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SRU education faculty present
keynote address at Iowa conference

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When the Learning Disabilities Association of Iowa opens its two-day conference in Des Moines, it might seem like Slippery Rock University faculty meeting at Slippery Rock University: Five of the program's speakers are from SRU College of Education faculty.

The organization's 39th annual conference Oct. 24-26 is using the theme "Difference Isn't so Different Anymore."

Four of the SRU participants will deliver the keynote address to open the sessions.

They are:
* Robert Isherwood, assistant professor of special education who has taught in the University's Principal Certification Program and is a former special education teacher. He served as an elementary school principal six years. Isherwood has been working with colleagues in school districts across western Pennsylvania to establish inclusive school settings through the implementation of co-teaching.

* Joseph Merhaut, assistant professor of special education, who has also taught special education for eight years and formerly served as a high school principal for seven years. In 2009, Merhaut received the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching at SRU.

* Richael Barger-Anderson, an assistant professor of special education, who has taught special education classes for six years and has collaborated with Clarion University and local school districts to coordinate an inclusive summer program for five years. She has presented papers on reading, co-teaching, and special education at the state, national and international levels. And,

* Robert Snyder, a professor of elementary education, who was an elementary teacher for 10 years. He received the Pennsylvania Teacher Excellence Award, the SRU President's Award for Teaching Excellence and Who's Who Among Teachers Award. He serves as a manuscript reviewer for several national journals such as: Science and Children, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and Mathematics, Science and Technology in Early Childhood Education.

Their session is titled "Differentiating Instruction in Today's Inclusive Classroom: Practical Strategies for Classroom Teachers."

Also joining the conference as a presenter is Dennis Fair, chair of SRU's department of special education, and a 30-year administrative law judge in Pennsylvania's Office of Dispute Resolutions.

The four-person team's address will key to 1997 and 2004 changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act designed to strengthen the rights of students with disabilities and to ensure greater accountability for those students.

"We present every year at the National Learning Disability Conference, and at last year's event in Baltimore, we received great feedback from the audience and conference chairs. We made a connection with the president of the Iowa Learning Disabilities Association. She invited us to present our work on co-teaching, differentiation and inclusion at their conference," Isherwood said.

"We have been working as a team presenting inclusionary forecasts, collected research, published articles and experiences with teachers in Pennsylvania and Texas for some time," he said.

"We think we bring authenticity to the presentation, because we do it in real format, not theory. Teachers appreciate that," he said. "Day one is dedicated to instruction and neuro-science education topics. Day two's lectures deal with co-teaching and inclusion classrooms where special education and regular teachers work in the same room," Isherwood said.

He said some of the items he will show teachers at the sessions were created by his SRU students.