COPAA 20TH Anniversary Conference


During 2018, Joshua Krasne, RCADD Director, completed the Special Education Advocacy Training
(SEAT) under the direction of the of Council Of Professional Advocates & Attorneys (COPAA).
Upon completion of the required internship, Joshua Krasne was fortunate enough to attend the
COPAA 20TH Anniversary Conference in Monterey California. He took part in panel discussions
which focused on ensuring the student with Autism is receiving TAP under both IDEA & Section
504 and challenging racial disparities in special education. The invaluable information acquired
will without question help to address the needs of RCADD’s patrons.


Submitted by Resource Center for Autism & Developmental Delays

Note from the editor, Shelley Maxwell:

This article is the tip of an iceberg of progressive behavior. Joshua Krasne is definitely a person to notice.
If you have more to share about Joshua or other FAST staff, why not submit A Person to Notice Article.



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Reflections on Local Our City Our Museum Exhibits from UIC FAST

For the past few weeks, adult learners at three community education centers have been building their own museum. Using found materials such as cardboard, recycled objects, and clay, the students have been considering how they’d like to represent their stories in a public exhibit while studying for their adult high school equivalency or English as a Second Language.

South/Blackstone Library. On Thursday, April 15th, at the Blackstone Library, 13 adult learners presented and performed their arts inspired museum exhibit.  In this display, each participant reflected upon their own community and what community meant to them, ultimately deciding to name their exhibit “Different Communities Big Dreams”.  The participants’ reflections about their community was represented in collages, written pieces, 3-D displays, and choreographed dances.  The exhibit also invited guests to interact by adding their own description of their community. 




In reflecting upon the project, participants noted that they most enjoyed the process of the project.  Participants expressed that everything from researching, to putting the pieces together, to promotion, to presenting were all valuable experiences.  Many participants also acknowledged that working together with their classmates towards a common goal was especially important to them.  Through this process they were able to see and appreciate how creatively each person thought and the various ways they could help each other.  The community within their own classroom was strengthened through this process. 


The students also recognized that their classroom community acted as a metaphor for how the larger community can come together, to try to understand different ideas and perspectives on the world and help motivate each other to seeing a project through.  


The public was able to interact with the students in discussion about community during the opening reception and for two weeks while the display remained in the lobby of the library.  The descriptions about community are just as complex as those that the students shared.  Descriptive words range from “thriving, loving, caring, resilent” to “complicated, developing, upended”.  As a whole, all participants were able to reflect on where their communities are today and where they want their communities to be in the future. 


West/Garfield Park Fieldhouse.  On Monday, April 19th, four adult learners gave museum tours to over 100 community members at the Garfield Park Fieldhouse.  In preparation, students mindfully crafted stories they wanted their community to hear and then canvassed the neighborhood as part of their COFI project to get community members to come. The museum ended up being a display of family histories told through replicated family keepsakes and pictures. The keepsakes chosen are a part of the adult learners’ life stories and were displayed to give the community a positive perspective of family love in a Westside neighborhood community.


During opening night, participants gave tours of their museum because as a way to connect with each visitor, hoping that their stories would motivate and inspire all to cherish every moment with the family in their life and restore family roots if needed.  Students also had a guest book for the community to write or draw what they would want to have displayed in a museum if they were curating it.  People of all ages were able to engage and contribute to the museum in this way, and an expansion of the museum might include more family stories and histories of important places in the neighborhood such as as churches and the fieldhouse.  

Overall, guests to this museum exhibit felt inspired and encouraged the adult students to continue to share their stories because that is how history is made.  One guest in particular was especially impacted, the mother of the adult student who created an entire artifact about the strength of her mother.  All of the adult students were overwhelmed by the moment her mother read about the impact she had had on her daughter.  Tears were shared and the other adult students wished that they were still able to share their artifacts with those that raised them – reiterating the purpose of the exhibit, to cherish the people in your life. 


Southwest/Back of the Yards Library. On Tuesday, March 20th, in the Back of the Yards Library, the community room was abuzz with 27 Spanish speaking adult learners sharing their stories.  Leading up to this point, the adult learners considered what story they wanted to tell and then created artistic dioramas as visual representations.  The difficult work came in telling their stories in two different languages in a way that let the audience know their purpose.  In the end, there were three distinct categories of stories that students chose to share: stories about where the students came from, stories about family skills passed down, and stories about family traditions.  


Students promoted their museum’s opening reception as guests on vocalo radio.  This effort drew in a large crowd for the opening reception (Pedro Leon, the library branch manager recorded 570 people at the library that night compared to the usual 215) and supported community connections. An actor and a director from Meet Juan(ito) Doe, a local play, spoke to each student individually and exchanged stories, prompting many students to support the play the following week.  The manager of “The Plant” also came.  He expressed excitement about this work and is hoping to use some of the artifacts for a permanent display highlighting the voices of the community.  Finally, a young man learned about the high school equivalency program through this exhibit and was connected with resources to go back to pursue his own degree.  Pedro Leon stated “this was an event that highlights the good things we have in our community and I was humbled and proud to be a part of it”, hoping to see something like it again. 


Overall, people were able to reflect upon their own histories, see those histories portrayed positively, and make connections with community members who have similar histories.



