Beyond Giftedness XXV Speakers & Topics*

Keynote Presenter: Jim Delisle, Ph. D. has taught gifted children and their supporters for more than 39 years. He retired from Kent State University in 2008 after 25 years of service as a professor of special education. Throughout his career, Jim has taken time away from college teaching to return to his "classroom roots," volunteering as a 4th, 5th, and 8th grade teacher. He has taught gifted middle school students one day a week in the Twinsburg, OH public schools, and for the past six years, Jim has worked part time with highly gifted 9th and 10th graders at the Scholars' Academy in Conway, SC. He has also been a Yunasa Senior Fellow for the past six years.

The author of more than 250 articles and 20 books, Jim's work has been translated into multiple languages and has been featured in both professional journals and in popular media such as The New York Times and Oprah! His upcoming book, Doing Poorly on Purpose: Strategies to Reverse Underachievement and Respect Student Dignity, will be published in 2018. A frequent presenter throughout the U.S., Jim has also addressed audiences in nations as diverse as England, Greece, China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Jim's wife, Deb, served as the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the US Department of Education in Washington DC for 3 years, and is currently the CEO of ASCD, the nation's premiere association for educators. Their son, Matt, is an Emmy Award winning video editor in San Francisco and the source of many stories about raising gifted and creative kids. In his retirement Jim plans to walk as many beaches as possible and write children's picture books where the main characters are based on young people he has taught or counseled during his career.

Keynote Presenter: Marlo Payne Thurman, Ph.D. started working with special needs children in 1986. Early in her career, she developed an interest in the unique needs of individuals who were both highly intelligent and asynchronously developed, which led her to specialize in assessment, advocacy, cognitive training, sensory and behavior support, and socio-emotional coaching. In 1999 Marlo founded the Brideun Learning Communities and Brideun School for Exceptional Children, a play-based, therapeutic school. She later founded 2E Consulting Services to provide training to programs that work with individuals unable to find success in traditional settings despite adequate intelligence.

Marlo holds board positions with 2E Newsletter and the US Autism and Asperger’s Association. She codirects the US College Autism Project and is an adjunct faculty member in the special education department at the University of Northern Colorado. She has been recognized for her work by People Magazine, the Special Educator, ADDitude Magazine, the New York Times, and National Public Radio.

Conference Host: Dennis N. Corash, Ph.D.  is the father of three gifted children/twice exceptional children who are now adults. He is a past president of Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented, past assistant professor of Elementary Education and Literacy at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a Founding Member of the Colorado Academy of Educators for the Gifted, Talented and Creative.


A.M Keynote: Different Brains: The Continuum of Exceptionality with Marlo Payne Thurman, Ph.D.

P.M. Keynote: Doing Poorly on Purpose: Strategies to Reverse Underachievement and Respect Student Dignity with Jim Delisle, Ph.D.


Breakout Sessions:

Twice Exceptional Kids in the Classroom: Surviving & Thriving: How can educators balance meeting the needs of twice-exceptional (gifted with co-occuring disabilities) children thrive while also meeting the needs of other students within the regular classroom? Even the National Association of Gifted and Talented (NAGC) acknowledges that their own definition of twice-exceptional "belies the complexity" of meeting the needs of 2E children. With 20+ years of experience in the field, Marlo Payne Thurman will detail strategies to help educators and their students survive and thrive in the classroom.


Using Strengths to Drive Instruction: This session will introduce strategies for developing strength-based programming and making differentiation work despite competing demands. By implementing these strategies in the classroom, participants will see increases in student grown not only for gifted learners but for all students. With Dr. Rebecca McKinny and Dr. Colleen Urlik

Dr. Rebecca McKinney is the Director of the Gifted and Talented Department for Denver Public Schools. She has expertise in cirriculum and instruction, strength-based programming, early childhood education, school leadership and gifted education P-12. She is passionate about ensuring equity in gifted education. A Colorado native, she lives in Denver with her husband, two children and sheltie puppy, Harley.

Dr. Colleen Urlik is the Assistant Principal at Hulstrom K-8, the Adams 12 Five Start School District's magnet school for advanced academics and gifted learners. She has expertise in cirriculum and instruction, strength-based programming, social-emotional instruction, school leadership, and gifted education P-12. She is passionate about ensureing educational equity and promoting a whole child, strength-based approach to education. Originally from Canada, she now lives in Denver with her husband, two children and golden retrievers.

