Education in Action Luncheon

USF College of Education hosts 15th Annual event at Florida State Fairgrounds Nov.14.


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 10, 2011) – When the University of South Florida College of Education holds its 15th annual Education in Action Luncheon, hosted by Dean Colleen Kennedy, autism will be highlighted in two significant ways. Noted author and speaker James Williams will give the keynote address Nov. 14 at the Florida State Fairgrounds at noon and there will be an announcement about a new degree program.


According to his bio, Williams was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. In 1999, at the age of 11, he gave his first presentation on autism by answering questions about his experiences. Today, at 23, James is the author of two books about autism – “Out to Get Jack” and “The H.A.L. Experiment” – and serves on the leadership team for Camp R.O.C.K.S., a camp for individuals with autism aged 10 to 17 in Indiana. He conducts presentations around the country about autism and maintains his website,, where he archives some of his presentations and papers he has authored.


In an effort to prepare educators who can work effectively with students who have autism, the USF College of Education has a new online M.A. program in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Severe Intellectual Disabilities – the first of its kind in Florida.


“The Department of Special Education is pleased to offer this new MA Degree Program which reflects our ongoing commitment to professional teacher preparation programs for children with disabilities and to ensure that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Severe Intellectual Disabilities have a quality educational experience, in the least restrictive environment,” said Daphne Thomas, associate professor and department chair. Thomas will announce a large endowment to the Special Education Department at the event.


"It is very exciting to be involved in this MA program that ultimately positively impacts the quality of teaching and learning in classrooms for children with ASD and intellectual disabilities and gives me the opportunity to work with wonderful and committed teachers," said Phyllis Jones, an associate professor in the department.


A film produced by the Telly Award-winning Media Innovation Team at USF will debut at the event.


For tickets and more information contact Georgia McKenzie at or (813) 974-0378.