Archived Webinars

Thu 8/17/2017

STEP Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: Able TN: Achieving a Better Life Experience in Tennessee

STEP Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: Able TN: Achieving a Better Life Experience in Tennessee

Time:   12:30 PM -   1:30 PM Eastern

             11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Central


Tennessee Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE TN) is a savings program designed to help individuals with disabilities put aside money to pay for qualified expenses. These accounts provide the opportunity to save and invest with tax-free earnings to help participants maintain independence and quality of life. This presentation will provide an in-depth understanding of ABLE accounts with a focus on the ABLE TN program and its benefits to individuals with disabilities. 


Amanda Girard, Manager of Operations, TNStars College Savings 529 Program/ ABLE TN

Tennessee Treasury Department

Amanda serves as Manager of Operations for ABLE TN and TNStars College Savings 529 Program, both programs of the Tennessee Treasury Department. Amanda has worked with ABLE TN since its inception in 2016, and she has also served as a Customer Service Representative for TNStars. Amanda attended Belmont University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. 

Click here to register

Thu 8/3/2017

STEP Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: Decreasing Bullying: What Parents Show Know About Bullying and Prevention

Click here for the Archived Webinar

Click here to download PowerPoint presentation

Click here for Handout: PACER: Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities

Click here for Handout: PACER: The Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Bullying

Click here for Handout: PACER: Parent Action Plan

Description:  This webinar is designed for parents and/or caregivers who desire to learn what “bullying” means, laws and policies to protect students with disabilities, and how they can support their children and schools with the prevention, witnessing, and/or victimization of bullying.   

Presenter: Deborah Yates McBride STEP, Inc. Director of Rural Services and Professional Development Specialist

Deborah began providing services with STEP as a contracted District Parent Trainer in 2012 and transitioned into a full time staff position in October of 2016. Deborah holds a B.S. in Special Education from Bethel University, McKenzie, TN and a M.Ed. in Special Education from Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, AZ. Deborah represents the Southwest Developmental District for the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities appointed by Governor Haslam in 2013. She spent the majority of her professional life teaching students with disabilities within the public school system. Deb is the mother of four children. She attained personal knowledge of navigating the educational system by advocating for two of her children with exceptionalities. Deb’s extensive background as a special educator as well as personal experiences provide her a unique ability to understand the logistics of the educational system as well as best practices, accommodations and modifications necessary for student success. 

Tue 5/23/2017

STEP, Inc. Presents Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: Serving Incarcerated Youth

Click here to download PowerPoint presentation

Click here for Handout: Juvenile Justice Fact Sheet

Click here for Archived Webinar


Participants will explore practical and prescriptive methods that involve the education of youth in secure settings. Information will be shared that can reduce the possibilities of re-offending and increase the opportunities of successful reentry, higher education, and sustainable employment.   


Derek Flake Juvenile Justice & Civil Rights Liaison, STEP, Inc.

Derek Flake has both personal and professional experience navigating primary, secondary, and higher education in relation to disability advocacy. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership from Union University and is a 2013 Volunteer Advocacy Project graduate of Vanderbilt University. Currently, Derek is pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Educational Law from NOVA Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law. Derek currently serves as the Juvenile Justice & Civil Rights Liaison for Support & Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP) Inc. in Tennessee.

Mon 5/23/2016

Input on Revising the TN Special Education Eligibility Standards Webinar

Click here for Archived Webinar

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation

The TN Department of Education is in the process of revising the Disability Eligibility Standards for Special Education. They have asked STEP to invite the Disability Coalition on Education and the TDC Special Education Workgroup to participate in this effort.

STEP will be hosting a 30-minute webinar on Monday, May 23, 2016 at 1 pm central | 2 pm eastern where Theresa Nicholls, the Tennessee Department of Education's Director of Special Education Eligibility, will share where the Department is in the revision process and the timelines moving forward.

If there is an interest, STEP is offering to facilitate a work session on Friday, May 27, 2016 after the MegaConference in Nashville. Meeting details will be determined, based on interest and logistics.

The Department is requesting that input on the revisions be submitted to them by June 10, 2016 to or

The current Disability Eligibility Standards for Special Education in Tennessee can be found on the Department of Education's website under "Initial Eligibility" at this link:

Thu 5/5/2016

STEP, Inc. Presents Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: Introduction to the Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program

Date:    Thursday, May 5, 2016

Click here for Archived Webinar

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation

Click here to download the Tennessee IEA Parent Handbook

Click here to download the Tennessee IEA Provider Handbook

Click here to download the IEA (Individual Education Account) Information Sheet (STEP, Inc.)

