ people from the same district/organization
  • $100 for students taking the institute for graduate credit (see link for details)

Taking the institute for graduate credit →

Hands up for inclusion!

Session descriptions


Julie Causton & George Theoharis – Inclusion-fest 2018: Leading WILDLY Inclusive Schools

Julie and George lead this engaging kick-off. You’ll leave inspired with ideas on how to help move your school and district in an increasingly inclusive direction.

Micah Fialka-Feldman – “Through the Same Door”

Micah is part of the new wave of adults with intellectual disabilities attending college. Since first grade, when he told his parents he wanted to go in the same door as all of his friends, he has been fully included in his school, community, and now on a college campus.

Dan Habib & Micah Fialka-Feldman – Intelligent Lives

Filmmaker Dan Habib and film subject Micah Fialka-Feldman will screen and discuss Habib’s new documentary, Intelligent Lives. The film features three pioneering young adults with intellectual disabilities — Micah, Naieer, and Naomie — who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper, the narrator of the documentary, contextualizes the lives of these central characters as he unpacks the sordid track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.

Walking the Talk presentations are lead by school leaders who provide key steps/strategies they have used to create and maintain inclusive.


Julie Causton – Humanistic Supports for Students with Challenging Behavior: Re-thinking Everything.

In this light-hearted session, we will take a serious look at behavioral supports, and re-designing our schools, classrooms and thinking around those students who keeps us up at night. You will leave with many new ways to approach, support and love those amazing students!

Ross Greene – Kids Do Well if They Can

Kids with behavioral challenges are not attention-seeking, manipulative, limit-testing, coercive, or unmotivated. But they do lack the skills to behave appropriately. Adults can help by recognizing what causes their difficult behaviors and teaching kids the skills they need.

Walking the Talk presentations are lead by school leaders who provide key steps/strategies they have used to create and maintain inclusive.


Shelly Moore – Inclusive Education: Who, What, Where, When, Why?!

This session will deconstruct what inclusive education means in today’s classrooms and communities. We will also discuss common misunderstandings and myths and leave with ideas and possibilities of inclusive leaning communities and all who benefit.

Walking the Talk presentations are lead by school leaders who provide key steps/strategies they have used to create and maintain inclusive.

Kayla McKeon – How I Advocate

Kayla will be talking about her experiences on Capitol Hill where she lobbies and educates Members of Congress. She will be sharing on how she advocates, what it is like to be a self-advocate, serving on the Self-Advocate Advisory Board of the National Down Syndrome Society, and being the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for NDSS, including Kayla’s Korner her brand new podcast.

Attendees at the inclusion conference
George and Julie

Presenter Bios

Rachael Burg is currently an Inclusion Facilitator for the North Penn School District. She currently works at Knapp Elementary School where she supports inclusive practices in grades K through 6th. Rachael has been in the North Penn School District since 2004 where she worked as a Learning Support Teacher for 10 years, a General Education Teacher for 2 years, and an Inclusion Facilitator for 2 years. Rachael has co-taught both Reading and Language Arts classes and has always been an advocate for including students in the general education classroom. Rachael earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary and Special Education from Monmouth University and a Masters of Science degree in Reading from Gwynedd Mercy University. Rachael has a Reading Specialist Certification and Level I and Level 2 certification in the Wilson Reading System. Rachael is currently interning with the Wilson Language Corporation to be an In-District Trainer for North Penn where she will deliver professional development and train teachers in the Wilson Reading System.

Julie Causton, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Inclusive Schooling, author of six books and over forty articles on inclusive schooling. She works with administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and families across the country to help them promote and improve inclusive practices. Her dynamic presentations focus on engaging ways to educate all students within the context of general education. Julie has spent the past 20 years studying best practices for inclusive education.  She was a Professor teaching future educators in the Inclusive and Special Education Program at Syracuse University and before that taught elementary, middle and high school special education.  She knows firsthand how inclusion leads to better outcomes for all students. She lives in Manlius, NY with her two awesome children.

