Social Inclusion and Young Adolescents: Project UNIFY
Presenter: Project UNIFY

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Join AMLE, Special Olympics Project UNIFY® and middle level practitioners to learn about social inclusion and its importance for young adolescents. Andrea Cahn, Senior Director of Project UNIFY will share a national perspective and research on the impact of social inclusion on school climate and youth leadership. Bill Schreiber, principal of Granite Falls Middle School, NC, will share how his school has created an inclusive environment where all youth are agents of change. Dr. David Gonzalez, Associate Superintendent, United ISD, Laredo, Texas, will discuss how social inclusion is addressed in his district and the impact it has made in their middle level schools. Sue Gee, Executive Director, Vermont Association for Middle Level Education will discuss the work they are doing to address bullying in Vermont's middle schools, using social inclusion as the solution. Follow Project Unify on Twitter at @SOProjectUNIFY.

Andrea Cahn has been with Special Olympics for the past 25 years and is currently the lead executive in the United States for Project UNIFY, the youth engagement and activation strategy that promotes school communities where all young people, as well as adult leaders, become agents of change. Andrea is responsible for the launch seven years ago of this major partnership with the U.S. Department of Education that promotes inclusion by creating model schools of acceptance through the innovative implementation of existing and new Special Olympics sports and education programs. The program is now in 45 states and more than 3,000 schools, reaching 1.8 million students with messages and activities that promote inclusive youth leadership and social inclusion.

Before her directorship with Project UNIFY, Andrea’s roles with Special Olympics included leading the global communications department, serving as the Special Olympics Organizational Development Director for Government Relations and Urban Strategy, serving as SOI’s key liaison for the Caribbean, and leading a major expansion project with Special Olympics New York involving the New York City school system.

Andrea holds a degree in special education, and currently resides in Alexandria, VA.
Sue Gee is a 40-year veteran of public education, having been a teacher, middle and high school principal, and central office administrator in Vermont, Massachusetts, and California. In retirement, she stays active as the Executive Director of the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education (VAMLE).

Working with a dedicated Board of Directors, Sue guides their effort to promote middle level programs and practices. Of particular interest is a themed approach to annual conferences: the prevention of bullying. VAMLE goes ‘beyond bullying’ and engages teams of middle school students and educators in creating action plans to build a culture of respect and social inclusion. Many of the teams return to lead workshops the following year. In this way, VAMLE supports student voice in planning for change.
David Gonzalez began his career in education in 1991 with Laredo Independent School Districtas an English teacher and football coach at Nixon High School. He entered administration in 1999 as an Assistant Principal at Martin High School. In the fall of 1999, he joined United Independent School District as an Assistant Principal for John B. Alexander High School.

In 2005, he was named Principal of United ISD’s George Washington Middle School. During his tenure at Washington Middle School, he developed many unique academic programs that relied on the infusion of emerging technologies. Under his leadership, his campus was the recipient of numerous grants used to promote the use of technology to support instruction at his campus.

In 2013, David was named Executive Director for Middle Schools where he was charged with overseeing the District’s nine middle schools and middle school area at the district’s DAEP facility, STEP Academy. While in this position, Mr. Gonzalez played a key role in piloting and initiating the Achieve 3000 Program across the district. At the close of the 2013-2014 school year, Mr. Gonzalez was selected to lead the district’s Curriculum and Instruction Department. This position oversees 40 campuses, 3 residential facilities, over 3,000 administrators and instructional support staff and over 43,000 students. Gonzalez proudly states, “I am honored to lead the area of Curriculum and Instruction, and my passion resonates the district’s academic goals for student success. I will continue the forward momentum set by my predecessors regarding the District’s mission to further instructional achievements through the integration of 21st century skills and technology in every classroom.”

Mr. Gonzalez is committed to the success of each student, and he has implemented Project UNIFY as one means of promoting that success in socially inclusive schools.
Bill Schreiber is in his 4th year as principal of Granite Falls Middle School. Prior to that he was the principal of the Caldwell Career Center Middle College, and at both schools he has led a faculty dedicated to inclusive educational settings focused on” hands on minds on” engagement of students with science, technology, engineering, arts and math education. In his 12th year in public education, Bill and his team of teachers are passionate promoters of Project UNIFY and its goals to create a school community where all young people are agents of change--fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

Bill holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business, a Masters of Arts degree in School Administration and is currently pursuing his Ed. D in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University. Prior to working in public education, Bill spent 23 years in the United States Navy. Bill is a member of several civic and educational associations. He enjoys the outdoors, sports and inspiring students to reach their highest potential.
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