Virtual Family Weekend 2020

General Conference Information

Weekend filled with workshops, video tour of WESP-DHH Campus, networking, family team building, and peer to peer opportunities for students with hearing loss and families.

  • Reasonable ADA accommodation requests must be submitted by Oct. 30, 2020.
  • This family weekend welcomes everyone regardless of amplification or communication choices. These topics will not be part of the event.

For more information, please contact:
Bonnie Eldred, Outreach Program Coordinator, or 262-725-0252


Registration deadline is November 13, 2020.
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Click on a session title for session description and presenter biographies.

Friday, Nov. 13, 2020
Presenter Bios

Ryan Gollner is the current WESP-DHH Center Director. He grew up in Milwaukee and eventually graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) with a Bachelors of Science degree in Elementary Education in 2003 and Deaf Education in 2005. In 2005, Ryan and his wife moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and became a teacher at the Louisiana School for the Deaf (LSD). During his 14 years at LSD, Ryan taught Middle School Math and was also the IEP Facilitator, Assistant Principal, Principal and recently, the Interim Director. Ryan also graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) with a Masters of Education degree in Educational Leadership in 2011. This past summer, Ryan, his wife, four children, dog and cat moved back home to Wisconsin to be closer to Wisconsin family and friends.

Julie Holma is currently an Education Director for the Department of Public Instruction within the Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WESP-DHH) Outreach department. Julie has a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and Interpreting for the deaf, a post-baccalaureate degree in teaching for the deaf and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from UW-Milwaukee. She has worked throughout southeastern Wisconsin school districts as an educational interpreter, a teacher for the deaf in public schools, and a special education high school teacher. She also taught at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf for 11 years as a transition teacher. She currently is and has been a cheer, dance and youth trapshooting coach for the past 19 years and has conference, state, and national championship titles in all three of these sports during her coaching time. Julie is also a mom of three boys and two adorable dogs. She devotes her time (outside of work and coaching) to her family!

We get many questions from parents and school districts about the Wisconsin School for the Deaf (WSD). This workshop is an opportunity for parents to learn about WSD and ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask. Are you curious about the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, Bilingual Education, the residential program, day school options, transportation, IEPs, how Speech and Language Services fit into an all sign language school, or the Social and Emotional Learning opportunities at WSD? If yes, this workshop is for you.This is an opportunity for parents, guardians, and caregivers to learn about WSD and its programs that are available for all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind students in Wisconsin.

Presenter Bios
Brian Lievens is currently the High School/Transition Principal at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf. He has been the principal for four years. He has a master’s degree in Exceptional Education from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also obtained principal licensure from Viterbo University. Brian taught reading, social studies, math, and Deaf Studies in the middle school department for 9 years before becoming the principal. He is married to Bethany and is the father of 5 CODA daughters. Brian loves reading sci-fi books and enjoys vegetable gardening in his spare time.

Jeffrey Rawlings is currently the Director of Residential Life at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf (WSD) in Delavan. He has been in this role since 2018. Before that, he served for over 16 years under the Student Life Program at WSD as the Residential Advisor (formerly known as Child Care Counselor). Jeffrey was promoted to CCC3 as a work leader in 2006, and then in 2013 was promoted again to Assistant Dean of Students. Jeffrey is a WSD alumni from the class of 1997. Upon WSD graduation, Mr. Rawlings attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Jeffrey enjoys traveling and spending time with his wife, Jennifer and 2 boys, Trevor (17) and Cayden (15).

Ms. Heather Costner invites you to attend an informational session about instruction at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf. This session will include information about Bilingual instruction through American Sign Language and English, monitoring progress of student achievement using assessments normed for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and educational opportunities that focus on transition skills of students who are 16 – 21 years old.

