Featured Session - 411 For The Future » 411 For The Future

411 For The Future

Join us on February 20, 2024, from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Region 7 ESC for
411 For The Future: What You Need to Know Today to Prepare For Tomorrow
A one-day FREE symposium for secondary students, their parents, and teachers!

Region 7 ESC and Partners Resource Network have partnered to provide a collaborative transition symposium for students with varying abilities and their parents and teachers. Participants will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of breakout sessions related to self-advocacy, educational support systems, employment, independent living skills, and community services.
Lunch is provided!  We will also have an exhibitor hall. Resources and agencies from the community will be available to all attendees.
8:30 a.m.
Check-In / Vendor Hall is Open
9:00 a.m. General Session / Opening Instructions
9:30 a.m. Breakout 1
10:45 a.m. Breakout 2
11:45 a.m. Lunch / Keynote 
12:45 p.m. Breakout 3
1:45 p.m.
Closing & Door Prizes
How to Register for 411
If you would like to attend, please complete our ONLINE FORM.
Registration deadline is February 12, 2024.  On the day of the event, arrive at 8:30 a.m. to check in.
It is important that we have an accurate count of attendees in order to provide lunch and materials. Please make sure each person who will attend is registered. If you are a district/charter/private school bringing students, you will receive a link within the registration process to add all students to one roster. In order to streamline the registration process for this event, Region 7 ESC collaborated with Partners Resource Network. If you have questions, please contact Tracy Johnston.
Featured Keynotes
Norvell Boykin

Norvel Boykin

Project SEARCH Intern ‘22
Christus Trinity Mother Frances

Wendi Tuz

Wendi Tuz

Executive Assistant/Project SEARCH Business Liaison
Christus Trinity Mother Frances
Join us for an insightful keynote presentation by Norvel Boykin and Wendi Tuz from Christus Trinity Mother Frances. They will share the impactful journey of their transition program, exploring its format and the positive influence it has had on associates, students, and families. Gain practical insights into the program's effects on business, education, and familial connections. Don't miss this engaging presentation that promises to inspire and empower as we delve into the meaningful collaborations shaping the future.
411 For The Future Breakouts
Beyond Boundaries: Exploring Postsecondary Options
Presented by Shelbi Davenport, Texas A&M Agrilife
(for high school, 18+, parents, and school staff)
Discover the Work and College Opportunities (W.A.C.O.) and Horticultural Options in Plant Science (HOPS) programs at the Center on Disability and Development, Texas A&M. Join our "Beyond Boundaries" workshop to learn about these unique college and employment experiences designed to empower and support individuals on their journey to success. Uncover pathways to education, skills, and fulfilling careers. Don't miss the chance to explore your potential beyond traditional boundaries! This workshop is intended for high school and adult students and their families who are considering unique postsecondary options. Vocational school staff will benefit from learning about postsecondary options available to students with varying abilities.  

Bridging the Gap from High School to Career
Presented by Carrie Chandler & Kimberly Harris, Region 7 ESC
(for middle and high schoolers, parents, and school staff)
This session will focus on educating students and parents on the benefits of being a CTE student within their school district. Participants will focus on becoming involved and advocating for inclusivity within work-based learning and furthering their education opportunities. This workshop is intended for middle and high school students, parents, and vocational staff members.

Building Bridges: Autism Goes to College
Presented by LeAnne McClure-Oliver, Program Coordinator for Bridges Program at LeTourneau University
(for high schoolers, 18+, parents, and school staff)
Unemployment and underemployment are significant areas of concern for students with autism. Oftentimes, a student can complete the necessary work tasks, but their soft skills hinder their ability to get a job and/or keep a job. LeTourneau University's Bridges Program is one of a few university-level programs designed to support students with autism spectrum disorders in meeting the social needs associated with college life and learning skills to allow them to reach their full potential within the job market.  

