Category Archives: VISION Newsletter

Message from the Director: Welcome Home!

Our June newsletter coincides with the start of six weeks of amazing energy and enthusiasm for our myriad pre-college and professional development programs.

Our elementary (Blast) and junior high students (Junior Scholars Institute, Blank Scholars Institute) will be challenged in their areas of interest and strength, digging into an advanced course during the day, all while having fun with other bright kids who share their level of interest and ability. Junior high and high school students also get to experience life on a college campus, living in the residence halls and hanging out with new friends at cultural and recreational activities in the evenings.

Our high school students will experience life-changing opportunities for personal and academic growth. Our summer programs include a behind-the-scenes look at research careers and the ways and places we discover new knowledge on many different topics (Perry Research Scholars Institute); an intensive, highly selective, STEM research experience (Secondary Student Training Program); and art and writing residencies (Summer Art Residency, Summer Writing Residency) here at the University of Iowa, one of the premier arts campuses in the US, also home to the famed Iowa Writers Workshop.

This summer, educators will be making progress toward their TAG endorsements, maintaining their license requirements, or pursuing career advancement through a variety of online and on-site courses and workshops or Iowa Licensure Renewal Units. We will also have the pleasure of spending time with many who join us on campus! Some will be here for the Chautauqua program, which carries the benefit of enabling educators to earn half the credits they need for a TAG endorsement in just two weeks! Others will become qualified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) courses, increasing the number of subject acceleration opportunities for gifted students across the country, at our AP Teacher Training Institute.  Still others have been admitted to the prestigious Belin-Blank Fellowship, which aims to help teachers new to gifted education understand the qualities and needs of gifted individuals so they can better teach and develop the potential of those students.

This month, “welcome” is the most often-used word in my vocabulary, as I meet dozens of students and educators new to the Center.  I greet returning students, families, and educators with a warm “welcome home!” Expressing both of these words — welcome and home — sparked my curiosity about the etymology of each.  That curiosity, in turn, led to a few reflections about the next six weeks of summer programming.

“Welcome” comes from the Old English, wilcuma, “a wished for guest.”  Indeed, we absolutely wish for individuals to join us in our programs. We spend months preparing for them to ensure that they will have an engaging and energizing experience.  We know that for many participants their time on the UI campus in a Belin-Blank Center program offers a pivotal, often life-changing, experience.  We never tire of hearing these stories, and now that we are entering our 31st year of programming, we have heard from people who had that experience 10, 20, or 30 years ago! 

We also “welcome home” past participants and use the word “home” with great warmth.   As a noun, home, comes from the Old English, ham, and implies a “dwelling place.”  That is exactly how we want everyone who attends our programs to feel.  We want them to know that we have created a place that inspires them to reach beyond their current level of performance, where they can inspire others to extend their reach, and assure them that professors, residence advisors, and Center staff are dedicated to their well-being and happiness.   Attaining that goal is an indicator that we truly have welcomed our newest participants and welcomed home those who have returned. 

Here’s to the start of a great summer that concludes in late July!  We would love to welcome you at two very special events at the conclusion of the summer program. 

Even if you can’t join us in person this summer, be sure to connect with us by following along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our blog. However, if you are joining us this summer, welcome home!

A New Project, a New Way to Connect, and More: Our October Newsletter is Out!

Get the latest from the Belin-Blank Center in our October newsletter!

Back to School with the Belin-Blank Center

Our August newsletter is in an inbox near you!

Welcome to Summer at the Belin-Blank Center!

Get the latest news from the Center in our June newsletter!

Get the Latest From the Belin-Blank Center

Our October newsletter has TAG identification advice, online courses, a roundup of media from the Recognition Ceremony, and more!


The Back-to-School Newsletter is Out!

We’ve got a fun way for kids to spend their Saturdays, a shiny new BESTS page, a roadmap for acceleration, and more in this issue of the VISION newsletter!


The Latest News From the Center, All In One Place

Our April newsletter is out!  We’ve got free AP Exam Reviews for Iowa students, professional development, why acceleration is important, and more!

February Newsletter

Have You Seen the February Newsletter?

Get the latest from the Belin-Blank Center at!

Feb16 newsletter

Have You Seen Our February Newsletter?


We’ve got news, details about our summer programs, an exciting new blog, and more!  Visit to get the latest news from the Center.

Want to be the first to hear news from us?  Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our December Newsletter Is Out!


This month, we’re talking about innovation, programs for kids and teenagers, professional development for teachers, and the best photo booth ever.  Oh yes, you read that correctly.

Read the December newsletter!

Our April Newsletter is Out!

See what’s new at the Belin-Blank Center with the April edition of our newsletter.

Apr newsletter


Our February Newsletter Is Out!

See what we’ve been up to in the midst of the polar vortex:


Our December Newsletter is Out!

newsletter snapshotGet ready for summer, educate yourself about gifted education, and meet a few of the great teachers we get to work with!

