University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)

BEST: Building Effective Support For Teaching Students With Behavioral Challenges

BEST/MTSS Summer Institute 2017

Keynote Presentations


Proactive Classroom Interventions: Making Every Minute Count

Brandi Simonsen

This keynote will (a) prompt VT educators to consider the practices and systems involved in implementing practices in classrooms and (b) emphasize the importance of a positive and proactive approach at all levels of implementation.


Dr. Brandi SimonsenDr. Brandi Simonsen is an associate professor of Special Education with tenure in the Department of Educational Psychology at the Neag School of Education and a Co-Director of the Center for Behavioral Education and Research (CBER; at the University of Connecticut. She is a partner of the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS; Dr. Simonsen is currently the Vice President of the Association for Positive Behavior Support (  In addition, Dr. Simonsen serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Positive Behavioral Interventions.

Currently, Dr. Simonsen conducts research, publishes, teaches, and provides training/technical assistance in the areas of (a) school- and class-wide PBIS, (b) positive and proactive professional development supports for teachers, and (c) applications of PBIS in alternative education settings.  In addition, Dr. Simonsen coordinates UConn’s Graduate Certificate Program in School-wide Positive Behavior Support.

Before joining the faculty at University of Connecticut in 2005, Dr. Simonsen was the director of a non-public (alternative) school for students with disabilities, who presented with challenging educational and behavioral needs. In addition to serving as an administrator and clinician, Dr. Simonsen has previously been certified as a teacher of elementary general education and middle-secondary special education.



Creating the Throughline Across Tiers and Community through Social-Emotional and Character Development

Maurice Elias

Schools, mental health services providers in and out of schools, community agencies, and parents all share a common goal: promoting the social-emotional and character development (SECD) of our youth. For this to happen effectively, we need to do more than have various services within MTSS... they must be coordinated around SECD. Step 1 involves ensuring every student attends a school committed to excellence in social-emotional competence and character, which is a fundamental prerequisite for academic success. I will focus on how to launch a sound Tier 1/universal SECD approach, from which all else follows.


Dr. Maurice Elias width=Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., is a professor and the director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, Rutgers University; academic director of Rutgers' Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships Program.  He was a founding member of the leadership team for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (  He lectures nationally and internationally, has been featured on numerous television and radio programs, and is frequently sought out as an expert for articles in magazines and newspapers.  His books include Research Press's Social Decision Making/Social Problem Solving curricula for elementary and middle school students, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (Random House, 2000), Bullying, Peer Harassment, and Victimization in the Schools: The Next Generation of Prevention (Haworth, 2003), (Research Press, 2006), The Educator's Guide to Emotional Intelligence and Academic Achievement: Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom (Corwin, 2006), Bullying, Victimization, and Peer Harassment: A Handbook of Prevention and Intervention (Taylor & Francis, 2007), Urban Dreams: Stories of Hope, Character, and Resilience (Hamilton Books, 2008,), and School Climate: Building Safe, Supportive and Engaging Classrooms and Schools. (National Professional Resources, 2011).


More Than Just a Great Institute:  Putting Change in Place

Michael McSheehan


Michael McSheehanMichael McSheehan serves as the Coordinator of Technical Assistance for the School-wide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT) Center and is on faculty with the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. Prior to working with the SWIFT Center, Michael led a variety of state and federally funded initiatives to advance research, policy, and practice in inclusive education, alternate assessment, collaborative teaming, and Response to Intervention (RtI). For example, he was a developer, researcher, and co-author of The Beyond Access Model, an intensive supports planning model for teams working with students with significant disabilities. Michael also helped lead a five-year, state-wide project to develop and implement a Response-to-Intervention model for academic and behavioral supports with seven elementary schools and five school districts in New Hampshire.






Last modified May 22 2017 12:28 PM

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