This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. That long name packs an abundance of information about who we are and what we do.
Named for two of the four co-founders of the Belin-Blank Center, the name pays tribute to the founding families and honors their philanthropic contributions to the center. The name also references our international connections and the fact that we address both gifted education and talent development, which are complementary concepts.
David Belin, Co-founder of the Belin-Blank Center
Connie Belin, Co-founder of the Belin-Blank Center
Mike and Jackie Blank, Co-founders of the Belin-Blank Center
Over the years, the Belin-Blank Center has been committed to providing programming and services to educators, students, and their families. Our aim is to empower the worldwide gifted community through exemplary leadership in service, research, and advocacy. Through our work, supported through the generosity of our benefactors, funds from private foundations, and federal and state grants, we aim to eliminate barriers that impede the full development of students and educators.
Belin-Blank Center faculty and staff
The Belin-Blank Center is part of the University of Iowa’s College of Education. For the first fifteen years of our existence, the Lindquist Center housed our center. Early in 2004, we moved from the Lindquist Center to the newly built, six-story Blank Honors Center. This move was essential because over the decades, our staff and faculty have grown; that growth matches the growth in our programs.
Blank Honors Center, home of the Belin-Blank Center, on the Unviersity of Iowa campus
Through all of this change, our values have never wavered; in particular, our strong belief in the benefit of recognizing and validating talent. Ceremonies such as our annual Recognition Ceremony increase awareness of the needs of gifted and talented students and teachers; simultaneously, they acknowledge for the students, teachers, and their families that their efforts matter. We have noticed, and we know that they will make a difference.
An anniversary is an opportunity for reflection and celebration as well as for dreaming about the future. Thanks to our benefactors, our faculty and staff, and the University of Iowa, this year we celebrate a decades-long reality created from a single vision. We step into the future empowered to create a better world for the gifted and talented community. Paraphrasing an observation and a question attributed to Sidney Parnes, an early leader in the field of creativity, “We are already living in someone else’s dream of the future; why not make it your dream?”
Thinking about professional development (or professional learning) for this spring? The Belin-Blank Center will offer a variety of options, from three-semester-hour online classes to Webinars that include optional credit. You can see the new schedule by October 31 at belinblank.org/educators/courses.
Many of you are thinking about opportunities coming up in the summer. We will offer online workshops from early June through July (some ending in early August). As well, we will again feature two weeks of Chautauqua, offering six credits that can be applied to the endorsement in an accelerated format. Chautauqua will begin on July 13, and continue through July 25, 2015, with workshops from the Psychology, Programming, and Administrative strands. Practicum is available every semester, to facilitate completion of the endorsement.
Save The Date!
From July 26 – 28, the Belin-Blank Center plans to again host the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute, focusing on the important research available through A Nation Empowered (follow #NationEmpowered on Twitter), the update of A Nation Deceived! We look forward to having you join us!
Congratulations to Mark Tade for submitting this photograph of the Blank Honors Center to the American Society of Media Photographers.
Mr. Tade’s photography greatly enhanced the Belin-Blank Center’s 25th anniversary book.
This summer, the Belin-Blank Center is hosting its face-to-face professional development program over two weeks: Chautauqua I (July 14-18) and Chautauqua II (July 21 – 26, including class on Saturday). The Chautauqua movement in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century was all about adult education, as well as community. Each of the two weeks will offer three separate workshops; limited housing will be available at Burge Residence Hall for those enrolling in all three workshops during either Chautauqua. For those who enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—the Belin-Blank Center will provide an automatic tuition scholarship for one of the three classes (three workshops for the cost of two). In addition to the workshops each week, optional evening activities are available to Chautauqua participants: movie night, creativity night, and downtown music in Iowa City. More details will be available online in March.
As always, in addition to the face-to-face opportunities, the Center will provide seven online workshops throughout the summer. If it’s been a year since you enrolled, be sure to complete the admission process as a Continuing Education student—not degree-seeking, and not completing a certificate (since that means something quite different than your endorsement).
We look forward to your being a part of the community, either in person on campus in July or through our online workshops. Please share this information with colleagues who would benefit from professional development in gifted education. All workshops apply to the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Laurie Croft, Administrator, Professional Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute
The Belin-Blank Center will be hosting the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute on the University of Iowa campus July 7 – 10, 2014. The AP Teacher Training Institute is the only College Board certified training for AP courses in the state of Iowa. This year the AP Teacher Training Institute will be offering training in AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP English Lanuage & Composition, AP English Literature & Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP U.S. Government & Politics, AP Physics 1, and AP U.S. History. The training is available for both graduate and undergraduate credit through the University of Iowa. Additionally, grants and scholarships are available through the Belin-Blank Center (Iowa teachers only) and through the AP Fellows and AP Rural Fellows program (College Board sponsored fellowships). Learn more and register.
