I find it uncanny how the latter half (1993-1998) of the center’s first decade forecast the present. In 1993, we hosted the 2nd H. B. & Jocelyn Wallace Research Symposium, which foretold the 12th Wallace Research Symposium. By 1993, the Wallace Symposium was established as the premier research conference in gifted education and talent development. The 2018 Wallace Symposium will be co-hosted by the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and Vanderbilt University Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth. The specialized topic for the 12th symposium is honoring the legacy of Julian Stanley, founder of the Talent Search Model. Indeed, it was my training as a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Stanley that gave me a psychoeducational foundation for bringing the Talent Search Model to the Belin-Blank Center and securing the early funding that allowed us to experiment with applying the Talent Search Model to elementary students.
By 1993, the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) was in full operation. The Talent Search Model is one of the most effective systems for discovering students who have high academic potential. Primarily implemented outside of the school setting, the Belin-Blank Center has pioneered the application of the above-level testing model in schools through our online, above-level test, I-Excel. These pioneering efforts — over 25 years — have demonstrated that we can broaden the talent pool and serve greater numbers of students who otherwise might not be identified for specialized programming.
The first annual Recognition Ceremony was hosted in 1993. This ceremony does what it says: recognizes students and their teacher for outstanding accomplishments earned through Belin-Blank Center programming. Since the first ceremony, we have invited students to nominate a teacher who had the greatest influence on them. This is always one of the most meaningful opportunities for students to show their appreciation to their teachers.
Fast-forwarding through the years 1994 – 1998 allows us a glimpse at the following highlights:
- In 1994, we established the Iowa Talent Project, which was developed to find very talented under-represented students as early as grade 7 and support their academic development through graduation from the University of Iowa. This program continued for two decades.
- In 1995, the Center’s name officially changed from the Connie Belin National Center for Gifted Education to the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. This new name recognized the generosity of Myron and Jacqueline N. Blank and their enduring friendship with co-founders David and Connie Belin, reflected our growing international connections, and expanded our focus by including talent development.
- 1996 was a year in which we continued to develop our educator and student programs. We also prepared for the hosting of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children Conference, which occurred in August of 1997 in Seattle, WA.
- Finally, 1998 gave us the 3rd Wallace Research Symposium as well as the beginning stages of planning for the Belin-Blank Center’s National Advisory Board and the National Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (which would become the Bucksbaum Academy in 2016).
Stay tuned for Phase III in April!