Author Archives: belinblank

Professional Development for Spring and Summer 2023

“Teachers benefit from professional development trainings that are focused, purposeful, provide examples of what the targeted expectation should look like, and allow teachers the opportunity to apply what they have learned and implement it into their instruction”

(Keely Blair P’Pool, 2021, p. 100)
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

That is why professional development has been an integral part of the Belin-Blank Center since 1980, when Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, founding director of the Center, was first talking with Connie and David Belin and Jaqueline and Mike Blank about how to best support gifted and talented children.

Winter Session

Over winter break, the Center will offer EDTL:4085:0WKA Current Readings & Research in Gifted Education (December 21, 2022 – January 13, 2023), allowing “just-in-time” professional learning on topics of most interest to participants.

Spring Semester

In Spring of 2023, the Center is offering three-semester-hour extension classes (Identification, Program Models, Curriculum Concepts) and a two-semester-hour class about Administration and Policy Issues.  A variety of workshops are also available.  Check belinblank.org/courses after the Thanksgiving holiday to see everything that is available.

Summer Professional Development Options

Belin-Blank Fellowship

The Belin-Blank Center will host the 43rd Connie Belin & Jaqueline N. Blank Fellowship Program in Gifted Education, July 16 – 21, 2023, on campus at the University of Iowa.  One of the longest-running professional learning programs in the country, the Fellowship allows those with little background in gifted education and talent development to immerse themselves in ways to identify and understand gifted students, including those who have been traditionally underrepresented, and ways to develop students’ talents.  This is the time for parents and teachers of the gifted to find allies in their schools, urging those who have an interest and would benefit from the program to apply for the Fellowship, free of cost to participants (although participants do need to cover the cost of travel to Iowa City).  Room and board, as well as presentations from experts in the field, are all part of the Fellowship.  Teacher leaders / instructional coaches are especially welcome!  Anyone wanting to earn academic credit can enroll in CSED:5237:0WKA.  Look for application materials in mid-January (belinblank.org/fellowship)!

Online Coursework

Summer of 2023 will offer both PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration and the CSED or EDTL:4137:0EXW Introduction to Educating Gifted Students (both three-semester-hour extension classes), as well as multiple online and asynchronous one-semester-hour courses, offered in a workshop format.  Everything available will be posted at belinblank.org/courses early in December.

Belin-Blank Chautauqua

As well as online opportunities, the Belin-Blank Chautauqua (belinblank.org/chautauqua) will take place in June 2023.  Over the two weeks from June 12 – 17 and June 19 – 24, participants will have an opportunity to participate in up to six workshops that will include two days of either face-to-face interaction on campus in Blank Honors Center or via Zoom (participants may choose the option best for them).  Those who enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—receive an automatic tuition scholarship from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (i.e., three workshops for the cost of two; six for the cost of four). Chautauqua offers opportunities in the Psychology, Programming, and Administrative strands, making earning the endorsement easier than ever.  Chautauqua classes differ from summer to summer, allowing those interested in the endorsement (belinblank.org/endorsement) to complete all of their work through Chautauqua over two summers.  Between online and Chautauqua opportunities, endorsement candidates can complete all of their work before the next academic year.

Get Registered for Credit

To participate in endorsement classes, you must register one time each year with Distance and Online Education as a non-degree seeking student. For the purposes of the State of Iowa Endorsement in Talented and Gifted Education, you may register as either a graduate or undergraduate student regardless of your professional status. In other words, if you won’t benefit in other ways from the graduate credit, you can save tuition dollars. Once you have your HawkID and password, you can follow the directions to register for the courses that interest you the most (belinblank.org/educators/reg).

Getting Ready for the 69th Annual NAGC Convention

Nesibe Karakis and Laurie Croft

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

Message from the Director: What does DEI Mean for Talent Development and Education?

by Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, Belin-Blank Center Director

The focus of the fall Belin-Blank Center newsletter is on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What does a DEI focus mean for talent development and education? For decades, Professor Marcia Gentry asked that question and provided scholars and educators with viable answers. There was a collective sadness among all who knew her a few months ago, on August 31st, when she passed away.

Professor Gentry was a faculty member in the Department of Educational Studies and Director of the Gifted Education Research and Resource Center, both at Purdue University. Her work focused on talent identification and development among youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and Black, Latinx, and Native American communities. She highlighted the underrepresentation crisis in gifted and talented programs across the nation. Her research described inclusive and expanded programming for historically underserved populations, and she translated this research into best practice for educators throughout the country. Her impact is truly difficult to put into words and will last far into the future.

We at the Belin-Blank Center are committed to uplifting Professor Gentry’s work. As we revisit our mission, vision, values, and strategic plan, DEI and anti-racism are at the forefront. We already have in existence many initiatives and programs related to this value. For example, our extensive work with twice-exceptional youth through our research, clinical, and university programs; the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy that provides AP opportunities for rural youth; two federal grants serving talented underrepresented students in STEM and rural settings; professional development focused on DEI; and our extensive financial aid for families to attend student programs or visit our clinic psychologists.

But we can do more. I hope to increase school and community outreach regarding best practice in identification; assist more families in their homes and communities with twice-exceptional youth; spearhead DEI-focused funding initiatives; and consider community-based participatory research approaches to programming and research. We must face the biased and discriminatory history of the field and commit to a better future. 

Toward the end of her life, I was fortunate to have a brief text conversation with Professor Gentry through her daughter. I told Professor Gentry the impact she has had on me professionally and, more importantly, thousands of talented youth whom would have otherwise been excluded from gifted and talented programming. Her response impacted me greatly – mostly that she said Susan Assouline and I were “women committed to the cause.”

Professor Gentry, I thank you, I’ll never forget you, and I vow to be committed tirelessly to the cause.     

Recent Research on Twice-Exceptionality

The Belin-Blank Center has an extensive body of work on twice-exceptionality — from our Assessment and Counseling Clinic to professional learning to leading research. Our director, Dr. Megan Foley Nicpon, is a leader in that field. Here are some of the recent publications that come from her work.

Policy Considerations for Twice-Exceptional Students

Abstract: Policies for talented students with disabilities, or twice-exceptional students, exist in very few states across the country. Historically, families of twice-exceptional students have found most of their support through implementation of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Accommodation plans. Yet, there is no federal mandate for gifted education service provision; consequently, these students’ coexisting high abilities often are overlooked. We recommend states modify their gifted and talented policies to address specifically twice-exceptional best practices in identification, such as using universal screening methods tied to curriculum interventions, and intervention, such as creating Gifted Individual Education Plans in conjunction with IEPs. These methods outline not only service provision for one’s disability but also specify methods for developing talent among twice-exceptional youth. (Foley-Nicpon, M., & Teriba, A. (2022). Policy considerations for twice-exceptional students. Gifted Child Today, 45(1), 212-219. https://doi.org/10.1177/10762175221110943)

Developmental Milestones as Early Indicators of Twice-Exceptionality”

Abstract: Twice-exceptional individuals are those who have high cognitive ability in one or more areas, but also have a diagnosed disability. The needs of these individuals likely differ from those with high cognitive ability without a disability and those who solely have a disability. Intervening early can offer exceptional benefits for twice-exceptional individuals, but this has proved challenging due to the high cognitive abilities masking disabilities. This study explores if parent-reported developmental milestones can predict the number of disabilities diagnosed for an individual, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Specific Learning Disorder (SLD). Using a clinical sample of about 1,300 individuals, we used a Bayesian cumulative logistic model to explore if developmental milestones can predict the number of diagnoses after controlling for IQ and age. Study results showed that when an individual began to count and read informed predictions for the number of future diagnoses in the clinical sample. Implications for future study and practitioners are discussed in further detail. (LeBeau, B., Schabilion, K., Assouline, S. G., Foley-Nicpon, M., Doobay, A. F., & Mahatmya, D. (2022). Developmental milestones as early indicators of twice-exceptionality. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nlm.2022.107671)

Excellence Expected, Needs Overlooked: Implications for Working With Asian American Twice-Exceptional Students”

Abstract: Twice-exceptional students often face challenges stemming from misconception, misidentification, or misplacement in educational systems (Foley-Nicpon & Candler, 2018). Because the disability may mask the gift/talent domain or the gift/ talent domain may mask the disability, it can be challenging to recognize these students and appropriately respond to their learning needs (Baldwin et al., 2015). For Asian Americans in particular, the Asian American community has vocalized the problematic nature of ignoring the heterogeneity and diversity within the community and the impact this has on their education (Park, 2019; Wong, 2015). Without considering their racialized experiences, the learning and social and emotional needs of Asian American twice- exceptional (AA2E) students might not be captured fully. Asian American students are well represented in the U.S. gifted and talented education (GATE) system; they are 5% of school populations but 10% of GATE populations (Civil Rights Data Collection, n.d.; Ford, 2013). These data seem to support the model minority stereotype, a stereotype that can negatively affect talented and gifted Asian American students who may feel pressured to maintain high standards and internalize this high expectation (Henfield et al., 2014; Mun & Hertzog, 2019; Wong, 2015). When “what giftedness or disability should look like” meets “what Asian American should be like,” the multilayered stereotypes make it even harder to recognize, understand, and respond to the needs of AA2E students. In this article, we discuss the development and needs of AA2E students. We provide strategies to support practitioners in addressing (a) the diversity within the Asian American community, (b) family culture and dynamics regarding immigration and education, and (c) mental health needs of AA2E students. We hope to leave teachers and educational practitioners feeling better able to support the needs of diverse AA2E students in their classrooms. (Park, S., & Foley-Nicpon, M. (2022). Excellence expected, needs overlooked: Implications for working with Asian American twice-exceptional students. Teaching Exceptional Children. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F00400599221097020)

To hear more about the Belin-Blank Center’s research, be sure to attend our presentations or stop by Booth 506 at the National Association for Gifted Children 69th Annual Convention in Indianapolis next month!

Interview with an Academy for Twice-Exceptionality Student

In 2021, the Belin-Blank Center created a new university-based program, the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality. This program provides individualized support to University of Iowa students who are twice-exceptional. We define twice-exceptional as learners who demonstrate the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains AND who manifest one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria. 

By collaborating with our university partners, we can offer a support structure that addresses academics, practical skills, and social-emotional needs. Once accepted into the program, a student receives services from admission through graduation. 

We recently sat down with one of our Academy for Twice-Exceptionality students so he could share his story. 


Q: What is one of your favorite things at the University of Iowa? 

A: I really like the closeness of everything. Because the town is right next to the university, it is easy to get to both classes and stores. The way that the two are organized makes it very walkable. 

Q: What is your major?  

A: I am majoring in biomedical engineering. Although I haven’t decided exactly how I want to use my degree in the future, I am interested in a career with a research focus on things to be used in the medical field. I would like to be employed in a setting that designs something to help people, like prosthetics, medical software, or imaging technology.  

Q: What are your areas of talent?  

A: My talent areas are definitely mathematics and music. Math has always come to me pretty simply. My major requires a lot of mathematics, so I know in the future, I will be using it in my job. The engineering courses at Iowa have developed my math talent, specifically through real-life application problems and experiences. I used to sing in a chorus in school but haven’t joined any musical groups on campus. I do listen to music a lot at home.  

