Friday, December 10, 2021 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM


Via Zoom Webinar 



Member $25

Non-Member $40

*Registering before Dec 2, will allow you to submit questions to be addressed by Dr. Johnston

**Registration will close on Dec 6** 


 Refund policy

  • No cash refunds will be offered for pre-registration if a workshop is held
  • If a pre-registrant provides a written request at least four (4) business days prior to the scheduled workshop; the registration fee can be applied to an upcoming workshop in the same programming year 
  • Read full policy click here


Elaine Rabbitt

Event Coordinator

Special Needs Advocacy Network, Inc. 
(508) 655-7999 

             Coffee Talk with Dr. Russell Johnston

Deputy Commissioner of Education

Friday, December 10, 2021

10:00 AM to 12:30 PM

2022 will be the 50th Anniversary of Chapter 766 Special Education Law for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As the Deputy Commissioner of Education, Russell Johnston will present a look back on the journey of special education from its early beginnings, current status and where we are going. This event will be a closer look at topics that SPaN members want to explore in greater depths. Taking the viewpoint of where we are now and where we are heading in the future, we will explore the following:

  • SEPAC engagement
  • Mental health crisis
  • Equal access in vocational programs
  • Transition and adult outcomes
  • DESE enforcement of the IDEA and Section 504
  • Covid outcomes

When you register for the event, you will have an opportunity to ask your questions and provide information regarding your concerns and experiences on the above topics. We will be providing this information to Russell Johnston in advance to allow his team to gather any statistics or relevant information to share during the workshop. Register early in order to have your general questions considered.

Non Member Registration 

          Attention Members: please follow the link below to sign-in to your account on the member website to register at the discounted rate:

Member Registration

*Registering before Dec 2, will allow you to submit questions to be addressed by Dr. Johnston* Registration will close on Dec 6

Meet the Presenter 

Dr. Russell Johnston is currently serving as Deputy Commissioner of Education. Previously Dr Johnston served as a Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's since August 2014. 

Dr. Johnston, who began his career as a special education teacher and administrator, also led the West Springfield Public Schools from 2010-2014. In West Springfield, Johnston led work to increase the depth and rigor of the district's curriculum; to create a collaborative process between school committee members, administrators, and the local teachers' union to promote student learning and effectively implement the state's new educator evaluation system; and to reach out to and engage families to address students' barriers to learning.

After graduating from DePaul University, Johnston served in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps as a Language Arts teacher in Phoenix, Arizona and a special education instructor in Mobile, Alabama. He then was an elementary special education teacher in Newton, Massachusetts for five years before heading the elementary special education department for the Wellesley Public Schools. In 2004, Johnston earned a Doctorate of Philosophy and Education Leadership from Boston College. That same year, he became administrator of special services for the West Springfield Public Schools, a role he held until becoming superintendent in 2010. He and his family reside in Melrose, Massachusetts