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Upcoming Events


Multilingual Special Education Virtual Symposium:

Perspectives and Practices
to Transform Learning Landscapes

Dates: May 12-13, 2022​

Location: Online 

Cost: $395.00 per individual

Registration Closes: May 9, 2022

Symposium Description

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

Dr. Julie Esparza Brown

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Julie Esparza Brown earned an Ed.D. in special education from Portland State University, an M.ED. in special education from the University of San Diego, a B.M. in music therapy from Willamette University, and licensure in school psychology from San Diego State University.  Dr. Brown was a public school bilingual, special education, and school psychologists for 15 years prior to her university work.  She teaches, consults, and publishes in areas including bilingual special education, equitable instructional and assessment practices, and multi-tiered systems of support for English learners. An additional focus of her career is to support preservice teachers of color in general and special education through federal grants she has been awarded.  To expand her impact on educational systems, she served a four-year term as a board member of Oregon’s largest school district and was the first Latina in the district’s history to be elected.  Dr. Brown regularly consults with educational agencies and districts on equitable educational practices for English learners, particularly those at-risk for or with disabilities.  Her recent co-authored book, Supporting English Learners in the Classroom: Best Practices for Distinguishing Language Acquisition from Learning Disabilities, is available through Teachers College Press.

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Dr. Nancy L. Commins

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Nancy L. Commins has worked with students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds in a variety of capacities over the past four decades. Her roles have included classroom teacher, university professor, program director, school district administrator and independent consultant assisting schools and districts in their efforts to improve instruction for multilingual learners. She retired as Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado Denver, where she helped to lead the teacher education program representing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education. She is co-author of two books Linguistic Diversity and Teaching (Lawrence Erlbaum) and Restructuring Schools for Linguistic Diversity: Linking Decision Making to Effective Programs (Teachers College Press). Nancy spent the 2011- 2012 academic year in Finland as the University of Turku Fulbright Scholar. For 10 years she continued as a Senior Fellow there to conduct research and provide professional development related to the preparation of teachers to work in increasingly diverse linguistic and cultural contexts. Her most recent efforts have centered around equity focused teacher professional development through the CLEAR Paradigm, co created with Diep Nguyen, and is the lead developer of an online workshop on school improvement planning for school leaders for WIDA.

Featured Presenters
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Angelene Martin

Angelene Martin has been in the field of education since 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Master of Education in Literacy from Washington State University. Currently, she is serving as an Instructional Coach at Chinook Middle School in Kennewick, Washington, as well as a district GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) coach for grades K-12 where she facilitates and trains teachers to increase language acquisition and content knowledge for all students, specifically for Multilingual Learners and learners with special education needs. Prior to this, she was an English Language Arts teacher where she taught a diverse range of Multilingual Learners and students with Individualized Education Plans using an Inclusive Model. Her work has centered around using effective, research-based, and culturally responsive teaching and learning strategies to increase student achievement and performance in a language-functional environment. She has experience working with students and teachers in grades K-12 with the focus of providing appropriate strategies and scaffolds to increase student and teacher efficacy through the use of appropriate and necessary instructional practices that intentionally focus on language acquisition. Angelene is passionate about teaching and learning and views all students as assets in the classroom. She hopes that the practical tools and strategies she shares with other practitioners and educational professionals will guide them in helping all students to acquire the language and content knowledge that will increase student engagement and performance, allowing them to reach their fullest potential in the classroom.

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Cristina Sánchez-López

Senior Associate-Paridad

Symposium Co-Host

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-

Symposium Co-Host

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).