Q: How did you hear about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality? 

A: I am not sure how I first heard about it, but it was in a few different ways. I was identified as twice-exceptional later in life. My clinician in Des Moines told me about it. My parents also talked to me about it. I also am active with the Autism Society of Iowa. I believe I heard something about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality through that group as well.  

Q: What do you feel has been the biggest benefit of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality for you as a student? 

A: Getting to know people with the same mindset as me. Other students in the Academy seem to have the same way of thinking that I do. Sometimes when I talk to people, I don’t think they are on the same wavelength as me. In the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, people have similar thought processes as me. 

Q: What do you do to take care of yourself, especially your mental health, during the school year? 

A: I know that I get nervous. Now, I know how to calm myself down. I lie down and listen to music. I have been doing this for a long time. During the school year, I have to be careful not to lie down and listen to music for too long.  

Q: What extracurriculars are you involved in on campus? 

A: I am a supplemental instructor for a course through the Academic Retention Center at Iowa. I pair the lecture’s content in my sessions by assisting students who are having difficulty with the content through problems (including ones I have them create). I am also involved with Parkview Church in Iowa City. 

Q: What is something you would like other prospective students to know about the Academy of Twice-Exceptionality?  

A: Coming into it, I didn’t know what the support method would be like, so others should know it combines one-on-one meetings with a professional and community sessions with the entire group. 

Q: What is a goal you have for yourself this semester?   

A: My main goal is to do the best I can in my classes. Previously in classes, I didn’t study too well or prepare enough for projects. This might be a difficult goal, but my goal is a 4.0 for this semester.  

Q: What are three fun facts about you?  

  1. I have triplet cousins. 
  2. My parents have had a total of three sphinx cats (they still have two). 
  3. My favorite philosophical book is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, check out our website. The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality could be the right fit for you! 

5 Things That Every Educator and School System Should Know 

The Gifted Education field is more committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion than ever. In August 2022, the National Association for Gifted Children hosted its second annual National Symposium on Equity for Black and Brown Students. The Belin-Blank Center started its Academy for Twice-Exceptionality in the Fall of 2021. Researchers and national gifted education centers are focusing on key issues and providing schools with practical ideas to implement. Here are five essential ideas and/or resources to help schools do this. 

Donna Y. Ford’s Equity Goal and Equity Formula

Dr. Ford believes that schools and program schools must be deliberate in setting specific minimal goals, especially regarding representation, to be equitable for their students. She introduced the Equity Formula that supplies a target percentage goal to better address underrepresentation in advanced programming. With this target in mind, decision and policymakers can review current placement criteria and/or processes to find barriers for students traditionally “missed” for advanced programming within a school system. This article shares more information on this important idea.  

Local Norms

For too long, gifted programs used national percentiles in deciding who was identified for a variety of advanced programming. While a national perspective has some degree of value in interpreting scores, especially at the district level, a specific program at a particular site does not need to cast such a wide perspective on scores. Schools should serve the students within them, so it makes much more sense to compare the students within a school. Dr. Scott Peters has written prolifically on the benefits of using per school local norms in helping to make gifted programs more equitable. Here is an article detailing “Everything You Need to Know” about local norms.  

Tips for Improving Identification of Gifted EL Students

The face of America’s students is changing. In the Fall of 2020, Hispanic students made up 28% of public school students. Because gifts and talents are found among all populations, schools must do a better job of discovering students for advanced programs within this population. The National Center for Research on Gifted Education at the University of Connecticut conducts excellent research that often results in practical resources for schools. Their tips address screening, identification, communication, and professional development. These tips are also available as a downloadable pdf.  

Jacob’s Ladder Program

There is great power in scaffolding as an intervention. Students with high potential might need focused support to better access critical and creative thinking tasks. Dr. Tamra Stambaugh began working with an interactive approach to scaffold reading as a graduate student at the College of William & Mary. As a result, the Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program was developed. Using a ladder image, students move from lower-order, concrete thinking skills to higher-order, critical and creative thinking skills. The critical thinking skills (consequences and implications, generalizations, and main idea/theme/concept) are based on the work of Paul’s Reasoning Model. In addition to “ladders” related to short stories, poems, fables, and non-fiction, there are ladders that focus on affective skills.  

The Paradox of Giftedness and Autism

According to the Autistic Society’s research, approximately fifty children are diagnosed with autism in the United States every day. With the increasing number of autistic students across the country, schools and families must work together to support student success. While it is essential to focus on the strengths of all students diagnosed with autism, this is a non-negotiable when working with the twice-exceptional student population. The Belin-Blank Center drafted a Packet of Information to supply recommendations for administrators and educators that would lead to a positive experience for twice-exceptional students. The experience-based information and suggestions offered in this resource have resulted from working with gifted students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder through our Assessment and Counseling Clinic.   

We encourage you to view this list as a foundation and a catalyst. The five items shared here are research-based and should be considered in any effort to better address diversity, equity, and inclusion within a program for advanced students. They have been developed from solid thinking, so they serve as an excellent foundation from which to grow. Inevitably, new ideas that will help schools will be forthcoming from leaders in the field. We urge practitioners, especially those in decision-making positions, to stay up-to-date with current research and research-based resources. It is our hope that this list serves as that spark! 

For You at the Belin-Blank Center

Don’t miss any of the helpful information for talented students, families, and educators this semester!

An icon of a calendar

FOR EDUCATORS

FOR STUDENTS & FAMILIES

Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy Information Sessions

  • On Campus: November 3, 2022
  • Online: November 8 or December 6, 2022

Academy for Twice-Exceptionality Information Session

  • Online: 6:30 pm on November 9, 2022

Computer Science Python Fundamentals

  • Start anytime!
  • Access ends June 30, 2023

Disability as Diversity in Gifted Education

Students with disabilities are often underrepresented in gifted education programs. Being “twice-exceptional,” (the coexistence of disability and high ability) seems paradoxical to many, despite growing awareness of and research on twice-exceptionality. Here are a few tips for increasing twice-exceptional (2e) students’ access to gifted services.

Increase communication between gifted, general, and special education teams. Often, students who are identified for special education services first are eliminated from consideration for gifted programming (either intentionally or accidentally). Increasing opportunities for collaboration across classroom environments can promote the identification of talents among students with disabilities.

Use universal screenings in place of nomination or referral processes. As with other underrepresented groups, unconscious biases can prevent the referral of 2e students for further evaluation. Reliance on nomination or referral procedures as an entry point for further evaluation will likely exclude students who could otherwise benefit from participation. Benchmark assessments and other curriculum-based measures can be used as screening tools without requiring additional testing.

Use domain-specific rather than global talent identification processes. Reliance on one overall measure of talent will likely inaccurately exclude 2e students, whose cognitive and academic profiles are often more variable. Consideration of available programming can help determine the domains to assess, as identification processes should always be aligned with services.

For more information on serving twice-exceptional students, visit our Assessment and Counseling Clinic‘s website.

Starting Soon: Reading for High Ability Learners

One of the needs perceived in the fall semester is appropriate programming in reading for gifted learners!  The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented reported that approximately 50% – 70% of traditional reading material could be eliminated for gifted and talented learners.

Workshop:         EDTL:4026:0WKA  Reading for High Ability Learners

Dates:                   October 24 – November 11, 2022

Instructor:           Dr. Patricia Champion

Format:                Fully asynchronous online workshop

This workshop reviews the purposes and methods of reading instruction, with a focus on developmentally-appropriate needs of high-ability readers. Topics include genres of literature, enriched and accelerated reading curricula, and the role of reading in the social and emotional development of gifted students.

Get Registered for Credit

To participate in endorsement classes, you must register one time each year with Distance and Online Education as a non-degree seeking student. For the purposes of the State of Iowa Endorsement in Talented and Gifted Education, you may register as either a graduate or undergraduate student regardless of your professional status. In other words, if you won’t benefit in other ways from the graduate credit, you can save tuition dollars. Once you have your HawkID and password, you can follow the directions to register for the courses that interest you the most (belinblank.org/educators/reg).

If more than one person from your school or district enrolls, the Belin-Blank Center is pleased to provide an automatic 50% tuition scholarship to those using this workshop as a professional learning community!  Just contact educators@belinblank.org to let our professional development team know.

Taking advantage of workshops is one of the most cost-effective ways to earn the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.  Workshops are focused on one topic for three weeks; tuition is the only cost associated with a workshop (no additional fees).  Many workshops (ITAG credit, NAGC credit, Belin-Blank Chautauqua in the summer) offer automatic scholarships!

The Belin-Blank Center meets all national Standards for Gifted Education, including Standards for Faculty.

We look forward to supporting your professional learning needs!

Message from the Director: New Beginnings

by Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, Belin-Blank Center Director

August is synonymous with new beginnings for many of us.

Kids are heading back to school – it is my favorite time to check social media feeds to see friends post first-day-of-school pictures. On campus, we welcomed new students from across the globe, including new arrivals to our Bucksbaum Early Entrance and Twice-Exceptional Academies. Over the weekend, thousands of students met new friends, ate ice cream on the University of Iowa’s President’s lawn, and learned the Iowa fight song.

It’s a great time to be a Hawkeye!  

New beginnings are also happening at the Belin-Blank Center – I started as Director on August 1st.

I am not new to Iowa or the Center, however. I arrived in January 2004 as a postdoctoral scholar in the Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic. I later became a licensed psychologist, focusing mainly on assessment and intervention with twice-exceptional youth. In 2008, I joined the UI Counseling Psychology faculty.

There, I have had the honor of training future child psychologists, researching talent development among underrepresented groups, and serving the college, University, and Iowa community.

In the Belin-Blank Center’s 34-year history, there have been only two directors before me: Nicholas Colangelo and Susan Assouline. Both are giants in the field known internationally for their development of the Center, love for and dedication to talented youth, and commitment to creating best practices for acceleration and twice-exceptional intervention. I am honored to continue their legacy and the legacy of the Center.

I know these are big shoes to fill.

However, I join a dedicated staff and faculty who care deeply about the Center and its mission. I am certain we will continue to do great things. We seek to be the leaders in talent development for elementary through university-aged students; diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in gifted education; research and discovery for high ability and twice-exceptional youth; and collaboration and outreach both within and outside the University.

Together, we will embrace this new beginning and continue the Belin-Blank Center’s impact far into the future.

High achiever? Join neuroscience research.

If you or your child have talent in a particular domain, please consider this request from our partners in the Michaelson Lab.


We are seeking research volunteers who can partner with us to better understand the strengths and concerns of exceptionally talented individuals. 

If you (or your child) meet any of the below criteria, regardless of any other diagnosis you may have, we want you to participate:

  • have participated in accelerated coursework in school
  • have skipped a grade
  • have competed for admission into talent development program for art, music, dance, or writing
  • have competed for admission into talent development program for math, science, or engineering
  • earned or recruited for an athletic scholarship at the collegiate level
  • a clinically assessed IQ > 90th percentile (120 or above) 
  • scored 29 or higher on the ACT
  • scored 1300 or higher on the SAT

We are also eager to have your family members participate in this research if they are available. Participation will involve answering surveys about your mental health and creative strengths and talents, and potentially: 1) donating saliva for genetic research 2) participating in an MRI session (brain scan). 

