The William & Mary Center for Gifted Education held its 16th annual National Curriculum Network Conference, “21st Century Skills: Rethinking Gifted,” on March 9-11 at the new School of Education.
The conference included 42 sessions on in-depth topics related to gifted education. Participants represented 32 states, 50 school districts in Virginia, as well as participants from Canada, China, and Australia.
The conference began with the presentation of the CFGE Award for Outstanding Leader for Program Development and Support for Gifted Learners, which was given to Kelly A. Hedrick, director of the Office of Gifted Education and Academy Programs at Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
The center’s executive director, Tracy L. Cross, presented three sessions during the conference: “The Social and Emotional Development of Students with Gifts and Talents” and “To Be or Not To Be: The Social and Emotional Dilemmas Facing Students with Gifts and Talents, and Brands, Tattoos, Body Sculpting, Cutting, and Suicidal Behavior.” The sessions highlighted the unique needs and challenges gifted and talented students face including self-inflicted injurious behaviors and their relationship to mental health.
Joyce VanTassel-Baska, the center’s founder, presented “Key Essentials of Curriculum Development for Gifted Students,” as well as a session entitled, “Critical Issues in Gifted Education in the 21st Century.” She also gave a keynote address on the “Leadership Needs for Gifted Education in the 21st Century.”
The center’s director of pre-collegiate programs, Mihyeon Kim, led “Bring Creativity to Your Classroom” and “Addressing the Needs of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, High-Potential Children.” Jennifer Cross, the center’s postdoctoral research fellow, led a session called “The Gifted Adolescent in the Crowd: Social Development of High-Ability Adolescents,” examining the social development of gifted adolescents and how it compares to their age mates. Fulbright Scholar Heather Netz presented “Conversational Sequences in Gifted Classrooms,” discussing the discourse commonly observed in gifted classrooms.
Lori Bland, director of professional development and practice in gifted education, presented a session entitled Measuring Student Growth for Virginia coordinators to learn more about the newly implemented Virginia state regulations to measure gifted students’ growth. Carol Horn of Fairfax County Public Schools, Gail Hubbard and Joan Brownlee of Prince William County Public Schools, and Kelly Hedrick of Virginia Beach City Public Schools shared with participants the plans they have developed in accordance with the new state regulations within Bland’s session.
The Center for Gifted Education also invited other centers and departments within the School of Education to present at the conference. As part of this collaboration, Jenny Hindman, coordinator of the School Leadership Institute (SLI) and the School University Research Network (SURN) spoke on “Teacher Selection: What Works and What Doesn’t When Hiring Teachers for Gifted Students.” Mary M. Stowe from the Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) presented “Twice Exceptional: Embracing the Possibilities.” Jessica Taylor of the STEM Educational Alliance discussed the program and the tools and information being developed for educators to offer improved career awareness for gifted students as they seek to connect their skills with potential career paths.
Rena Subotnik, the director of the Center for Psychology in Schools and Education and associate executive director of the education directorate of the American Psychological Association presented a keynote address, “Fulfilling the Promise of Talent through the Psychology of Optimal Performance.” Other notable presenters included Jim Gallagher of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Richard Courtright of the Duke University Talent Identification Program, Laurie Croft of the University of Iowa and Del Siegle of the University of Connecticut.
In addition to the preconference and conference, the Center’s National Advisory Board held its annual board meeting to discuss the center’s accomplishments as well as its future goals and directions. Kimberley Chandler organized this session and presented the many new units that have been developed by the center.