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Program for Inclusive Education at the University of Notre DameCollege Football Playoff FoundationThank you for your interest in the upcoming Excellence in Teaching Conference, hosted by ACE's Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) and sponsored by the College Football Playoff Foundation! The 2022 virtual conference was a great success! 



Excellence in Teaching Conference - University of Notre Dame

Educators know there is learner variability in every classroom. Academic, behavioral, social/emotional, and executive functioning needs abound. When tasked with helping all students grow, this variability can offer many opportunities but also great challenges. 

The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) is excited to explore topics related to empowering learners of all abilities at this year’s Excellence in Teaching Conference at the University of Notre Dame! 

Please join us as we: 

  • Share inspiration to Reach out to the margins of our classrooms and schools! 
  • Provide strategies to Raise all students up! 
  • Discuss how to Respond to needs so all students can be successful! 


1:00 p.m. Keynote 1 

Creating an Inclusionary Learning Environment: Plan, Design, & Deliver - Sean J. Smith, Ph.D.

Meaningful inclusion of all students requires a learning environment where instructional, behavioral, and social/emotional experiences are carefully planned for and designed. During this interactive session, Dr. Smith will introduce and reinforce effective frameworks (e.g., Universal Design for Learning). We will explore how goals aligned with assessments foster flexible learning options through the context of much needed executive function skills. Tips, tools, and strategies will be offered to increase meaningful participation in the classroom and ensure tomorrow’s success for all learners.

2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 

  • Universal Design for Learning - Jill Annable, M.A.
  • Executive Functioning - Abby Giroux, M.A.


3:30 p.m. Keynote 2

Illuminating the Literacy Pathway: Applying the Science of Teaching Reading for All - Michael Faggella-Luby, Ph.D.

Literacy is the pathway to lifelong learning, yet many children struggle to recognize words, read them fluently, and comprehend their meaning. This session with Dr. Faggella-Luby will orient participants to the critical components from the learning science of reading instruction that explain early reading difficulties and challenges with understanding content area texts as children progress in school. Using an assessment framework, participants will then learn about five effective and efficient instructional practices that can be applied to K-12 schools and at home to support literacy skill development. Together, we will foster learning and reading enjoyment using practices designed for all learners.

5:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions 

  • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support - Sandria Morten, Ed.D.
  • Curriculum Based Measurement - Hillary Russell, M.A. 


1:00 p.m. Keynote 3 

Building a Culture to Support All Students: Predict, Prevent, & Provide - Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.

Learner variability is prevalent in every school. Students have different academic, behavioral, social/emotional, and executive functioning needs. This diversity creates unique opportunities when there is a culture to support all learners, despite the challenges. Dr. Bonfiglio will share critical practices and frameworks necessary for establishing a culture to empower every student in this interactive session. Together, we will explore the impact of a positive, inclusive culture for all students and engage in environmental planning to meet their needs and ensure success.

2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions 

3:30 p.m. Keynote 4

Becoming Communities of Belonging for Every Student - Erik Carter, Ph.D.

Many schools still struggle to welcome and weave students with disabilities into the full life of their learning community. Yet we are called to be communities without asterisks. Dr. Carter will share a powerful framework for reflecting upon and fostering belonging within and beyond the classroom. Together, we will explore the implications of this work on the ways we support students with disabilities and on the ways we spur our own schools to be more inclusive and welcoming.

4:45 p.m. Keynote 4

Meeting our Legal Responsibility to All Students: Determine, Define, & Deliver - David Bateman, Ph.D.

Legal considerations are often at the forefront of inclusive efforts. Dr. Bateman will discuss relevant legal and policy issues specific to the PK-12 public and Catholic school environments. With a focus on Section 504 provisions, this interactive session will describe appropriate accommodations and modifications, highlight the details of 504 classroom and building responsibilities, and emphasize how to utilize aspects of the law to ensure schools are integrating these provisions to further support and foster the overall outcome for students with learning and attention challenges. 

6:00 p.m. OPTIONAL Closing Prayer

Price and Scholarships

In keeping with this year's conference these of "Reach. Raise. Respond. Empowering Learners of All Abilities," the virtual platform will allow PIE to:

  • REACH as many educators as possible. 
  • RAISE the bar on offering access for engagement, representation, and national action. 
  • RESPOND to the needs and challenges of the ongoing pandemic. 

The conference registration is $75. By registering for the two-day event, participants will gain access to the live sessions on March 12th and April 2nd, as well as recordings of all conference offerings and access to any shared digital resources.

Payment options include credit card, check by mail, Title funds, and awarded scholarships and sponsorships (ND clubs or resident ACE teachers).  

