2017 NCEA New Directions Exceptional Learners Conference

June 19-21, 2017
Hilton Orrington/Evanston
Evanston, Illinois

Catholic schools strive to be inclusive of all learners, and teachers and administrators are seeking strategies, best practices and resources to help serve the needs of exceptional learners in the classroom. Ergo, it is with great pleasure that we announce the 2017 NCEA New Directions Exceptional Learners Conference (ELC 2017), which will take place June 19-21, 2017 in Evanston, IL (Chicago area). 

ELC 2017 will provide top-level education to teachers and administrators who either work with or are exploring the possibility of working with students with exceptionalities in a Catholic school setting. This program is designed to offer practical skills, quality professional development and networking opportunities for special educators in Catholic schools, early interventionist, and other Catholic educators instructing and supporting children and youth with exceptionalities.

Download the Preliminary Program



Keynote Address

Learning with and from my brother George, born with Down syndrome

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop, Archdiocese of Louisville

Archbishop Kurtz will reflect on his personal experience of learning with and from his brother, born with Down syndrome, and apply the theological principles at work. He will also reflect on the practical advances and challenges of providing for exceptional learning opportunities in the Archdiocese of Louisville over the past ten years.

Featured Presenters

Presenter: Vincent de Paul Schmidt, Ed.D., Superintendent, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Session Title: Break Down the Walls for Special Needs Students

Session Description: There are more resources for inclusion of exceptional learners at your fingertips than you may realize. This presentation will address common misperceptions about the barriers to full inclusion of students with special needs in our Catholic schools. It will include concrete ideas for fulfilling the mission of Catholic education by ensuring the successful involvement of all learners.

Presenter: Jim Rigg, Ph.D., Superintendent, Archdiocese of Chicago

Session Title: The Heart of Our Mission: Student Panel on Exceptional Learners

Session Description: Our students are the heart of our educational mission. As we seek to enhance services and programs to support exceptional learners, it is vital that their voices and needs be considered. At this session, participants will hear from the students themselves, as they share their unique journey in Catholic school education. Facilitated by Dr. Jim Rigg, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, four students from Mother McAuley High School and Notre Dame School for Boys (both in the Archdiocese of Chicago) will offer comments and answer questions about how they have been served in exceptional learner programs.


Who Are Exceptional Learners in Catholic Schools?

Catholic education is rooted in the conviction that Jesus Christ provides the most comprehensive and compelling example of the realization of full human potential. From this emanates the belief that all students are exceptional in that they are made in the image and likeness of Christ and should have access to a Catholic school education.

Download Resource

Exceptional Learners White Paper: One Spirit, One Body

This white paper provides a rationale for serving students with disabilities in Catholic schools by exploring the Church’s call for inclusion during the last 50 years. Additionally, a framework is presented that outlines a systematic approach to developing a comprehensive system of support for inclusion practices in Catholic schools.

Download White Paper

Called to Inclusion Infographic

As Catholic educators we are called to inclusion. This timeline outlines inclusion efforts promoted by the Church over the past six decades and outlines for us a call to action.

Download Infographic


​NCEA is grateful to the following corporate partners for their generous financial support of the 2017 NCEA New Directions Exceptional Learners Conference.





If you have any questions regarding registration information, contact Jennifer Stewart, Event Coordinator, at 571.206.1527 or via email

Registration Form
(Adobe PDF File)
Who Are Exceptional Learners
(Adobe PDF File)