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!
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 email@example.com.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.