Presenter Bio
Heather Costner is currently the Director of Curriculum and Assessment at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf (WSD) in Delavan. She has been in the field of Deaf Education for 14 years where she served as a teacher, instructional coach, math specialist, summer programs director, curriculum specialist, and principal. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in Deaf Education and a Master’s degree from DePaul University in both Curriculum & Instruction and Supervision & Administration. This is her second year at WSD. Heather is also a mother of two young boys, ages 5 and 3. Her oldest child is currently a Kindergartener at WSD. With her family, she enjoys serving at her church, dueling against her sons with light sabers and swords, watching them play sports, and if time is available, she loves reading, painting, and making crafts.

Thank you for joining us this evening.
Saturday, Nov 14, 2020
Discussion Groups: Moms, Dads, Deafblind Families, High School, Middle School, Elementary School
Caroline Ludka and Jennifer Koehn will provide a presentation on the Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, their programs and services, and how they can provide assistance to families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. They will also provide additional information on their state-wide partners and stakeholders that may benefit Deaf and Hard of Hearing students’ transitions to post-secondary settings and environments.

Presenter Bios
Caroline Ludka is currently the Hard of Hearing Specialist with the Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 2014. She’s from Iowa and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and American Sign Language (ASL) Studies from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and obtained a Master’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling, specialized to work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing caseloads from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Serving the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and hard of hearing people has been her passion for the past 16 years. Caroline lives in Franklin with her Deaf husband and their three KODA children.

Jennifer Koehn, is currently the Statewide Deaf Benefit Specialist (DBS) with the Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) since 2010. She provides services to people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind and use American Sign Language (ASL). Jennifer provides free counseling and advocacy related services for individuals applying for or receiving Social Security benefits, Medicare (including Part D), Medicaid, prescription drug assistance, FoodShare, low-income tax credits, insurance, housing and utility issues. She received her Master’s degree in educational psychology/community counseling from UW-Milwaukee. Jennifer lives in Delavan with her Deaf husband and their three Deaf children.

Scott Kendziorski will provide a presentation focusing on understanding your child and enhancing awareness of mental health support, physical well-being, self-advocacy, cultural awareness, identity, and goal setting. He will also touch on Compassion Resilience, and how to address and better understand the emotional fatigue of your child and yourself. This fatigue impacts the classroom, home, and communities. Participants will gain skills to improve the well-being of the child, family, and service providers.

Presenter Bio
Scott Kendzorski is currently the Behavioral Health Consultant for Outreach Services for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind. He has worked with Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind students for almost 30 years in schools, treatment centers, homes, residence programs and communities focusing on mental health and social support. He has provided countless sessions with students on social skills, anger management, bullying, coping skills and restorative practice individually, in groups and with professionals. Also, Scott has provided communication support for language deprived and dysfluency students in a variety of situations, such as academic, behavior interventions, family mediation, health, medical, meetings and law enforcement. The “Understanding Self-Care” session includes parents and caregivers to discuss and understand how D/HH/DB children may struggle and have barriers that they will face with and without support from adults. There will be an open forum to share effective approaches and strategies to help your child and you regulate and manage behaviors and expectations both in school and at home.

Leslie Eldred will provide different team building activities to increase awareness of the Deaf child in the family environment. She will include Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind stories, critical thinking, and activities to promote working together as a family or team. The goal is for your family to ensure your child is included in their family environment at all times.

Presenter Bio
Leslie Eldred is originally from Missouri, graduated from Gallaudet University in Washington DC with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1995. After graduation, Leslie worked as a Microbiology Technician at Quest Diagnostics in St. Louis, MO until 2004. She then became a high school Science teacher at the Missouri School for the Deaf until 2006. At that time, her and her family moved to Wisconsin and Leslie became a Guidance Counselor and transition teacher at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf until 2019. Leslie is Deaf herself and comes from a Deaf family. Her husband, also Deaf, works at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf as a coach and Physical Education teacher. She enjoys spending her free time with her three adult children (two deaf and one hearing) and her extended family.

Thank you for participating!