Yes, that is exactly what I intended to write, and by “the same” I mean stable. Visitors to the Belin-Blank Center or the website will notice both subtle and overt changes to the building, the personnel, and the programming. Because of the stable infrastructure provided by the Belin-Blank Center’s extraordinary staff and faculty, we were able to re-structure (change) the administrative team at the Belin-Blank Center to maximize the individual strengths of our administrators and affiliated faculty while aligning these changes with a year’s worth of strategic planning.
Most of the stairwells in the building have been enhanced with some stunning ceramic art by University of Iowa alumni who graduated from the studio art program. We are gearing up for a new middle-school STEM initiative that will be implemented in 2015 by Dr. Lori Ihrig, Ms. Ashlee Van Fleet, and me. This initiative complements the programming available through the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA); Ms. Kristin Flanary, the new administrator for IOAPA, will work closely with the team for the new initiative. You will hear more about this initiative in the October newsletter.
You can count on the Belin-Blank Center for the same quality of programming and look forward to new initiatives, especially in the area of STEM and twice-exceptionality. In particular, we will be working on developing a social skills intervention for twice-exceptional students. This is made possible solely through a private gift that will support two graduate students (Staci Fosenberg and Chuck Cederberg) who will work closely with the clinic research team: Drs. Megan Foley-Nicpon, Alissa Doobay, and Joy Goins. We are grateful to both philanthropic foundations and private donors to help make such initiatives possible.
Finally, there will be a new look to the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) website, which will be spearheaded by the newest member of our staff, Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik. Dr. Shoplik is working to ensure that IRPA’s new content is completely available and up-to-date when A Nation Empowered, the 10-year update to A Nation Deceived, is released this spring.
The new semester is off to a wonderful start thanks to the highly creative and dedicated staff, whether they be new to the Center or long-time, loyal members. I thank them for their dedication to moving the Center forward so that we continue to provide excellent service, training, and teaching. Have a wonderful school year!