Opening Convocation

Early Learning Sensory Support 2019 Convocation

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Our Special Day Is Coming Soon...

Time is drawing near! It will soon be time to join together once again for our annual Opening Convocation.

August 13th, 8:00am-4:45pm: Day 1 of Opening Convocation for all ELSSP (Mandatory) at Doubletree Crabtree 4100 Glenwood Ave. Raleigh, NC

August 14th, 8:00am-4:45pm: Day 2 of Opening Convocation for all ELSSP (Mandatory) at Doubletree Crabtree 4100 Glenwood Ave. Raleigh, NC

ELSSP Staff 2018 Convocation

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Opening Convocation Day 1

Tuesday, Aug. 13th, 8am-4:45pm

4100 Glenwood Avenue

Raleigh, NC

This event is mandatory for all Early Learning Sensory Support Program (ELSSP) staff. Please see agenda below.

NC ELSSP Opening Convocation Day 1 Agenda

8:00-8:30 am Arrival, Sign In and Materials Pick Up-Crabtree Room

8:30-9:00 Welcome and Introductions

Sherry Thomas, Director, Exceptional Children

Sherri Vernelson, Section Chief, Sensory Support and Assistive Technology

9:00-9:30 Keynote Speaker, Ganelle Sutton

9:30-9:45 Break

9:45-10:45 Dottie Snyder Deaf-Blind Project and Census/Amy Campbell Legally Blind Census

10:45-12:00 Implicit Bias-Tanya Bass

12:00-1:15 Group Pictures and Lunch

1:15-1:45 Milestones and Celebrations-Bethany and Ruth Anne

1:45-3:15 “Maternal Mental Health”-Neena Malosky

3:15-3:30 Break

3:30-4:30: “Reporting Suspected Abuse and Neglect”-Mandy Hice, Social Worker II & Intake Coordinator

4:30-4:45 Wrap Up, Feedback and Plus Delta

Infant Toddler Credits and CEUs Available

Meet Our Presenters...

Keynote Speaker...Ganelle Sutton

I was born in New Bern, NC; the birthplace of Pepsi and the setting of one of my favorite Nicholas Sparks books, The Notebook. I am also a lover of all things literature! I've even written books of my own, Cool Breeze (2015) and Double Dutch (2017), which are both urban fiction tales also set in my hometown. I graduated from East Carolina University with a journalism degree and started editing the advertising newspaper back home. After working as a newspaper editor and wanting just a little more fulfillment out of life, I decided to walk into my calling. This led me to walk straight into the classroom and I became a teacher back in 2004 and moved here to the Harbor of Hospitality. Teaching has been my joy ever since. Afterwards, I received my Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I am the founder of the Young Authors' Club (The YAC...the writing shack!), a creative writing summer camp here in Elizabeth City. I'm married to my best friend, Abel Sutton, and we have five children; Abel, Micah, Eden, Lily and Willow.

Implicit Bias...Tanya Bass

Tanya Bass, MS, MEd, CHES®, CSE is the Cultural and Community Health Initiatives Program Supervisor for the North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. Tanya has several years of public health experience in the areas of health equity and reproductive/sexual health. She is a skilled trainer and facilitator. She is an alumna of North Carolina Central University’s (NCCU) Department of Public Health Education, where she has served as an adjunct instructor for the past 15 years. Tanya is completing her doctoral requirements in Education with a focus on Human Sexuality Studies at Widener University.

Maternal Mental Health...Neena Malosky

Neena Malosky is a licensed Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She received her undergraduate degree in Auditory-Oral Deaf Education from UNCG and then went on to receive her master’s degree from the University of San Diego/John Tracey Clinic. She was also an adjunct professor in Language Facilitation in Deaf Children at UNCG. She is currently in the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS) Certification Process. Neena spent 10 years of her career working as a teacher for children with hearing loss in Guilford County. She is currently employed with the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Hearing Impairments serving families with children birth to 3 years old.

Reporting Suspected Abuse and Neglect...Mandy Hice

Mandy Hice attended Western Piedmont Community College and Gardner Webb University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services. Mandy has worked with deaf children for 23 years. She has been with Early Intervention for 19 years as the Social Worker for the NC Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual and Hearing Impairments serving children ages Birth-5 across the state of North Carolina. Mandy serves as the intake coordinator for the hearing impaired program as well as numerous other duties across the program. Mandy enjoys baking and working with the children at her church as a teacher, nursery director, and Vacation Bible School director. Mandy lives in Morganton with her husband, Steve and 20-year-old daughter, Zabrina. She has a step-son, Richard who is 27. She is grandmother to Ashlyn & Richard's daughter, Charleigh, the sweetest granddaughter in the world. Mandy is also a grandmother to, Amelia, Zabrina's cat.