Participants who complete online enrollment and return a saliva kit will receive a $20 Amazon gift card. Additional compensation for follow-up studies (e.g., the MRI scan) is also available.

Please visit http://2e.devgenes.org today to learn more and to enroll!  If you have questions, please reach out to us at michaelson-lab@uiowa.edu or by phone at 319-335-8882.

This Fall at the Belin-Blank Center

Don’t miss any of the helpful information for talented students, families, and educators this semester!

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FOR EDUCATORS

FOR STUDENTS & FAMILIES

Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy Information Sessions

  • On Campus: September 12 or October 11, 2022
  • Online: November 8 or December 6, 2022

Academy for Twice-Exceptionality Information Sessions

  • On Campus: 10:00 am on October 18, 2022,
  • Online: 6:30 pm on August 31, September 28, or November 9, 2022

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Submissions Opening Soon!

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program of its kind. It celebrates creative teens locally and nationally with awards, exhibitions, publications, and scholarships. 

The Belin-Blank Center is proud to serve as the Iowa and Midwest Region-at-Large Affiliate for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program. We accept and judge art and writing submissions for those regions, hold an awards ceremony recognizing regional winners, and provide summer programming for talented young artists and writers.

Participating in the Awards enters your work into consideration for Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, American Visions Nominee, and American Voices Nominee Awards. We present these awards to Iowa and Midwest students in a celebration ceremony and exhibition in the spring. 

Submissions will open on September 1st. Receive scholarships, cash awards, or tuition assistance by participating in the Awards!

Learn More about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality


“We tossed a small pebble and made a big splash.” 

Jacqueline Blank  

Fall 2022 marks the first official semester of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality! Although we supported two students last year, the full program we envisioned will be in place this academic year for our inaugural cohort of twice-exceptional University of Iowa students.  

The Academy’s three-part structure of support (academics, practical skills, and social-emotional skills) will take place through whole group workshops, weekly one-on-one meetings, planned social events, and a cohort living situation for first-year students.  

We are now recruiting for our 2023-2024 cohort!

If you are interested in finding out more about the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, please plan to attend one of our Information Sessions. The dates for the online sessions are August 31st, September 28th, and November 9th, 2022. We also have an on-campus Information Session planned for October 18th. Sign up for a session at belinblank.org/2eacademy.  

The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is a prime example of building off the Belin-Blank Center’s expertise and showing a commitment to tossing a small pebble. We are confident that the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is the right fit for many students, and we would love to talk about it with you! 

Learn to Develop Talent in Any Domain

Talent needs to be recognized and fostered within all domains and fields, so its focus must expand beyond K-12 classrooms and business. To that end, the Belin-Blank Center, in collaboration with the University of Iowa College of Education, has developed a Graduate Certificate in Talent Development. This certificate is hinged upon a broad perspective of talent development, and it will prepare professionals in any domain to recognize and develop talented people in whatever their field may be.  

What is talent development? Talent development is a systematic process that supplies the necessary skills and training, so an individual’s talent area(s) is actualized. Discovering and developing talent fosters equity when casting and considering a broader “net” and when the process includes proper support and accommodations.  

We are excited about this professional learning opportunity because of its potential to partner with multiple departments at the University of Iowa and professionals from various fields. While we predict the Graduate Certificate in Talent Development will attract K-12 pre-service and in-service educators, we drafted it to be relevant for individuals outside of education (e.g., the arts, STEM, athletics, or leadership).  

Our one-of-a-kind Graduate Certificate in Talent Development is open for Fall 2022 registration.

This meaningful learning experience can be completed 100% online or in a hybrid fashion. It is research-based, provides elective course choices within and outside education, and culminates with an interest-based project. If you have any questions, contact Randy Lange at randolph-lange@uiowa.edu 

Come learn with us! 

To learn more or register, visit our website.

Message From the Director: The Last Word

Susan Assouline

by Dr. Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center Director

Welcome back! 

After a two-year pandemic-imposed hiatus from onsite professional development and on-campus residential student programs, the hallways of the Blank Honors Center resound with the happy voices and excited footsteps of students and teachers. Their faces reflect the anticipation of making new friends and engaging in meaningful new learning. None of this would be possible without months of careful planning. Multiple teams of Belin-Blank Center colleagues attend to the details so participants can enjoy our comprehensive programming. I am very appreciative of my colleagues’ unflinching commitment to excellence. 

Welcome to our summer faculty and staff! Serving several hundred students and teachers takes many sets of hands, ears, eyes, feet, minds, and hearts. From residence hall advisors to student assistants to front-desk support, many of the summer program staff are undergraduate and graduate students. Their praises often go unsung, so I want to take this opportunity to thank them. 

Welcome to our many faculty colleagues who mentor and instruct students and teachers. This summer, we are pleased to have Ms. Cori Milan as the student program coordinator for our residential student programs, the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP), Perry Research Summer Institute (PRSI), and Summer Art/Writing Residencies (SAR/SWR). In addition to Ms. Milan, we will work with our colleague, Dr. Barry Schreier, a clinical professor in counseling psychology and the Director of Higher Education Programming at the Iowa Center for School Mental Health. Dr. Schreier leads our efforts to enhance the student experience through increased attention to social-emotional well-being and the professional development of the staff who support our students.  

Welcome to licensed psychologist Dr. Christopher Smith, the newest Assessment and Counseling Clinic staff member. Dr. Smith joins a dedicated team of professionals who kept the Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic open throughout the pandemic. 

Welcome to Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, recently named the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Endowed Chair and the new Belin-Blank Center Director. Dr. Foley-Nicpon brings a wealth of experience to this position and is singularly qualified to become the third director of the Belin-Blank Center. Watching Dr. Foley-Nicpon present her formal job talk was one of the more joyous moments of my 32-year career. We’ve been colleagues since 2004, and she has enhanced the reputation of the Belin-Blank Center in multiple areas, including twice-exceptionality and talent development. Dr. Foley-Nicpon will begin her tenure as director in August, making this my final post as director. 

Welcoming new colleagues and delighting in the wonder of a Belin-Blank summer makes my last “Message from the Director” bittersweet. Nostalgia fills my thoughts as I reflect on the many moments that form decades of personal, professional, and organizational growth and development. We have done so much together during this time, and I know this team of professionals will have many more triumphs to come. 

I have had the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues and a dedicated advisory board. I have a loving family who has graced me with their phenomenal support throughout my entire career.  

I am now approaching my final weeks as the Myron and Jacqueline Blank Endowed Chair and Director of the Belin-Blank Center. Only one word adequately captures the sentiment that fills my heart: Gratitude. 

Belin-Blank Center Finalists Win Big at Nationals!

Finalists from two of our programs, Invent Iowa and the Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), recently competed at the national level in their respective programs.

2022 Invent Iowa Finalists at the National Invention Convention

Invent Iowa finalists advanced to the National Invention Convention, hosted by the Henry Ford Museum.

Charles Smith (Ottumwa) won 2nd place in the 3rd-grade division, as well as Best Video Presentation, for his E.F.A.F. (Emergency Floor plan App for First responders). Jason Ahn (Ames) won a Patent Application Award and Best Logbook for his ARE Board (Auto Rolling & Erasing Whiteboard). Those who are interested can view the complete list of winners or watch the award ceremony replay.

Finalists at the Iowa Regional JSHS earned an expense-paid trip to compete at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In the oral presentations, Amara Orth (Lewis Central High) won 2nd place in the Life Sciences category, for an $8,000 scholarship! In the poster competition, Jasmyn Hoeger (Beckman Catholic High School) won 3rd place in the Biomedical Science category and a $350 scholarship. A full list of winners is posted here.

Congratulations to all!

Coming Up at the Belin-Blank Center

Don’t miss any exciting opportunities for students, families, and educators at the Belin-Blank Center!

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For Educators

For Students & Families

Summer Programs

AP Summer Institute – Online!

Advanced Placement (AP) coursework is one of the most recognized forms of acceleration. There are many benefits to taking an AP course, including providing the appropriate level of challenge for talented students.

Advanced Placement classes help develop college-level academic skills. The classes are made up of students and educators with a strong commitment to excellence in learning and problem-solving. These are all qualities necessary in college. Many students who enter college are shocked at the amount of work and study time involved. Taking AP classes in high school will better prepare them for challenging college classes.

The Belin-Blank Center is proud to be an approved site to provide AP summer training for teachers. To accommodate as many teachers as possible, we are offering an online session (August 1-5, 2022). The seven AP trainings offered online are Computer Science & Principles, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, Physics I, Psychology, Spanish Language & Culture, and Statistics.

We would love to work with you this summer! Learn more and sign up here.

NEW! Graduate Certificate in Talent Development

The Belin-Blank Center is pleased to announce our new graduate certificate in talent development! It addresses talent development from a broad perspective and considers multiple fields. This certificate will be open to current, degree-seeking students at the University of Iowa and non-degree students (e.g., full/part-time personnel in teaching and/or a wide range of professions). The Graduate Certificate in Talent Development will provide a synthesis of theory and multiple perspectives across various areas of study and provide opportunities for registrants across fields to engage and interact with the common goal of how to best match individuals with appropriately enriching experiences (within and outside of school). 

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

The purpose of the Graduate Certificate in Talent Development is to increase understanding of talented individuals, the process of talent development and the creative process, and to prepare advocates for talented individuals. The Graduate Certificate in Talent Development will provide a research-based foundation for cultivating talent and encouraging best practices, especially in K-12 schools.  The emphasis on talent development is moving away from simplistic “pull-out” programming within schools and exploring more sophisticated conceptions of the development of expertise in specific fields and domains. The proposed certificate intends to train professionals across fields to develop talent among artists, athletes, business leaders, musicians, and STEM, to name a few. 

The Graduate Certificate in Talent Development will be available in Fall 2022. It consists of 14 semester hours and can be earned completely online. Its three-fold learning approach is composed of: 

1) required coursework (6 semester hours),  

2) interest-based elective coursework (6 semester hours – can reside in any UI department), and  

3) a culminating independent Capstone Exploration Project (steered completely by student interest).  

If you have any questions, please contact Randy Lange (randolph-lange@uiowa.edu).

We would love to learn with you!

Does Your Child Need More Academic Challenge at School This Fall?

Our Assessment and Counseling Clinic can help you learn more about your child and their academic needs.

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Our clinic offers individual educational assessments to help you better understand your child’s cognitive and academic strengths. These evaluations can assist with academic planning by helping determine whether your child is ready for advanced learning opportunities such as acceleration and enrichment programming. You can use the results to better advocate for your student’s advanced learning needs at school. When shared with your child’s educators, the results may inform team decisions about identification for enrichment and/or accelerated programming.

These assessments involve tests of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant to academic planning decisions.

If you’re interested in learning more about educational assessments and other clinic services, visit our website. To request information about pursuing an educational assessment for your child, click here.