Local shows for “Our Museum” Projects Highlight Students’  Memories,  Cultures, and Hopes for the Future

Over 150 UIC staff, A/C members, High School Equivalency (HSE) English and Spanish and ESL students exhibited their “Our Museum” projects at the Blackstone Library, Garfield Park Conservatory, and Back of the Yards Library from FAST South, West, and Southwest sites.

This was the culminating project for the Social Studies badge for students to show they had mastered High School equivalency Competencies in group collaboration work, research, writing, critical thinking, and presentation skills.   Students had to describe their project idea to the group, research the topic, write and revise a narrative describing their project, create a diorama depicting their project, and describe their project in English to staff, students, and community members who visited the exhibit. Students will be loading their projects onto a digital platform to demonstrate their competencies.

Most of the stories centered on a family member from their youth who raised them, a custom, skill, or trade that they learned  from their family member  that they have passed on to their children, hopes and ideas they have to make their family and community better,  or a transformative skill or talent  that they or their children have mastered of which they are proud.  The presentations of students from all three sites highlighted the care, love, creativity, detail, and time that each student put into their project.  Many students had to address painful memories of their childhood, the loss and/or separation from their loved ones, or trauma from their youth to complete the projects.  This was a truly transformative a process that has brought the cohorts closer together as they shared their stories in a safe space guided by supportive and knowledgeable instructors and tutors.

Please come out on April 23rd at Daley Library on the UIC campus to meet the students from FAST West, South, and Southwest yourselves.

You won’t be disappointed! 

Meet our student, Guadalajara’s work – Our City, Our Museum Project Story

The 3rd session of Our City, Our Museum took place today at the Back of the Yards Library. FAST’s talented and creative ESL and Spanish HSE students shared their experiences through beautiful art exhibits that told the stories of their culture, native homes, and special memories of their life journey.

Below we see the work of a student from Guadalajara, Mexico and their appreciation for Mariachi music. We also see the joy that soccer brings, a students connection with their grandfather, stories shared between a student and her grandfather back in El Salvador and a students journey to obtaining their HSE.

CFL Money Bonanza Event

Money Bonanza: A kid-friendly carnival that promotes financial and family literacy among Head Start families, through games and activities, during the nationally recognized AmeriCorps Week. The recent one took placed on March 15th. #UIC #CFL #Literacy #ServeIL #GetThingsDone

Click for the video

Sneak Peek of Our City Our Museum Southside Reception

There was an opening reception of “Our City Our Museum” at Southside location on March 15th at Blackstone Library. A multimedia exhibit titled, “Our City, Our Museum” designed by adult learners studying for their high school equivalency will be displayed at Blackstone Library for a limited time in March. The parents and adult learners who participated in the development and curation will be on hand at the opening for a brief program and to offer guided tours.

For those who missed this opening, here’s short sneak peek of the day. Click

The exhibition will last until March 28th. 




Our City, Our Museum project story is on the radio show!!

Yes, you heard that right – Our project story went out there!

On March 13th, Our project story, Our City Our Museum Project, was featured on South Side Weekly radio and WHPK 88.5 FM! What an amazing documentation of the creativity and determination of FAST students and Staff.

Check it out and share this exciting news. The radio can be played by the following link.

2018 IACEA conference

Our Leaders attended 2018 IACEA conference on behalf of UIC Center for Literacy. They did enjoy  Craig J. Boykin for a great Keynote.

Seeking Volunteers- CPL ChiTeen Lit Fest April 13/14

ChiTeen Lit Fest is an annual for-teens-by-teens festival that aims to provide a safe and creative space for young adults to unlock and discover their unique voice through literary arts.  ChiTeen Lit Fest seeks to bring together young people from across Chicago and celebrate their talents as they express themselves through exceptional and honest art.  This year, the fest will be taking place on April 13th and 14th, 2018.

It takes so many people an immense amount of energy to make the festival run, and we rely on the help of many volunteers. We are hoping that you can help us make the day possible, both by signing up to volunteer and by sharing our volunteer sign-up info with your community. Here’s the link to sign up–you can select whatever specific time slot and role work for you:

Sign up for volunteer opportunity:

For More information :Visit

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) – Student Speaker Nomonations

Student Speaker nominations open

Application Deadline: May 1, 2018


Student Speaker at the 2017 Families Learning ConferenceStudent Speaker at the 2017 Families Learning Conference

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) invites adult learners to apply to be a speaker at the 2018 Families Learning Conference, held from September 24 to 26, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Each year during our Conference, students share their learning stories with attendees during General Sessions (a time when all attendees are gathered together at once). Having students share their stories of determination, hard work, and achievement inspires us all.

By speaking at the Families Learning Conference, student speakers receive:

  • A free round-trip flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from September 23 to 26, 2018
  • Three free nights at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
  • A free registration to attend all Families Learning Conference sessions and events
  • Free meals from September 23 to 26, 2018
  • A professional photo taken of their family in advance of the Conference
  • The opportunity to share their unique story with an audience of hundreds of attendees from around the country
  • The opportunity to raise awareness of their school or program to a national audience
  • A DVD recording of their speech
  • Free time to enjoy the beach and pool

Students can nominate themselves and program staff can nominate students. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

Click here for an information sheet to share with potential nominees.