The FIRE Foundation of Northeast Iowa is pleased to present a conference for principals, teachers, paraprofessionals and parents who are committed to creating and strengthening K-12 inclusive education.


   BonFIRE Kickoff Event – August 9, 2021

  Let’s kickoff the Embrace Inclusion Conference with a BonFIRE! This event is an opportunity to mix and mingle with industry peers, parents, and like minds who believe in the potential of every child regardless of their abilities. Appetizers and a cash bar will be offered.

The event will be held at the Bien Venu Event Center. 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. $10 per person. Purchase your tickets here.


BonFIRE Kickoff Event & Conference Location

Bien Venu Event Center7400 Hudson Road, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613

 Conference Flyer, Justification Letter & Credits

 Conference Flyer

Justification Letter

 Re-certification credit and grad credit offered.  Contact for details. 


  Conference Registration

$60 Registration Fee for Educators and Faith Formation Leaders
$35 Registration Fee for Parent Attendees
We request that all event registration be done online. However if you need special accommodations for registration please contact us.

 Purchase Tickets HERE.

Please Register by July 31, 2021 


 Keynote Speaker


Dr. Paula Kluth – Consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar.

Schedule of Events:

7:45 am – 8:30 am Registration

7:45 am – 8:30 am “FIRE Starter Breakfast”, sponsored by Mount Mercy University   

8:30 am – 8:45 am Conference Welcome & Prayer 

8:45 am – 11:00 am General Session Morning Keynote Speaker “Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?: 5 Ways to Create Better Schools for All” 
Are you trying to learn more about inclusive schooling? Do you wonder how to support students with disabilities in general education classrooms? Are you seeking new ideas for working in K-12 classrooms, collaborating with colleagues and elevating your practice? If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, this session is for you. The examples and illustrations in this keynote presentation are designed to help participants understand the best practices associated with today’s inclusive schools and to evaluate their own skills and understandings as they related to inclusive education. Topics that will be addressed include understanding inclusion as a process (vs. as a place), presuming complexity and engaging in “radical” role sharing.

Presented by Paula Kluth, PhD, consultant, teacher, author, advocate and independent scholar 

11:00 am – 11:15 am

11:15 am – 12:00 pm General Session

“INCLUSION REVOLUTION: a Coast-to-Coast Movement to Welcome God’s Children”Description coming soon. 

Presented by Bruce and Erin Schmitz, Co-Founders of FIRE Foundation of Northeast Iowa; Lynn Hire, Executive Director for FIRE Foundation, Kansas City; Beth Foraker, Founder/Director of The National Catholic Board On Full Inclusion; Tom Olson and Steve Perla, Principal Partners for ADAC

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
“Fuel the FIRE Lunch”, sponsored by Clark University

1:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Breakout Sessions

“Adaptive Finding God Series”
Description coming soon.

Presented by Luci Halloway with Loyola Press 

“Dyslexia in Research and Practice” 
Scientific research has greatly advanced our understanding of dyslexia, the related difficulties that individuals experience, and the critical components of reading instruction. However, efforts to meet the needs of students with dyslexia can lead to implementing practices that are not fully supported by current research findings. This session will provide examples of potential missteps in translating research on dyslexia to practice and suggest ways to make decisions better aligned with available evidence.

Presented by: Dr. Deborah K. Reed, Ph.D., Director, Iowa Reading Research Center, Professor, University of Iowa

“Universal Design Daily: Supporting All Students in the Diverse Classroom”
It’s undoubtedly important to teach in ways that honor learning differences and to structure lessons that are engaging, varied, and appropriately challenging. However, in this era focused on universal design for all, it is also critical to explore the underlying habits of mind related to “teaching them all.” Based on a new book of the same title, this presentation centers on big ideas related to teaching and learning. Paula will discuss the role of “teaching up” and presuming both competence and complexity. She will explore the need to focus on student strengths, passions, and interests. She will also talk about the need to design lessons that are responsive and dynamic. This presentation contains video clips, classroom stories, examples, and illustrations. It will provide both points of reflection and practical strategies. More importantly, it features ideas to help all teachers better respond to the diversity that exists in their classrooms every single day.

Presented by: Paula Kluth, PhD, consultant, teacher, author, advocate and independent scholar 

“The Do’s and Don’ts of Section 504”
Description coming soon.  

Presented by Bill Soesbe

1:45 pm – 2:00 pm

2:00 – 2:45 pm
Breakout Sessions

“Social and Emotional Learning for Everyday Classroom”
Strategies and resources will be shared to empower teachers to support students in social emotional development.

Presented by:  Monica Ryan-Rausch is a Clinical Social Worker, Autism Consultant, therapist, and educator

“The Heart of Inclusion is Differentiation”
This session will focus on the value and the use of differentiated instruction to include all learners in the classroom. Developing lesson plans that differentiate instruction to meet the diverse needs of students with learning differences will serve to strengthen inclusion in your school.

Presented by: Sandra Drummey, Ed.D, Partner at ADAC  

“Joyful Learning: Using Active & Collaborative Structures to Support All Students”
Too often a “one-size-fits- all” approach is used to design lessons leaving some learners struggling to participate and leaving teachers feeling they have not reached all of their students. There are many solutions to this problem, but one of the easiest is to plan lessons using collaborative structures. In this interactive session, participants will explore a number of active, and brain compatible learning techniques aimed at engaging students and making learning fun and joyful. The session is structured for participants to experience these active techniques through demonstration.

Presenter: Paula Kluth, PhD, consultant, teacher, author, advocate and independent scholar

“Assistive Technology for the Inclusive Classroom”
Description coming soon.  
presented by Shira Gebel 

2:45 – 3:00 pm
Closing / Door Prizes

 Marketplace Exhibitors


Guestroom Reservations

Call 319.260.2600 to make reservations, a $119 group rate is under FIRE conference.

 Contact Information

FIRE Foundation of Northeast Iowa
Phone: 319-529-1109  |  Email:

Thank you sponsors!



 Burns-Donovan Foundation 




 Thank you conference planning committee!

Chair:  Mindy Hart, Archdiocese of Dubuque Catholic Schools Office

Kristi Holien, parent of a child with Down syndrome attending Catholic School & FIRE NE Iowa Board Member

Sara Kane, Faith Formation Director & FIRE NE Iowa Board Member

Vicki Ries, Student Services Director at Newman Catholic School & FIRE NE Iowa Board Member

Sara Rooney, Principal at St. Cecilia School & FIRE NE Iowa Board Member

Erin Schmitz, parent of a child with Down syndrome attending Catholic school & co-founder of FIRE Foundation of Northeast Iowa

Mary Smock, Archdiocese of Dubuque Catholic Schools Office

Jennifer Sornson, St. Athanasius Principal