Professional Learning Makes All the Difference

by Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development

Gifted and talented students have unique social-emotional needs AND unique academic needs.  Professional learning allows educators to understand and address those unique needs, and that facilitates student success in school and in life in a wide variety of ways.  Peterson (2009) suggested that giftedness can actually be a risk factor for poor personal and educational outcomes.  Comprehensive preparation to interact with and support the various challenges faced by gifted learners facilitates appropriate affective and academic development.

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Belin-Blank Chautauqua 2022

The Belin-Blank Chautauqua provides six classes for professionals, who can take any or all.  Allowing educators to spend time with others who share their focus on the nature and needs of gifted students—either in person on campus or via Zoom—each class meets from 9:00 – noon and 1:00 – 4:00 pm for the first two days of each class.  Participants finish up any readings and final projects over the next couple of weeks, working online and independently. 

All classes fulfill one of the strands required for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement and count toward the total number of 12 required credits.  Enrolling in Chautauqua allows an educator to complete half of the endorsement this summer, and the different Chautauqua schedule from summer to summer allows a participant to complete the endorsement program the next year.

Those who enroll in all three graduate credits the first week receive a full tuition scholarship for one class; those who enroll in all six credits receive a full tuition scholarship for two classes, one each week.  In other words, the Belin-Blank Center covers the cost of two of the six classes; the Center understands the value of professional development!

Chautauqua Courses in 2022

Chautauqua courses include the following in Week I:

Thinking Skills (EDTL:4072:0WKA), Jul 11 – 29, taught by Dr. Laurie Croft;

Topics: Executive Functioning for Learning and Life (new in 2022; EDTL:4096:0WKB), Jul 13 – Aug 2, taught by Dr. Kristine Milburn; and

Counseling and Psychological Needs of the Gifted (RCE:4125:0WKA, Jul 15 – Aug 4, taught by Dr. Debra Mishak.

Chautauqua continues in Week II:

Gender Issues and Giftedness (RCE:4123:0WKA), Jul 18 – Aug 5, taught by Dr. Haley Wikoff;

Topics: Infusing Language Arts with Creative Thinking (EDTL:4096:0WKC), Jul 20 – Aug 5, taught by Gwen Livingstone Pakora, MA; and

Staff Development for Gifted Programs (EPLS:4113:0WKA), Jul 22 – Aug 5, taught by Lori Danker, MA and MSE.

Learn more about Chautauqua at belinblank.org/chautauqua.

Advanced Placement Summer Institute

Teacher Training in Advanced Placement Courses (EDTL:5080:0WKA), available to those participating in the University of Iowa Advanced Placement Summer Institute.  The Belin-Blank Center provides a 50% tuition scholarship, allowing participants to earn two hours for the cost of one graduate credit.  The APSI takes place on campus from Jun 28 – Jul 1.  Contact educators@belinblank.org about information to override the restriction on enrollment. 

APSI participants benefit from earning another credit hour for Differentiation at the Secondary Level (EDTL:4074:0WKA), Jul 11 – 29, taught by Dr. Kristine Milburn.  APSI participants receive a 50% tuition scholarship for this class, as well.

Fully Online and Asynchronous Courses

In addition to Chautauqua courses this summer, the Center, in partnership with the University of Iowa College of Education, is offering additional online courses that are fully asynchronous.  Professional learning opportunities began at the end of May, but they continue in July, including:

Leadership Skills for G/T Students, K – 12 (EDTL:4029:0WKA), taught by Dr. Beth Maloney;

Differentiation at the Secondary Level (EDTL:4074:0WKA), Jul 11 – 29, taught by Dr. Kristine Milburn.

The practicum experience, required for the endorsement is available every semester, including summer.

For more information about all the summer professional learning opportunities available, visit belinblank.org/courses.

Visit belinblank.org/educators/reg for all the information you need to get registered as a non-degree seeking Distance and Online student.

Welcoming a New Licensed Psychologist to the Assessment and Counseling Clinic!

We are so excited to welcome Dr. Christopher Smith to the Belin-Blank Center! Dr. Smith is joining the Assessment and Counseling Clinic as a licensed psychologist.

Dr. Smith earned his BA from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and his MA and PhD from Alliant International University in San Francisco, CA. He completed his internship at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Augusta, Maine, and his post-doctoral fellowship working with children and adolescents at an eating disorder clinic in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He holds psychology licenses in Iowa, New York, and Massachusetts. Most recently, he worked as a licensed psychologist at ChildServe in Iowa City.

We are looking forward to having Dr. Smith on the team at the ACC! He will be involved in providing clinical assessment and counseling services to gifted and twice-exceptional students and supporting research and other clinic initiatives.

Be sure to check out all of the clinical services we provide in our Assessment and Counseling Clinic. If you are interested in requesting more information about scheduling clinic services, you can do so here!

Big news!

Dr. Foley Nicpon

Congratulations to Megan Foley Nicpon on being named the new director of the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development and the new Myron and Jaqueline Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education!

Read more on the College of Education’s website.

Message from the Director: Opening Doors for Talent Development

by Dr. Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center Director

“You’re a girl; you don’t need to take calculus.”

I’ve never forgotten those words stated by my high school counselor when I inquired about registering for calculus my senior year. That was then. I didn’t even question the statement. Not taking calculus in high school probably closed some doors for me, but other doors — education and psychology – opened.

Many decades have passed since then. Legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sex or “…any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual[i]” has opened doors to more opportunities for more people. We are all better off because of those legalities. Nevertheless, much work remains concerning nondiscrimination, societal racism, and social justice. Furthermore, we have not fully addressed the most significant issue facing students, families, and educators: inequality in educational programming, especially in access to gifted education. The gifted programming inequalities in schools nationwide are society’s way of saying, “You’re a _________; you don’t need access to gifted programming.”  Educators, researchers, and psychologists can do better.

This spring, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) dedicated an entire issue of their flagship journal, Gifted Child Quarterly, to equity in gifted education. I applaud my colleagues who contributed to that special issue, which catalyzed the entire field to reflect and act. We can all make a difference in addressing this pernicious problem in education, which reflects a broader problem related to discrimination and lack of respect for diversity. At the Belin-Blank Center, we continuously aspire to offer services and programming focused on talent development through our student programs and professional development opportunities. We seek to recognize the strengths and potential of a diverse student population more fully.

As a high school junior, I didn’t know then the impact of being excluded from an educational opportunity based on one educator’s bias about girls and advanced math. Now I recognize that that experience was the entry point to a career as an educator, administrator, and researcher dedicated to ensuring that we extend opportunities to all who would benefit from them.

Bias, whether implicit or explicit, leads to exclusion and discrimination that has long-term consequences. It denies marginalized communities and people opportunities that would positively contribute to their lives and to society. Each of us has the power to chip away at discrimination through our words and our actions.

There has been improvement for some, but there is much more to do. I have hope because of a new generation of educators. This generation has greater awareness of the vastness of human potential, which we should not limit based on “classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual.” As we look to the future, professional educators must ensure that inclusion and equity become focal points of practice and policy. We aim to lead the way.


[i] The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual. The university also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to university facilities. For additional information on nondiscrimination policies, contact the Director, Office of Institutional Equity, the University of Iowa, 202 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242-1316, 319-335-0705, oie-ui@uiowa.edu.

Sign Up for Summer!

Don’t miss any exciting opportunities for students, families, and educators at the Belin-Blank Center!

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For Educators

  • Professional Learning Courses / TAG Endorsement:
    • The Integrated Acceleration System: Making Decisions About Grade-Skipping: February 26, 2022
    • Topics in Teaching and Learning (Teaching Outside the Lines: Developing Creativity in Every Learner): February 16, 2022
    • Prog/Curr for High Ability Students: March 7, 2022
    • Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education: March 21, 2022
    • Practicum: March 21, 2022, or April 18, 2022
    • Continuing Education Individual Study (Connecting to Align Gifted Programming and Services): April 25, 2022
    • Intro to Educating Gifted Students: May 16, 2022, June 13, 2022, or August 22, 2022
    • Academic Acceleration: June 6, 2022
    • Senior Honors Project: June 13, 2022
    • Conceptions of Talent Development: October 17, 2022
    • Practicum: October 24, 2022, or November 14, 2022
  • Summer Programming for Educators:

For Students & Families

Summer Programs

Online Professional Learning in Summer 2022

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John Cotton Dana, an American library and museum director, brilliantly asserted that “who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”  That is certainly true of teachers who support the needs of gifted and talented learners.

Teachers from across the country who are new to the field of gifted education and talent development look for coursework to help them earn the Talented and Gifted Endorsement.  Teachers who already work in gifted programs continue to develop their understanding of gifted children and how to best develop their talents.

Chautauqua

The Belin-Blank Center sponsors Chautauqua in the summer, and many teachers take advantage of one or more of the six one-semester-hour classes that begin over two weeks in July.  Each of these classes meets, either in person on the University of Iowa campus or via Zoom, for the first two days of the class; look for more information at belinblank.org/Chautauqua.

Online Programming

Others might prefer the flexible format of fully online and asynchronous opportunities throughout the summer.  All classes are one semester hour unless otherwise indicated.

May 17 – Jun 6EDTL:4096:0WKA (Topics)Assessing Achievement for Talent Development (Programming strand)Anna Payne
Jun 6 – 24EDTL:4024:0WKADifferentiating Projects with Technology (Programming strand; updated content)Dr. Antonia Szymanski
Jun 6 – Jul 29PSQF:4123:0EXW (3 semester hours [s.h.])Academic Acceleration (1 s.h. each in the Psychology, Programming, and 1 Administrative strands)Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik
Jun 13 – Aug 4EDTL/RCE:4137:0EXW (3 semester hours)Introduction to Educating Gifted Students (Psychology strand)Dr. Kimberley Chandler
Jun 20 – Jul 11EDTL:4085:0WKACurrent Readings & Research in Gifted Education (strand based on readings)Anna Payne
Jun 27 – Jul 18PSQF:4126:0WKACognitive/Affective Needs of Gifted Students (Psychology strand)Dr. Katie Schabilion
Jul 1 – 22EDTL:5080:0WKATeacher Training in Advanced Placement Courses** (Programming strand)Dr. Randy Lange
Jul 6 – June 24EDTL:4029:0WKALeadership Skills for G/T Students, K – 12 (Programming strand)Dr. Beth Maloney
Jul 11 – 29EDTL:4074:0WKADifferentiation at the Secondary Level (Programming strand)Dr. Kristine Milburn

**option for participants in the University of Iowa Advanced Placement Summer Institute (belinblank.org/apsi)

Registration

To take part in classes, participants must register one time each year with Distance and Online Education as a non-degree seeking student. Those earning the Endorsement in Talented and Gifted Education may register as either graduate or undergraduate students, regardless of professional status (undergraduates pay less tuition per course but may lose district benefits). Once participants have their “HawkID” and password, they can follow the directions to register for courses that match their interests and needs. Follow the steps at belinblank.org/educators/reg.

Belin-Blank Chautauqua—Back with an In-Person Option!

