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Pictured From Left: Dr. Sarah Little, Adrienne Raines, Kalea Hamilton, And Reilly Ward.

Professor, special education majors contribute to CEC Conference

Council for Exceptional Children 2024 conference posterErskine College alumna and Associate Professor of Education Dr. Sarah Little and special education majors Kalea Hamilton, Adrienne Raines, and Reilly Ward all made presentations at this year’s South Carolina Council for Exceptional Students (CEC) Conference March 1-2 in North Myrtle Beach.

“We attended sessions Friday and Saturday, were able to connect with special education teachers and administrators from across the state, and sample different curriculum materials,” Little reports.

Little’s presentation was called “Putting the Fun in Executive Functioning.” She reviewed such key “executive functioning skills” as emotional control, planning and prioritizing, and goal-directed persistence; identified “areas of the classroom and within the school day” where deficits in such skills adversely affect students; and advocated use of popular board and card games “to teach and reinforce these skills.”

The Erskine students made up three of the 19 student presenters at the CEC conference.

Sophomore Adrienne Raines’s presentation was “More than a Checklist: Building Executive Function Skills for Post-High School Success.”

Reflecting on her own school experience, Adrienne says she has been her own advocate and has learned much about herself and “how to stand up for what I need.” When she becomes a teacher, she hopes to “stand up for what my kids need” and also “to teach them to advocate for themselves in school.”

Adrienne, who has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember, says her interest in special education developed in high school. “I shadowed a special education teacher at Hendrix Elementary in Boiling Springs, South Carolina,” she recalls. “Since that visit I have known that special education was my calling. Special education has my heart and always will have.”

Juniors Kalea Hamilton and Reilly Ward gave a joint presentation, “Beyond Basic Accommodations: Overcoming Processing Challenges in the Classroom.”

From left, Adrienne Raines, Reilly Ward, Kalea Hamilton, and Dr. Sarah Little
From left, Adrienne Raines, Reilly Ward, Kalea Hamilton, and Dr. Sarah Little

While working in the classroom, Reilly and Kalea “have seen many kids get frustrated,” Reilly says. “So we wanted to take a little deeper dive into how the brain works and how we could make different accommodations and ways to better help these students. This was my first presentation at a conference like this and I loved it!”

“The conference was great,” says Kalea. “We learned a lot about different topics in education and how to be better advocates for our students. The conference offered a ton of resources to us and networking opportunities as well.”

After the presentations at the conference, Little explains, “students participated in ‘speed interviews’ with districts across the state.” She notes that Erskine’s attendees have “already planned visits with some of these schools during spring break.”

Kalea makes a joking reference to the interviews, saying that her favorite part of the conference was the “speed dating,” and says, on a more serious note, “I made some great contacts and got some handy pointers for future interviews.”

Summing up her thoughts about the CEC conference, Reilly says, “I genuinely enjoyed the whole experience and meeting with mentors and peers. I will be able to take this experience with me throughout my whole teaching career and I cannot wait!”

According to the organization’s website, the mission of the South Carolina Council for Exceptional Children is “to improve the educational outcomes and quality of life of individuals with exceptionalities and their families through the actions of professionals, advocates, and other agencies.”

Pictured at top, from left, are Dr. Sarah Little, Adrienne Raines, Kalea Hamilton, and Reilly Ward. 




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