Dive Into the Future with Texas ABLE
Presented by Vanessa Goodson, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for Texas ABLE
(for high schoolers, 18+, parents, and school staff)
Discover the Texas Achieving a Better Life Experience (Texas ABLE) program in our empowering workshop. Learn how Texans with disabilities and their families can save for disability-related expenses using tax-advantaged ABLE accounts without jeopardizing eligibility for essential public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Join us to unravel the benefits of this groundbreaking program, designed to provide financial independence and security. Empower yourself to plan for the future without sacrificing crucial support. This workshop is intended for high school, 18+, and adult students, as well as their parents and vocational school staff.  
Dress for Success (Females)
Presented by Chevella Lyne, Goodwill Industries
(for high schoolers, 18+, parents, and schools staff)
This unique session goes beyond just wardrobe choices; it dives into the essential soft skills needed for a successful interview. Learn how to present yourself with confidence, master effective communication, and develop the interpersonal skills that employers value. Our inclusive workshop ensures you're well-prepared, not only in attire but also in the skills that set you apart. Step into your next interview with style, self-assurance, and the tools you need for success! This workshop's intended audience is for female, high school, 18+, and adult students. Vocational school staff members and parents will benefit from learning strategies to support students with varying abilities in obtaining employment.

Dress for Success (Males)
Presented by Chevella Lyne & BoJax, Goodwill Industries
(for high schoolers, 18+, parents, and schools staff)
This unique session goes beyond just wardrobe choices; it dives into the essential soft skills needed for a successful interview. Learn how to present yourself with confidence, master effective communication, and develop the interpersonal skills that employers value. Our inclusive workshop ensures you're well-prepared, not only in attire but also in the skills that set you apart. Step into your next interview with style, self-assurance, and the tools you need for success! This workshop's intended audience is for male, high school, 18+, and adult students. Vocational school staff members and parents will benefit from learning strategies to support students with varying abilities in obtaining employment.

Empowering Your Future
Presented by Tracy Johnston, Region 7 ESC
(for all audiences)
Hey there! Get ready for an exciting workshop designed just for you! In our workshop, we'll focus on three superpowers: self-determination, self-advocacy, and supported decision-making. These powers will help you make your own choices and decisions as you get closer to becoming an adult. This workshop isn't just about today - it's about empowering your future! The workshop audience is intended for students participating in grades 6th-12th and 18+ students. Parents and vocational school staff will also benefit from the strategies provided to secondary-aged students.

Exploring Accommodations for Enhanced Inclusivity and Accessibility
Presented by Canen Melton, Texas A&M AgriLife in partnership with Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
(for all audiences)
This training, "Exploring Accommodations for Enhanced Inclusivity and Accessibility," is specifically designed to empower individuals with disabilities by providing them with essential knowledge about the accommodations available in both the workplace and other areas of life. Gain valuable insights into the accommodations and strategies to enhance your experience and open doors to new possibilities. Join us in discovering how understanding and utilizing these accommodations can lead to a more inclusive, accessible, and fulfilling journey in all aspects of life. This workshop's audience is intended for middle school, high school, and adult students. Parents and vocational school staff will learn how to support students of varying abilities by recognizing available accommodations within work and community environments.  

Fit For Success
Presented by Chase Livingston, Chase Livingston, LLC
(for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and 18+)
Join certified personal trainer and behavioral change specialist Chase Livingston for an empowering workshop designed for secondary students of all abilities. 'Fit for Life' goes beyond traditional fitness – it's about personal development and holistic well-being. Chase will guide you on a journey to build strength, foster confidence, and live a compelling, fulfilled life. Learn how fitness can be a powerful tool to achieve your goals. It's not just about exercise; it's about empowering yourself to grow strong and healthy. Get ready to embark on a transformative experience toward a vibrant and confident future! This workshop is intended for secondary students of all ages.  

