Stetson & Associates, Inc. offers speaking engagements at conferences, schools and other private events. All topics are tailored to meet the group’s needs, can vary in length, and can occur virtually or in person. Please see below for a list of topics followed by common frequently asked questions.

List of Topics and Descriptions

Leadership and Courage: The Seven Circles of Change

With the demand for leaders who are skilled in directing and sustaining change, an important starting point is the identification of the highest priorities–those that will exert the leverage needed to propel systems forward. Dr. Frances Stetson will present her 2020 nominees for those high priorities for change in achieving improved outcomes for students with disabilities. Borrowing from the work of Brene' Brown on Courage, the critical roles of leaders in facing the challenges and opportunities ahead will be presented with practical tools to support changed practice!

Let’s Make Lemonade!

It is a long-held belief that when truly difficult times arrive, it offers savvy leaders the opportunity to reconsider, reimagine and revitalize our processes and results. This is particularly true as we all face COVID-19 and its challenges. There truly are opportunities to rethink our delivery and we will look back on this time as one of personal and professional trials and undiscovered gifts! Leadership 2020! As Winston Churchill said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste!"

Not for Sissies! Leadership for Students Receiving Special Education Services in Times of Great Turmoil and Opportunity

What an amazing time! Issues of changing school culture, the need for shared ownership for all students, budget considerations and still we focus on students and improved outcomes! This keynote session features a launching pad of mindsets and strategies for leading in times of uncertainty when much is at stake. Dr. Frances Stetson will knit together the challenges and themes that educational leaders face in the evolution of services for students with disabilities by offering specific strategies for success in 2019 and beyond.

Here are the eight strategies featured:

  • 1st: Surface adaptive challenges
  • 2nd: Close the knowing-doing gap
  • 3rd: Begin with the Why question
  • 4th: Practice and insist on civility
  • 5th: Provide clear standards of quality
  • 6th: Identify necessary conditions for success
  • 7th: Initiate courageous conversations
  • 8th: Revisit your own belief systems

For each leadership strategy, resources and examples are provided.

The Softer Side of Leadership: Balancing the Needs of the Organization with the Needs of the Individual

In today’s hectic workplace, many educators feel the stressors of too many mandates and roles and too little time, guidance, and validation. This session focuses on the softer side of leadership and the techniques for creating an environment of excellence and support. As the authors of the book: Leadership for the Common Good, remind us: "Leadership is heart and soul work. You won’t exercise leadership unless you care for the common good."

But what does that mean in practical, every day terms? Let’s explore five responses to the challenge of motivating and leading: authentic relationships, physical presence, high standards, and clear expectations, gifts of space and time, and concern for the 'whole adult'! Participants will apply these approaches to case studies that mirror those situations you find most challenging in achieving the balance between the organization and the individual.

Reviewing Effective Staff Utilization: New Lessons for Doing More with Less!

Now more than ever, the effective use of personnel is a precondition for delivering quality services and achieving higher outcomes for students. Dr. Frances Stetson brings her extensive experience from staffing studies, program evaluations, and on-site technical assistance to a practical working session to demonstrate that doing more with less can actually mean just that!

Such challenges as making certain that in-class support in inclusive classroom truly results in benefits that reflect two adults versus a 'visitor on the side of the room'; making decisions regarding the need for paraeducator services on the basis of student needs versus adult preference; using an objective process for staffing and scheduling that results in improved student outcomes and other related issues will be discussed. Participants will also receive practical tools that support immediate use of these strategies in their own districts, schools, and classrooms.

Quality Standards for Inclusive Practices: A Working Session for Assessing Your Current Status and Identifying Your Next Improvement Targets

As schools review their accountability status, the progress of students with disabilities continues to raise serious concern. This session identifies 23 variables that positively impact efforts to close the achievement gap, beginning with the need for a system-level commitment to shared ownership for ALL students.

This list is accompanied with specific explanations, implementation tools, and self-assessment instruments to lead district leaders toward improved outcomes for students and schools! School leaders will find the resources contained in this presentation very useful in enriching the dialogue and collaboration with curriculum and instructional staff, principals, and special populations directors. Participants will receive a link to related resources and tools for immediate use.

Note: This is a rushed ½ day – even better for a full day working session.

