2015 EMPOWER LEAD LEARN
Trone Student Center
3300 Poinsett Hwy.
Greenville, SC 29613
February 27, 2015
Dear Empowering A Future Transition Conference Attendee:
It is our pleasure to welcome you to the first Empowering A Future Transition
Conference. We are excited to be able to provide guidance in your journey in
assisting individuals with disabilities to reach their life goals.
Today we will share some tools and resources you need to assist individuals
with disabilities in making meaningful transition goals. We hope the sessions
empower you to improve post-secondary outcomes alongside your students
Thank you for your participation in the Empowering A Future Transition
Conference and for your willingness to allow us to be a part of such an
important and exciting time in the world of transition!
This conference is made possible by the following organizations:
Table of Contents
8:30 am - 9:30 am
Registration & Vendor Fair
Hallway in front of Room 211
9:30 am - 9:40 am
9:40 am - 10:30 am
Keynote: We Have Power!
10:40 am - 11:40 am
Session 1: Higher Expectations
11:40 am - 12:15 pm
Hallway in front of Room 211
12:15 pm - 1:10 pm
Lunch / We Have Been There
1:10 pm - 2:10 pm
Session 2: Inspiring Confidence
Student Led IEPs and You
2:20 pm - 3:20 pm
Session 3: The Best Lesson
Empowering Your Students to
Know Their Rights
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Session 4: Next Steps
Life after High School
4:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Empowering A Future &
Door Prizes Announced
Keynote: We Have Power!
9:40-10:30 am | Presenter: Amanda Randall, M.Ed., BCBA & Tori Saylor, I’m Determined
A critical marker of success in post-secondary education & beyond is the degree to
which individuals with disabilities become a guiding force in their own lives. Virginia
Department of Education’s I'm Determined Project will use video and storytelling to
present their experiences with self-determination as a critical marker of
success. Participants will walk away more aware of the issues at hand and how to
address the issues within their school. Participants will learn general strategies to
promote postsecondary education success for students with disabilities.
Session 1: Higher Expectations
10:40-11:40 pm | Presenters: John Payne, Office of Special Education Services &
Kimberly Tissot, Able South Carolina
The landscape of Special Education is changing in South Carolina. Hear from the
Director of the Office of Special Education Services about changes to address the
barriers facing our students with disabilities and how they will improve post-secondary
outcomes for students with disabilities. He will be joined by Able South Carolina, who will
offer a perspective from the disability community and challenge participants to
empower their students and hold them to higher standards.
Lunch & Transition Panel
12:15-1:10 pm | Panelists: Alex Cano, LaQuanda Porchea, Justin Williams,
David Dawson, & Mike Flowers
We Have Been There!
Hear from young adults with disabilities about their own transition experience. See
examples of how individuals got creative in overcoming obstacles along the way
in order to exceed expectations. Learn what tools they found helpful and some
strategies that empowered them to set and achieve their post-secondary goals.
Session 2: Inspiring Confidence
Student Led IEPs and You
1:15-2:15 pm | Presenters: Amanda Randall & Tori Saylor, I’m Determined Project
Engaging students in the IEP process can be challenging but rewarding You will have
the opportunity to gain insight from national leaders in the area of student-led IEPs.
You will gain the tools and strategies to encourage meaningful student participation in
the IEP process.
Session 3: The Best Lesson
Empowering Your Students to Know Their Rights
2:20-3:20 pm | Presenter: Pete Cantrell and Lynne Bosma, Protection and Advocacy
In order for students to be effective self-advocates in the transition process, education
professionals and students should have a basic understanding of disability rights and the
services available to help students with disabilities succeed in postsecondary education
and at work. Participants will learn basic requirements under: The Individuals with
Disabilities Act (IDEA); Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA),
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act.
