Getting Ready for the 69th Annual NAGC Convention

Nesibe Karakis and Laurie Croft

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Many of us dedicated to meeting the needs of gifted learners—and supporting the development of their varied talents—are looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues next week in Indianapolis.  We often talk about the importance of ensuring gifted learners spend time with their true peers, and it’s the same for professionals in the field. 

Our field is a small one, though, and the word bittersweet comes to mind when thinking about this year’s convention without Dr. Marcia Gentry, the winner of the 2022 NAGC President’s Award.  She contributed so much to the field, and to our awareness of “missingness,” that is, inequity in identification and services.  While we go to learn from our peers, Dr. Gentry’s voice will be there in many sessions, but we will miss her.

The October newsletter from the Belin-Blank Center included a message from our new director, Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, about our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with reflections on lessons learned from Dr. Gentry.  We also have a post-doctoral colleague at the Center, Dr. Nesibe Karakis, who graduated from Purdue University.  Dr. Karakis shared insights from colleagues at Purdue:

Dr. F. Richard Olenchak, Professor, Purdue University, Gifted Creative and Talented Studies, noted that

Having been friends with Marcia Gentry for over 35 years as far back as graduate school, I not only enjoyed working with her, I most enjoyed spending brainstorming sessions with her. Marcia’s dry wit and tendency to drift to dark humor not only ended up helping us to see the positives in otherwise stressful scenarios, but these occasions stimulated my own thinking to find the positive dichotomies when we zeroed in on the cynical side of things. I will go through the rest of my life loving her as one of my dearest friends. She was far more than a work colleague for me.

Dr. Nielsen Pereira, Associate Professor, Purdue University, Gifted Creative and Talented Studies, shared

It is very difficult for me to separate Marcia’s impact on me as a person and scholar since she was such an integral part of my life for over 15 years. It also would be difficult to decide on only a couple of things that impressed me about knowing and working with Marcia, but I will focus on two that come to mind now: her brilliance and her generosity. Marcia was definitely and truly a brilliant scholar. When I look at her contributions to the field (some we have collaborated on), I see how unique and brilliant her ideas were. The Total School Cluster Grouping model, the HOPE projects, the Native American Research Initiative, the Access Denied report all represent her passion for making gifted services more equitable and accessible to students from underserved populations. Additionally, each of these included a twist on things that have been considered best practices in gifted education. More recently, the introduction of “missingness” as a concept when looking at underrepresentation in gifted education (see Access Denied report) is (in my opinion) a contribution that could be key to, hopefully, one day achieving equity in gifted education. Marcia’s generosity is something that I had the privilege to experience at a personal level, but also in professional settings. Over the years, she went from being my doctoral advisor to a colleague and a friend I knew I could trust and count on in almost any situation. She was generous with her time, resources, friends, and so many other things. She helped me in times of great need and when I simply needed a hand or advice. She was always the first to reach out (to me and others) to offer help or support. She also was always willing to share her home with friends and colleagues. I will always remember each celebration at her house… graduation parties for doctoral students, end-of-the year celebrations, a welcome reception for a guest, and many others. She will always have a special place in my heart and I will always remember her as the best mentor and colleague I could have asked for and a dear friend.

Dr. Alissa Cress, Clinical Assistant Professor, Purdue University, Gifted Creative and Talented Studies

I worked with Dr. Marcia Gentry since the beginning of my graduate school program in 2016. Although that is not long in the scope of her amazing career, I was honored to work with her for the time we had. I was her 25th advisee to graduate with a Ph.D.! Learning from her expertise in the field and how she navigated professional and personal challenges life attempted to throw at her were just a few of the many qualities I found most admirable about her. Her constant, selfless dedication to creating opportunities for all students inspired me and everyone in her life to do and be better. Marcia Gentry’s impact on the world of gifted education—and the world as a whole—will outlast her for decades to come.  

Dr. Olenchak will be presenting at the Convention with Jeffrey Thomas about Exploring Social-emotional Development of High-Ability LGBTQ through Retrospectives.

Dr. Pereira will be presenting with Hernan Castillow-Hermosilla and Yuxiao Zhang about Are They Really Gifted Too? Challenges in Identifying Underrepresented Gifted Students; with Dr. Sarah Bright, Zafer Ozen, and Tugce Karatas: Fostering SEL Skills in STEM Curricula for Underrepresented Gifted Students; and with Dr. Joni Lakin, Dr. Emily Mofield, and Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, focusing on Research into Practice (topic varied by presenter).

Dr. Cress will be presenting with Abdullah A. Tuzgen about Reducing Biases and Creating Partnerships to Recognize & Foster Children’s Gifts and Talents; with Dr. Jennifer Richardson and Dr. Yukiko Maeda, discussing Total School Cluster Grouping: New Research Findings, Directions, and Discussion; and with Abdullah Tuzgen and Hernan Castillo-Hermosilla about What Do Teachers Really Think about Differentiation? Strategies, Successes, and Solutions.

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Presentations from staff and faculty at the Belin-Blank Center include:

Dr. Laurie Croft & Dr. Alena Treat, Diverse Faces in Gifted Education: LGBTQ+

Sheyanne Smith, Dr. Toni Szymanski, & Dr. Laurie Croft, Expanding Concepts of Multi-tiered Systems of Support to Serve Gifted Children

Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, Dr. Susan Assouline, Dr. Duhita Mahatmya, and Dr. Saba Ali, A Hybrid Model of Talent Identification-career Exploration for Underrepresented Students

Dr. Kimberley Chandler, Dr. Jaime Castellano, Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, Dr. Kristina Henry Collins, Erik Francis, Dr. Anne Gray, Dr. Nancy Hertzog, Dr. Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn, Dr. Kimberly Lansdowne, & Dr. PJ Sedillo, Identifying and Serving Diverse Gifted Learners: Meeting the Needs of Special Populations in Gifted Education

Dr. Del Siegle, Dr. Betsy McCoach, Dr. Catherine Little, Dr. Susan Assouline, & Dr. Scott Peters, Not so Fast: Think Twice about Identification

Dr. Lori Ihrig & Dr. Nesibe Karakis, Developing Rural STEM Talent Through Afterschool Programs

Dr Randy Lange & Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Transition Planning for Whole-grade Acceleration

Dr. Joni Lakin, Dr. Emily Mofield, Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, & Dr. Nielsen Pereira, Research into Practice

Dr. Katie Schabilion & Dr. Amanda Berns, Essential Tips for Teachers of Twice-Exceptional Students

Dr. Katie Schabilion, R&E Dissertation Award Recipients Presentation

Posters of interest from staff and faculty at the Belin-Blank Center include:

Anna Payne & Dr. Laurie Croft, Acceleration: Insights into Environmental Constraints to an Effective Practice

Dr. Toni Szymanski & Dr. Laurie Croft, Exploring Curriculum Models through Lesson Planning

Dr. Nesibe Karakas, Dr. Lori Ihrig, & Dr. Duhita Mahatmya, Who Is Missing from Rural STEM Talent Development Efforts?

Dr. Randy Lange & Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Grade-skipping: The Essential Considerations

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