Embrace the journey at the 2024 Every Child Counts Symposium
November 13, 2023
ACSA’s Every Child Counts Symposium is the destination for educators in all levels of special education and student services who want to transform their practice to better serve students. This year’s conference is set for Jan. 10-12, 2024 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert. More than 1,700 educators are expected to attend ACSA’s biggest conference of the year, which will explore the theme: “Destination Transformation: Embracing the Journey on the Road Less Traveled.”
Conference Planning Committee Co-chair Charity Plaxton-Hennings said this year’s theme recognizes that administrators in student services and special education have embraced a journey that is not taken by many.
“It is a choice to work in the most difficult situations and with students and families who are also journeying the ‘road less traveled,’” she said. “However, we recognize that while we are choosing a difficult path, this is a journey that, when embraced, can transform us into the best version of ourselves. By focusing on the resilience of our students and the victories, we ourselves are transformed.”
Presented by ACSA’s Student Services & Special Education Council, the Every Child Counts Symposium is designed for both beginning and veteran educators and focuses on the latest in the field of student services and special education.
Planning Committee Co-chairs Plaxton-Hennings, Eli Gallup and Ginese Quann carefully review feedback and intentionally engage with administrators and other educators in the field to ensure that conference topics are relevant and timely.
“The field of special education and student services is constantly pivoting to respond to new laws, policies and research, and embrace best practices for students,” Plaxton-Hennings said. “Attendees should come ready to learn and be challenged in their own journey.”
Just some of the more than 70 sessions scheduled for the conference include:
  • Special Education Teacher Shortage Got You Down? Tips and Strategies. on How to Attract and Keep Special Education Teachers.
  • Engaging All Students: Lessons Learned from Incarcerated Youth.
  • Inclusive Early Education.
  • Tips for IEP Success for Administrators.
  • Creating an Authentic Allyship Community for Students with Disabilities.
  • Restorative Restart: Addressing Attendance Habits in a Post-Pandemic World.
  • Integrating Autism Evidence Based Practices Within Educational Initiatives.
  • Learning Disability or Learning Loss?
  • Discipline Reimagined.
  • To Home and Hospital Instruction ... and BEYOND!
Attendees should also plan to engage with their colleagues as there will be ample opportunity to network and learn from others in their field. Educators who work in Student Services, Child Welfare, Foster Youth, Attendance, SELPAs and Special Education will find valuable information at this conference. Job titles that should consider attending include:
  • Teachers
  • Teacher leaders
  • Co-administrators
  • Counselors
  • School psychologists
  • Speech pathologists
  • Principals
  • Special Education administrators
  • Student Services administrators
  • Superintendents
Those who attend will experience inspiring keynotes from three speakers who have positively impacted the lives of others by taking “the road less traveled,” Plaxton-Hennings said.
Dave Dravecky is the former left-handed pitcher for the San Francisco Giants known for his heroic comeback to baseball after a cancer diagnosis in his pitching arm. In 1988, Dravecky was at the top of his game, playing professional baseball for the division champion Giants. That fall, doctors discovered cancer and told Dravecky, “Short of a miracle, you’ll never pitch again.” One year later, he returned to pitching with a 4-3 win for the Giants. However, his comeback was short-lived: In his next starting game, he suffered a horrendous injury on the mound that split his arm in two. Cancer returned and in 1991, his arm was amputated to save his life. Today, Dravecky shares his story with thousands as a motivational speaker.
Diana Pastora Carson has been an educator for over 30 years, teaching both at the elementary school level and the university level. She is a consultant and trainer on diversity as it relates to disability and is the author of “Beyond Awareness: Bringing Disability into Diversity Work in K-12 Schools & Communities.” She currently serves as a board member of Disability Voices United. Pastora Carson credits her brother, Joaquin Carson, for her passion for inclusion. After enduring years of segregated schooling and subsequent institutionalization, Joaquin now lives a life of inclusion and quality.
Jacob “Ten20” Thompson is an acclaimed inspirational communicator, award-winning recording artist and author of “From Diagnosis to Destiny: Your Trials Aren’t Meant to Break You; They’re Meant to Make You.” A devastating diagnosis of Friedreich’s Ataxia at age 24 provided Thompson with an opportunity to give up on his dream of being a professional athlete. Instead, he has allowed his difficult circumstance to guide him into his destiny.
Every Child Counts Symposium
What: World-class learning event featuring workshops, keynotes and networking for all levels of student services and special education educators. When: Jan. 10-12, 2024 Where: JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, Palm Desert Cost: $599 ACSA members; $799 non-members Register: bit.ly/ECC2024
Teams of 6 or more, please contact jflowers@acsa.org for information on team rates.
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