Webinar Moderator & Panelists
Schools for Children hosted the webinar series Conversations About Transition during fall-winter 2020-2021. Following are the panelists who shared their insights and advice to help students with learning challenges successfully transition to college, work, apprenticeships, a gap year or other opportunities for a fulfilling life beyond high school graduation. Be sure to visit our transition planning resource webpage.
Moderator for All Sessions
Elon Fyfield, Director of Qualls Academy, community leader, educator, recording artist, small business owner and coach. Born in Cambridge, MA to Jamaican and Trinidadian parents, Elon has spent his life building a legacy of leadership, artistry and community service. He is an independent recording artist who has released two albums, clean, universal and timeless music under the artist name, Lizzle4. Elon holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne University, where he was also a Division 1 volleyball player.
As a life-long resident of Cambridge, Mass., with nearly a decade of experience in education and community outreach work, Elon is passionate about uplifting students inside and outside of the classroom. At Qualls Academy, an in-school and extracurricular enrichment program for elementary school aged boys, he provides academic and emotional support to students, with an emphasis on uplifting black students.
Elon’s passion for leadership and mentoring young people extends beyond the classroom. He is also the assistant coach for the MIT volleyball team. When he is not coaching, teaching, or making music, Elon is working on his business, “Black Matters” an apparel collection that celebrates Black identity in every form: www.shopblackmatters.com.
Session One: Who Will I Become?
Eileen Brody Burke, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, has an M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University and has additional Counseling and Clinical Trainings from Lesley University in Expressive Arts Therapies and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and Writing Therapies. She has worked as a coach and counselor, as a facilitator in the Healing Arts, and has provided consultation on Young Adulthood Transition Teams.
Her passion is to help others find meaning in their lives and meaningful connections and purpose with the world around them…and to be part of creating a more welcoming world for all. Eileen has worked in psychiatric hospitals, day treatment centers, shelters, and with the Hyannis, West Concord and Downtown Boston MRC’s, serving as liaison with schools.
Angelique McGrue, Special Education Coordinator with YouthBuild in California, hails from Pasadena, California. Through her educational journey, she found a passion for working with and serving others. She received her Bachelor’s at UC Irvine (majoring in Education Sciences and Psychology and Social Behavior) and her Master’s at Cal State Long Beach (Counseling – School Counseling with PPS credential).
While receiving her masters, Angelique began working at College Bridge Academy – Compton and in this position she learned what it meant to foster youth with disabilities and be a supportive educator. Since graduating, she decided to further her education in Special Education and is receiving a second Master of Education in teaching, option in Education Specialist with Mild/Moderate Disabilities.
Andrew Selby, Team Lead, Bridges from School to Work, Marriott Foundation, is responsible for leading and guiding the Bridges team to achieve and exceed job placement and retention goals. He provides coaching and training to assist Bridges Employer Representatives (ER’s) in developing mutually beneficial employer partnerships and fosters the Bridges partnership with Boston Public Schools to effectively recruit Bridges participants.
Andrew additionally provides individualized and group training to Bridges participants to assess their readiness for competitive employment and prepares them for on the job success.
Leslie Thatcher, Thatcher Education and founding Director of College Success@Perkins, an initiative to increase college readiness for students with blindness and low vision. College Success@Perkins is leading the conversation exploring the obstacles to college completion for this community.
Leslie has just launched, with her team, Compass, A College Success Program, our new, nine-month virtual program working with the crucial “Learning Triad,” the student, family member and key educator, to increase self awareness, self-determination through a coaching process.
Session Two: College-Bound with Challenges
Joan Casey, President, Educational Advocates College Consulting, founded Educational Advocates in 2004. She works with a wide range of students who are considering colleges throughout the USA, Canada and Europe. Joan is a certified educational planner, signifying that she has achieved the highest level of professional standards in the field of educational consulting. She is a member of several professional organizations including the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) where she previously chaired the learning disability committee.
Joan has completed advocacy-training with the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and in AD/HD coaching through the American Coaching Association. She earned a master of education degree in Mind, Brain and Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and holds a BA in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Sheilah Gauch, Principal, Dearborn Academy, is licensed as both a principal and school adjustment counselor through DESE. She earned a master’s in education in organizational management from the Educational Leadership Institute. In addition, she has a master’s in social work from Boston College and is a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW).
Sheilah has been working with students with significant mental health needs for over 20 years. Prior to coming to Dearborn Academy, she worked in the Arlington, Mass., community – first as a clinician at a residential treatment program and then as a social worker in the Arlington Public Schools Special Education Department.
Sheilah is also the chair of her local Special Education Advisory Council (SEPAC). She has two children who have required special education services. As both of her children were diagnosed with Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep (PANDAS), Sheilah is also an advocate for PANS/PANDAS awareness, has helped bring legislation forward, and recently testified at the Massachusetts State House on the issue.