Opening Convocation Day 2

Wednesday, Aug. 14th, 8am-4:45pm

4100 Glenwood Avenue

Raleigh, NC

NC ELSSP Opening Convocation Day 2

8:00-8:30 am Arrival, Sign In and Materials Pick Up-VI Team Meets in the Crabtree Room/HI Team Meets in the Glenwood Room

8:30-9:45 am HI Team Long Range Planning- Sharon, Andrea and Preston

VI Team Expanded Core Curriculum-Robbin Clark

9:45-10:00 Break

10:00-11:45 Long Range Planning-Sharon, Andrea, Preston

VI Team Expanded Core Curriculum-Robbin Clark

11:45-12:45 Lunch

12:45-1:30 Long Range Planning- Sharon and Andrea, Preston

VI Team Expanded Core Curriculum-Robbin Clark

1:30-1:45 Break

1:45-3:00 Understanding our Personalities and How We Interact-Valerie

VI Team Expanded Core Curriculum-Robbin Clark

3:00-4:00 The Power of Positive Thinking-Chris

VI Team Expanded Core Curriculum-Robbin Clark

4:30-4:45 Wrap Up, Feedback and Plus Delta

Infant Toddler Credits and CEUs Available

Meet Our Presenters...

Long Range Planning...Sharon Moore

Sharon received her BS degree and Hearing Impaired certification from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Masters in Language Development and Learning from Lenoir Rhyne University. She taught at the Central North Carolina School for the Deaf from 1985-1996. Sharon has worked as a resource teacher for Guilford County Schools in the Exceptional Children’s Program, the Central NC Early Intervention Program for Children Who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Resource Support Program with the Office of Education Services, and as an Educational Consultant with the NC DPI’s Exceptional Children Division. Sharon has her Birth through Kindergarten certification, K-12 Reading certification, C.E.D. certification, Infant-Toddler and Family certification, LSLS Auditory Verbal certification and National Board certification, as an Exceptional Needs Specialist. She also holds certification as a NC State Improvement Project Reading Foundations trainer and a national See-the-Sound: Visual Phonics trainer. Sharon is currently employed by the Department of Public Instruction, Office of Early Learning Division, as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing with the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Hearing Impairments. Sharon has served as a coach for the UNC-CH Children’s Cochlear Implant Center Institutes.

Long Range Planning...Andrea Cagle

Andrea is an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing with the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for children with hearing impairments. She received her Bachelor's degree in Deaf Education K-12 and her Masters in B-K education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has been a classroom teacher at the Central NC School for the Deaf and at Chatham Child Development Center. She also worked as an Infant Toddler Specialist at the Developmental Evaluation Center in Greensboro. She is a National Board Certified teacher and is certified as an Infant Toddler Specialist. Andrea is blessed with a husband of 29 years and two college age children.

Long Range Planning...Preston Collins

Preston has been a Teacher of the Deaf with the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Hearing Impairments (ELSSP-HI) since 2007. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Wingate University in Wingate, NC in 1995 and her Master’s degree in Special Education: Education of the Hearing Impaired from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN in 1997. Prior to working with ELSSP-HI, Preston has been a Teacher of the Deaf in public school and preschool settings in Maryland, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Preston is currently pursuing certification as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS) Auditory Verbal Therapist with the AG Bell Academy. She lives in Cornelius, NC with her husband-Michael, son- Caleb, and daughter-Courtney. She enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in her church’s children’s ministry.

Expanded Core Curriculum...Robbin Clark

My professional life started with an opportunity to teach a self-contained classroom in the deafblind program. My very first student, Kyle, changed my life. He was bright, funny, smart, stubborn all rolled up in a little body with ears that didn’t hear and eyes that didn’t see. We used tactile sign language and took on the world together hand under hand. I was lucky enough to have a talented mentor teacher and a paraprofessional who lived outside of the box right alongside of me. We had a tiny classroom but big experiences. Our little program grew and we created magic for several years in our little world. That’s where it all started for me.

