Dan Greathouse: Conference in Texas

May 9, 2015 by

shaking hands with the Fonz

An Interview with Dan Greathouse: Conference in Texas

Michael F. Shaughnessy

  1. Dan I understand that you have just returned from a conference in Texas. What was the name of the conference, and where was it held and what was the theme of the conference?

I recently attended the Texas Educational Diagnostic Association (TEDA) Annual State Conference in the beautiful beachfront town of Galveston, Texas. The theme of this year’s conference was Making A Difference One “Starfish” At A Time, which is a reference to the legend about a young boy walking along a beach, tossing beached starfish back into the ocean.

An adult approached the boy and informed him of the impossibility of saving all the beached starfish in the world. He asked the boy, “Do you really think that what you are doing will make a difference?” The boy looked down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it back into the ocean. The boy then replied, “It makes a difference to that one.”

  1. Who or what organization were you representing when you went to this conference?

I was recently elected the president of the Caprock Chapter of TEDA, which is the Region 17 (Lubbock, Texas) group, and our chapter was the only one in the entire state of Texas with all officers present for the annual conference. Every chapter and region of Texas was represented at the conference.

Dr. Steven Feifer

  1. Tell us about Steven Feifer and his presentation.

Dr. Steven Feifer is a school psychologist in Maryland who has been awarded numerous honors, including the 2009 National School Psychologist of the Year by the National Association of School Psychologists. He has co-authored numerous books about learning and emotional disorders in children. More recently he has developed the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR), which will break down the diagnosis of reading disorders into four subtypes: dysphonetic dyslexia, surface dyslexia, mixed dyslexia, and comprehension deficits. His keynote presentation focused on neuropsychology to guide interventions for children with learning difficulties.

  1. Who were some of the other keynote speakers?

Dr. Steven Feifer and Henry Winkler were the two keynote speakers at the annual conference. Other presenters conducted a variety of workshops with latest developments, new assessment instruments, and topics of interest. Dr. Milton Dehn presented about the neuropsychology of memory, while Mitch Yell Ph.D. provided a comprehensive overview of legal issues in the assessment of educational diagnosis of students with disabilities. Dr. Gail Cheramie discussed new assessments, including the WJ-IV and the WISC-V, while Anise Flowers presented about the wonderful new world of IPad digital assessment, eliminating the traditional bulky test kits that educational diagnosticians are known to tote around from school to school.

  1. I understand that Henry Winkler (also known as The Fonz from the t.v. show Happy Days) was there . What did he talk about?

Henry Winkler’s motivational speech challenged each TEDA member to be the one to make the difference for the student who has learning difficulties. He related his own experiences about growing up in school and repeatedly failing geometry and struggling academically because of learning difficulties/dyslexia. He mentioned the people who made a difference in his life, helping to overcome the feelings of failure, but he emphasized the importance of maintaining a dream to succeed no matter what obstacles stood in his way. Even though he was not allowed to graduate with his high school class, he later succeeded in completing a Master of Fine Arts Degree at Yale. Of course, the rest is history after his renowned role as The Fonz on Happy Days, and his famous leather jacket is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

  1. He was also there to promote his latest book. What is the name of the book and what is it about?

Henry Winkler has coauthored the Hank Zipzer series with Lin Oliver, which is about the adventures of a bright boy who has learning challenges. His latest children’s book, Here’s Hank, is one of the books in that series, and like the others in the series is designed with the Dyslexie font, which was developed by the graphic designer, Christian Boer. This font is intended to help readers who have dyslexia, and more is explained about this type of font at the site http://www.dyslexiefont.com

  1. What is Henry Winkler like in person? Did you get to meet him?

I was able to meet Henry Winkler face-to-face and shake hands with him during his motivational keynote address. He moved about the audience, with microphone in hand, taking questions from the audience members. He was quite genuine and very personable. Also, he was very patient and attentive to each person’s questions. One could sense that his passionate desire to reach out to children everywhere who have learning difficulties because of his own struggles growing up. This empathy was quite real and most honorable. Later, in the book signing, I was able to shake hands with him again and obtain an autographed copy of his book. He congratulated me on the completion of my book. Again, I could sense the real empathy, as he personally knows the work that goes into writing books.

  1. What have I neglected to ask?

Did the master’s program at Eastern New Mexico University prepare you for the world of educational diagnostic work?

Absolutely! My training has taken me to presentations around to the world in places like Warsaw, Poland, and Edinburgh, United Kingdom. I am honored to be a retired educational diagnostician from New Mexico and now involved with the Texas Educational Diagnostic Association, getting to meet famous people like Henry Winkler.

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