Our June newsletter coincides with the start of six weeks of amazing energy and enthusiasm for our myriad pre-college and professional development programs.
Our elementary (Blast) and junior high students (Junior Scholars Institute, Blank Scholars Institute) will be challenged in their areas of interest and strength, digging into an advanced course during the day, all while having fun with other bright kids who share their level of interest and ability. Junior high and high school students also get to experience life on a college campus, living in the residence halls and hanging out with new friends at cultural and recreational activities in the evenings.
Our high school students will experience life-changing opportunities for personal and academic growth. Our summer programs include a behind-the-scenes look at research careers and the ways and places we discover new knowledge on many different topics (Perry Research Scholars Institute); an intensive, highly selective, STEM research experience (Secondary Student Training Program); and art and writing residencies (Summer Art Residency, Summer Writing Residency) here at the University of Iowa, one of the premier arts campuses in the US, also home to the famed Iowa Writers Workshop.
This summer, educators will be making progress toward their TAG endorsements, maintaining their license requirements, or pursuing career advancement through a variety of online and on-site courses and workshops or Iowa Licensure Renewal Units. We will also have the pleasure of spending time with many who join us on campus! Some will be here for the Chautauqua program, which carries the benefit of enabling educators to earn half the credits they need for a TAG endorsement in just two weeks! Others will become qualified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) courses, increasing the number of subject acceleration opportunities for gifted students across the country, at our AP Teacher Training Institute. Still others have been admitted to the prestigious Belin-Blank Fellowship, which aims to help teachers new to gifted education understand the qualities and needs of gifted individuals so they can better teach and develop the potential of those students.
This month, “welcome” is the most often-used word in my vocabulary, as I meet dozens of students and educators new to the Center. I greet returning students, families, and educators with a warm “welcome home!” Expressing both of these words — welcome and home — sparked my curiosity about the etymology of each. That curiosity, in turn, led to a few reflections about the next six weeks of summer programming.
“Welcome” comes from the Old English, wilcuma, “a wished for guest.” Indeed, we absolutely wish for individuals to join us in our programs. We spend months preparing for them to ensure that they will have an engaging and energizing experience. We know that for many participants their time on the UI campus in a Belin-Blank Center program offers a pivotal, often life-changing, experience. We never tire of hearing these stories, and now that we are entering our 31st year of programming, we have heard from people who had that experience 10, 20, or 30 years ago!
We also “welcome home” past participants and use the word “home” with great warmth. As a noun, home, comes from the Old English, ham, and implies a “dwelling place.” That is exactly how we want everyone who attends our programs to feel. We want them to know that we have created a place that inspires them to reach beyond their current level of performance, where they can inspire others to extend their reach, and assure them that professors, residence advisors, and Center staff are dedicated to their well-being and happiness. Attaining that goal is an indicator that we truly have welcomed our newest participants and welcomed home those who have returned.
Here’s to the start of a great summer that concludes in late July! We would love to welcome you at two very special events at the conclusion of the summer program.
- Thursday, July 25, students in the Summer Writing Residency and Summer Art Residency will showcase their art and writing.
- Friday morning, July 26, the Secondary Student Training Program hosts a public exhibition of student posters, the culminating product of 5 and ½ weeks of intensive research conducted in UI research labs.