Journalist Charles Bowden once said, “Summertime is always the best of what might be.”  That might be the most accurate way to look at the Belin-Blank Chautauqua, an opportunity to enjoy professional learning with colleagues who enjoy time with others who share their interests.

Chautauqua was an adult education movement in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, bringing Americans together to learn and enjoy time spent with one another.  After two years of hosting Chautauqua only online during the pandemic, the Belin-Blank Center is looking forward to hosting participants who want to participate in person, as well as those who choose to continue to participate via Zoom.

Professional Learning

Our Chautauqua is a unique form of professional learning, offering six one-semester-hour classes that begin over two weeks in July.  Each class meets for two days and continues online with readings, an online discussion or two, and a final project.  All classes end on or before August 5 this summer, the final day of the last university summer session.  Those who are interested in expanding their professional expertise in gifted education may enroll in the combination of classes that makes sense for them, from one to all six classes.

Scholarships

Participants who enroll as graduate students in three classes in one week receive a full scholarship for the cost of one class (you pay for two, the Belin-Blank Center provides a scholarship that pays for one).  Participants who enroll as graduate students in all six classes over the two weeks receive a full scholarship for the cost of one class each week (you pay for four, the Belin-Blank Center provides a scholarship that pays for two classes).

Coursework

The six classes represent the strands required for the endorsement in the State of Iowa: 

  • the Psychology strand (understanding the nature and needs of gifted/talented learners);
  • the Programming strand (appropriately differentiated programming/coursework for talent development);
  • the Administrative strand (administrative issues in the field that school personnel might now know).

Classes in Chautauqua are different from one summer to the next, so educators can earn the State of Iowa endorsement in two summers!  For those who want to earn the endorsement even more quickly, Chautauqua classes can be combined with online summer classes to complete the endorsement in one summer.  Classes are offered throughout the year to meet the needs of anyone seeking endorsement or seeking professional development in new areas.

Chautauqua in Summer 2022 includes all one-semester-hour courses:                  

Week 1: Jul 11 – 29 Meets Monday/Tuesday,      9:00 – noon; 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.EDTL:4072:0WKAThinking Skills (Programming strand)Dr. Laurie Croft
Jul 13 – Aug 2 Meets Wednesday/Thursday, 9:00 – noon; 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.EDTL:4096:0WKB (Topics)Executive Functioning: Skills for Learning and Life* (Programming strand)Dr. Kristine Milburn
Jul 15 – Aug 4 Meets Friday/Saturday, 9:00 – noon; 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.RCE:4125:0WKACounseling/Psychological Needs of the Gifted (Psychology strand)Dr. Jean Peterson
Week 2: Jul 18 – Aug 5 Meets Monday/Tuesday,      9:00 – noon; 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.RCE:4123:0WKAGender Issues and Giftedness (Psychology strand)Dr. Jolene Teske
Jul 20 – Aug 5 Meets Wednesday/Thursday, 9:00 – noon; 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.EDTL:4096:0WKC (Topics)Infusing Language Arts with Creative Thinking* (Programming strand)Gwen Livingstone Pokora
Jul 22 – Aug 5 Meets Friday/Saturday, 9:00 – noon; 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.EPLS:4113:0WKAStaff Development for Gifted Programs (Administrative strand)Dr. Jolene Teske

*NEW!

Registration

To take part in classes, you must register one time each year with Distance and Online Education as a non-degree seeking student. For the State of Iowa Endorsement in Talented and Gifted Education, you may register as either a graduate or undergraduate student, regardless of your professional status (scholarships are awarded to those who register as graduate students). Once you have your HawkID and password, you can follow the directions to register for courses that interest or benefit you. Follow the steps laid out at belinblank.org/educators/reg.

Applications Open for the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality

What are people saying about the Belin-Blank Center’s new Academy for Twice-Exceptionality?

“The individual weekly meeting helped me get through college with ideas and suggestions for what I can do better or improve on for exams, projects, and life in college overall.”

-Academy for Twice-Exceptionality Student

In Spring 2021, the staff at the Belin-Blank Center began working on a pilot for an Academy for Twice-Exceptionality. Our expertise in twice-exceptionality and experience with university programs (specifically the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy), made us the perfect fit for starting such a program. We are now accepting applications for the 2022-2023 cohort!

Academy students must be high school graduates and ideally entering Iowa as first-year or transfer students. (We will consider students who fit other academic standings.) Currently, students who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or identify as Autistic are the target population. In the future, we hope to be able to expand into other areas of twice-exceptionality. Students must also be registered with the University of Iowa Student Disability Services (SDS).

The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality offers a variety of services for its students:

  • a weekly seminar for the entire cohort
  • weekly one-on-one meetings to work on individual needs and goals
  • assistance with connecting to university-based supports and resources
  • helping students better understand their struggles and then leverage their unique strengths
  • consistent communication with parents/guardians.

Start the journey to see if the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is the right fit for you or your student by visiting our website. We are confident we will be!

2022 Winners of Iowa Junior Science & Humanities Symposium

Congratulations to everyone who competed at this week’s Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)!  

These high school students are doing impressive research projects and did an excellent job communicating their findings to a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Regional winners receive scholarships and an expense-paid trip to compete at the annual National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

2022 Winners of the Iowa Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

The 2022 Iowa Regional winners are:

🏆 1st place: Amara Orth (Lewis Central High School) – “Secret Sounds of Bees: Analysis of Honey Bee Vibroacoustics Using Hidden Markov Models”

🏆 2nd place: Kiersten Knobbe (Adair-Casey Guthrie Center High School) – “Turbid or Not Turbid? That is the Question: Creating a Water Filtration and Sanitation Method for Developing Countries”

🏆 3rd place: Alina Markutsya (Ames High School) – “Biomechanical Analysis of Balance Beam Skills in Gymnastics”

🏆 4th place: Libby Knipper (Beckman Catholic High School) – “Efficacy of Antimicrobial Starch-Based Plastic Food Storage Films”

🏆 5th place: Jasmyn Hoeger (Beckman Catholic High School) – “Novel Mammalian Fibroblast Cell Culture Media Technique for Ultraviolet Cell Reduction”

Message from the Director

by Dr. Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center Director

Today’s view from the Blank Honors Center is grey and bare, seemingly devoid of energy. However, activity and enthusiasm abound inside the Blank Honors Center as we prepare for the Belin-Blank Center’s many student and professional learning programs, services, and information sessions scheduled for the next several months. 

This summer, students in grades 3-11 can choose from science, technology, engineering, art, math, and writing options. Whether online or on-campus, full-day or residential, all of our programs give students access to valuable university-level resources and experts in developing talent. 

Educators can earn their TAG Endorsement through our Chautauqua program and fully online classes. Other excellent professional learning opportunities include our Belin Fellowship and AP Summer Institute.

We are also pleased to welcome two new members of the Belin-Blank Center team! Dr. Nesibe Karakis is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in our STEM Excellence and Leadership program. Mr. Dominic Balestrieri-Fox is our new Administrative Services Coordinator. He works to support many programs across the Center, including the Iowa Online AP AcademyAP Summer Institute, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. If you encounter either of them when you contact the Belin-Blank Center, please join us in welcoming them!

New colleagues and changing seasons are but two reminders that change is the only constant. January closed with the very sad news that our friend and colleague, University of New South Wales Professor Emerita Miraca Gross, passed away. Dr. Gross’s work had a profound impact on the field of gifted and talented education. This is especially true in academic acceleration, where her contributions are unparalleled. She will always remain an inspiration, and her impact will positively influence many generations of students, families, and professionals. 

Dr. Gross advocated for tools associated with making acceleration decisions, such as our newly developed Integrated Acceleration System.  We invite you to learn more about this tool during an upcoming online session focused on making decisions about grade-skipping, featuring Belin-Blank Center experts.  

It may still be a grey day in February, but we are staying cozy inside the Blank Honors Center, eagerly turning our eyes toward sunnier days. Whether you are a parent, educator, or student, we hope you will join us for one of the many exciting events and programs we are planning for this summer. We are excited to see you soon!

Two New Faces at the Belin-Blank Center

We are pleased to formally introduce two new colleagues here at the Belin-Blank Center!

Dr. Nesibe Karakis

Dr. Nesibe Karakis is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in STEM Excellence and Leadership at the Belin-Blank Center in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. She earned her doctorate in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Studies from Purdue University. She is a former middle school math teacher in Turkey. Dr. Karakis’ research focuses on STEM education, professional development, student achievement, quantitative (e.g., statistical analysis, machine learning) and qualitative data analysis, and students from underrepresented populations (e.g., students from ethnically diverse or low-income backgrounds) in gifted education.

Dominic Balestrieri-Fox

Dominic Balestrieri-Fox is the Belin-Blank Center’s new Administrative Services Coordinator. He works to support many programs across the Center, including the Iowa Online AP Academy, AP Summer Institute, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University in 2020, where his studies focused on international security and environmental policy. His most recent position before joining the Belin-Blank Center was a US Student Program Fulbright appointment in Trabzon, Turkey, where he taught English speaking lessons at Karadeniz Teknik University. His interests include the intersections between the environment and security, diplomacy, and sustainable agriculture.

Nesibe and Dominic are fantastic additions to our staff, and we are delighted to work alongside them. If you encounter them when you contact the Belin-Blank Center, please join us in welcoming them!

Strengths-Based Assessment to Better Understand Your Student’s Unique Needs

The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic is pleased to partner with Bridges 2e Center for Research and Professional Development to facilitate access to their Suite of Tools for our clients.

The Suite of Tools is a strengths-based, talent-focused tool that brings together several different types of assessments to help parents and educators celebrate the unique gifts of a particular student and bring their eclectic profile into better focus. The Suite of Tools (2016) was originally developed by Dr. Robin Schader and Dr. Susan Baum at the Bridges 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, and is built on the theme of C.L.U.E.S.: a process of Collecting information, Looking for connections, Uncovering patterns, Exploring options, and Seeking joyful learning.

The first assessment in the Suite of Tools is “My Learning Print,” which explores ways in which students prefer to learn, their specific interests, conditions that enhance understanding, fun hobbies, and family experiences outside of the classroom. The second assessment is called the “Quick Personality Indicator,” which asks participants to rank descriptive statements and then helps students to tally these outcomes to decipher whether they are most like a People Person, Learned Expert, Creative Problem Solver, or Practical Manager. A third tool is the Teacher Feedback form, which offers classroom educators the opportunity to reflect on the core abilities of this student. After a parent interview, each of these CLUES is brought together into a PowerPoint presentation by a seasoned educational therapist who highlights the findings of the Suite of Tools for your distinctive student, and then offers suggestions and direction for talent development opportunities that can enhance this student’s social-emotional growth and promote their intellectual potential. The Suite of Tools is especially helpful to include as an additional lens of insight along with a psychoeducational evaluation, when a learning team is crafting a 504 Plan, or for exploring options of optimal learning during an IEP Meeting.

Bridges Academy case manager Sandra Clifton, supported by her colleague Amy Clark, will be offering these services to interested Assessment and Counseling Clinic clients. For more information, please email sandra.clifton@bridges.edu.