Micah Fialka-Feldman is a student, national speaker, and pioneer who fights for disability-pride, justice, and inclusion. He is part of the first wave of adults with intellectual disabilities attending college and has been fully included in school and community. Micah currently lives in Syracuse N.Y. where he takes classes for his 2015 Certificate in Disability Studies at Syracuse University. He is teaching Assistant at School of Education and works at the Lawrence B.Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. In May of 2014, Micah was appointed by President Obama to President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

Tanya Fredrich is the Director of Special Education and Student Services in the School District of Elmbrook located in Brookfield, WI. The School District of Elmbrook serves the communities of Elm Grove, Brookfield and a small portion of New Berlin. The district has nine schools serving approximately 7,200 students. Tanya is a graduate of UW Madison School of Education and hold a Masters degree in Special Education and Administrative Leadership. She was awarded her Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service December, 2014. Tanya has worked as a special educator with expertise in Emotional/Behavioral Disorders and Educational Autism as well as a building principal prior to her current director role. She is an adjunct lecturer at Carroll University, Cardinal Stritch University and University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.  Tanya lives in Oconomowoc, WI with her husband Tom and two children, Zachary (14) and William (11).   

Jackie Giammarco is an Inclusion Facilitator in North Penn School District, a district serving nearly 13,000 students in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. She works closely with teachers and administrators promoting and implementing inclusive practices. She leads professional development opportunities and collaborates with teachers to meet the needs of all students. This includes supporting co-teaching teams and working with teachers to adapt curricula to ensure it is accessible to all students. Jackie studied Special Education, Elementary Education and American Studies at LaSalle University, and earned her master's in Reading from Gwynedd Mercy College. She also acquired certifications as Reading Specialist and Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction. Jackie has approached her career with the belief that all students are able to achieve great things, and continues to work diligently to help students reach their goals.

Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is the originator of the innovative, empirically-supported approach now known as Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS), as described in his influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and the recently released Raising Human Beings. Dr. Greene was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years, and is now Founding Director of the non-profit Lives in the Balance. He is on the adjunct faculty in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech and in the Faculty of Science at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Greene has worked with several thousand behaviorally challenging kids and their families, and he and his colleagues have overseen implementation and evaluation of the CPS model in hundreds of schools, inpatient psychiatry units, and residential and juvenile detention facilities, with dramatic effect: significant reductions in discipline referrals, detentions, suspensions, and use of restraint procedures and solitary confinement. He has infused the parenting and teaching of all kids with humanity, empathy, and compassion. Dr. Greene lectures throughout the world and lives with his family in Portland, Maine.

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentaries Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, Mr. Connolly Has ALS and many other films on disability issues. Habib is a filmmaker at the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability. His current film, Intelligent Lives, launches in 2018. In 2013 he received the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
Habib and his wife Betsy live in Concord, NH, with their sons Isaiah, 21, and Samuel, 18.

Valerie Henning-Piedmonte is Superintendent of Schools in the Brewster Central School District located in Putnam County, New York. This year was Valerie’s 24nd year as an educator having served in the role of Reading teacher, assistant principal, principal, Director of Instruction and Professional Learning, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and Deputy Superintendent. Valerie earned her doctorate and two masters from Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum, Research and Policy. After graduating from Teachers College, Valerie worked as a Senior Research Associate at the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching and Associate Director of the Institute on Education and Government both at Teachers College. Her undergraduate degree is from Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she earned her B.A. in Business with a minor in English. Valerie has presented at professional conferences and taught graduate courses. She lives in New York City with her husband of twenty years, Scott. They enjoy traveling and all of the splendors of New York City.

Megan Klementisz is currently an Inclusion Facilitator for North Penn School District, a school system outside of Philadelphia with roughly 13,000 students. She supports Kulp Elementary School, where she works with Kindergarten through sixth grade students and teachers. Megan earned a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education from Gwynedd Mercy College, as well as a Master's degree in Special Education from Salem State University. The Inclusion Facilitator role came as a new challenge in her career after 11 1/2 years as a Learning Support Teacher. Megan has experienced instructing on most of the continuum of special education settings spanning time in both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and ranging in grades levels from second through seventh as a teacher. Inclusive education has always been a passion of hers, and her current platform allows her to advocate for students in new ways.

