by Dr. Susan Assouline, Belin-Blank Center Director
“Even when the sky is filled with clouds, the sun still shines above.”
This sentiment strikes me as an apt description of our personal and professional lives during the past year.
We experienced literal clouds with the August 2020 derecho. We saw the figurative dark clouds of social injustice through systemic racism and health and economic disparities. Yet, our university’s campus leadership steered our students, faculty, and staff through the clouds of the past year.
Through it all, they never lost sight of the notion that the sun still shone above.
We discovered not only blue sky beyond the clouds of lockdown but many silver linings.
We stayed connected through Zoom meetings. We stepped up with creativity and resiliency to convert our on-site services and programming to online opportunities. We collaborated to create new, innovative programs and services.
Last April, it seemed daunting to sustain our mission without one of our most visible services: summer student programs. Yet, our team of creative and dedicated professionals committed to providing students the specialized programming for which the Belin-Blank Center is known.
The student programming team re-imagined opportunities for K-12 students, which have been available throughout this past year. To do our part to help end the COVID-19 pandemic, we have moved our signature high-school residential programs online this summer. While a bit different from our traditional on-campus experiences, our team has worked hard to create impactful programming that students will remember for a lifetime.
As soon as they were able, with appropriate safety protocols in place, they resumed in-person assessments and have been conducting these for nearly a year. We have even added new services and hired two new licensed psychologists, Dr. Amanda Berns and Dr. Katie Schabilion.
By being online, the Summit will share crucial research with many more people throughout the world. Because we will record each presentation, a broader group of people will have access to the knowledge for a longer time.
During this year of unprecedented challenges, UI President Bruce Harreld and his leadership team demonstrated excellent governance. The College of Education (our academic home) also offered significant leadership during the pandemic.
President Harreld’s service to the campus and the state gained admiration because he fostered transparency and shared governance. People appreciated his service as a staunch supporter of public universities, recognizing their importance at both a state and national level. President Harreld has served our campus for five years. When he announced last fall that he planned to retire, new clouds of uncertainty about the future appeared on the horizon.
Now those clouds have dissipated.
The University of Iowa expects to announce its 22nd President later today (update). We are looking forward to working with new leadership to move into the future. We also wish President Harreld and his wife, Mary, the best as they embark on this next phase of their lives.
Today, the sky is blue.
Opportunities for students, educators, and families seem unlimited. We know there will be clouds again, but we will find new opportunities to be supportive and collaborative when they appear.
We will remember that there are silver linings and blue sky beyond.
The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic offers a range of assessment and therapy services to help high ability and twice-exceptional students access opportunities and achieve their goals. Our career assessments are a useful tool in helping an individual explore their interests, abilities, personality characteristics, and personal values to assist in exploring potential careers.
You may wish to consider our career assessment if your child is:
Overwhelmed by the possibilities of the next stage of life and desires guidance to narrow the options.
Looking for information about the suitability of different career paths based on individual factors like interests and personality factors.
Seeking greater self-understanding but do not have a need for a comprehensive educational or diagnostic evaluation.
During a career assessment at the Belin-Blank Center, a student would participate in a brief interview with our counseling staff. Afterward, the student would complete computerized and paper-and-pencil rating scales to provide information relevant in making career choices. Our psychologists would then discuss the results and their implications with the student. Following the assessment, the student and their parents are provided with a report detailing the results and our recommendations.
The cost of a career assessment is $250. Because career evaluations are not medical in nature, fees for these services cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.
In addition to career assessments, available clinic services include educational evaluations (to assist with academic planning), twice-exceptional evaluations (for psychological diagnosis), and therapy with licensed psychologists or trainees.
Could a career assessment be beneficial for your child? You can request an appointment through our online intake form.
Thank you to Marcy Dann, M.A. for writing this guest post!
Families who have been provided with assessment services at the BBC in the past year may also be interested in a supplemental service that is being offered temporarily at a reduced rate through the Bridges 2e Center, where the motto is “Educating the Exceptional”.