Session 4: Next Steps
Life after High School
3:30-4:30 pm | Presenters: Jerri Davison & Rachel Kaplan, Able SC; Sandy Jordan,
SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department; & Terry Penland, Elodi Breg, & Carly Becknell,
Fort Mill High School
Prepare your students for life after high school. Discover new ways to engage your
students while in school. Find out how area resources like SC Vocational Rehabilitation
Department and Centers for Independent Living can be a part of the student’s support
system during the student’s high school career and throughout the post-secondary
Empowering A Future
Door prizes for Vendor Visits will be announced during this session
4:30-5:00 pm | Presenters: Dori Tempio, Able SC
In this session, each participant will set professional goals to empower their students with
disabilities to become more successful and independent.
to set and steer the course rather than remaining
Amanda Randall, M.Ed., BCBA
Amanda Randall is the Virginia Department of Education State I’m Determined Project Coordinator. Amanda atte
received a BS in Communication and The University of Massachusetts where she completed her Master’s in Education a
currently a fulltime student at West Virginia University in the Educational Psychology Doctoral program.
encourage parents and students to understand their disability and become self
serving on committees and participating in events to assist families affected by students with autism. Amanda’s passio
families to increase the social opportunities and independence of individuals with disabilities. She enjoys working in th
loves seeing students on the path to being productive, independent contributors to their community.
At the age of 19, Tori Saylor's life changed forever when she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (AS). Afte
differences between her Aspergers brain and a neurotypical brain, Tori sifted through her history to chronicle the strug
throughout the years. Take a journey, from childhood to self-determined adulthood, through Tori's life. Join her in relivin
transform her into the independent adult that she has continuously strived to be. If you or anyone you know has
motivated, and with a heightened awareness. Just when you think that you know everything there is to know about t
The I’m Determined project, a state directed project funded by the Virginia
Department of Education, focuses on providing direct instruction, models, and
opportunities to practice skills associated with self-determined behavior
beginning at the elementary level and continuing through the student’s
educational career. The self-determined student knows how to set and achieve
goals and has a greater understanding of personal strengths and how to get
support for areas of need. The hallmark of the self-determination project is the
“Aha Moment”: the point when student, educator and/or parent see how the
development of these skills leads to improved academic and personal
outcomes. This project facilitates youth, especially those with disabilities to
undertake a measure of control in their lives, helping to set and steer the course
rather than remaining the silent passenger. Teachers report seeing the “Aha
Moment” in their students to be one of the greatest rewards of their career.
to set and steer the course rather than remaining the silent passenger
he Virginia Department of Education State I’m Determined Project Coordinator. Amanda attended East Carolina University where she
munication and The University of Massachusetts where she completed her Master’s in Education and Applied Behavior Analysis. Amanda is
udent at West Virginia University in the Educational Psychology Doctoral program. Through trainings and events Amanda is able to
nd students to understand their disability and become self-determined. Amanda also continues to be actively involved in her community by
s and participating in events to assist families affected by students with autism. Amanda’s passion is working with children, educators, and
he social opportunities and independence of individuals with disabilities. She enjoys working in the classroom as well as training, but most
on the path to being productive, independent contributors to their community.
ri Saylor's life changed forever when she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (AS). After gaining a better understanding of the
her Aspergers brain and a neurotypical brain, Tori sifted through her history to chronicle the struggles and triumphs that had affected her
determined adulthood, through Tori's life. Join her in reliving the significant milestones that helped to
e independent adult that she has continuously strived to be. If you or anyone you know has AS, Tori's message will leave you curious,
a heightened awareness. Just when you think that you know everything there is to know about the Autism Spectrum, what you learn may
Carly Becknell is a senior at Fort Mill High School and a member of Dr. Penland’s
Academic Strategies class. As a spokesperson for Usher Syndrome awareness, she has
presented at professional conferences, and in high school and university classrooms
across the state. Carly will enter college next year to study to become a teacher of
Braille. Follow her journey on Facebook at Eye 2 Eye at www.facebook.com/
Lynne Bosma is an advocate with Protection and Advocacy for People for
Disabilities, Inc. (P&A).
She holds a Master of Social Work degree from the
University of South Carolina, College of Social Work and serves as a field educator and
adjunct faculty with the College.
Since 2006 she has worked to advance
disability rights in South Carolina. Her focus is on assisting youth with disabilities and
their families to gain access to educational and community services.
interests include: positive behavioral interventions and supports to help keep
children in their least restrictive environment, mental health, self-advocacy and
empowerment, policy analysis, and social justice/educational issues.