Kayla McKeon is the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for the National Down Syndrome Society. She helps others who are Differently Abled by educating and inspiring them. Kayla worked very hard to obtain her New York State Driver license. She also interned for her local Congressman, Rep. John Katko of New York’s 24th District, in his Syracuse office and was on his campaign trail. She attended citizenship ceremonies on his behalf. She did various office duties as well. He asked Kayla to attend a Roundtable event with him in New York City and speak about employment. From there, she was offered a job with the National Down Syndrome Society. She moved from Syracuse, New York in October of 2017 to accept a full time position as the Manager of Grassroots Advocacy, where she works on NDSS’ legislative priorities and lobbying on Capitol Hill. She is the first registered lobbyist who just happens to have Down syndrome. With the National Down Syndrome Society, she also has her own podcast called Kayla’s Korner where she talks to Members of Congress, members of the NDSS Board of Directors and self-advocates. You can find her podcast at Kayla is a Special Olympic World Game Athlete who went to Athens, Greece in 2011 and won a silver and bronze medal in bocce. She won the “40 under 40 Leaders that Rock in Central New York” in 2016 and also won the NDSS 2016 “Self Advocate of the Year” award. She also won numerous scholarships for her post-secondary education at Onondaga Community College and Lemoyne College as well.  Kayla believes that people who are Differently Abled should be treated with respect and dignity like everyone else. She hopes that her self-advocacy promotes this.

Shelly Moore is originally from Edmonton, and is now based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She is a highly sought-after teacher, researcher, speaker and storyteller and has worked with school districts and community organizations throughout both Canada and the United States. Shelley's presentations are constructed based on contexts of schools and communities and integrate theory and effective practices of inclusion, special education, curriculum and teacher professional development. Her first book entitled, “One Without the Other” was released in July 2016 to follow up her TEDx talk hosted in Langley in January 2016. Shelley completed an undergraduate degree in Special Education at the University of Alberta, her masters at Simon Fraser University, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. Her research has been featured at national and international conferences, and she is also the recent recipient of the Engagement award, a national competition highlighting SSHRC funded research through story.

Kate Small is currently working as an Inclusion Facilitator in the North Penn School District located in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. She is a staff member at Oak Park Elementary School where she supports inclusive practices grades K through 6th. Kate graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education. She recently completed her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership through Arcadia University. Prior to taking on the Inclusion Facilitator role, Kate had worked as a both a Special Education teacher, and a Regular Education teacher with experience supporting grades K through 6th. She has taught in Virginia and Pennsylvania in both urban and suburban settings. Kate’s current role as an Inclusion Facilitator has allowed her the opportunity to advocate for and support the success of all students within the regular education setting.

George Theoharis, Ph.D., is a Professor in Educational Leadership and Inclusive Elementary Education at Syracuse University. He has extensive field experience in public education as a principal and teacher. He previously served as Department Chair of Teaching and Leadership and Associate Dean for Urban Education Partnerships at Syracuse University. In the Urban Education capacity, he acted as the university liaison to the Say Yes to Education collaboration and directed the urban education initiatives. He also previously served as the Director of Field Relations and was responsible for engaging the School of Education at Syracuse with schools and districts in New York State. George teaches classes in educational leadership and elementary/early childhood teacher education. He coordinates the Inclusive Early Childhood and Special Education undergraduate program. His interests, research, and work with K-12 schools focuses on issues of equity, justice, diversity, inclusion, leadership, and school reform. George has 6 books and many many articles. George’s work bridges the worlds of K-12 schools and higher education.  As such, he writes for public audiences in outlets such as:  The School Administrator, Educational Leadership (online), The Principal, The Washington Post, and The Root, The Syracuse Post-Standard, as well as writing for academic journals such as Teachers College Record, Educational Administration Quarterly, Urban Education, Journal of Special Education Leadership, etc. He co-runs a summer institute for school leaders focusing on issues of disability, equity and inclusion. He consults with leaders, schools, and districts around issues of leadership, equity, diversity and inclusive reform around the United States and Canada. His Ph.D. is in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. George grew up in Wisconsin in an activist family committed to making a more just world. Currently, he lives in Fayetteville, NY with his 2 awesome children and his parents.

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