Message from the Director: Reflecting and Looking Ahead

The closing days of the last months of the calendar, along with the waning daylight hours of each day, correspond to the concluding efforts of the fall semester and offer a chance for reflection.  Our efforts led to amazing results in programs and services in 2018.

Belin-Blank Center Staff
Belin-Blank Center Staff

Our annual board meeting and 30th anniversary celebration concluded in October and my message in the previous issue offered an abridged review. 

Belin-Blank Center Advisory Board
Belin-Blank Center Advisory Board

A few weeks after the wonderful 30th anniversary celebration, nearly all of the Belin-Blank Center staff and faculty, along with several graduate students, attended the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Conference in Minneapolis. Over a two and ½-day period, there were 15 different presentations by Center staff and faculty.  Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon delivered a keynote presentation on twice-exceptionality to a standing-room-only audience of more than 500!  Several other presentations also were standing-room-only, with many conference attendees gathered outside the filled rooms, which seated more than 100 people.  Grounded in the excellence of the Center’s research, service, and programs, we covered professional development of teachers and counselors; twice-exceptionality, including assistive technology for twice-exceptionality, and neuroscience of twice-exceptionality; arts and writing; STEM Excellence; and academic acceleration.  Every single attendee received a hot-off-the-press copy of the new publication, Developing Academic Acceleration Policies:  Whole Grade, Early Entrance, & Single Subject, written by Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Wendy Behrens, and Susan Assouline, in collaboration with NAGC and CEC-TAG.

Susan Assouline, Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik & Wendy Behrens at NAGC
Susan Assouline, Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik & Wendy Behrens at NAGC

The fall 2018 conference season ended with multiple presentations at the Tennessee State Conference (Dr. Foley-Nicpon) and the Indiana State Conference (Drs. Croft and Assouline).  It is safe to say that between the national and state conferences, including the Iowa Talented and Gifted (ITAG) conference, Belin-Blank Center faculty and staff affected thousands of educators, which harkens back to our mission of empowering the worldwide gifted community.

What is in store for next year? Our programs, services, and research will continue to grow and evolve while we strive to empower the worldwide gifted community.  We will sharpen our focus on the broad and very serious issue of lack of diversity in gifted programs by providing greater emphasis on serving students who are not traditionally identified for programming, whether that be due to cultural, ethnic, economic, gender, or neurodiversity. Stay tuned for updates.

On behalf of my colleagues at the Center, I wish you a good holiday, a happy end to 2018, and a great start to 2019. May it be bright!

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