Click here for Tennessee Individualized Education Account Program website

Click here for 2016 Summer Training Information Sessions (TDOE)


The Individualized Education Account (IEA) Program is a new school choice program for eligible students with disabilities. The program provides options for parents to choose the education opportunities that best meet the unique needs of their child through access to public education funds. This presentation will provide an overview of the IEA Program, including how students enroll in the program, a description of the account holder responsibilities, and what types of expenses IEA funds can be used for. 


Rebecca E. Wright

Director, Individualized Education Program, Tennessee Department of Education

Ms. Wright is the Director of the Individualized Education Account Program at the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). She earned a bachelor’s degree in social science education from Southeastern University, and a master’s degree in public policy specializing in K-12 education policy from Vanderbilt University where her research focused on school choice. She is a former middle school social studies inclusion teacher and also worked as a Legislative Research Analyst for the Tennessee Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability. Ms. Wright joined the TDOE in 2013 as the Policy and Communications Coordinator for the Division of Curriculum and Instruction. 

Thu 4/14/2016

STEP's Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: Improved Outcomes – Strategies and Training for Providers and Families of Children and Youth with Hearing/ Vision Loss or Traumatic Brain Injury

Click here for Archived Webinar

Click here for Project BRAIN Presentation

Project BRAIN Handouts:

1) Project BRAIN at a Glance (in multi-languages)

2) Project BRAIN - Signs, Symptoms (in multi-languages)

Project BRAIN (Brain Resource and Information Network) delivers training and resources to facilitate teamwork for teachers, families, health professionals and all who support students in Tennessee with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A program of the TN Disability Coalition since 2000, BRAIN is designed to improve outcomes for children and youth in Tennessee who experience TBI. Through a partnership with the TN Department of Health's TBI program and TN Department of Education, the program has trained thousands who educate, parent, coach, and care for students of any age. In recent years BRAIN has expanded to include three liaisons at partnering children's hospitals across the state for a follow up process that helps to provide the communication link between the hospital, home and school.

Click here for Tennessee Deaf-Blind Project Presentation

Tennessee Deaf-Blind Project (TNDB) is a funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (Grant H326T130030), that provides families, educators, and other professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to improve outcomes for individuals, age’s birth through 21, who have a combined hearing and vision loss. Technical assistance and support is provided FREE to an individual who has both a vision and hearing loss or has a diagnosis that leads to a vision and hearing loss.


Jennifer J. Rayman, Ed.S., CRC, CBIS

Project Brain, Curriculum Coordinator / Trainer

Mrs. Rayman has been with Project BRAIN since 2003. While PB grew in numbers and in goals to support students with Concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury, Jennifer completed an Education Specialist Degree in 2007 in Special Education and Brain Injury at The George Washington University. Jennifer is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Certified Brain Injury Specialist. She is married to a devoted teacher/coach and they have a sweet 18 month old son, Jackson, and a poodle named Tyler.

Danna Conn, M.S., CEIM

Tennessee Deaf-Blind Project, Project Coordinator, Division of Developmental Medicine and the Center for Children Development, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

Mrs. Conn has worked as the Project Coordinator for the past 3 years to provide coordination for the daily activities of the project, staff supervision, and continued collaborations with agencies/ individuals across the state to address system and child outcomes through providing evidence-based technical assistance, training and consultation, ensure collection of evaluation data and census, and increase public awareness about deaf-blindness. She has previously worked as an Early Intervention Specialist in North Carolina and EDIS in Aviano, Italy for over 10 years.

Thu 1/28/2016

STEP, Inc. Presents Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: “Are You Ready For TNReady?"

This webinar session provided an overview of the new TNReady assessment system with a focus on accessibility and accommodations. Reviewed the accessibility features available for all students, accessibility features which need to be identified in advance and the process required, as well as accommodations for students with a disability. The session also covered how to determine the level of support needed to increase access to the assessment. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions and receive links to additional resources.

Click here for the Archived Webinar

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation


Lori Nixon is the Director of Assessment Design for Special Populations with the Tennessee Department of Education. She is a former Special Education Supervisor and has experience as a special education teacher in both private and residential settings in Tennessee. Lori has a Master’s Degree in Special Education with a focus on Autism and Emotional Disturbance from Auburn University and her Administrative Endorsement from Trevecca Nazarene University.