Carol Kinlan, Senior Educational Consultant, Matlack Educational Consulting, is also at The Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., where she has served as Director of Enrollment and Evaluations since 2016. Prior to that, Carol was an educational consultant with McMillan Education in Boston for five years.
Other past experience includes her work as Director of Learning Resources at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Mass., and Learning Coordinator at the Dedham Country Day School in Dedham, Mass. She has also worked at The Institute for Learning and Development (ILD) in Lexington, Mass., where she conducted neuropsychological assessments and tutored students with weaknesses in reading comprehension, written expression and executive function skills.
Carol has a master’s degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Mind, Brain and Education Department, an M.B.A. in marketing from Boston University and an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. She currently serves on the Board of Visitors for The Fenn School in Concord, Mass., and on the Board of Trustees at The Learning Prep School in West Newton, Mass.
Theresa Peduto, National College Advisor, Educational Consulting Services, has worked as an educational consultant and college advisor for more than 20 years. Her expertise regarding the college selection process extends to students with specialized interests and includes students in the arts, international students, as well as students with learning disabilities.
Theresa began her career in education working as a consultant in NYC’s District 11, where she pioneered the use of Co-Writer, a speaking word prediction program. She has conducted teacher-training workshops on the use of assistive technology and, as a grant writer, obtained funding for computers in resource rooms.
Theresa served as a co-director of SPINS, Students’ and Parents’ Information Network Support, Inc. and is a co-founder of the SPINS Independent Schools’ Committee. She was editor-in-chief and feature writer for the SPINS Newsletter.
In 1995, Theresa co-founded the Horace Mann School Learning Disability Support Organization for Parents, a national model. Theresa has lectured at various schools, organizations, and colleges addressing the subject of learning disabilities from both a professional’s and a parent’s perspective.
Theresa has received a Congressional Proclamation, a Business Service Award from her local Chamber of Commerce, and citations from the N.Y. State Assembly and the NY City Council, among her many awards.
Session Three: Career Paths for Students with Learning Differences
Sister Ziven Drake, Technical Coordinator in Charge of Recruitment and Retention by the North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund, focuses on recruiting and retention efforts within NASCTF. She does this by delivering informational sessions, as well as conducting interviews for potential apprenticeship candidates.
A member of Pile Drivers and Divers Local 56, Ziven has been a member of the Local 56 Executive Board, as well as serving as a delegate to the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
Ziven graduated from the apprenticeship program, earning the “Golden Hammer Award” as the outstanding apprentice in her craft. In 2019, she was awarded “Tradeswoman of the Year” by the Associated General Contractor’s Building Women in Construction Committee and continues to encourage women in careers throughout the trades.
In addition to working as a part-time instructor for the NASCTF, Ziven previously worked as an assistant project manager, specializing in marine construction and deep foundation systems.
She also spent time as an F-16 mechanic with the United States Air Force.
In 2016, Ziven was featured in a video by the union, in which she talked about how she came to the trade and the work done by commercial construction divers.
Gennifer Durham, Pre-Employment Specialist, Bridges from School to Work, Marriott Foundation, provides individualized and group training to Bridges participants. She assesses their readiness for competitive employment, assists career and post-secondary exploration, helps participants develop self-advocacy skills and prepares them for on the job success. Bridges intensive hands-on approach helps young adults with disabilities find meaningful jobs during and after they complete high school. The program matches youth with businesses seeking capable entry-level workers and provides the training, mentoring and long-term support they need to thrive.
Thomas Fischer, Executive Director North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund (NASCTF), brings commitment and experience to an organization which serves 2,500 apprentices in New England and New York State, excluding New York City. He has extensive expertise both as a commercial and residential carpenter and nearly 20 years of experience as an educator, administrator and curriculum coordinator in public high schools and within NASCTF.
Tom has also worked with the Massachusetts Department of Education and Secondary Schools as a member of the assessment development committee. On the committee, he assists the department in the review and development of Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test questions and scoring rubrics to assure alignment with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks and MCAS performance standards.
Tom was an instructor with NASCTF for many years, with certifications to teach numerous areas within the program. He developed the curriculum currently being used by NASCTF and OSHA for ten- and 30-hour construction safety courses. He holds a master of arts degree in technology education from Ball State University.
Chris Hope CTS, Cofounder and Executive Director of The Loop Lab, graduated from Tufts University, and then received his master’s at Harvard Divinity School. He now serves on the board of advisors for South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on the board of Lesley University College of Art + Design, is a Creative Community Fellow for the National Arts Strategies, and on the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance in Cambridge, Mass.
Hope is also an accomplished Audio-Video professional and on-air DJ with a podcast and radio broadcast called “Hip-Hope Radio,” having interviewed guests like Dr. Cornel West.