Hear My Voice
Presented by Kelsey Wigington and Jenny Brandt, Region 7 ESC
(for all audiences)
Are you ready to empower yourself by enhancing your communication skills and enabling them to thrive in the real world? "Hear My Voice" is an interactive workshop designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of communication supports and strategies for those with diverse abilities. This workshop's audience is intended for middle school, high school, 18+, and adult students. Vocational school staff and parents will benefit from learning effective communication strategies to share with students.
Hire me, Please!
Presented by Barbara Giesing, BAG HR Consulting
(for all audiences)
Looking for a job might seem easy because companies need workers, but what if you're a bit different because of special needs or you don't have much experience or skills? What should you do? When should you talk about any special help you need? What can bosses ask, and how do you answer? What if they ask things they shouldn't? How can you show yourself in the best way to get the job you want? Let's talk about what you can do to make sure you have a good chance of success. 

It's Just A Job, What's the Big Deal?
Presented by Jacki Everhart-Thompson, Business Relations Coordinator for Texas Workforce Solutions
(for all audiences)
Do you struggle with helping your student stay motivated to stay on the job? Especially when you see now hiring signs everywhere? Join me for a discussion on how to help your student look for a position that is suited more to their interests, likes, and abilities so that the motivation to stay on the job will be there.

Navigating Success: Soft Skills in the Workplace
Presented by Leslie March and Whitney Sherman, Region 7 ESC
(for high schoolers, 18+, parents, and school staff)
Get ready to thrive in the workplace! Our workshop is tailored for students transitioning to employment. Learn key soft skills like communication, time management, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, and self-advocacy. Gain the confidence you need to secure a job and excel in your career. Join us and kickstart your professional journey! This workshop is intended for high school, 18+, and adult students, as well as their parents/families and vocational school staff.  

Pathways to Success
Presented by Carrie Fry and Elaine Thacker, Texas Workforce Commission
(for all audiences)
Are you a student ready to transition from school to the working world? Join our workshop, "Pathways to Success," to explore the invaluable support provided by Texas Workforce Solutions - Vocational Rehabilitation (TWS-VR) services. Get answers to your questions about the application and eligibility process, and gain insights into the seamless transition from education to employment. Learn how TWS-VR services can empower you on your journey to career success. Connect with us to unlock the door to a future filled with opportunities. Your path to success starts here! Students, parents, and vocational school staff are all welcome to come learn about the importance of getting connected.  

Unlocking Potential Through Inclusive Sports
Presented by Everett King, Special Olympics
(for all audiences)
This session is designed for students with Intellectual Disabilities and their families to explore the incredible benefits of participating in this inclusive sports arena. Learn how Special Olympics goes beyond competition, fostering teamwork, friendship, and personal growth. Join us to understand the positive impact on physical and social well-being and how this inclusive platform empowers individuals to shine together. Embrace the joy of sports, celebrate abilities, and join the Special Olympics community for an enriching journey of fun, camaraderie, and achievement!