Tue 11/10/2015

Connecting Partners and Resources to Prepare Youth for Careers: A Federal Partners in Transition Webinar

The Federal Partners in Transition (FPT) hosted its first webinar on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, focusing on post-secondary transition activities for students and youth with disabilities.

The FPT workgroup highlights the coordinated strategies of several federal agencies, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration.  

Educational practices, career development and employment strategies, and benefits counseling will be presented. The event is designed to inform the transition community including students and youth with disabilities, their family members, practitioners, vocational rehabilitation counselors, educators, public and private sector agencies and other partners about a wide variety of federally funded resources. 

The audio for this webinar has not released.  As soon as it is made available, the link will be posted to this site.  Please continue to check back.

Wed 10/21/2015

Occupational Diploma Webinars

The occupational diploma became effective Jan.11, 2015 and is available to any student on an IEP beginning in the 2015-16 school year. It is one of the two diploma options available to students who have an active IEP and will not be able to meet the general education diploma requirements, even with appropriately implemented intervention, accommodations, and/or modifications as outlined within the IEP. The occupational diploma is designed to increase likelihood of successful, integrated employment.  

Several webinars have been scheduled to provide information and an opportunity for questions about the occupational diploma.  Topics will include:

  • What is the occupational diploma?
  • How was it developed?
  • Which students are eligible?
  • How do students earn it?

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation

Click here for SKEMA (Skills, Knowledge, and Experience Mastery Assessment handout

Click here for recording

If you have questions, please email


Tue 10/13/2015

Occupational Diploma Webinars

The occupational diploma became effective Jan.11, 2015 and is available to any student on an IEP beginning in the 2015-16 school year. It is one of the two diploma options available to students who have an active IEP and will not be able to meet the general education diploma requirements, even with appropriately implemented intervention, accommodations, and/or modifications as outlined within the IEP. The occupational diploma is designed to increase likelihood of successful, integrated employment.  

Several webinars have been scheduled to provide information and an opportunity for questions about the occupational diploma.  Topics will include:

  • What is the occupational diploma?
  • How was it developed?
  • Which students are eligible?
  • How do students earn it?

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation

Click here for SKEMA (Skills, Knowledge, and Experience Mastery Assessment handout

Click here for recording

If you have questions, please email


Thu 7/23/2015

STEP's Lunchtime Leaders Webinar - “Supporting Dual Language Families”

Click here for the Archived Webinar

Click here for the Webinar PowerPoint Presentation

To offer tips for families who speak dual languages including:

  • School Enrollment: Registration rights and requirements, grade placement, language accessibility and community access in general;
  • Eligibility for ESL (English as a Second Language) Services: What is it? Immersion? Flow of services;
  • IEP (Individual Education Program) Participation: Process, eligibility, diagnosis, determining between language difference or disability, Bilingual Staff’s roles and more;
  • Accommodations, Assessments and Evaluations for ESL’s;
  • Transition from High School: Testing, graduation and life after high school.


Patricia Valladares, Multicultural Community Engagement Coordinator, STEP, Inc.

Patricia provides information to Hispanic families statewide and assists in outreach efforts to Hispanic families. Patricia worked as an Inter-Institutional Advocate for nine years and served on the Committee for the Blind and Deaf in Guatemala, Central America. She is a native Spanish speaker and is a person who experiences blindness. Patricia serves as the Governor appointed PTI representative on the board of the Statewide Independent Living Council and is a Board member of the Middle TN Council of the Blind.

Martha Lopez, Bilingual Family Educator and Project Assistant, STEP, Inc.

Martha currently attends Belhaven University for a B.A. in Social Services and has more than 13 years of experience in the field of education. Martha has been a strong advocate for the Hispanic community, first through her job with Memphis City Schools where she worked as a Bilingual Cultural Mentor for 8 years and now with STEP for 3 years. Her expertise in breaking down cultural and communication barriers has helped the non-English speaking students and parents accommodate to the customs of American society, including the school system. Her commitment and passion is to serve the children and their families with disabilities empowering them along their journey.

Tue 5/19/2015

STEP's Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: “Helping Students Find Their Voice - Self Advocacy Strategies”

Click here for the Archived Webinar

Click here for the Webinar PowerPoint Presentation


The objective for this webinar is to teach participants how to empower students so that they can build the confidence needed to advocate for themselves. To provide examples on how to engage students in the IEP process by allowing them to learn about their learning styles, strengths and weaknesses and how to ask for help when needed while still maintaining a maximum level of independence. This webinar will discuss the following topics: 

  • Disability Awareness
  • Interest Inventories
  • How to effectively communicate wants, needs, and problems that may arise
  • Developing the confidence needed to work and live independently 

Provide participants with the tools and strategies needed to help build a student’s confidence in order to get and keep a job and live as independently as possible.