Elodi Breg is a junior at Fort Mill High School and also a member of Dr. Penland’s
Academic Strategies class. She is passionate about photography and aspires to own
her own business. Check out her photo gallery on Facebook: https://
Pete Cantrell is an attorney for Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities,
Inc. (P&A). Mr. Cantrell is a graduate of Wofford College (1979) and the Walter F.
George School of Law at Mercer University (1985). He clerked for the Honorable
William M. Catoe, Jr., United States Magistrate for the District of South Carolina.
Following his clerkship Mr. Cantrell worked for 9 years as a legal services attorney.
Since 1994 he has worked for P&A, representing people with disabilities in enforcing
their legal rights under statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Fair Housing Act, the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act and the South Carolina Bill of Rights for the Handicapped.
Jerri Davison is the Assistant Director of Able South Carolina. She graduated Magna
Cum Laude from Clemson University and earned her Juris Doctor
degree at the University of South Carolina School of Law. After spending several years
as a disability rights attorney advocating for community inclusion and
integration, she decided to leave the legal arena to pursue disability advocacy at the
grassroots level by joining Able South Carolina. Jerri has been at the
forefront of expanding Able SC’s transition and youth self-advocacy programs, which
serve to empower young adults across the state through peer support,
community education, and partnerships with local school districts.
Sandy Jordan is the Area Client Services Manager for the Rock Hill Vocational
She has worked in the Greenwood and Anderson
Vocational Rehabilitation offices. Her previous experience includes working with
adults through Department of Mental Health and national service through
AmeriCorps. She has served transition-aged youth for the past 7 years in the High
School/High Tech program. She has been a leader in transition services for the
Department of South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation; coordinating over 100 paid
internships for high school students. Sandy has a passion for working with young
people and helping to expose them to career options. She is a graduate of the
University Of South Carolina School Of Medicine Program in Rehabilitation Counseling.
She is a current Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Global Career Development
Rachel Kaplan is the Youth Transitions and Health Programs Coordinator at Able South
Carolina. She is also co-leading Able SC’s EQUIP series, a leadership program for
young adults with disabilities. Rachel has always had a passion for community
education and self-advocacy issues. As an undergraduate, Rachel volunteered with
CrossRoads Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center in Burlington, NC as an
advocate for crisis management situations. While obtaining her Master’s in Public
Health at the University of South Carolina, Rachel had the opportunity to work as a
Medical Adherence Specialist with the homeless and previously homeless population.
Rachel is excited to take her experience with various populations to Able South
Carolina, where she empowers individuals to accomplish goals, acquire new skills,
and learn to advocate for themselves.
John Payne is the Director of the Office of Special Education Services (OSES) at the
SC Department of Education. John has extensive experience in administering
state-level special education programs; has worked in child welfare agencies
including non-profit advocacy organizations; and has worked in program evaluation
and educational policy. He has taught at the high school, community college, and
university levels; and has published and presented nationally in the areas of social
justice, educational research, and special education. He is a member of the
National Association of State Directors of Special Education and serves as an ex
officio member of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind’s Board of
Dr. Terry Penland
Dr. Terry Penland is a special education teacher at Fort Mill High School, has been an
educator for 35 years. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona in
Language, Reading and Culture. Her research and teaching interests continue to
focus on the culture of special education with an emphasis on self-determination
and self-advocacy of adolescents with disabilities. These concepts provide the
underpinnings of a course she currently teaches, Academic Strategies.
Dori is the Information and Referral and Training Coordinator at Able South
Carolina and holds a Master’s of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University in
Counseling. She has been an advocate for people with disabilities for over 35 years.