Sandra Clifton

After earning her Masters in English Education and serving over a decade as a high school teacher, Sandra Clifton earned credentials as a professional coach and joined the RULER Team at Yale University to guide teachers in a program of Social-Emotional Learning.  She then opened her own private practice: the Clifton Corner, a safe space of learning to support overwhelmed students who struggle with issues of perfection, motivation, organization, learning differences, and self-esteem. For the past fifteen years, Sandra has worked to promote self-discovery and personal accountability to help young people transform their identity through the tools of mindfulness, creativity, leadership, and positive psychology as a Board Certified Educational Therapist.  Sandra shares a special affinity with both athletes and artists who shine with strengths outside of school–but may encounter challenges with time management, confidence, and/or academic insecurities in the classroom–often identified as gifted, sensitive, and/or twice-exceptional students. Sandra also guides parents through curriculum decisions and school transitions to create more joy in the journey of learning. She is currently working to earn her doctorate in Cognitive Diversity at Bridges Graduate School and is thrilled to be serving as an intern at the Belin-Blank Center.

Amy Clark

Amy Clark is a doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School, a solutions innovator, and a mom. She found her love of twice-exceptional education through the creation of Chestnut Ridge Academy, which she founded to serve her son by creating highly customized experiences for gifted and exceptional minds. In addition to her daily role as a tiny-school leader, she supports families on their own unique journeys. She guides parents to better understand their exceptional children and to uncover strategies for both educating and parenting differently through her company, Exceptionally Engaged. Her decades-long career in research and design at some of the world’s most creative companies has helped millions of people to feel empowered with tools that become part of their everyday lives. She continues to impact lives as an education, neurodiversity, and design consultant to those looking to discover the magic that lies at the intersection of technology and learning. 

Save the Date for Summer

Don’t miss any exciting opportunities for students, families, and educators at the Belin-Blank Center!

An icon of a calendar

For Educators

  • Professional Learning Courses / TAG Endorsement:
    • The Integrated Acceleration System: Making Decisions About Grade-Skipping: February 26, 2022
    • Topics in Teaching and Learning (Teaching Outside the Lines: Developing Creativity in Every Learner): February 16, 2022
    • Prog/Curr for High Ability Students: March 7, 2022
    • Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education: March 21, 2022
    • Practicum: March 21, 2022
    • Practicum: April 18, 2022
    • Continuing Education Individual Study (Connecting to Align Gifted Programming and Services): April 25, 2022
    • Intro to Educating Gifted Students: May 16, 2022 and June 13, 2022
    • Academic Acceleration: June 6, 2022
    • Senior Honors Project: June 13, 2022
  • Summer Programming for Educators:

For Students & Families

Academic Year

Summer Programs

Professional Learning at the Belin-Blank Center

Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” At the Belin-Blank Center, we are among those who believe that this is true. Our tagline, after all, is Nurturing Potential – Inspiring Excellence.

We also know that these years of the pandemic have included the most difficult days for any teacher today. We are committed to providing professional learning to support the needs that teachers of the gifted have, both as they earn the TAG endorsement, and after they are working with students’ evolving needs.

The Belin-Blank Center offers traditional three-semester-hour classes throughout the academic year, and one, (Academic Acceleration, PSQF:4123:0EXW), in the summer. We also offer one-semester-hour classes in a workshop format throughout the year, including the winter session and over the summer.

Workshops provide educators an opportunity to focus on one topic (“Thinking Skills” or “Gender Issues”), and they last for three weeks. Workshops have no additional fees added to the tuition, providing some savings. Some educators find it advantageous to register with Distance and Online Education as non-degree-seeking undergraduates, even though they obviously have degrees, in order to save tuition dollars. Many others prefer to register as graduate students so they can count the hours toward other opportunities in their district.

This summer, the Belin-Blank Center will collaborate with various departments in the College of Education to offer sufficient hours to complete the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. Participation in Chautauqua provides six of the required hours. Fully online classes, including the individualized practicum experience, provide the additional hours.

Over the next two weeks, we will update our professional learning schedule with the classes available this summer. You can also get started this spring to free up some time to relax over the summer! Visit belinblank.org/courses to see what is currently available.

Get Registered

To participate in our classes, you must register one time each year with Distance and Online Education as a non-degree seeking student. Once you have your HawkID and password, you can follow the directions to register for the courses that interest you the most. Follow belinblank.org/educators/reg. All of our classes fulfill the strands required for endorsement.

Questions?

Contact us at educators@belinblank.org!

Advanced Placement Summer Institute and Belin-Blank Summer Fellowship

Summer has traditionally been a season for teachers to refuel and refresh. Many times, the “refueling” portion centers on acquiring new learning through professional development. The Belin-Blank Center will be offering multiple learning opportunities in Summer 2022. Two excellent examples are our Advanced Placement Summer Institute and the Belin-Blank Fellowship. You are invited to both!

Advanced Placement Summer Institute

Who: Middle School & High School Teachers; Gifted Coordinators

What: APSI is 30 hours of content-rich training. It is designed to strengthen both instruction and core curriculum. While it seems to target new or current AP teachers, the strategies will bolster the teaching repertoire of middle school teachers and gifted coordinators. Academic credit is available and includes a 50% tuition scholarship.  Contact educators@belinblank.org with questions.

When: There are two options! The Summer 2022 on-campus session is June 28 – July 1; the fully online session is August 1 – 5.

Where: The on-campus courses are held at the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. The online classes allow you to learn from anywhere with an internet connection.

Why: The Belin-Blank Center is committed to professional development for educators!

For more information about the AP course content offered and the Iowa teacher grant scholarship):

belinblank.org/apsi

Belin-Blank Summer Fellowship

Who: The program, in its 42nd year, is designed for educators with limited expertise working with gifted and talented students. This summer, priority will be given to those in instructional coaching roles in a school.

What: The Belin-Blank Fellowship is a unique opportunity for a select number of educators, nominated by their schools, to receive professional learning in gifted education through a five-day summer residential workshop at the University of Iowa. The program aims to help educators new to gifted education (especially those in an instructional coaching role) understand the characteristics and needs of gifted individuals so they can better teach and develop the potential of gifted and talented students.

When: The Summer 2022 Fellowship will be held June 20 – June 24.

Where: The Belin-Blank Fellowship Program will be held on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  Room, board, and materials are provided as part of the Fellowship; academic credit is available and includes a 50% tuition scholarship.  Contact educators@belinblank.org with questions.

Why: The Belin-Blank Center has been committed to professional development for educators since 1980, even before the Center became a center!

The application process will be open by Monday, February 14th.

For more information:

belinblank.org/fellowship

Belin-Blank Chautauqua

The Chautauqua Institution is truly a national treasure. It is a place for contemplation and a place for reflection, a place where platitudes and slogans can be set aside and be replaced by thoughtfulness and introspection.  (E. Spitzer)

As someone who taught U.S. History for several years, I always loved talking about the Chautauqua movement popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Chautauqua was an adult education movement, and people from all over the country would gather to learn about a wide variety of topics. Chautauqua was loved as a social movement as well as an educational opportunity.

The Belin-Blank Center was the first TAG endorsement program in the State of Iowa to offer sufficient online course offerings to allow candidates to complete the entire program. As fewer and fewer opportunities exist for teachers to collaborate in professional learning in a face-to-face format, the Center decided to offer its own version of the Chautauqua (belinblank.org/Chautauqua).

For several years, the Belin-Blank Center has dedicated two weeks in July to an accelerated professional learning format. By participating in Chautauqua, a teacher can complete half of the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement one year and complete the second half the next summer.

The Belin-Blank Chautauqua offers a full scholarship for one class each week to anyone who enrolls in all three classes during one week (or for two classes to anyone who enrolls in all six classes during the two weeks)

This summer, Chautauqua begins on July 11, and each of the six one-semester-hour classes that begin during Chautauqua has a unique format.

The first class meets from 9:00 am – noon and 1:00 – 4:00 pm (Central Daylight Savings Time) on Monday, July 11, and Tuesday, July 12. The format will include a Zoom option. Some instructors may Zoom in for the class, and at least some of the participants may Zoom in for those meetings, too. Although this was fully face-to-face on campus in the past, we’ll be flexible about the meeting time this summer and, perhaps, in the future! The workshop will last for three weeks (July 11 – July 29), with all the work that follows those first two days taking place online, via our ICON online course platform. The additional work typically includes readings, one or two additional questions for online discussion, and a final project.

The second class meets from 9:00 am – noon and 1:00 – 4:00 pm on Wednesday, July 13, and Thursday, July 14. The class continues on ICON after that for three weeks (July 13 – August 2).

The third class during Week I of Chautauqua meets on Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16. The class continues on ICON after that for three weeks (July 13 – August 4).

Week II looks much the same!

Over the course of the two weeks of Chautauqua, no classes are repeated from the previous summer, ensuring that the endorsement can be completed. Over the two weeks, classes are offered from each of the strands required for the endorsement.

Chautauqua is a wonderful option for those who want to take one workshop on a new subject, useful for their school. It’s an equally terrific option for those who want to complete their endorsements over two summers. We’ll be updating the schedule soon.

We look forward to seeing you in July 2022!

Congratulations to the 2022 Virtual JSHS Region Winners! 🎉

Congratulations to all who participated in the Virtual Region of the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium! Students competed for scholarships and recognition by presenting the results of original research projects. The following students will be advancing to the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A panel of experts judged 10 impressive oral presentations, and the finalists are: 

  • 1st place:  Jacqueline Prawira (Mountain House High, CA) — “Cyclo.Plas 2: A Dual Focus Development as Alternative Materials to Plastic by Upcycling Fish Scale Waste Components” 
  • 2nd place: Michelle Park (Solon High School, OH) — “The Search for Dark Matter Through Soft Unclustered Energy Patterns at CMS” 
  • 3rd place: Jordan Prawira (Mountain House High, CA) — “Spira Aer: A Novel Hurricane-Inspired Logarithmic Spiral Fan Design for HVAC System Applications” 
  • 4th place: Aryan Jain (Amador Valley High, CA) — “Using Deep Learning to Estimate Greenhouse Gas Emissions via Satellite Imagery”
  • 5th place: Henry Yao (Lynbrook High, CA) — “From Food Waste to Food Guard: Creating A Novel Chitosan Bioplastic Using Nanoparticle Coating and Its Unique Effect in Food Packaging and Preservation” 

See you in Albuquerque!

Farewell to Professor Miraca U. M. Gross

by Dr. Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center Director

Un seul être vous manque et tout est dépeuplé. 

This French saying, loosely translated as “one sole person is gone, and everything is amiss,” captures my sentiment when I learned that my dear friend and colleague, Professor Emerita Miraca U.M. Gross, passed away on Friday, January 28, 2022.