Joey Ellis, Middle Tennessee Regional Coordinator

STEP, Inc. 

Joey Ellis became part of the STEP team in July of 2011. Joey holds a B.S. Special Education from the University of Tennessee at Martin and has 5 years of teaching experience in both CDC and Resource settings. As a person who experiences disability, a mild form of Cerebral Palsy, Mr. Ellis had an IEP growing up. He watched as his parents advocated for his rights and eventually began advocating for his own rights. These life circumstances led him to pursue a degree in Special Education and a career helping both students with special needs and their families. Joey’s areas of expertise and special interest are in Transition Planning, Autism, and Cerebral Palsy. Joey and his wife reside in Nashville.

Thu 4/16/2015

STEP, Inc. Presents Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: “Cultural Competency within School Districts”

Click here for the Webinar PowerPoint 

Click here for Archived Webinar


Cultural competence is the key to thriving in culturally diverse classrooms and schools and it can be learned, practiced, and institutionalized to better serve diverse students, their families, and their communities. 

Our objective for this webinar is to provide an opportunity for teachers and school personnel to learn how to successfully interact with families who have children and youth with special needs from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.     

To empower families and students with skills and strategies on how to speak up when they feel that they are not being treated with respect and dignity as they advocate for their children with disabilities, particularly in the context of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504 meetings.   How to assert your rights in a manner that is non-confrontational and most likely to result in a positive change.    

Provide information that would also benefit youth with disabilities who are not being provided a fair opportunity to access programs and services and to participate in the development of their post-secondary transition plans due to factors such as race, socio-economic issues, rural isolation, and language barriers. 


Tery Medina, Associate Director

The Southeastern Equity Center

Tery has a wide range of practical, classroom-based experience.  She has been a teacher of the Learning Disabled, Gifted, Pre-K, Elementary and Adult ESOL.  As an adjunct instructor, Tery has taught courses in ESL Methodology, Curriculum Development, Bilingualism, Cross-Cultural Issues, and English.  Tery has provided training and technical assistance to numerous State Departments of Education, Community Based Organizations, Local Education Agencies, and other professional groups in the areas of Second Language Acquisition, Equal/Equitable Education, The Hispanic Cultures, Human Relations, Special Education, Parental and Community Involvement, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  Tery Medina participates in several professional organizations and is involved in advocacy to provide equal and equitable opportunities for language minority students and their families.  Tery came to the U.S. as a Cuban refugee.  She has devoted much of her life to building bridges across cultural differences towards mutual respect and understanding.

Thu 3/26/2015

STEP, Inc. Presents Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: “Families Dealing with a New Diagnosis”

Title:    “Families Dealing with a New Diagnosis”

Date:    Thursday, March 26, 2015

Click here for the Archived Webinar

Click here for the Webinar PowerPoint

Having a child with a disability or special health care needs can be a life altering experience...but with the support of another parent we begin to see through the cracks and find joy in places we never could have imagined. Our journey continues, but this time we feel that we will survive because we know another parent who has.

This informative webinar will provide families with information on the Tennessee Parent-to-Parent Matching Program for families dealing with a new diagnosis.  Participants will also receive strategies for dealing with a new diagnosis for their child.


The Tennessee Parent-to-Parent Matching Program provides peer support to any child’s family through one-to-one connections. Our Matching Program provides support, information, and resources from an experienced, trained parent who has undergone a similar journey caring for a child with a disability or special health care need. 

A parent match specifically connects the requesting parent with an experienced, supporting parent who can:

  • Help with problem-solving,
  • Listen to you and truly understand your circumstances,
  • Offer emotional support,
  • Connect you to community resources,
  • Give first-hand experience about caring for and parenting a child with special health care needs, and
  • Make referrals to other agencies that can provide additional support.

Parent-to-Parent matching is available to any parent or family member of a child with a special health care needs.  


Kara Adams, Program Coordinator

Family Voices of Tennessee 

Kara Adams is the Program Coordinator for Family Voices of Tennessee and oversees Tennessee's Parent to Parent. Kara is also the Family Consultant to The Department of Health's Child and Family Wellness Program. However, her most important role is mom to Kael. Kael was born with a rare and complex Congenital Heart Disorder- Taussig- Bing Anomaly.