And if you’d like to be the first to receive future newsletters, please feel free to subscribe.

Our Back-to-School Newsletter Is Out!

Find out what’s new at the Center, and if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe!

Back-to-school newsletter

Message from the Director: Research and Advocacy

Dr. Susan AssoulineThe Belin-Blank Center mission statement promises that we will “empower and serve the gifted community through exemplary leadership in programs, research, and advocacy.”  In this issue, you will read about the many programs for students and teachers that help us to fulfill our mission. The purpose of this message is to talk briefly about research and advocacy.

Our research agenda is broad, spanning the specifics related to twice-exceptionality and more general issues related to instruction.  The most recent issue of Gifted Child Quarterly, v. 57 (2), pp. 135-147 includes an article by Assouline, Colangelo, Heo, and Dockery.  You probably recognize the first two names; the last two, Heo and Dockery, are advanced doctoral students.  Not only was this important research published in the top-ranking gifted journal, we were pleased that two graduate students were involved in this study. But what’s the big deal about this study?  In essence, this study found that the everyday school life of nearly 70% of high-ability students is spent in under-challenging learning environments.  Perhaps if this were the ’60s or ’70s this might not surprise us, but with all of the activity going on in gifted education and with the nation’s focus on STEM, we find it disconcerting that there are only pockets of differentiated instruction for high-ability students.  In fact, we should all be shocked that 87% of upper elementary students (participants in our BESTS program) who are highly capable in science have only the regular classroom as an outlet for their interest.  This is not a criticism of the regular classroom, but it is an indictment of an educational system that knows what needs to be done for bright students and their teachers, yet is not doing it!

This article concludes with a question: “Why are so many bright students academically misplaced when we know exactly what they need?” (p.145). We hope to gain partial answers to that question  – and others – at the 11th Wallace Research and Policy Conference, March 22-25, 2014, Washington, DC.   We have been busy putting into place the logistics for this biennial conference, and I will continue to report on developments over the next several issues.

Research informs policy, and policy is critical for systematically advocating for individual students or programs that will best serve gifted and talented students.  We get to do this each and every day, which is why the Belin-Blank Center is at the forefront of research, policy, and advocacy.

Message from the Director

This issue of our electronic newsletter is a preview of the many exciting activities available to students and educators.  We are particularly enthusiastic about our summer program classes and workshops.  Many teachers and students will be on campus for the 25th anniversary celebration on July 10, and will be able to join in the celebration.

We also have several spring events for both students and educators.  We’ve already had one webinar, conducted by Dr. David Lohman, author of the Cognitive Abilities Test.  A second webinar, by Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, Interim Dean and Director Emeritus, is scheduled for April.  Also in April, we have the Arts Scholastic awards ceremony and the statewide Invention Convention, where young inventors showcase their innovations.

The Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) February 28th/March 1st  is the kick-off for our spring events.  Stay connected to us via Twitter to learn who will be traveling to the national convention.

It’s a wonderful time to be in gifted education – the field is dynamic and vibrant.  In late January, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of the executive team for the National Association for Gifted Children.  I’m very pleased to share with you that we are going to partner with NAGC to co-host the 11th Wallace International Research Symposium/Acceleration Summit, March 22-25, 2014, in D.C.  This will be a phenomenal event, where we will be featuring the 10th anniversary of A Nation Deceived.

During that same weekend, I was involved in an intensive writing project with several colleagues from around the country who are producing books on implementing the Common Core State Standards (for math and English/Language Arts) and the Next Generation Science Standards (there will be one book for each of the three content areas) in programs for gifted students.  This project fits beautifully with the multi-pronged approach of the Belin-Blank Center for working with gifted students.

The Belin-Blank Center is a busy and happy place, and it’s an honor be in the position of providing leadership and support to the staff who make all of this happen.

Message from the Director

So much has happened since our last newsletter, as you will see by reading this newsletter.  The Belin-Blank Center, with the support of so many people, continues to thrive and serve Iowa, the nation, and the globe.

The major news since my last message to you is that Professor Susan Assouline, Associate Director of the Belin-Blank Center, has been named the new Director.  Susan has assumed the directorship of the Center as of December 15, 2012; the same day that I was appointed the Interim Dean of the College of Education.

As the founding director of the Center, and now as the dean of the COE, I am extremely happy that the search committee recommended Susan.  She has been a tremendous asset to the Center, and I am confident that under her leadership, the Center will continue to grow and provide excellent leadership in gifted education.  Congratulations, Susan.

I directed the Center for these past 25 years and the several years before we became an official Center.  It has been my honor to carry the legacy of the Belin and Blank families.  I will continue to serve on faculty as the Blank Endowed Chair of Gifted Education, and as the interim dean, I will continue to support and advocate for the Center.

