The COVID-19 pandemic exposed educational inequities and areas of urgent need—and now, schools are at a pivotal moment. We can make the decision to cling to the old ways of schooling, or, we can reimagine a system of education that better meets the needs of all learners. In this webinar, educators will be encouraged to “rethink school,” highlighting why inclusive education is more important now than ever. This foundational session provides a rationale for educators to shift their practices, focusing on student strengths rather than deficits.
Dr. Jenna Mancini Rufo – Founder and CEO, empowerED School Solutions
With a wealth of experience in K-12 education, Dr. Rufo brings a practical lens to her role as a consultant. As an Assistant Superintendent and Special Education Director for a large school district, she led the transformation of special education services from one of mostly separate classrooms to an inclusive service delivery model. She also co-led the district’s diversity and equity efforts and was the principal author of the strategic plan.
Prior to entering administration, Dr. Rufo served as a special education teacher, inclusion facilitator, and policy specialist for the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education. Her professional experiences, coupled with graduate work completed at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and training from the Carnegie Foundation in improvement science, have provided her with an understanding of both theory and practical implementation.
Rachael Gurian – Director, PD Services
Rachael Gurian has 24 years of experience in the non-profit and public-school educational landscape, including district- and school-based roles. Rachael has led and designed district and school professional development in the areas of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, school culture, English Language Learners, special education, compliance, affective needs and autism special education programming, dyslexia and literacy, and teacher efficacy and wellness. She has worked as a provider, school site leader, director of student services for two high-performing charter management companies, district special education director, and systems consultant with teams across the country in K-12 public and charter school environments. Her work over the last 15 years has focused on supporting school and district ecosystems and strengthening team capacity to support and design structures, systems, operations, and targeted instructional support for students with disabilities, diverse learners, and students with severe trauma needs.