Thu 3/19/2015

STEP, Inc. Presents Lunchtime Leaders Webinar: “Understanding Medicaid Billing by School Districts”

Title:    “Understanding Medicaid Billing by School Districts”

Date:    Thursday, March 19, 2015

Click here for the archived webinar

Click here for Webinar PowerPoint

Click below for Webinar handouts:

Stellar Therapy

Accessing Medicaid funds can be daunting. The documentation and billing requirements may seem overwhelming. Requirements may also vary significantly from state to state. Finally, Medicaid policies and procedures change frequently, making it difficult for providers and advocates to keep up with the different requirements they have to meet. Despite the complexities involved, some schools and districts have used Medicaid as a reliable source of funding for school-based health and mental health services.


Tennessee school districts are eligible to receive reimbursement from Medicaid for certain health services provided in schools, such as Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy. In today's webinar you will learn the basics of Medicaid reimbursement in Tennessee including eligible services, parental consent laws, insurance billing, and how billing Medicaid benefits students by providing school districts with additional funding for staffing and equipment. Our most-asked questions from parents will be covered, and there will be a Q&A at the end of the webinar. 


Holly Christopher, Medicaid Reimbursement Program Director

Stellar Therapy Services, Chattanooga, TN

Stellar Therapy Services currently provides Medicaid billing services to 29 school districts across the state of Tennessee. Stellar Therapy's mission is to insure that all Tennessee school districts receive the reimbursements available to them from Medicaid for eligible medical services provided in schools. Holly has been with Stellar Therapy for 15 years.

Tue 3/25/2014

STEP's Lunchtime Leader's Webinar “Self-Determination Curriculum and Transition Resources”

Title:    “Self-Determination Curriculum and Transition Resources”

Date:    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Click here for the archived webinar. 

Click here for webinar PowerPoint. 

Click here for Personal Profile Brochure

Question:  Is there a list of the TN Applied Science Centers and if so, how do you get one? 

Answer:     Here’s the website that they can use to pick their closest location.   


                     They are now called the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.

Curriculum Description: 

The University of Tennessee Center for Literacy, Education & Employment conducts training and technical assistance in delivering a self-determination and career planning curriculum to school systems interested in assisting students self-determine their career planning at the point of transition from school to adult life. The self-determination and career planning approach curriculum is based on the principles of self-determination. Students receive instruction and opportunity to practice self and career discovery. The targeted participants are in an inclusive classroom with both regular and special education teachers co-teaching. The class objectives include providing students decision-making skills to increase self-discovery, planning for career and post-secondary outcomes, and participating in the IEP process.

Personal Profile Brochure Description: 

One of the obstacles that parents often face is trying to explain their child’s needs and behaviors to new individuals that come into the child’s life.  Using a very simple template, parents can create a Personal Brochure that will help with some of the questions that people often have.  This is an awesome tool to use to introduce a child to service providers including new teachers, personal assistants and even school bus drivers just to name a few. 


Crystal Godwin, Self-Determination Trainer/Transition Consultant

University of Tennessee

Center for Literacy, Education and Employment

A Transition Consultant since 2011, Crystal supports students with disabilities and educators in Tennessee for the TN Department of Education. She is very enthusiastic about sharing the keys to promote empowerment through self-determination and self-advocacy as well as to assist in the successful transition from school to adult-life. Previously she worked with the Center for Disability and Employment in as the Program Resource Specialist before becoming a Self-Determination Trainer in February 2008.

Before joining the Center staff, Crystal was an Education Director for a nationally recognized after school and summer youth oriented organization. Crystal has had many years working and assisting individuals with disabilities, both personally and professionally and is eager to share her knowledge along with the Self-Determination Curriculum and Transition resources with today’s youth by giving them the tools they need to make the best choices for their future.

She is dedicated to her belief and passion that all individuals have a gift or talent to contribute to their community. 

Archived Recorded Webinar: (Archived by STEP, Inc. Tue, Mar 25, 2014 2:37 PM EDT)

2014-03-25 12.33 STEP's Lunchtime Leader's -


Tue 12/17/2013

STEP's Lunchtime Leader's - “The Impact of Common Core State Standards for Students with Disabilities” Webinar

Due to technical difficulty some of our registrants were unable to hear the beginning of the webinar.  After learning there was a problem, the presentation was restarted (beginning at time stamp 16:45 within the recording).   