I have been thinking about what to say in my final message that would capture my thoughts.  It  comes down to a very simple, sincere, and elegant statement, thank you.  Thank you for all your support these many years.  Thank you for the opportunity to touch so many lives.  Thank you for the honor of having the title, Director of the Belin-Blank Center.

Nicholas Colangelo
Interim Dean, College of Education
Director Emeritus, Belin-Blank Center

SSTP from Generation to Generation

Dr. Men-Jean Lee and son Alessandro

If you are wondering what impact the SSTP program has on a student, ask Dr. Men-Jean Lee (right), who attended SSTP in the 80s, and is now an associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has an NIH-funded research lab of her own.  Dr. Lee returned to The University of Iowa this summer to attend the poster sessions from the 2012 SSTP group, including the poster generated from the research by her son Alessandro Del Priore.

Not only did Dr. Lee attend SSTP, so too did her siblings . . . Dr. Chong-Chia Lee went on to earn an MD/PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Chicago and is a neurosurgeon at the Kaiser Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.  Next in line was Ming Lee Peterson who graduated from the Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) and earned a Masters in Bioelectrics from Northwestern University.  The youngest Lee sibling is Richard Lee, who also graduated from MIT and is a computer engineering consultant in the oil industry.

Opportunities like SSTP are invaluable in the academic and social development of bright students.  Dr. Lee shared that after completing 3 summers at the SSTP, she kept in touch with the research scientist and laboratory associate who helped her plan her research career as a physician scientist when she was accepted into the Honors Program in Medical Education at Northwestern University.  Some of the methodologies and research skills she learned at the SSTP helped her through medical school and beyond.  The SSTP opens a whole new world to impressionable high school students to inspire the next generation of physicians and scientists for our nation.

Now, Alessandro is ­­­­­­­­­­­­an honors student at Regis High School in New York City, the same high school which graduated Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID at the National Institutes of Health.  Alessandro was truly inspired by his SSTP experience in the laboratory of Dr. Chun-Fang Wu and hopes that his drosophila research can be continued as he progresses through his academic training.

Learn more and apply to SSTP.

Message from the Director

[Our first electronic newsletter is available online.]

Dr. Nicholas ColangeloThis is our first entirely electronic VISION newsletter and I think this new format will help the Belin-Blank Center stay in better contact with you.  We want to keep you well informed.  Reading through this first issue, you will note registrations for our programs as well as significant events.

One very significant event that is in the making is the 25th anniversary of the Belin-Blank Center.  It is a pleasure and honor to be able to say that the Center has been serving the nation and the world for the past 25 years.  Our actual 25th anniversary is the year 2013 and there are number of events planned to celebrate this milestone.  One event is a campaign to raise $2.5 for the 25th.  The success of this campaign has tremendous impact on the future and continued success of the Belin-Blank Center.  At this point we have raised $1.4 million towards the final goal.  This success has been largely due to two signature gifts.  One gift of $500,000 from the children of David and Connie Belin , two of our founders, will secure the continuity of the professional development program at the Center.  The other signature gift, also of $500,000 is from Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan and focused on advancing our Arts program.  You can read more about these two tremendous gifts here.

Another  significant event I want to share with you is that our Administrator for Arts Programs, Dr. Clar Baldus, received the Outstanding Higher Level Art Educator of the Year for 2012 awarded by Art Educators of Iowa.  Very well deserved, Clar.

The state of Iowa is undergoing major discussions regarding a transformation of its education K-12.  Iowa has had a reputation as an education leader and plans for reforming K-12 education have a goal of maintaining that leadership role.  Right now the changes to education are being debated in the state legislature, the Governor’s office, and the Iowa Department of Education—and literally in every district.  There is a lot at stake as to the new directions.  The Belin-Blank Center supports high standards for teachers, for students and for resources to help Iowa maintain a leadership role in education.  We want to keep education synonymous with Iowa.

The needs of gifted students are not always central to the discussions of transformations in education.  The Belin-Blank Center is dedicated to keeping these needs central to Iowa education.  Advanced Placement courses, acceleration opportunities at all grade levels, and advanced opportunities outside of regular  are among the array of options that the Center promotes.  Meeting the needs of all students in terms of what they are ready for is elegant and the essence of education.

We are gearing up for a high energy summer of classes and experiences for students and teachers .  We look forward to seeing you here.

Nicholas Colangelo, Director

What’s New at the Belin-Blank Center

The Belin-Blank Center’s Spring 2011 VISION Newsletter is out!

Some highlights:

  • Sen. Grassley Introduces Bill to Support
    Gifted and High-Ability Students
  • Arts and Gifted Education Conference, June 23-24
  • Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY): 40 years “young” and stronger than ever
  • Iowa Regional Winner Takes Third at National JSHS
  • Dr. Marron Goes to Washington!

Download the most recent newsletter!