Having served as a public school English teacher for twelve years, Dori, diagnosed
with a neuromuscular disorder at birth, has always been a strong proponent for
inclusion of young people with disabilities. Having spoken before Congress on
educational issues, Dori advocates for youth and adults with disabilities being
treated equally, and reaching their highest level of independence through
self-determination. She has served as a speaker for disability awareness, and
presented on the Americans with Disabilities Act, IDEA, service animals and more
Kimberly is the Executive Director of Able South Carolina where she guides the staff in
applying the philosophy of Independent living to real situations. Kimberly believes in
the value of individualized and community-based empowerment as she wants
people to recognize their full potential. Kimberly holds a BS degree in Human
Development from Wheelock College in Boston, MA and a Master of Social Work
from the University of South Carolina. During Kimberly’s time in Boston, she completed
a leadership program at Harvard University where the nonprofit world became an
interest. Kimberly became a self-advocate at an early age, after having her leg
amputated from a rare childhood cancer. Kimberly began deciding her style of
mobility, becoming the first soccer player with a disability in her town, and speaking
up anytime she was treated differently due to her disability. Kimberly has years of
experience advocating for disability inclusion with local, state, federal government,
and also internationally. Her special interests include: parenting with a disability,
youth leadership, disability awareness, assistive technology and accessibility.
Alex Cano is a twenty year old EQUIP Leader at Able South Carolina. Alex is originally from Colombia
and moved to the United States as a young child. Alex graduated from high school in June 2013 with an
Occupational Certificate. Alex was placed on the Occupational Track because of his disability, but he
is determined to get his GED and enter a Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Program. Over the past few
months, Alex has been working to raise awareness of problems with the Occupational Certificate track
and the limits it places on graduates. He created a petition regarding the issue that has received over
100 signatures and responses from some high-ranking politicians. In November, he was awarded
Student/Consumer of the year by SC the Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT). Alex is
Mapping his Future towards health, marriage, family, employment, and continued work for advocacy
for people with disabilities.
Robert D. Dawson, PhD, CRC is Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina
rehabilitation counseling program. Dr. Dawson, who has a learning disability that affects his reading,
writing, and speech, has worked with assistive technology since 1983. Prior to coming to the University of
South Carolina, he was the Program Coordinator for the Undergraduate Rehabilitation Studies Program
at Winston-Salem State University. At the University of Iowa Dr. Dawson was the director in charge of the
Iowa Center of Assistive Technology and Education Resources (ICATER). ICATER examined training and
research needs regarding assistive technology and information technology from K-12 and
post-secondary education through employment. He and his staff evaluated and trained students with
disabilities on assistive technology devices. At the University of Iowa Dr. Dawson also worked for the Law,
Health Policy and Disability Center. Dr. Dawson has a cognate in computer instructional design with
emphases on designing training software accessible to persons with and without disabilities.
Mike Flowers is a 24 year old college graduate with a BA in Graphic Design from Charleston Southern
University. He currently works as an Independent Living Specialist for AccessAbility, a Center for
Independent Living in Charleston. At 17, he received a brain injury when he was in a car accident,
which opened a lot of doors in his life. Because of this, he has been able to spend time providing
instruction for individuals with developmental disabilities, mentor a youth with autism who wants to be a
video game designer, and use his own life skills and story to inspire people with disabilities to reach their
LaQuanda Porchea is an outgoing, friendly person who enjoys being around people and making them
smile. LaQuanda was in a house fire when she was 8 years old and became someone with a disability.
She has been living in Columbia for over a year now in her own apartment. LaQuanda works for AbIe
SC as the Lead Independent Living Specialist. She loves her job because it is very rewarding to promote
independence in our community. In her younger years, she played volleyball at Blacksburg High
school. She graduated with a BA degree from Gardner-Webb University, where she worked for the
ladies basketball team. LaQuanda also has her Master’s Degree in Government from Regent University.
Justin Williams is an intern at Able South Carolina seeking a second master’s degree in rehabilitation
counseling. He has been an employee at the Commission for the Blind in the capacity of quality
control officer and trainer for the customer service certification program, and as a technology trainer
for students who were learning to use screen reading software on computers. He is looking forward to
the opportunity to share his experience both as a working professional and a college student, in hopes
of improving the abilities of professionals assisting with transition.
Able South Carolina, Protection and Advocacy for People with
Disabilities, and the South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council
would like to thank all of the stakeholders, speakers, panelist, vendors,
and Furman University for making Empowering A Future and Mapping
Your Future possible.