Working While on Disability
Presented by Joy Willadsen and Doug Gean, East Texas Center for Independent Living
(for high school, 18+, parents, and school staff)
Join our workshop, 'Working While on Disability,' where we'll guide you on how employment affects your SSI, SSDI, or SSA benefits. Learn the rules and strategies to balance work and disability support without losing crucial financial assistance. Gain the knowledge you need to ma – let's navigate this journey together! This workshop's audience is intended for students preparing for employment, seeking employment, or who are currently employed. Vocational school staff members and parents will benefit from learning strategies to support students with varying abilities in navigating their finances while working.
Speaker Bios
Norvel Boykin is a young man who was accepted to Project SEARCH in 2021. Project SEARCH is an internship program that teaches students with significant disabilities transferable job skills while working alongside peers in a competitive work environment. Full-time employment is the goal of this 36-week program model, which started in 1996 at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Norvel was in the 6th class of Project SEARCH with Tyler ISD at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Hospital. Norvel's goals and dream was to work in food service as a baker. While he realized he did not want to be a baker through this program, he did learn that he excelled in the cold prep area as an intern and, after being employed, also became an excellent mentor to other Project SEARCH interns. He has long-term goals of living independently and maintaining a successful career within the CTMF Hospital Main Cafe. 
Jenny is an ASHA-certified Speech-Language Pathologist who has served in educational and medical settings. Jenny is also licensed as an SLP in the state of Texas. Jenny has worked with children ages 3-22 in the school setting. She has supervised SLP assistants, mentored new staff, facilitated multiple presentations for colleagues and staff, served on district leadership teams, and supervised graduate students in both educational and medical settings. Jenny served as Coordinator of Therapy Services for three years in an East Texas school district and is currently a Coordinator at the Region 7 Education Service Center. She currently provides training, technical support, and coaching for SLPs, OTs, PTs, district administrators, special education directors, and evaluation staff. Additional support areas include School Health and Related Services (SHARS), Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH), and SELA. Jenny's interests include Autism and language-based literacy. Jenny's interests include Autism and language-based literacy.
Shelbi Davenport graduated from Texas A&M University, with a degree in University Studies with an emphasis on Ag Leadership, and minored in Communication and Youth Development. Being awarded the first Peer-to-Peer training certification in Texas in 2017 was one of her greatest achievements. Her passion is to change lives by teaching them to advocate for themselves and to dream big! I also desire to advocate for them and be the voice they cannot be. Envisioning a world where many more can feel safe, secure, and important keeps Shelbi striving toward new goals. Since graduating, her leadership skills have been used in many areas, and opportunities are arising daily. Her first full-time employment was as a Program Assistant for the HOPS (Horticulture Options in Plant Sciences) Program. HOPS is a one-year certification program that allows adults with disabilities the opportunity to be trained, educated, and employed in the horticulture industry. Another major opportunity was when she debuted her very own Shelbi Show in early May 2022. This show provided encouragement, support, and hope to anyone who faces difficulties. As it continues, she hopes to be able to share her story with others, and interview and showcase people from all over the nation who are involved in supporting and advocating for those with lived experiences.
Jacki Mosley Everhart-Thompson is a native of Tyler, Texas, and an extremely proud alumnus of LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, where she received her Bachelors in Business Administration and her Masters in Education. Jacqueline is a zealous Business Relations Coordinator (BRC) with the Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Division in East Texas. This role gives her the joy of operating in several areas she is passionate about Vocational Rehabilitation, Mental Health, Education, Business, and Eradicating Homelessness.  

Jacqueline was a Vocational Rehabilitation Training Specialist for the Texas Workforce Commission in Arlington and Austin. While serving as a training specialist, she was afforded the opportunity to dive deeply into the specialty areas of Blindness, Vision Loss, Eye Diseases, and Diabetes. These were perfect complements to Jacqueline's love for service through Lions Club, International, where two of the initiatives for Lions are diabetes and vision.  

Jacqueline served as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Tyler office and served individuals with disabilities of hearing impairments, behavioral health, and physical disabilities. She quickly found that because of her colorful journey on her path to purpose gave her insight, empathy, compassion, and tenderness toward individuals grappling with their identity.   

Jacqueline has several years of management experience working in the retail and insurance sectors of the private industry.   During her time in management, she honed her collaboration and motivator skills while embracing people from all walks of life. She worked diligently to provide a diverse and inclusive work environment for staff and employees. Jacqueline believes that most people want to be given a chance and seen for what they can accomplish and do while being allowed to grow and thrive in their uniqueness.

Jacqueline's greatest joys in life are the blessings she has received as she is privileged to be a coach and encourager to her adult sons, daughters-in-love, and grandchildren, who she adores seeing perform in their varied sports and musical activities. Jacqueline's theme song is Got The Music in Me by Kiki Dee Band, and she strives each day to share that music with those who cross her path. Her favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
Carrie Fry has been with Texas Workforce for close to two years. She currently works with about ten school districts. Carrie was in education before coming to Texas Workforce. She has been a transition specialist, ARD facilitator, and special education teacher for over ten years. 
Doug has over 1 1/2 years working with people with disabilities.
Barbara Giesing is a human resource executive with 30+ years of experience in all aspects of HR.  She is licensed as an SHRM-SCP and an SPHR is a CPSP, and is certified in Women's Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management.  She holds a Bachelor's in Journalism, News/Editorial Writing, and a Master's in Public Affairs.  
Barbara owns BAG HR Consulting, offering HR solutions to companies and organizations to achieve efficiency, accountability, and success.  Barbara is a published author and has worked with very small organizations and companies with 1000s of employees globally.  She is an avid learner, loves working with her trained therapy dog, is a marathon runner, and, quite strangely, enjoys the Texas heat!