Closing the Knowing-Doing Gap: 10 Priorities for Special Education Leaders

We all have personal knowing-doing gaps: starting that diet, cleaning the closet...In our professional lives, we have an important Knowing-Doing Gap to consider as well. Join Dr. Frances Stetson for her top ten list of effective practices that must be in place to see significant growth in achievement for students with disabilities, better use of scarce resources, and stronger teams to accomplish the work. You will receive your own Knowing-Doing analysis packet and resources to assist you in jump-starting your efforts to reshape and revitalize services for students with disabilities.

Note: This session can also be designed to be appropriate for teachers as well as leaders.

Whatever Happened to Tier One? And Other Mysteries that Plague our Progress for All!

Call me discouraged and hopeful—all at the same time! Our extensive bank of knowledge gained from work across hundreds of school districts across the country provide a clear picture of the most pressing issue blocking progress for every student. That issue is the lack of effective Tier One strategies in virtually every classroom resulting in over-attention to costly and ineffective treatments for Levels 2 and above for students who would not need them if attention was paid to those research-based practices that prevent school failure and loss of time and energy for struggling students.

Dr. Frances Stetson offers a clear and compelling argument for attending to the quality of Tier One instruction in every classroom! This session contains a message for school leaders and teachers through practical strategies, self-assessment instruments, and hands-on resources to build and sustain strong Tier One practices for all students. We already know what to do—we just need to DO it! Implementation strategies are also discussed to narrow the leap from concepts to actions!

Note: This session can also be designed to be appropriate for teachers as well as leaders.

Five Easy Ways to Fail in Education

For an audience full of poster children for success, Dr. Frances Stetson brings her experience in thousands of schools across the US and her international experience with inclusive practices to focus on five easy ways to fail in education. With humor, insight and plenty of practical tools, this keynote session will engage the audience in a process of self-examination and personal skill-development in systems change, relationship-building and cultural proficiency. (Originally presented as a Keynote for CASE, San Antonio, 2014)

Sustaining Inclusive Practices or Avoiding Organizational Drift

Stetson & Associates, Inc. is recognized for our emphasis on quality standards for services for students with disabilities. We focus on systems-change and improved outcomes but have recently noted that once great systems often slide right back where they started when new leadership is added or with the passage of time. We have devoted thought and new development to the task of sustaining the positive changes our clients have realized with inclusive education and other priorities for effective schools.

This session is perfect if you, too, are challenged by the difficulties of keeping rather than losing the hard-fought gains of change leadership. Each participant will be provided with a Sustainability Checklist and resources to lighten the load. Whether it is inclusive education, a new RTI approach, or any other change you have recently implemented, you will find our Sustainability Checklist useful again and again!

Doing More with Less: Budgeting in Tough Times for Better Results!

This timely session was designed to respond to our current financial woes in education by providing practical guidance to district leaders in ways to cut costs while boosting effectiveness and impact. Dr. Frances Stetson brings her extensive experience from staffing studies, program evaluations, and on-site technical assistance to a practical working session to see if "doing more with less" can actually mean more efficiency and effectiveness! Participants receive materials featuring cost-cutting recommendations, and tools, and strategies for improving quality practices related to assignment of teachers, paraeducators, and central office personnel. A link to practical tools presented during the session is provided so they can be adapted and implemented within the district. These recommended changes represent a new level of focused attention to ongoing improvement of services for students with disabilities.

Originally designed as a five-hour working session for special education directors, this keynote offers highlights of high-yield strategies. Due to demand across Texas, this session has been replicated in eight different regional locations. It has been presented in short form for the Special Education Urban Collaborative in Los Angeles and as a keynote to the Fall 2013 CASE Conference in Indianapolis.

Inclusive Practices: Recent Accomplishments and Remaining Challenges for Special Education Leaders

Dr. Frances Stetson brings perspectives from her work as sponsor of the international Inclusive Schools Network and from over 25 years as President of Stetson & Associates, Inc., an education consulting firm specializing in systems change for students with disabilities. This session focuses on the remaining challenges facing educational leaders in creating collaboratively shared responsibility for inclusive schools. Predominantly among those challenges is the need for shared ownership for all students, more effective use of personnel, instructional strategies that increase successful access to the general curriculum, and various structural issues such as collaborative planning time and accountability for positive outcomes. For each challenge, cutting-edge practices and strategies will be offered. This session raises hope for a new culture of inclusive schools and success for every student.

