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Jonathan Mooney

As a child Jonathan Mooney’s teachers labeled him as severely learning disabled because he could not follow directions, sit still or read well. He feared he lost his chance to be a “normal kid” and, along with other kids facing similar challenges, was belittled daily.

Mooney who is dyslexic and has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) will deliver the keynote address Saturday, March 5, at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh conference “Planting the Seeds of Inclusion: Supporting All Children.”

Although he did not learn to read until he was 12 years old, Mooney graduated with honors from Brown University with an English literature degree, shocking many of his skeptics. He has gone on to become an author (“The Short Bus”, “Learning Outside the Lines”) as well as founder and president of Project Eye-to-Eye, a mentoring and advocacy nonprofit organization for students with learning differences.

“Mooney is a very dynamic speaker who engages his audiences and pushes them to think about disability differently,” said UW Oshkosh Assistant Education Professor Stacey Skoning. “At our conference, he will be speaking about the importance of neuro-diversity and the contributions that individuals currently identified as disabled are making to our society. This will lead to conversations regarding how our schools need to change to better support these children.”

Hosted by the College of Education and Human Services’ curriculum and instruction, reading and special education departments, the conference aims to bring together educators, therapists, parents and other professionals who support the growth and learning of all children, from birth through age 22, in inclusive settings.

Training and support related to effective inclusive practices will be provided to local teachers who attend the conference. A variety of exhibitors, ranging from advocacy organizations to healthcare providers will also be on hand to connect people with resources and support services.

Opening remarks and the keynote address will be held 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. in Fredric March Theatre. A variety of breakout sessions, covering topics such as closing the achievement gap, parent perspectives, co-teaching, promoting peer interactions, and curriculum and instructional strategies to meet the needs of diverse learners, will follow in Clow Social Science Center and the Nursing and Education building.

Cost of the conference is $60 for professional educators and $30 for students and family members of children with disabilities.