Vanessa Goodson has worked for the Texas Comptroller's Office for four years and is the Outreach Specialist for the state's new Texas ABLE Program. She earned a master's degree in Business from Grantham University. She has seven years of service with the State of Texas, including as a Business Specialist for the Office of the Governor. Previously, she managed several large-scale Central Texas businesses and served six years in the United States Air Force. 
Tracy Johnston has accumulated 27 years of experience in education, serving as a teacher, diagnostician, transition facilitator, and coordinator before assuming her current role as a Transition Specialist for ESC Region 7. Her career has been marked by a commitment to improving transition services and helping students successfully segue into the next phases of their lives.
Area 11 Program Director Everett King has been a Special Olympics Texas staff member for three and a half years and has served as a coach for eight years. He is responsible for arranging venues for competitions, communicating and advising HODs, scheduling coaches' trainings, and assisting UCS Specialists in growing the Unified movement. He acts as a Health Specialist for the North Region. 
Chase is a certified personal trainer, behavioral change specialist, and wellness expert who teaches personal development through fitness in a holistic way to help others live compelling, fulfilled lives. 
He is President of High Powered, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to make fitness accessible to everyone in the community. He is co-owner of Texarkana Phys. Ed. is a local fitness training studio created to help others grow strong, healthy, and confident to achieve their life goals. He is also a speaker, an author, and an entrepreneur. He is finishing his second book titled Fit for Success, which will be released in January 2024.
He also runs the High Powered Podcast geared to help others connect life principles to health and fitness. He loves to compete in obstacle course races, volunteer in the youth at his church, and spend time with his wife and son.
LeAnne McClure-Oliver is a certified special education teacher and special education counselor with over 30 years of experience in public education. She is also a licensed psychological associate with independent practice in Texas and an Advanced Certified Autism Specialist, trained in the evaluation of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression. She is trained to use the PEERS social skills program (UCLA), one of the few research-backed social skills programs available. She was recently named Program Coordinator for the Bridges Program at LeTourneau University. 
As East Texas' regional coordinator, Canen Melton actively collaborates with local organizations, participates in community events, and fosters meaningful connections with individuals with disabilities and their families. Additionally, Canen plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about TCDD (Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities) and facilitating opportunities for community members to participate actively in TCDD projects. Canen is based at Overton, Texas's AgriLife Extension and research campus. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Health Science and Nutrition from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Health Services Administration at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. With a profound passion for community health and nutrition education, Canen brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the field.
Elaine Thacker is a Transition Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with Texas Workforce. She has worked as a TVRC with over 13 school districts for about five years. Before joining TWC, Elaine worked as a contracted provider with TWC for five years, teaching vocational training courses in high schools.
Wendi Tuz has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and is the current Business Liaison for Project SEARCH at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances in Tyler, TX.
Kelsey Wigington is a Coordinator for Special Education Services at Region 7 Education Service Center. She has served as a Special Education Director for an S.S.A. Kelsey previously worked as a special education coordinator, an instructional specialist, and a teacher in the East Texas area. Her experiences have varied from small to large school districts. She currently provides training, technical support, and coaching. Kelsey's interests include mental health in the field of autism and inclusionary practices for those with complex access needs. 
Joy has over years of experience working with people with disabilities.
Hosted By
Partners Resource Network Region 7 ESC Logo
For More Information
Tracy Johnston
Region 7 ESC
Shannon Rosson
Partners Resource Network
[email protected]