Checks can be sent to: 

University of Notre Dame

Institute of Educational Initiatives

107 Carole Sandner Hall

Notre Dame, IN 46556

Attn: Abby Giroux 


Scholarship and sponsorship information is shared below.

The Melanie (McLenighan) Maione Memorial Scholarship

The Melanie (McLenighan) Maione Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to four teachers attending the Excellence in Teaching Conference. Special consideration is given to teachers from each the four schools in which Mrs. Maione served as principal: SS Cyril and Methodius, Deer Park, NY (2001-2002); Blessed Sacrament, Valley Stream, NY (1995-2001); St. Elizabeth Seton, Palo Alto, CA (1987-1994) and Queen of Apostles, San Jose, CA (1976-1986). In addition, teachers who work with children with learning disabilities -- one of Melanie’s specialties -- will also be given special consideration. 

This scholarship is now closed. 

Other Financial Support available: 

Undergraduate Admissions Scholarship

The Notre Dame Office of Undergraduate Admissions has a limited number of scholarships for Notre Dame Clubs to cover registration for middle and high school teachers whom they will be sponsoring. In order for a teacher to receive a scholarship, an application must be completed by the teacher and a separate application must be completed by the club. Please see the application form for teachers here. The application for the Notre Dame club will be triggered upon completion of the teacher form. 

Notre Dame Alumni Club Support/Sponsorship

A large part of the success of the Excellence in Teaching Conference is due to financial support participants receive from Notre Dame Alumni clubs around the country. This support helps cover the cost of the registration fee. Clubs choose an educator or multiple educators to support depending on club's funding amount.

  • Educators (or sponsoring clubs) please simply indicated the name of the sponsoring club and teacher on the registration form. 
  • The ND EITC team will coordinate payment with you. 


Featured Speakers

Sean J. Smith - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceSean J. Smith, Ph.D.

Creating an Inclusionary Learning Environment: Plan, Design, & Deliver Keynote

Sean J. Smith, Ph.D. is a Professor of Special Education at the University of Kansas where he focuses on developing and researching innovative technology-based solutions to further the inclusion of struggling learners and their peers identified with disabilities. As a researcher with the Lifespan Institute, Dr. Smith has utilized federal funding to investigate the impact of virtual reality tools on social emotional development, understand the role technology can play in improving student writing outcomes, and explore how technology can enhance personnel development for future preK-12 classrooms. He has published over 150 books, book chapters, and articles and along with Keynote presenters Drs.Bonfiglio and Faggella-Luby, he recently co-edited and contributed to a special issue on Inclusion in Catholic Schools in the Journal of Catholic Education (

Michael Faggella-Luby - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceMichael Faggella-Luby, Ph.D.

Illuminating the Literacy Pathway: Applying the Science of Teaching Reading for All Keynote

Michael Faggella-Luby, PhD is Professor of Special Education at Texas Christian University where he is engaged in scholarship examining instructional design, literacy supports for learning content, and school-wide systems of inclusive service delivery. As director of the Alice Neeley Special Education Research and Service (ANSERS) Institute he coordinates applied research opportunities and outreach to support children with disabilities, their families, and the educators who support them. He is also the immediate past-president of the Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Faggella-Luby is a former Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Fellow, as well as both a Catholic school teacher and administrator at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Michael is also the parent of a child with disabilities.

Christie Bonfiglio Excellence in Teaching PhotoChristie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.

Building a Culture to Support All Students: Predict, Prevent, & Provide Keynote

Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D., is Professor of Teaching at the University of Notre Dame. She directs the Office of Professional Standards and Graduate Studies for the Alliance for Catholic Education and launched the Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) in 2016. Bonfiglio teaches across multiple programs at Notre Dame related to her work in inclusive education–specifically behavior and academic interventions through a tiered system of support, and provides professional development on these topics. She recently co-edited and contributed to a special issue on Inclusion in Catholic Schools in the Journal of Catholic Education (

Erki Carter Excellence in Teaching PhotoErik Carter, Ph.D.

Becoming Communities of Belonging for Every Student Keynote

Erik Carter, Ph.D., is Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. His passion is helping schools, churches and other communities become places of membership and belonging for students with disabilities and their families. As co-director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, he is invested in research that breaks down barriers to inclusion and equips communities to widen their welcome. He has published widely in the areas of educational and transition services for children and youth with disabilities, including more than 250 articles and chapters as well as 7 books. Learn more about his work at

David Bateman Excellence in Teaching PhotoDavid Bateman, Ph.D.

