Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto began as superintendent on Aug. 1, 2017. Since 2014, Dr. Kishimoto served as Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer for Gilbert Public Schools in Gilbert, Arizona, a district with an enrollment of 36,500 students and an annual budget of $305 million.
Bryan Cook received his PhD in special education from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1997, and is currently a professor in the Special Education Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is currently co-editor of the journal Behavioral Disorders and the annual volume Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, associate editor for Exceptional Children and Remedial and Special Education, and co-director of the Consortium for the Advancement of Special Education Research (CASPER). He is past-President of the Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) Division for Research and chaired the working group that authored CEC's standards for evidence-based practices in special education.
In 1998, Torrie Dunlap found her life's purpose when she taught a theater class for children that included a boy with Down syndrome. This is also how she came to know the work of Kids Included Together, a nonprofit where she started as a volunteer and today is the Chief Executive Officer.
Matthew Wappett is the Executive Director of the Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities (UCEDD), with an affiliate appointment as a Research Associate Professor in the USU College of Education and Human Services. He was formerly the Co-Director of the University of Idaho Confucius Institute, and had an affiliate faculty appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Dr. Wappett has also served as the Associate Director of the UI Center on Disabilities and Human Development and had a faculty appointment in the UI College of Education. Dr. Wappett’s academic background is in special education and disability studies; most of his research has been focused on creating inclusive environments to accommodate the needs of diverse populations. Dr. Wappett also conducts research and writes about the effects of laughter in the classroom and genuinely enjoys teaching people how to laugh! Dr. Wappett’s teaching and research on creating inclusive learning environments has recently turned to the effects of environmental stress on learning and social interaction.
Raphael Travis’s research, practice and consultancy work emphasizes positive youth development over the life-course, resilience, and civic engagement. He also investigates music, especially Hip-Hop culture, as a source of health and well-being in people's lives. Dr. Travis is an Associate Professor and BSW Program Director at Texas State University in the School of Social Work.
Michael B. Salzman is a professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a licensed psychologist and has published in the areas of cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, intercultural conflict, intercultural sensitivity training, multicultural counseling and cultural trauma and recovery among indigenous peoples and the effects of globalization on culture and anxiety.
As our countries and educational systems face many formidable challenges which may negatively affect the quality and depth of the how teach and learn and where ‘reforms’ have been bandied about for decades – some implemented, some not – how can we do it better when it comes to ensuring each child or young person – regardless of orientation, disability, race, gender and economic status – can learn.
In an age of budget cuts, staffing shortages and oversized classes, students with special needs don’t always receive the necessary support to facilitate their learning. The implications are especially troubling given today’s increased focus on college and career readiness. Lack of parity for special needs education initiatives in K-12 can have devastating consequences for both affected students and for society at-large. How can equal opportunities for academic and social development be offered to children and young adults with disability?
The transition to adulthood is challenging for any young person, but particularly so for youth with disabilities. Recent years have seen initiatives around the world to better prepare students with disabilities for the new demands of adulthood. Common to these initiatives is a recognition that multiple factors influence transition, including type and severity of impairment, environmental barriers and supports, personal characteristics, and available socioeconomic resources.