Click here for the archived webinar. 

Click here to print the webinar PowerPoint. 


Karen Harrison, Executive Director with STEP, Inc.


In an effort to ensure that high school students graduate prepared for college and career, Tennessee has joined a number of states to develop and implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Tennessee is taking steps to enhance the quality of instruction and learning for its students. As the standards are being rolled out and implemented across Tennessee families who have children and youth with disabilities have many questions regarding the impact of the standards on students with disabilities. STEP has worked with the Tennessee Department of Education, Division of Special Populations, to provide information about the foundations of common core and how the needs of students with disabilities are being specifically addressed.

This webinar will be STEP 1 of a two part process. First, we will present the training to families and interested individuals and at the conclusion of the webinar we will be soliciting feedback and further questions that families have so that Tennessee Department of Education personnel can systematically answer the specific questions that families have regarding the impact of Common Core State Standards for Students with Disabilities.

Current Recorded Webinar: (Archived by Karen Harrison, Tue, Dec 17, 2013 1:43 PM EST)
2013-12-17 12.30 STEP’s Lunchtime Leader’s - The

Wed 10/2/2013

Webinar: Instructionally Appropriate IEPs

Presented by: Tennessee Department of Education on October 2, 2013.

STEP, Inc. offered multiple opportunities to learn about what Response to Intervention (RTI) means for students with disabilities and new state guidance on writing Instructionally Appropriate IEP’s.

Click the link to view the archived recording:

Click here to print PowerPoint presentation

Tue 8/20/2013

Webinar - "Response to Intervention (RTI²) Training: Families Guide to Implementation and New Guidelines for Identifying Specific Learning Disabilities"

Presented by the Tennessee Department of Education was held Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

Click here for archived webinar recording 

Click here to print PowerPoint Presentation 

Webinar Description: 


The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), Division of Special Populations is implementing a statewide Response to Instruction and Intervention framework (RTI²) that will have an impact on ALL students.   Families and students will need to be well informed regarding this process.

Webinar included: 40 minutes of information and presentation (visual).  It also included 20 minute Q & A.  During Q&A, participants typed questions into computer and the question were answered so all can hear.  (Note:  Q&A's will be posted ASAP).

This webinar answered questions such as:

  1. Does the RTI² process affect the eligibility process and timelines for disabilities other than Specific Learning Disabilities?
  2. How does RTI² affect a parent’s request for a comprehensive evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services?
  3. What are the tiers of intervention and the timeline for implementation of RTI²?
  4. How will the RTI² process be monitored and how will families be informed of their child’s progress?  

This information was an overview of the Tennessee RTI² model as well as discussion and activities related to successful implementation of RTI². Topics included data analysis, special education eligibility, implementation integrity, timelines for implementation and evaluating the effectiveness of RTI² implementation.

Information was provided regarding changes to the evaluation process for Specific Learning Disabilities. The state board of education approved the elimination of the discrepancy model and adopted a method based on responsiveness to instruction and intervention as the criterion for determining whether a child has a specific learning disability in the areas of basic reading skills, reading fluency, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, mathematics problem solving and written expression. This change is in effect as of July 1, 2014.


Tie Hodack, Ed.S.

Tie Hodack is the Director of Instructional Programming for the Tennessee Department of Education, previously the Director of Data.  For 4.5 years, she was a school psychologist and served on the Response to Intervention leadership team for Williamson county schools.  Tie moved from Michigan 6 years ago, where she served in many roles including school psychologist, literacy coach and Response to Intervention coach.

Theresa Nicholls, Ed.S., NCSP

Theresa Nicholls is the Evaluation Services Coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Education.  Theresa previously worked as a School Psychologist for Williamson County Schools where she contributed to the implementation of Response to Intervention at the school and district levels. She earned her M.S. and Ed.S. from MTSU and is nationally certified by the National Association of School Psychologists.

Tue 7/23/2013

Webinar: Understanding the role of Vocational Rehabiltation in Transition from School to Work

STEP hosted a lunchtime leaders webinar on "Understanding the Role of Vocational Rehabilitation in Transition from School to Work"

This session was intended to enhance the participants' understanding of the role of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) in the Transition from School to Work (TSW) process, and encourage collaboration with VR to plan and prepare for employment related transition goals of eligible students with disabilities.