Since 1980, the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa has provided an intensive residential experience for general education teachers and other educators who have little or no previous background in gifted education. All information about the Fellowship program is available online. All applications will be accepted online. Each participant must have a school administrator submit a letter of support online.
The deadline to apply for the Fellowship program is March 3. Twelve (12) applicants will be notified by e-mail of their acceptance to the program.
The Belin-Blank Center is seeking to add a new licensed psychologist to the clinic staff. Please contact Alissa Doobay at email@example.com for information about the position and how to apply.
At the Belin-Blank Center, we think warm thoughts…and we get ready for summer classes! Whether you’re looking to learn about genetics, writing, or even what it takes to pursue a research career, there’s something for everyone in our programs. And now 2013-2014 Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) participants receive an automatic $60 discount on one summer program. Start planning your summer now!
Recently, we sat down with the Belin-Blank Center’s STEM Initiative Team to talk about their vision for the future of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at the Center, in Iowa, and beyond. The team is made up of Kate Degner, Administrator for IOAPA and SSTP; Leslie Flynn, Clinical Assistant Professor, Science Education, and Administrator for STEM Initiatives, Belin-Blank Center; and Lori Ihrig, Administrator for Summer Program Faculty and Commuter Programs.
Can you talk a little bit about your background in STEM?
Kate: I began my teaching career in 2003 in Lone Tree, Iowa. I was the only regular education 9-12 mathematics teacher in the building, meaning I taught every mathematics course offered from Consumer Mathematics to Pre-Calculus. During the summer of 2005, I was invited to be part of a 6-person writing team for the University of Chicago Mathematics Project 3rd edition Algebra textbook. Shortly after completing that project I began teaching upper-level mathematics courses (AP Statistics, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, and Discrete Mathematics) in Williamsburg. During that time I also went back to school and earned my M.A. in Mathematics. I’ve also had experience teaching concurrent credit classes, as well as night classes at a community college. During the last few years I also taught Calc I and II at the high school and college levels. Last year I graduated from the University of Iowa with my PhD in Curriculum and Supervision, with an emphasis on Mathematics Education and Educational Leadership.
Leslie: I have worked in STEM education for 25 years as a high school and college science and mathematics instructor, school administrator, professional development director, and professor in our STEM K-12 licensure programs. I became interested in STEM as a 4th grader engaged in specialized courses in STEM. I was fortunate to have programs where I could attend college courses and STEM competitions while still participating in school athletics and general education courses. My exceptional STEM female teachers opened my mind to the idea that girls can excel in STEM and they provided me with the skills and confidence to pursue college degrees in Chemistry.
Lori: I graduated with a B.S. in Science Education in 1999 from the University of Iowa and worked as a grades 7-12 science teacher for the Williamsburg Community School District. In Williamsburg, we participated in Iowa Excellence through a partnership with the Belin-Blank Center, and I began teaching an AP biology class. During this time period I also worked with the Center, teaching for the Junior Scholars Insitute (JSI) and WINGS, and earned my MS in Science Education from the University of Iowa. In 2007, I began working at ACT writing science curriculum and facilitating science teacher professional development for Quality Core, a project that was a partnership between ACT, the Gates Foundation, and the National Governors Association. In 2010, I began working on my doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction at Iowa State University with an emphasis in Science Education. My doctoral emphasis is on secondary science teacher education and the implementation of reforms-based science instruction by novice science teachers.
They are all topics that our Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) students researched! Thirty-one high school students spent six weeks on the University of Iowa campus in labs in their area of interest.
The Belin-Blank Center hosted a poster session last week, but you can still view their posters online.
(L to R) Dr. Susan Assouline, Associate Director of the Belin-Blank Center; Professor Emirita Miraca Gross; Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod
Greetings from down under! I’m spending the week in Sydney with gifted colleagues, Professor Emirita Miraca Gross (center), and Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod (right), where I have the honor of serving as the international guest lecturer for the 23rd session of the University of New South Wales COGE (Certificate of Gifted Education). It’s easy to adjust to the change in climate (it’s summer and there are many hours of sunlight . . . ). The time difference is a bit more challenging. But this group of educators is bright and passionate and very energizing which makes the minor inconveniences well worth it.
Another adjustment is walking on the left side of the street, hallway, and stairs, or even just figuring out where the up/down escalators are (hint: think left). Shifting to the left was the (unintentional) theme of my first lecture: Definitions of Giftedness and Talent: Key Influences and Influencers. We started with a historical perspective, which connected us with the development of IQ tests and a psychometric approach to thinking about giftedness . . . and we concluded with a discussion based upon the comprehensive monograph by Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, and Worrell (2011), “Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science,” in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
We’re off to a great start. Today (or tomorrow, depending on where you are in the world), we’ll tackle twice-exceptionality – and we’ll have pictures of the members of COGE.