Meeting our Legal Responsibility to All Students: Determine, Define, & Deliver Keynote

David Bateman, Ph.D. is a Professor of Special Education at Shippensburg University in the Department of Educational Leadership and Special Education where he teaches courses on special education law, assessment, and facilitating inclusion. He also works closely with school districts, private schools, and state education agencies when there is litigation or complaints regarding students with disabilities. He is currently the fact finder for a major class-action lawsuit involving a state education agency.  Dr. Bateman is a former due process hearing officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for over 580 hearings. He uses his knowledge of litigation relating to special education to assist school districts and charter schools in providing appropriate supports for students with disabilities. His latest area of research has been on the role of administrators in special education. Adding to his extensive list of publications and his more than 320 professional presentations, Dr. Bateman recently co-authored A Principal’s Guide to Special Education for the Council for Exceptional Children, A Teacher’s Guide to Special Education for ASCD, and Legally Compliant IEPs for Rowman and Littlefield.

Jill Annable - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceJill Annable, M.A. 

Universal Design for Learning Breakout 

Jill Annable, M.A. is the Senior Vice President of Programs for the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA). She oversees professional content and learning opportunities for NCEA members. She previously served in Catholic education as an assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction, and technology integration in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her teaching experiences have been in middle school, high school, and collegiate level in public and Catholic schools. 

Abby Giroux - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceAbby Giroux, M.A. 

Executive Functioning Breakout

Abby Giroux, M.A. is the Associate Director for the Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining PIE, Abby served as the principal at the All Saints Academy Upper Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has 18 years of teaching experience including 15 years of middle school math and science as well as 3 years of undergraduate introductory math and math methods instruction. Abby completed the PIE 18-credit hour program and currently co-teaches the Notre Dame ACE Teaching Fellows Inclusive Teaching Practices summer course. 

Sandria Morten - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceSandria Morten, Ed.D

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Breakout

Sandria Morten, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at the University of Notre Dame within the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. Morten's past experience as a principal of a Catholic school in Chicago motivated her deep commitment to Catholic school inclusion. She teaches the Leadership for Inclusive Education course within the Remick Leadership Program and has provided professional development and consultation to many Catholic schools on Multi-tiered Systems of Support and Universal Design for Learning. She co-authored the book A Light Unto My Path: A Model for Accompaniment for Fostering Mental Wellness with Michael Boyle, Ph.D. 

​​Hillary Russell - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceHillary Russell, M.A. 

Curriculum-Based Measurement Breakout

Hillary Russell, M.A. is principal of St. Mary Catholic School in Woodstock, Illinois, where she fosters faith and knowledge though inclusive education. As a former teacher, she was a member of the Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) at the University of Notre Dame and currently acts as a supervisor for PIE and also teaches for the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). 

Hillary Russell - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceMichelle Dougherty, M.Ed. 

Positive Behavior Intervention Supports Breakout

Michelle Dougherty, M.Ed. is the coordinator of the Learning Lab at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Knoxville, TN where she addresses needs of K-8 students when regular classroom instruction is not sufficient. She works with students, parents, and classroom teacher to implement accommodations that are appropriate for individual students. Dougherty also serves as the coordinator for St. John Neumann's PBIS program, facilitating the development and implementation of Tier 1 supports. She completed the University of Notre Dame's Program for Inclusive Education and is a member of the PIE 3 Cohort. 

Mary Desmarais - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceMary Desmarais, M.Ed.

Peer Mentoring Breakout

Mary Desmarais, M.Ed. is an inclusion specialist and a high school special education teacher. She has 10 years of classroom experience and has had the opportunity to work with a multitude of teachers in supporting students with disabilities in their classes. She has spoken on the topics of inclusion, student engagement and peer mentoring at various conferences including CEC and The Andrew Greeley Center Mustard Seed Conference. Mary earned her Master's in Special Education and Human Development from the George Washington University and her Master's in Administration and Supervision from Marymount University. 

Fr. Nate Wills, CSC - Excellence in Teaching ConferenceFr. Nate Wills, CSC

Closing & Prayer Service 

Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C., Ph.D., serves as the Director of ACE's Blended Learning Initiatives, and on the faculty of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. He was a member of the 8th cohort of ACE Teaching Fellows, and later served as an associate pastor at St. Joseph Parish in South Bend. He teaches the educational technology class in RLP; his research and scholarship in the area of blended learning in K-12 Catholic schools support ACE's understanding of how technology and other levers for change can help Catholic school teachers and leaders have an even greater impact. Wills was ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in the spring of 2006. He completed his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying technology policy in Catholic schools.

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