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Inclusive Education Project Podcast

Sep 17, 2019

Dr. Ellis Crasnow from the STEM³ Academy joins Amanda and Vickie on today’s show. STEM³ is a new school in Orange County, developed by the founders of The Help Group in Los Angeles. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and is dedicated to K-12 technology-driven students who are bright and curious, with social and/or learning differences.

Dr. Crasnow is one of the panelists at the 5th Annual Fundraising Event, “Building the Bridge Between Literacy and the Consequences of Falling Behind”, which will be held Thursday, October 24, 2019. Don’t miss this fascinating conversation!

After earning his Ph.D. in philosophy from USC, Dr. Crasnow taught widely at the college level, both in the U.S. and South Africa. He joined The Help Group in 2008, teaching high school math, science and English before becoming Principal of Village Glen High School. In 2012, The Help Group began a STEM program that Dr. Crasnow led. Dr. Crasnow is a frequent international speaker at conferences on the importance of STEM education and its benefit to those with social and learning differences. Dr. Crasnow speaks on the integration of STEM content and social-emotional learning.

Show Highlights:

  • Dr. Crasnow shares how going into Special Education seemed one way of combining his passion and education in science, teaching, and psychology, into one.
  • Observing that children weren’t really thriving after high school, they started asking the question, ‘What can we do differently, K-12, which will improve the outcome post-high school?’
  • Playing to students’ strengths and focusing on their assets, rather than their deficits.
  • In Special Education, most people tend to focus on what the child needs, and what the child can’t do well. That’s putting an enormous amount of effort into perceived weakness or a perceived need, while often ignoring their strengths, their passions, and their interests. This will only make a marginal improvement in a deficit without really accelerating their strengths.
  • Finding out what students’ passions and interests are will draw them in, and so engage them, that their needs, deficits, and weaknesses, become relatively unimportant. 
  • We’re all weak in something. 
  • Don’t go into a field that is an area of weakness for you. Develop your strength and your passion, and that can be a career.
  • Kids with special needs, kids on the spectrum, ADHD - whatever their particular difference is, they nevertheless have extraordinary gifts and talents.
  • Dr. Crasnow discusses the new Netflix documentary, American Factory, and the number of jobs being lost over automation.
  • The struggle of Special Education teachers: underpaid, isolated, and they’re not being supported.
  • Businesses are starting to look at places they haven’t traditionally looked for skilled workers. 
  • “Specialisterne” - Dr. Crasnow talks about a Danish company founded by Thorkil Sonne, a software engineer, whose son is on the spectrum. While looking to employ software engineers for his company, he noticed that many of the same qualities he was looking for, his son possessed. He started the international company, “Specialisterne”, which means “The Specialists”, and they hire people on the spectrum, training them to do quality assurance and software debugging. Those on the spectrum often have superior visual discrimination, and make outstanding workers.
  • There’s a growing, worldwide movement to give a higher profile to individuals with special needs. 
  • Dr. Crasnow gives an overview of STEM³. Students will graduate with a high school diploma and is capable of going to college.



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Building the Bridge Between Literacy and the Consequences of Falling Behind

Thursday, October 24, 2019 

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Huntington Bay Club

4121 Warner Ave, Huntington Beach, CA


Dr. Ellis Crasnow: 

Phone: 888.943.1816 



The Help Group



American Factory on Netflix