Drs. George & Oksana Hagerty attended the International Conference on Disabilities in Lagos, Nigeria from June 22nd-24th. Dr. George Hagerty was invited to be a keynote speaker for the event. His speech, which incorporated his background experience with the Department of Education as well as his insights as President of Beacon College, focused on the lessons learned through United States policies regarding educating students with learning disabilities. Learning Specialist Dr. Oksana Hagerty gave a presentation on the scaffolding approach to educating students with learning disabilities, reviewing the model of support services offered at Beacon. Oksana and George Hagerty took the opportunity to visit a local school for students with learning differences, and President Hagerty was featured on a Saturday morning talk show viewed throughout Nigeria and broadcast in England on one of the Sky networks. Presenting at the International Conference on Disabilities provided an exceptional opportunity to introduce an international audience to the mission of Beacon College and the lessons learned educating students with learning disabilities for more than 25 years. More on the conference may be found on the ICD Web site.
Dr. George Hagerty has enthusiastically expressed his positive experiences in the country and at the conference:
Our days in Nigeria were rich with impressions, every one of them positive and enduring. Our hosts, Dare and Sarah Daniel welcomed us into their beautiful home as members of the family. The International Conference on Disabilities is a major event for the people in Lagos and Nigeria, and they attracted sponsorship and participation from throughout Africa, Europe, and the States. The UN played a significant role in this event.
We arrived in the rainy season for Nigeria, so the temperatures are actually slightly under those of Orlando. When it rains, it really rains. These storms happen once or twice a day and last for about an hour. That which was most extraordinary to us was the warmth and energy of the people of Nigeria. Commerce is everywhere, and fast-paced.
The International Conference on Disabilities in Lagos concluded its significant agenda on Wednesday, June 24th with a closing Gala celebration. It provided a time for all participants to reflect on and admire the substantive work done in establishing a national agenda for people with disabilities in Nigeria and on the African continent. As an inaugural gathering, Oksana and I can think of few other occasions in our professional lives when energy and purpose have so beautifully combined to create an achievable pathway for educating and serving young people with disabilities.
The conference sessions were standing room only events, with a healthy mix of parents, educators, and service providers, primarily from West African countries, but as far away as Ethiopia. There has been a significant showing of university professors and government officials as well, and the media coverage in Africa has been substantial as the disability movement is now acquiring a prominence on the continent that was missing heretofore. Oksana and I cannot say enough about the warmth, genuine hospitality, and interest in the cause expressed by the people of Nigeria. We have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with college students who gather around the Beacon College booth (very popular overall). Tomorrow we will participate in a series of Master Classes that will focus on issues of education, health, and social welfare. We hope that our contributions in the area of education policy and programming for students with LD, ADHD, and other learning differences will be of value in these international discussions.
Beacon College has certainly been prominently on display to a new world audience, and we have been proud to be part of this effort. We are especially grateful to the Daniels family for their magnificent hospitality throughout our time here.
~Dr. George J. Hagerty