I have recently had the great experience of spending the last seven years with typically developing students as well as those with multiple impairments. My school age kids have taken me to some of the sweetest adventures I have ever had in my whole life. I have watched them start out as shy kids who didn’t really want to or couldn’t explain their vision impairment to confident, kick-your-butt young adults. These school age students were the ones that taught me how to teach the Expanded Core Curriculum to typically developing kids. It was them that inspired me to see that the ECC is not just a curriculum, it’s a way of life. In fact, it is the key to having a quality life. I am such a better teacher because they let me practice a lot of crazy, out of the box ideas with them. We have jumped over fire together, taken on NYC, had dozens of community lessons at Target, eaten A LOT of Oreos together, stayed up late at student intern meetings, talked, texted, learned and grew together. So to Cody, Cooper, Leah, Michelle, Frankie Ann, Lauren, Gissel, Jose, Christopher, Tanajiah, Joe, Jimmy and truly a list of names that could go on for forever, I say thank you. Thank you for being “my students”.

When I first started teaching my little deafblind program, I woke up every day with the thought that I could be part of the change in the world for children with vision impairments. Ten years later, I wake up with the same thought. It’s been a beautiful adventure and I know it is only going to get better because I keep meeting awesome students that continue to change my life.

Understanding Our Personalities and How We Interact...Valerie Best

Valerie Taylor Best is a Teacher for the Deaf for the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Hearing Impairments. Her passion for the deaf community spans over 40 years. From the Central School for the Deaf in Greensboro, Staff Interpreter for FDA, EEOC in MD, Teacher for the Deaf in Jackson, NJ and the development of the Early Intervention program in Burlington County, NJ. She has developed and lead deaf ministries in 3 churches, one currently at Ephesus 7th Day Adventist Church in Winston-Salem North Carolina. She uses her dual certification credentials for Deaf Education/ Special education to educate the community.

Valerie also has a love for music! She has been using her vocal gift since she was a child. She was a vocalist for the Breath of Life Televisions series under the director of the late CD Brooks. She is currently working on her 3rd CD project entitled, “When God Says Yes.”

Valerie has been Women’s ministry leader for a total of 15 years for various churches. As an ordained elder she provides support for women and their families.

In her past time, she enjoys crocheting, beach walking, journaling, reading (particularly about personalities and how we think) and spending quality time with her longtime friend and husband Mark Best. Together they have 6 children, 6 grandchildren and are very involved with their church family in New Bern, NC.

The Power of Positive Thinking...Chris Czajkowski

Chris is a licensed Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She received her degree in Auditory-Oral Deaf Education at UNCG. She is also Nationally Board Certified and has her Infant-Toddler Family Specialist certification. She has worked with the Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children With Hearing Impairments (ELSSP-HI) for 15 years serving families with children birth to 3 years old with hearing loss. The first 7 years of her career she served children and their families in their homes providing direct instruction and coaching. For the last 8 years she has served as a Lead Teacher, providing guidance, support and leadership to teachers in ELSSP-HI.


Download PADLET onto your phone, laptop, and/or iPad and bring with you on Day 1 and Day 2.

****Most of you have downloaded this already (as we have used it before). This is just a reminder to double check your device and make sure it is still there. If not, please follow directions below to download prior to convocation.****

We will be using an online tool called Padlet again this year during our Opening Convocation. You will need to bring with you a device to the meeting in which you can access the internet. The device may be a lap top, tablet, or just your smart phone. Prior to the meeting please sign up for Padlet by following the instructions below:

  1. Go to
  2. Click Sign up
  3. Enter your DPI email address and create a password.
  4. Click Sign up

    Padlet is the easiest way to create and collaborate in the ...

    From your hobby to your career, your class notes to your final exam, your mood board to your runway show, padlets help you organize your life.


Friendly reminder to all VI staff...Please make sure to schedule a time with Starla to turn in folders while you are in Raleigh for convocation.


In addition to the restaurant at the Doubletree, there are numerous places to eat (within walking distance of the hotel). The hotel is located across the street from Crabtree Valley Mall. Food choices include: Big Easy, Brio, Cheesecake Factory, Chic Fila, Crabtree Ale House, Crisp Salads, Fleming's Greek Fiesta, Hwy 55, Kabobi, Kanki, Luciano, McCormick and Schmicks, McDonald's, Moe's, P. F. Chang's, Panera, Red Monkey, Sarku Japan, Seasons 32, Steak Escape, Thai Bistro, Torii, and Which Wich.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division, Early Learning Sensory Support Program