The Suite of Tools™ is an assessment process to discover, organize, analyze and prioritize information for strength-based, talent focused learning. The evidence-based tools that are used have been refined at Bridges Academy, an independent school for the twice exceptional student population. These tools can lead to big changes in motivation and achievement.
The process involves having the child complete My LearningPrint™ and the Quick Personality Indicator (QPI™). A team meeting, moderated by Marcy Dann, is held online with the parents to explore the results of their child’s Belin-Blank Center psychoeducational assessment. The meeting will include an in-depth discussion about the child’s strengths, talents and interests.
Parents will also receive a summary report with a personalized talent plan to supplement a student’s IEP, 504 Plan, folder and/or recent Belin-Blank Center evaluation. The report will include insights into when and how a particular student performs optimally, challenges to address, essential elements for learning, and the environmental conditions conducive to his or her development.
For more information, please contact Dr. Doobay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcy Dann, M.A. is a board-certified educational therapist who has been in clinical practice for over 35 years using a strength-based approach with school aged clients and their families and is a consultant at Bridges Academy, a school for twice-exceptional students in Los Angeles, California. She relies on the parents’ perspectives when listening carefully to the vignettes they share about their child. She recognizes the academic, cognitive, social-emotional, creative and physical issues that must be addressed for students to access the curriculum and to show what they’ve learned in school and at home. Dann is currently collaborating with the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic (BBC) by providing strength-based assessments.
Dr. Amanda Berns is a Licensed Psychologist who is joining the clinical staff in the Assessment and Counseling Clinic. She attended the University of Iowa while obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology. Dr. Berns gained experience working in schools, outpatient clinics at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the local homeless shelter, and children’s homes through the Early Access Autism Resources Team at Grant Wood Area Education Agency. She also completed an iLEND fellowship and externships at Nisonger Center and St. David’s Center.
For two years in graduate school, Dr. Berns held an assistantship providing mentorship to talented and gifted college students at the Belin-Blank Center, as well. Dr. Berns attended a predoctoral internship at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and a postdoctoral fellowship at The Counseling Center of Nashua. She also worked in public schools as a traveling school psychologist and Autism Consultant, and outpatient settings at Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP).
Besides having a wealth of clinical experience across these settings, Dr. Berns has particular expertise in assessment and intervention services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In particular, her research background is in the social-emotional experiences of those who are twice-exceptional. She is excited to join the Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic, where she is conducting twice-exceptional evaluations and providing counseling services.
Be sure to check out all of the clinical services we provide in our Assessment and Counseling Clinic. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or requesting more information, you can do so here!
In Iowa, October has been declared Gifted Education Awareness Month! To celebrate, we’ll be revisiting some of your favorite posts from the blog all month long. We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child. Today, we’re focusing on educational assessments.
Services at the ACC: Educational Assessment
Dr. Alissa Doobay, Licensed Psychologist, Supervisor of Psychological Services
Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning. They involve individual assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant in academic planning decisions. These assessments are not diagnostic in nature; therefore, they cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.
Following the assessment, parents are provided with a comprehensive report detailing the test results and our recommendations. The cost depends on the number of hours spent, but a typical educational assessment includes approximately 6 hours of testing and costs $730.
Some initial reasons to consider an individualized educational assessment include:
You’re considering whole grade acceleration and would like to get the bulk of the information needed all at once.
The student is in 3rd grade or younger, and therefore too young for most other assessments.
The student has behavioral/cognitive factors that result in individualized assessment being more accurate than group-administered (e.g., 2e students who don’t “test” as well as expected based on knowledge).
We also offer twice-exceptional assessments, which include intellectual and academic testing in addition to a diagnostic assessment to determine whether the child meets criteria for a particular psychological diagnosis (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Specific Learning Disorder, anxiety or depression, etc.). These evaluations are conducted by a licensed psychologist and may be submitted to insurance depending on your insurance provider. There is a currently a waitlist for twice-exceptional assessments.
Could an educational assessment help your child? You can request an appointment through our online intake form.