The featured presenter will be Becky Allen, M.Ed., CVE. Becky joined the Disability Law and Advocacy Center (DLAC) in April 2010 as the Access and Client Assistance Program (CAP) Advocate for East Tennessee. She earned a Master of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling/Vocational Evaluation from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Becky has 20 years of experience as a vocational evaluator and psychometrist and worked primarily with students with disabilities in a secondary school setting. In her current role as a CAP Advocate, Becky assists applicants and clients of Vocational Rehabilitation in East Tennessee. Additional transition strategies and resources will be presented by STEP staff.  

Current Recorded Webinar: (Archived by Karen Harrison, Tue, Jul 23, 2013 1:49 PM EDT)
2013-07-23 12.29 Understanding the Role Of Vocati...rk.wmv

Click here to print PowerPoint presentation

Questions asked by attendees and responses

Links for additional information:




Mon 7/15/2013

Webinar: AUCD and the Multicultural Council Present: The Role of Self-Assessment in Achieving Cultural & Linguistic Competence


Webinar Description:

Organizational self-assessment is a necessary, effective, and systematic way to plan for and incorporate cultural and linguistic competence.  An assessment should address attitudes, behaviors, policies, structures, and practices of an organization, including those of its board, staff, and volunteers. While there are many tools and instruments to assess organizational cultural and linguistic competence, few have been developed to address the cross-section of organizations concerned with disability. The Cultural and Linguistic Competence Assessment for Disability Organizations (CLCADO) was developed specifically for this purpose.  The CLCADO is intended to support organizations to (1) plan for and incorporate culturally and linguistically competent values, policies, structures, and practices in all aspects of their work; (2) enhance the quality of services, supports, and advocacy provided to diverse and underserved communities; (3) effect change in education, training, technical assistance, research, and public policy; and (4) advance cultural and linguistic competence as an essential approach to address racial and ethnic disparities and promote equity for people who experience disabilities and their families. This webinar will examine the rationale, benefits, and process for self-assessment and introduce the CLCADO.


Tawara Goode, MA is the Director of the National Center for Cultural Competence and Associate Director of the GUCCHD, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. She is a Research Associate within the Department of Pediatrics. Ms. Goode's work focuses on increasing the capacity of health care and mental health programs to design, implement, and evaluate culturally and linguistically competent service delivery systems. Ms. Goode has been actively involved in the development and implementation of programs and initiatives in the area of cultural and linguistic competence at local, national and international levels. Ms. Goode is nationally recognized as a leader in the area of cultural and linguistic competency. Ms. Goode has published articles, monographs and policy papers on such topics as policies that support cultural and linguistic competence, children and families who are homeless, community-based service delivery models and the inclusion of children with disabilities and their families in child care.

This Webinar is in part made possible with support from The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).

Tue 5/28/2013

Webinar: Service Implications of the DSM-5 for People with Autism

"Service Implications of the DSM-5 for People with Autism" A presentation provided by Ari Ne’eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. 

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) will be released in May and is accompanied by much talk about what this will mean for individuals with autism and their families when it comes to obtaining a diagnosis and receiving services. In this archived webinar, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) discussed the various revisions to the autism diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5, along with the service provision implications. Presenters addressed breaking down silos between those diagnosed with Asperger's disorder and those with other autism spectrum disorder diagnoses. This webinar also provide strategies to help inform educators, clinicians and other professionals about the diversity among people on the autism spectrum.


Ari Ne’eman is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults seeking to increase the representation of Autistic people across society. He is an Autistic adult and a leading advocate in the neurodiversity and self-advocacy movements. In 2009, President Obama nominated Ari to the National Council on Disability, a federal agency charged with advising Congress and the President on disability policy issues. He was confirmed by the Senate in July 2010 and currently chairs the Council’s Entitlements Committee.

Duration:  1 hour 30 minutes 

View webinar on-demand.

View PowerPoint Slides for this webinar.



Mon 4/29/2013

Webinar: Creating a College-Going Culture in the Latino Community

Find out more in this archived webinar about how to engage Latino families around this important topic. The webinar, presented by Alejandra Rincón, Ph. D., Vice President of Scholarships and Programs at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, highlighted the importance of parental support and involvement throughout the entire college preparation process.


Tue 3/19/2013

STEP's Lunchtime Leader's Webinar on Bullying Prevention

This webinar is not yet released for public viewing. You may download the PowerPoint for information and resources that may be helpful.