The Science of Happiness - The Art of Leadership

The field of Positive Psychology has opened up new knowledge about the brain and the incredible possibilities for changing our outlook, efficiency and effectiveness! Dr. Frances Stetson will share strategies for increasing your happiness index, for influencing staff to approach challenges in a more positive and proactive way, and for capitalizing on the capacity of the brain to reconfigure our thought processes. Shifting to the applications of positive psychology to the field of special education and to the leadership roles we play, Frances will offer several ideas that just might shape your approach to leading and influencing people in the future! (Originally presented for CASE, Reno, 2017)

Creating the Conditions for Successful Inclusion

The importance of providing the rationale for inclusion cannot be overlooked. In the future, such conversations may not be necessary but today, we must be clear in answering the WHY question before real change can occur. In addition, there are several structures that need to be in place for the work of inclusion to be embedded across the school’s operational framework. Participants will learn:

  • The current rationale for embracing inclusion as a shared practice across all faculty and for all students;
  • Strategies for engaging in deeper conversations about inclusive education, diversity, opportunity gaps, and shared responsibility;
  • How to create lasting structures for collaboration, planning, implementation and evaluation;
  • A framework that supports collaboration across departments, schools, and between educators and educators and parents;
  • The use of an Inclusive Practices in Successful Schools Self-Assessment Tool for identifying successes and in selecting priority areas for improvement.
Supporting Instructional Change

This session will focus exclusively on the critical aspects of instructional and behavioral services within the context of inclusion. Participants will learn:

  • The changes that are necessary to ensure that inclusion results in higher levels of academic and behavioral performance—not just a change in location—for students in inclusive schools;
  • The critical position of Tier 1 strategies in providing an equitable foundation for learning;
  • An expanded student-centered decision process for determining the exact instructional and behavioral supports needed for each student;
  • A process for integrating decisions for students receiving special education services into the overall instructional design for the entire classroom;
  • Resources for providing virtual learning services to students with disabilities.
Aligning Staffing, Schedules and Priorities

This session will address the important and specific roles of personnel in implementing inclusive supports. Specifically, the roles of advance support, in-class support, and specialized support will be examined. Participants will learn:

  • The order in which decisions should be made, beginning with instructional supports and ending with the personnel needed to implement those supports;
  • The three broad staffing models and the quality standards for providing them;
  • The steps for creating a master schedule that utilizes the three staffing options and the annual calendar for each step;
  • Ways to ensure that the characteristics of inclusive schools are integrated with other priorities for change and sustained from year to year.

More Topics Available Upon Request

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the keynote speaker?

Dr. Frances Stetson is often requested for keynote speaking engagements; however, any highly qualified associate within the firm may be requested. Simply indicate this on your form.

Is there a fee to have a speaker from Stetson & Associates, Inc. present at a private event or conference?

If it is a keynote speaker engagement, there is a fee, which will be discussed with the requesting group or agent. All associates routinely volunteer to present sessions at conferences.  A proposal for keynote topic and objectives is required.

Are speaking engagements always presented in person or are there virtual options?

Our staff is available for virtual or in-person speaking engagements and/or trainings.

Are there limits to the number of attendees for any of the topics?

There is no limit to the number of attendees.

How long are the speaking engagements?

Keynote speeches may range from 45 minutes to 2 hours

Who is each topic geared towards?

Topics are usually based on the conference theme or a specific request from the person heading the conference. Keynotes can be for superintendents, district administrators, principals and instructional personnel, parents or any audience with an interest in education topics. 

How do we request a speaker for an event?

Click here to request a speaker for your next event.  Or, if you are a conference host, email Tricia Williams at to request a speaker.

Kind Words from our Clients

"Very thought-provoking and so compatible with our own work on Developing Culturally Responsive Educators and on Eliminating Disproportionality! Our experience was so enriched by the new people we met from the national, state, regional and local levels. We had courageous conversations and left the conference feeling very proud of the work of our clients in this challenging area — but with renewed commitment to continue the journey!!!"

ASCD’s Conference on Excellence through Equity