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Symposium Description

Multilingual Special Education Virtual Symposium:

Perspectives and Practices to Transform Learning Landscapes

Dates: May 13-14, 2021​

Location: Online 

Cost: $395.00 per individual

Registration Closes: May 5, 2021

This symposium is designed for educators and service providers who work at the complex and dynamic intersection of multilingual education and special education. It centers the experiences of multilingual learners with special educational needs. This symposium focuses on dynamic, strength-based, and culturally-sustaining practices. This is a virtual symposium featuring leading scholars and practitioners and provides multiple interactive formats, including presentations, discussion forums, and networking. 

Keynote Speakers
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Nadeen Ruiz

Keynote Speaker

Nadeen Ruiz, Ph.D., obtained her MA and Ph.D. at Stanford University in bilingual education and linguistics.  Formerly, Dr. Ruiz was Chair of Bilingual Multicultural Education at California State University Sacramento and Director of Elementary Education at Stanford University.  She received teaching awards at both institutions in 1997, 2004, and 2005.  In addition, Dr. Ruiz is the recipient of the California Association of Bilingual Educators Teacher Preparation Program Award (2010) and the UC Davis School of Education Outstanding Alumna Award (2011).  Dr. Ruiz co-founded the Optimal Learning Environment (OLE) Project, a research and professional development program that focuses on effective literacy instruction for emergent bilingual students in both general and special education classrooms, and for Migrant children.  The OLE Project has provided professional development to several thousand special and general education teachers in the U.S. and in Mexico.  Dr. Ruiz is the author of over 40 articles and books on students’ bilingualism and biliteracy, and on the preparation of bilingual teachers, regularly presenting on these topics at national and international conferences.  She is Professor Emeritus in Bilingual Multicultural Education at CSU Sacramento, and Lecturer at the School of Education, University of California at Davis.

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Featured Presenters
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Beatriz Diaz-Pollack

Attorney, Educator, Parent

Beatriz Adriana Díaz-Pollack is an attorney and educator who brings a wealth of personal and professional experiences to bear on her work in educational research, policy and law. In her legal practice, Beatriz began her career in civil legal services representing clients experiencing poverty in proceedings relating to a wide range of issues including family, housing and consumer law and later served as an Assistant General Counsel at the State Educational Agency level.She currently serves as an impartial hearing officer focusing primarily on special education matters and engages in research on issues related to educational law and policy as an independent contractor. Beatriz also applies a practitioner’s perspective to her work, having previously taught in bilingual and monolingual elementary school classrooms, served as a teaching assistant in graduate level philosophy of education courses and as a master’s project research coach for education and social policy students. Beatriz has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School and a M.S. in Education & Social Policy from Northwestern University.

Liz Berquist

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Liz Berquist brings over twenty years of experience in Pk-12 and higher education to her current role as Director of Professional Learning for the Baltimore County Public School District (BCPS), where she designs and delivers professional learning for district leaders.  Previously, Liz spent eight years as a faculty member in the Department of Special Education at Towson University in Maryland.  Her courses included Working with Families of Children with Disabilities, Informal Tests and Measures, Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities, and Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction.  Liz was also responsible for the design administration of a multi-year Universal Design for Learning Professional Development Network  (UDL PDN) developed to introduce faculty to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and to build capacity in the design and delivery of courses that applied UDL to instruction.  This work is featured in the text Transforming Higher Ed Through UDL: An International Perspective  (Routledge Press).  At Towson, Liz was awarded the Gloria A. Neubert Excellence in Teaching Award (2016),  the Disability Support Services Teaching Award (2015), The Office of Academic Innovation Teaching Award (2014), the College of Education Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009) and was nominated for the Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award (2010). She received the Towson University Outstanding Alumni Award in 2018.


Liz has also been a member of the CAST faculty cadre since 2010.  In this role, she has traveled internationally working with school districts and institutes of higher education

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Cristina Sánchez-López

Senior Associate-Paridad

Cristina collaborates with educators in the US and Canada on developing culturally and linguistically sustaining multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); mathematics; literacy across the content areas; multilingual education; engaging parents, Multilingual Learners with Special Educational Needs, and supporting Pre-K educators who serve Multilingual Learners. Cristina has taught at the elementary, middle school and university levels in the US and Mexico. At present, Cristina teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the areas of Biliteracy, Assessment, and Foundations of Language Minority Education. For more than18 years, Cristina and her colleague, Theresa Young (Speech-Language Pathologist, Ontario, Canada) have collaborated to support school problem-solving teams as they develop more culturally and linguistically sustaining learning environments. Cristina and her husband have raised their daughter bilingually.

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Theresa Young

Speech Language Pathologist-Paridad Invited Speaker

Theresa began her career on the Pacific island of Saipan, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands where she worked with multilingual students and families in home, school, and medical settings. She coordinated a team of speech-language pathologists to develop culturally and linguistically responsive assessment and intervention practices for Pacific Islanders. Upon returning to Canada, Theresa worked in schools in the highly diverse Toronto area, while providing professional development and writing collaboratively on multicultural, multilingual topics in education. She has been working with local First Nations to design and implement programs and services for children in preschools and schools in home communities.  



Cristina's & Theresa's Work Together

Cristina and Theresa's collaborative work melds the fields of multilingual education and special education into a framework for culturally and linguistically responsive practice for educators and practitioners in schools. Their solution-seeking process is featured in Special Education Considerations for English Language Learners: Delivering a Continuum of Services (2013, 2021). They have most recently collaborated on a volume in the Oxford University Press Key Concept Series for Language Learners, Focus on Special Educational Needs (2018). 

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