Bullying Prevention_TN Part 1.pdf

Bullying Prevention_TN Part 2.pdf


PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center unites, engages and educates communities nationwide to address bullying through creative, relevant and interactive resources. PACER’s bullying prevention resources are designed to benefit all students, including students with disabilities.  Let’s learn together how to address the issue of bullying!

About our Speakers:

Julie Hertzog has been with PACER Center for 13 years where she serves as the Director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center. Julie leads the development of the training materials for bullying prevention, coordinates awareness raising initiatives and provides advocacy for students in bullying situations. Julie is the parent of three school-aged children, including her 16-year-old son, David, who was born with Down syndrome and significant health issues.

Jody Manning has been with by PACER Center for 9 years where she serves as the Parent Training and Information Center Coordinator. She presents workshops to parents and professionals on a variety of topics, coordinates a number of projects, and works individually with parents of children with special needs to help them understand how to advocate on behalf of their children. Jody has a background in nursing and psychology.  She is the proud parent of a son with special needs who is currently a college student.

You can read more about PACER’s Bullying Resources on our website news here.  

Tue 12/4/2012

TN Virtual Academy Webinar

STEP hosted a webinar on the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA) to share information about this free online public school. The TNVA has been authorized by the Union County School District to serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Randy Bretza, Local Development Manager for TNVA, and Tara Richardson, with, were our guest presenters for this webinar.  In addition to sharing what is available to students through this online academy and how it works, Randy and Tara answered questions which will be saved in a Q & A document that will be posted on our website.

The TN Virtual Academy is open for students in TN to enroll. 

Many families have found TNVA to be a another option to meet the educational needs of their children. In situations such as,
   *child didn't  fit into the traditional classroom setting
   *wanted a small learning environment without the costs
   *had bullying issues
   *has learning disabilities
   *wanted to receive instruction on their level
   *wanted to move at a faster or slower pace,
TNVA has been a great alternative for their children.

Students socialize with each other through the virtual online academy as well as on field trips.

To access the archived webinar, click here.


TN Virtual Academy PowerPoint Part 1                      TN Virtual Academy PowerPoint Part 2

Questions and Answers Set 1                                    Questions and Answers Set 2 

Tue 10/23/2012

Webinar With Deputy Commissioner Kathleen M. Airhart, Ed.D


Current Recorded Webinar: (Archived by Karen Harrison, Tue, Oct 23, 2012 1:50 PM EDT)
2012-10-23 12.30 Updates from Dr. Kathleen Airhar...on.wmv

Power Point for presentation: STEP SPED updates Oct2012 for WEBINAR handouts.pdf

Dr. Kathleen Airhart presentrf a webinar designed to inform families and students, and those who work with them, about current Department of Education initiatives.

Dr. Airhart was appointed as Deputy Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Education in January 2012. Previously she has served in roles for the Putnam County School System, including teacher, Special Education Supervisor and for the past 6 years, Director of Schools. She holds a Doctorate from Tennessee State University in Curriculum and Instruction and a Bachelors, Masters, and Ed.S. from Tennessee Tech University.

She has authored numerous articles and received various awards related to education. She was named Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents for 2011-2012. During the course of her career, Dr. Airhart has actively engaged and led education reform efforts to improve PK-12 educational results for all children in Tennessee.

Topics covered include:
. Education reform through Tennessee's First to the Top plan
. Review of the Department's structure including Field Service Centers
. Common core standards
. Changes to assessment that are on the horizon
. Strategic priorities to reach 6% gap closure for students with

Tue 4/17/2012

Assistive Technology Breakthroughs for Students with Disabilities Webinar

Alice Wershing from East Tennessee Technology Access Center presented information on technology breakthroughs for use with children and youth with disabilities. Ms. Wershing has years of experience matching technology to the needs of students with disabilities to improve their access to the curriculum. She is a wealth of information and will answer questions related to use of technology for children and youth with disabilities.

Assistive Technology Webinar

View  on our You Tube Channel.  Click here to view it now!

Print out the powerpoint here.

Tue 2/21/2012

Webinar - Conservatorship & Special Needs Trust

Persons with disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, often face legal issues related to decision making, eligibility for certain benefits, and continuation of benefits under certain circumstances. Parents and families members often have questions about transfer of rights at the "age of majority". Parents, teachers, and providers can get answers to these and other frequently asked questions on the topics of Conservatorships and Special Needs Trusts. Ed Maurer of Maurer and Gardner, PLLC has years of experience assisting families who have loved ones with special needs.   

Click here for archived file available in AUDIO only 


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