Message from the Director: Optimism

The 11th Wallace Research and Policy Symposium on Talent Development opened on March 23, 2014, to the theme of Optimism.  The meaning of the Latin root of the word “optimus” is “best” and that is exactly what the Wallace Symposium did!  It brought out the best in the Belin-Blank Center staff, attendees, and presenters.

Since the 1991 inaugural Wallace Symposium, a primary goal has been to build a community of researchers; a secondary goal has been to build a community that brings out the best in the members.  Building community means bringing together individuals from related fields who will share ideas and, through openness and dialogue, create the best community of professionals dedicated to research and policy for talent development.  An attitude of optimism means that there is trust among community members that promotes creation of the best situation possible given the available resources.  With more than 60 featured keynote, invited, and concurrent presentations or posters, and attendees from 10 countries and more than 30 states, all of whom were dedicated to the mission of the Wallace Symposium, how could we miss?

The Wallace Research and Policy Symposium also brought out the best in the entire Belin-Blank Center staff and faculty.  The phenomenal teamwork resulted in a hugely successful event, including the accomplishment of three firsts: the symposium’s first time in DC; first-time emphasis on the integration of two critical components of best practices, research and policy; and the first time that the Belin-Blank Center worked with the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) to co-host the symposium during their annual state affiliate advocacy summit.  NAGC president Tracy Cross succinctly framed the benefit of the collaboration in his message to the NAGC membership: “Attendees of the [Wallace] Symposium learned about both the latest research in several areas of talent development, and also how research can inform practices – all with the goal of ensuring members of our community are well-informed about connections between GT programs, services, and pedagogy and developing the high levels of talent we need in the global economy in every student group.”

On a personal note, I was pleased to deliver the concluding keynote, “Ten Years Later: From A Nation Deceived to A Nation Empowered.”  This keynote featured a sneak preview of the forthcoming publication that is an update and revision of the watershed publication, A Nation Deceived.

You, too, can see what we have in mind for A Nation Empowered.

After completion of such a large program, you may be wondering what’s next at the Belin-Blank Center?  We will wrap up Wallace 2014 in the next few weeks and will take a little time to consider our options for Wallace 2016 (including returning to DC).  Meanwhile, we continue to provide the excellent services and programs for students and their educators.  You can learn about the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which took place on February 27 and 28; the March 29th Weekend Institute for Gifted Students; our Arts Scholastic Award Ceremony, scheduled for April 5; and Invent Iowa, scheduled for April 19.

I’ve always found that the season of spring is the epitome of optimism.  For 25 years, spring has been the time that the Belin-Blank Center puts the finishing touches on preparations for summer and this year is no different.  Summer student program classes, both residential and commuter, are filling up.  The professional development opportunities promise to challenge and encourage educators.  Stay tuned!

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