(L to R) Dr. Susan Assouline, Director of the Belin-Blank Center; Professor Emerita Miraca Gross; Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod

My mind overflows with 30 years of memories, I think of her in my solid Midwestern English, but when I “hear” her, it is always in her lovely Scottish brogue, modestly accented with Australian. Miraca lived on three continents. She started her life in Edinburgh, Scotland; she earned her Ph.D. from Purdue University; and she lived most of her adult life in Australia. She was a professor of Gifted Education at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

She traveled the world sharing her wisdom about gifted children and their profound educational and social-emotional needs, but her academic home was the University of New South Wales (NSW) School of Education. Early in her career at UNSW, she founded the Gifted Education Research, Resource, and Information Center (GERRIC), which in many ways was a sister gifted education center to the Belin-Blank Center.

My heart is heavy, but that heaviness is lightened when I think of how her life’s work, truly an oeuvre, continues to change the lives of children, their families, educators, and researchers. Tributes have been flowing on various education listservs, and Dr. Ann Robinson’s observation that “she moved a continent” soundly resonates. Hundreds, if not thousands, of adults are making a difference in the world because Dr. Miraca Gross advocated at the individual, school, and policy level for their educational and social-emotional well-being.

Miraca was a paradox. In addition to the memorable Scottish accent, she was also petite, almost diminutive, in stature. She often used herself as an example when individuals would put forth the excuse of a student being “too small” to be considered for acceleration. By those standards, she would argue, she would still be in first or second grade. As a scholar, she was a giant.

In 2005, Dr. Gross received the National Association for Gifted Children’s Distinguished Scholar Award, the only international recipient of this prestigious award. In 2008, Miraca was inducted into the Order of Australia, an honor that was of tremendous significance to her.

I was first introduced to her scholarship through my postdoctoral mentor, Dr. Julian Stanley, who had just read Miraca’s enormous dissertation at the recommendation of Professor John Feldhusen of Purdue University. If Dr. Stanley was impressed, then I knew that there was good reason to pay attention to what was in that dissertation, which was published in 1993 under the title of Exceptionally Gifted Children. For decades, I would continue to learn from her.  I still do.

Professor Gross was a strong advocate for acceleration. One of the most delightful writing experiences I had was co-authoring with Miraca and Dr. Nicholas Colangelo the watershed publication, A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students. Although the publication focused on schools in the United States, it was widely disseminated in Australia and around the world. This publication was the core of what would become the Belin-Blank Center’s Acceleration Institute and served as the impetus for the 2015 publication, A Nation Empowered:  How Evidence Trumps Excuses that Hold Back America’s Brightest Students. Dr. Gross and her colleague Professor Jae Jup Yung co-authored the excellent chapter for Nation Empowered on radical acceleration.

Dr. Gross was instrumental in advancing gifted education in the whole continent of Australia, but especially in the state of New South Wales. I had the good fortune to meet her early in both of our careers at one of the Belin-Blank Center’s very first Wallace Research Symposia on Talent Development. She was a regular at our symposia and always had something new to say. I was particularly impressed with her work on the social-emotional development of exceptionally gifted students. It is not an exaggeration to say that she followed in the footsteps of Leta Hollingworth, one of gifted education’s pioneering scholars focused on social-emotional development in extraordinarily gifted children.

Dr. Gross and her brilliant husband, John, did not have children of their own. I vividly recall one evening, after a day of teaching in the teacher education program she founded. Miraca softly shared that even though they did not have children, they did have their beloved cat. She was quick to say, “Of course, he’s not like a child or anything…” John, who always quietly supported and steered her, said, “Like hell! He is exactly like a child.”  The tenderness they showed to living creatures – be they four-legged, furry, and precocious, or two-legged, furless, and precocious — nurtured the lives of hundreds of children around the world.

I miss her, and the world of gifted education seems amiss knowing that she is gone. I see her in my daily work and know that her legacy will continue to be felt in the Belin-Blank Center and around the world.

Fois dhut.

Making Decisions About Grade-Skipping: The Integrated Acceleration System

Figuring out whether to accelerate a child is a major decision; accounting for all the relevant information can feel overwhelming. The Belin-Blank Center has developed an online system that helps educators and families gather the correct information, targets the essential factors, and produces a report which recommends whether acceleration is a good fit for a particular student.  

The Integrated Acceleration System, an online tool developed by leading researchers in gifted education, guides participants through integrating information about acceleration. 

On February 26, we will be hosting an online professional development session about using this new tool when considering a grade skip. The session will focus on: 

  • Best research-based practices in using academic acceleration,  
  • How to use the online Integrated Acceleration System, and 
  • Suggestions to coordinate communication among the relevant team members and support the student’s transition to acceleration.  

Informed by decades of research, the Integrated Acceleration System includes all the significant factors to consider and produces a report about readiness for one of the many forms of acceleration, including grade-skipping, early entrance to kindergarten, subject acceleration, and early entrance to college. The Integrated Acceleration System is designed for users in the United States. However, the flexible framework can be applied to international educational systems. 

This online session will focus on grade-skipping. Future online presentations will focus on early entrance to kindergarten, early entrance to college, and subject acceleration. 

  • Presenters: Dr. Susan Assouline, Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, and Dr. Randy Lange  
  • Session fee: $79. Includes one access code to the Integrated Acceleration System (valued at $59). 
  • Date/Time: Saturday, February 26, 2022; 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Central Time (The last 30 minutes is an optional question/answer segment.) If you cannot attend the live session, the session will be recorded. 
  • Location: Online, via Zoom. Registrants will receive location details via email. 

Understanding Autism

We don’t know enough about autism – that’s why we need your help.

The Belin-Blank Center partners with many units across campus including our colleagues in the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. Our colleague, Dr. Jacob Michaelson, Roy J. Carver Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Neuroscience, directs the University of Iowa site for the SPARK study, the largest genetic study of autism ever.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

SPARK is building the nation’s largest research community of individuals with autism and their families.  Participants are asked to share medical and genetic information with scientists and agree to be contacted about future research studies. All it takes is to register, complete a few questionnaires online, and provide a saliva sample via a kit mailed to your home. In return, you will receive a gift card valued at up to $50. You will also contribute to a better understanding of autism and help provide meaningful information and resources to individuals with autism and their families.  

Please consider participating if you are able!

Social Skills Intervention Group

It’s not too late (yet!) to inquire about participating in a social skills intervention group through our Assessment and Counseling Clinic.

Eligible students will be in grades 7 through 9 and demonstrate high cognitive and/or academic ability as well as social skills challenges (either due to Autism Spectrum Disorder or another diagnosis). Students will join 12 weekly hour-long virtual group sessions beginning in February through April of 2022.

Contact Amanda Berns, PhD at bbc-clinic@uiowa.edu for more information and to express interest in participating.

Message from the Director: Talent Scouts Not Deficit Detectives

by Dr. Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center Director

“Be a Talent Scout, Not a Deficit Detective” 

University of Connecticut National Center for Research on Gifted Education

This slogan, courtesy of our colleagues at the University of Connecticut National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE), appeared on large buttons at the November 2021 National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) annual conference. I made sure to display mine prominently. Although the Belin-Blank Center refers to discovering talent rather than scouting for talent, either verb captures the essence of the Center’s daily work. Discovering talent in partnership with families and colleagues worldwide and in our home state is essential to developing thattalent. 

Below are a few examples of ways in which we partner with schools and families to discover and develop talent: 

STEM Excellence and Leadership is a long-running partnership between the Belin-Blank Center and rural middle schools in Iowa, funded by NSF grants and recently featured in the Phi Delta Kappan’sspotlight on rural education (December 2021/January 2022). STEM Excellence and Leadership focuses on increasing the achievements andaspirations of bright rural middle-school students to better prepare them for advanced coursework in high school. 

Students from rural communities are less likely to attend college and, if they do, they are 60% less likely to enroll in STEM majors. This discrepancy may be partly because under-resourced rural schools typically cannot offer the same advanced math or science courses that well-resourced urban and suburban schools have available to their advanced students. Positively, rural areas are often very desirable places to live because of their strong sense of community. In general, smaller school systems are typically less bureaucratic, and educators and administrators often have more flexibility in creating specialized opportunities for advanced students. These upsides enable the STEM Excellence and Leadership program to make a difference in rural schools. 

Academic accelerationis a broad topic, encompassing everything from minor adjustments to the curriculum to grade skipping. The Belin-Blank Center offers a wide variety of information about acceleration through our Acceleration Institute website and more individualized advice with the Integrated Acceleration System tool. Through our collaboration with the NCRGE, we’ve reached an even broader audience on the benefits of appropriate acceleration. For the next few weeks, educators have an opportunity to indicate their interest in participating in an upcoming NCRGE academic acceleration study, which will provide free professional learning, universal screening, and stipends for participating educators. Watch a two-minute informative video to learn more about the study and how partnering with the NCRGE can benefit gifted students in your school. More details are available on NCRGE’s website.  

Finally, we are in the final stages of developing a Graduate Certificate in Talent Development, an online 14-semester-hour graduate certificate for full-time professionals, non-degree students, and degree-seeking students. Coursework spans multiple theories and perspectives across several talent domains (e.g., art, writing, sports) and culminates with an independent capstone exploration. We expect coursework to be available in Fall 2022. Stay tuned for more about this graduate certificate in the coming months! 

There are only a few more weeks remaining in 2021.  I hope you are inspired to join us in discovering and developing talent in the coming year.  

Best wishes for a safe, healthy, and happy 2022. 

Metaphors for Gifted and Talented Students

In a recent one-semester-hour class about Differentiated Instruction strategies, members of the class shared their similes and metaphors for their gifted and talented students; the way they perceive their students powerfully impacts the way they provide appropriate differentiation in the classrooms (Godor, 2019).

Here are their ideas, lightly edited for length.

Gifted/talented students are like lichen

They are unique organisms that come in many different varieties, are a combination of two worlds, are equally hidden as they are noticeable, and are sensitive to their environment.

I try to use this umbrella as much as possible when I refer to GT student services. There isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to serving students under the GT umbrella…Like lichen, the variety and specific needs for a GT student to grow and remain connected are vast. 

When talking with colleagues about GT students, I often notice the lack of awareness about their unique needs…I hope to create an environment where lichen thrives, and our entire ecosystem is enhanced.  

In differentiating for gifted and talented students, it’s important to remember more work doesn’t equal differentiation. With each student being in a different space under the umbrella, it’s essential to understand how there may be support for each enrichment. 

Gifted/talented students are cheetahs

Most cheetahs have many easily identified characteristics, but they possess many other traits that are not as easily identified.   If cheetahs are not provided the proper environment to thrive and fully reach their potential, then many of their strongest talents–speed and agility, for example–may only partially develop.  Like cheetahs, students with gifts and talents need the proper environment and the proper “diet” of challenging instruction to fully develop their abilities. 

As educators, it is our responsibility to develop the skills and potential of gifted/talented students.  Differentiated instruction–beginning in the earliest stages of education–is an essential piece of the puzzle for these students. 

I cannot take credit for this metaphor; however, I feel that the article titled Is It A Cheetah?  (Tolan, 1996) accurately describes the experiences that many gifted students encounter when they enter the school system. 

I see gifted/talented students as geodes.

A geode is a rock that might look very similar to those around it, yet when it is cracked open has a crystal-like formation on the inside. Sometimes, I think it is easy to view a classroom of students as the same… a group of 30 second graders, for example, and in this metaphor, that would be like seeing a bed of rocks. This, however, is not accurate. Each rock is different and possesses various characteristics that make it unique.

