Practicing teachers and professional school personnel are often invited into classrooms by ENHP faculty to provide insight and expertise on current issues in education. Dena Tompkins (center) is one of those respected individuals. Tompkins is the Assistant Director of Special Education in the Newington, Connecticut Public School System.
Tompkins discussed the legal history associated with special education beginning with the mid seventies' Education for All Handicapped Children Act - Public Law 94-142 to the identification of the major provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As she spoke of legalities, she engaged the students in discussions in the form of what if. What if a child with a documented disability becomes frustrated and acts out in class? Is she disciplined? How is she disciplined? Does it matter if the behavior is caused by, had a a direct or substantial relationship to the disability or was the direct result of the failure to implement the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for that student? What if a parent came to you and asked you why his child is not receiving the individual support another child is receiving in mathematics?
This was Tompkins third visit to campus. On this occasion she was meeting with senior education students in the practicum course taught by Suzi D'Annolfo (far right). In the fall semester, the future teachers spend mornings in the field and attend classes later in the day in preparation for their final semester of full-time student teaching.