Message from the Director: Why Not?

“Why not?” is the new “Yes!”

Gifted education in the 21st century should focus on individuals who ask, “Why not?”

With that simple pronouncement by World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC) Conference keynote presenter, Professor Henry Tirri, several seemingly disparate newsletter topics for this message fell into place.

Summer is often a time for recreational activities and trips, but not for those who attend student or professional development programming during the summer! Our summer was buzzing with activity both in and out of the classroom. We served nearly 800 pre-college students on campus. The end-of-program slideshows offer a glimpse into the activities and classes enjoyed by the students. If you’re wondering about the benefits of student participation in this form of extracurricular programming, rest assured that the research firmly supports the academic and social-emotional benefits. If you haven’t attended an extracurricular program during the summer, you should be saying, why not? Summer is almost officially finished; however, student programming is available all year. Students can attend Challenge Saturdays or explore a class through WINGS.

There are many points of access to our programs and one of the most popular is the above-level testing program known the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS). Registration is now open. Grade-level assessments are great for indicating achievement – but for gifted students a grade-level assessment offers limited information. To determine readiness for additional challenge, bright students need to take an above-level test. If it hasn’t happened yet, you should wonder, why not? Several testing dates are available and schools can also offer this service through In-School Testing. In spring 2016, we will introduce an online test, I-Excel, which will be an above-level test (8th grade content in science, math, English, and reading) for 4th through 6th graders.

Almost 300 educators participated on campus or via online courses this summer to hone their professional skills for working with gifted students. The opportunities for professional development continue throughout the academic year. Consider attending a state or national conference. Perhaps this is the year you’ll take an online class and/or webinar. Why not? Stay tuned for announcements about professional development opportunities.

Academic acceleration is proven as the most effective intervention for academically gifted students who are ready for content that is presented at a faster pace and greater complexity. There are 20 forms of acceleration! A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students is a two-volume publication that thoroughly explores the topic. Through the extensive evidence, parents, educators, and students are empowered to advocate for academic challenge in the form of acceleration. Do you have your copy (PDF, ePub, or bound) version of A Nation Empowered? If the answer is “no,” Why not?

In other news: Dr. Alissa Doobay, Supervisor of Psychological Services, is the recipient of an Esther Katz Rosen grant. This funding will allow her to continue the social skills group work established last spring and summer.

Even the most seasoned professional feels a sense of renewal and excitement as the new academic year begins. At the Belin-Blank Center, we are no different. There is a fresh desire to commit to new goals, to start over, and to move forward. Why not?

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