Geodes can sometimes be difficult to crack open. However, once the inside is exposed, it is beautiful. In terms of differentiation, I think it is important to recognize that each student may need various support to succeed in school. It is vital that gifted students are challenged academically and receive the support necessary in order to develop their crystal-like gifts and talents.

Square pegs that don’t fit in round holes.

A few years ago, I attended a workshop led by Rick Wormeli. He mentioned that we need to stop trying to fit students into the round peg and instead need to let them be the square peg. I think this is the perfect metaphor for gifted/talented students. They’re definitely the square/star/diamond/dodecagon/etc. that we try to force into theround hole. They think in different ways, and instead of adapting our activities and instruction to their ways of thinking, we just try to make them fit our way. If we modify and differentiate our instruction, they can find a way to better fit into our pegboard without us forcing them to modify their way of thinking and what they need from us. This will help them to not stagnate but instead blossom into what they were meant to be.

Godor, B.P.  (2019). Gifted Metaphors: Exploring the Metaphors of Teachers in Gifted Education and Their Impact on Teaching the Gifted. Roeper Review, 41(1), 51-60. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/epub/10.1080/02783193.2018.1553219?needAccess=true.

Coming Up at the Belin-Blank Center

Mark your calendars for upcoming opportunities for students, families, and educators at the Belin-Blank Center!

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For Educators

  • Professional Learning Courses / TAG Endorsement:
    • Current Readings and Research in Gifted Education: December 20, 2021
    • Program Models in Gifted Education: January 18, 2022
    • Identification of Students for Gifted Programs: January 18, 2022
    • Admin and Policy in Gifted Education: January 24, 2022
    • Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education: March 21, 2022
    • Practicum: March 21, 2022
    • Practicum: April 18, 2022
    • Belin Fellowship: June 19-24, 2022
    • AP Summer Institute (On Campus): June 28 – July 1, 2022
    • AP Summer Institute (Online): August 1-5, 2022

For Students & Families

Save the Dates for Professional Learning

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SAVE THE DATES! The Belin-Blank Center will host several professional learning opportunities for educators in Summer 2022.

The Belin-Blank Fellowship Program is a unique opportunity for a cadre of educators to learn more about the area of gifted education, through a five-day summer workshop. Its purpose is to help teachers learn better methods for working with gifted children in their classrooms. The program is designed to help educators provide an appropriate program for gifted students, develop in students a heightened sense of social responsibility in the use of their talents, and provide leadership in gifted education. For Summer 2022, priority will be given to those in instructional coaching roles. The dates for Summer 2022 are June 20-24. Applications will be available on our website in mid-February.

Want to prepare for teaching an AP class? The Belin-Blank Center will be hosting BOTH on-campus and online Advanced Placement Summer Institutes (APSI). The on-campus APSI will be held at the University of Iowa in Iowa City from June 28 – July 1. The online APSI will take place from August 1-5.

The planned ON-CAMPUS classes are:

Biology, Calculus AB, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, Government & Politics, Human Geography, Psychology, US History, and World History

The planned ONLINE classes are:

Computer Science Principles, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, Physics I, Psychology, Spanish Language & Culture, and Statistics.

Stay tuned for more professional learning opportunities in spring and summer 2022. We hope you will plan to join us!

Free Day Camp for 2e Students

Twice-exceptional (2e) students experience co-occurring high ability and disability that can make it difficult to access appropriate services for both their strengths and their challenges. The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic is excited to introduce several new programming options for twice-exceptional students in 2022. This post is the second in a series detailing these opportunities. Be sure to check out the other posts in the series:


This summer, the Belin-Blank Center is excited to build upon our collaboration with the Iowa Neuroscience Institute by inviting twice-exceptional (2e) high school students to the University of Iowa campus for a one-day neuroscience experience.  

2e students currently in grades 8 through 11 with an interest in neuroscience careers are invited to spend Monday, July 25, 2022, in the Carver College of Medicine interacting with University of Iowa faculty and graduate students. Participants will also get to complete a neuroscience laboratory experiment under the supervision of research staff. 

There is no cost to participate in this program, but spaces are limited. Contact the Belin-Blank Center’s Katie Schabilion, Ph.D., (katherine-schabilion@uiowa.edu) for more information on the program and the registration process. 

Social Skills Intervention Group for 2e Students

Twice-exceptional (2e) students experience co-occurring high ability and disability that can make it difficult to access appropriate services for both their strengths and their challenges. The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic is excited to introduce several new programming options for twice-exceptional students in 2022. This post is the second in a series detailing these opportunities. Be sure to check out the other posts in the series:


The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic is pleased to invite students grades 7 through 9 who demonstrate high cognitive/academic ability and social skills challenges (either due to Autism Spectrum Disorder or another diagnosis) to inquire about participation in a social skills intervention group, based on the UCLA PEERS Curriculum.  

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The UCLA PEERS Curriculum is an empirically supported curriculum that has been shown to increase social knowledge and social engagement for adolescents with ASD through group social skills instruction and parent support. Students will learn skills to support appropriate social interactions, such as building conversations with others, entering or exiting conversations, and using humor, as well as learn ways to manage teasing or bullying. Parents will support students to complete weekly assignments, such as helping students identify a social group to join, encouraging their participation in the group, and practicing newly learned social skills. 

Participation will involve 12 weekly group sessions conducted virtually, each 60 minutes in length, beginning in February through April of 2022. Parent support is required for participation. While the services are provided virtually, all clients must reside in the state of Iowa to participate in the intervention, due to Iowa licensure laws. Questions about the social skills group should be directed to Amanda Berns, Ph.D., at bbc-clinic@uiowa.edu . Please send inquiries by January 24th to be considered for participation.

A Summer Research Program That Boosts Your College Applications

Do you want an in-depth insight into university-level research? Check out the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) for students in grades 10-11. Applications are open now!

SSTP is an intensive summer research program that connects high-achieving high school students with world-class faculty research mentors from the research-intensive University of Iowa. SSTP offers rare access to elite opportunities that help students realize their academic and professional goals. Students participate in classes and events that will stretch them as researchers and scholars. They have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore their interests, enhance their academic skills, and make meaningful friendships with intellectual peers.

Research areas include:

On-Campus

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering 
  • Business Analytics
  • Chemistry
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Genetics
  • Health & Human Physiology
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Internal Medicine
  • Mathematics
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatrics
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical Therapy and Rehab Science
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology

Online

  • Biology
  • Business Analytics
  • Chemistry
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Genetics
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Neurology
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatrics
  • Pharmacology
  • Physical Therapy and Rehab Science
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Religious Studies

Applying to college? This program can help your application stand out. Also, students in SSTP can earn 3 hours of university credit. 

Check out the SSTP website for more information on SSTP and the application process. Start your application today!

2e at the B-BC: New Academy for Twice-Exceptionality

Twice-exceptional (2e) students experience co-occurring high ability and disability that can make it difficult to access appropriate services for both their strengths and their challenges. The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic is excited to introduce several new programming options for twice-exceptional students in 2022.  This post is the first in a series detailing these opportunities. Be sure to check back soon for the next installment!


Many individuals who identify as autistic also have exceptional gifts and talents.  When cultivated, these gifts and talents contribute to great advances across a variety of domains in society.  However, many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may also experience difficulty with a variety of skill areas, like executive functioning and adaptive skills that are necessary for flexibly navigating everyday life.  While many individuals who identify as autistic may have been supported within their primary and secondary education, there has been a proverbial “cliff” described for the significantly fewer services and supports they receive after leaving high school.  The Belin-Blank Center is bringing a new program to the University of Iowa to support college students who otherwise might have come upon such a cliff.  This program is called the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality.   

The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is for University of Iowa college students who are on the autism spectrum or identify as autistic and have high cognitive ability and/or academic achievement.  Such students are also known as “twice-exceptional” (2e), given their exceptionality in both their cognitive ability and/or academic achievement, as well as in their neurodevelopment that results in a disability.  Participants in the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality will be supported through weekly meetings with a graduate assistant, organized social events, and a weekly seminar, where they can identify goals, as well as gain knowledge and skills to support their adjustment to campus life and the increased expectations for greater independence. Additionally, professional staff at the Belin-Blank Center will communicate and work closely with parents to support their student’s success.   

The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is currently in a pilot year, supporting 2e University of Iowa students who identify as autistic.  Activities include individual goal setting, and assistance navigating and adjusting to campus life.  Emily (Emmy) Kuhlmann, a graduate assistant for the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, meets with students on a weekly basis, to encourage their overall well-being and offer information regarding ways to seek appropriate supports if needed, either on- or off-campus.  She described her work with the students: “I have been working with students on individual goals to ease their transition into college student life. Some students wish to discuss organization and time management, others want to discuss stress and imposter syndrome. All are hoping to work on their goals to be successful college students – beyond the classroom.” Additionally, she added, “Goal setting and adjusting are a big part of my work. I want students to feel they can set big goals. I also encourage them to take smaller steps to reach their goals or adjust their timeline or approach if it’s not going well.” 

One current participant in the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality shared how they have found meeting with the graduate assistant to be helpful.  They shared, “Emmy helped me get through college with ideas and suggestions for what I can do better or improve on for exams, projects, and life in college, overall.”  This U of I student identified organized social events as helpful in introducing them to new people on campus, as well. 

Emmy also described the importance of a strong working relationship with students.  She stated, “with my background in counseling, I have learned that the most successful growth and change comes through the support of a strong working relationship. With each student I am working with, I try to build relationships to really get to know the students – their interests, their strengths, and their needs. It is only by understanding more of who they are that I am able to assist with individualized support to work towards their goals. This has also been the most enjoyable part of my job, as I now know many wonderful students!” 

In addition to these invaluable relationships and weekly meetings, which are supervised by a licensed psychologist, weekly seminars are designed to support University of Iowa students who are in the Academy.  More specifically, seminars were developed with input from University-wide stakeholders who share expert knowledge regarding the needs of college students who identify as autistic.  Seminars were designed by Belin-Blank Center experts in education and clinical psychology to provide instruction aimed at building important knowledge and skills for independence, social-emotional maturity, effective communication, and career readiness, Belin-Blank Center professional staff and faculty also utilize instructional strategies and accommodations to help twice-exceptional students understand the importance of gaining and using new skills, such as instruction with visuals, support in perspective taking, and peer-mediated instruction.  “It has been such an honor to be a part of developing this much-needed service,” shared Dr. Amanda Berns, a clinical psychologist at the Belin-Blank’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic, with expertise in supporting twice-exceptional individuals who identify as autistic. An integral team member in the development of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, Dr. Berns also indicates, “I am so excited to see the impact the Academy will have in so many young autistic people’s lives!”  

The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is currently accepting applicants for the 2022-2023 academic year.  If you or someone you know is interested in attending the University of Iowa and participating in the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, more information about the academy and the application can be found on the Belin-Blank Center’s website: belinblank.org/2eacademy. Questions can be sent through the website or via email at 2eacademy@belinblank.org .