Developing Potential in Gifted Learners: 
Are we providing the support children identified for gifted education services need to develop their full potential?  We identify children for gifted education services because a body of evidence indicates they have high ability.  What challenges and supports do these gifted learners need in order to develop their full potential?  This presentation will focus on how we can provide the challenge and support gifted learners need to achieve excellence in a chosen career.   We will discuss curriculum strategies necessary for gifted learners to achieve depth and breadth of understanding along with teaching strategies to create complex, multifaceted learning experiences that encourage learners to grapple with meaningful problems and create defensible solutions.  Finally, we will examine our role in providing highly challenging tasks in a supportive learning environment that challenges students without leaving them feeling threatened.

Beverly A. Trail Ed.D. is author of the best-selling book Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children:  Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted Students and a chapter in Parenting Gifted Children:  The Authoritative Guide from the National Association for Gifted Children.  She coordinated the Gifted Education Program at Regis University and is past chair of NAGC Special Populations Network and a frequent presenter at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conventions.  In addition, she served on the Colorado Gifted Education State Advisory Committee, Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented Board Member, and is a national consultant who conducts professional training across the country on topics related to gifted learners.  Dr. Trail is endorsed as Gifted Education Specialist with a Master's degree from DU and a Doctorate in Special Education from UNC.

Nurturing the Social-Emotional Development of the Whole Gifted Child Using a Dabrowski Lens: What are some of the specific challenges gifted learners face? How do the characteristics of giftedness impact the way gifted learners view and interact with their worlds? How can teachers and parents support the healthy social-emotional development of the gifted learners in their lives? Come join us as we discuss these questions through the lens of Dabrowski’s overexcitablities. We will also share strategies for supporting gifted learners' social-emotional development.
Dr. Jenny Ritchotte is a professor and co-coordinator of gifted education at the University of Northern Colorado. She teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in both special education and gifted education. She is also the co-director of the Summer Enrichment Program. Her research primarily examines the cognitive and affective needs of at-risk gifted student populations.
Dr. Amy Graefe is a professor and co-coordinator of gifted education at the University of Northern Colorado, where she teaches graduate-level courses in gifted education. She is also the co-director of the Summer Enrichment Program. Her primary research interests include secondary gifted education, creativity, and underserved gifted learners.


Who Am I and Why Does it Matter?: The Existential Dilemma:
So often, we hear gifted youth of all ages, lamenting the fact that no one “gets” them … sharing their frustration with peers who do not seem concerned at all with the questions that plague them, confused by their peers’ preoccupation with what they perceive to be meaningless things. The isolation that so often results from these feelings can not only lead to periods of depression, but can also prevent youth from fully engaging in their lives due to the fears and doubts they carry. This presentation and discussion will focus on how we can support our youth in their quest for answers, helping them learn how to cope with the questions, and manage the discomfort of the unknown.

Jenny Hecht of Karuna Healing is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Yoga Teacher with 15 years of experience working with individuals between the ages of 10-adult in a variety of settings. Her practice is grounded in strengthening distress tolerance skills through mindfulness practice and supportive examination of the thought patterns that are limiting each individual’s potential. She has a passion for supporting the specific social-emotional needs of gifted individuals, particularly the existential dilemma so many face beginning at a very young age and works as a consultant and support for educational professionals who work with this population.

Beyond Academics: The Affective Aspects of Giftedness
A gifted individual is more than just a brain.  Along with advanced cognitive ability, they also feel things more deeply, more intensely, and more sensitively.  This session will cover many of the social and emotional aspects of giftedness that make their experiences unique.  We will cover Profiles of Gifted Learners, Overexcitabilities, Asynchrony, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Stress, and Lack of Motivation.  Connections will be made to explain how the experience of these issues create a qualitatively different reality for gifted individuals.  

Terry Bradley
is the past president of CAGT.  She is the GT Coordinator at Fairview HS in Boulder.  Terry offers workshops on Creating and Facilitating Discussion Groups for Gifted Students, and presents to parents, counselors, and educators state-wide.
Differentiation for Visual-Spatial Learners: Weaving Together Innovative Arts and Design Matt Wilkinson - GT Resource, Jefferson County Schools

Over six billion photos are downloaded on Facebook every month.  Our students are being surrounded by photos and songs, yet seldom are the arts used to differentiate learning for visual-spatial students. This presentation provides practical options for weaving the arts into everyday lessons.  A special focus will center on the "Photovoice" program developed by George Mason University for the disadvantaged gifted students and the work of Julia Marshall and David Donahue shared in Art-Centered Learning Across the Curriculum (Teachers College Press, 2014).


A Panel Discussion on Giftedness & Mental Health
Is there a connection between giftedness and mental health issues? Are some who are diagnosed with mental health issues actually "just gifted" and does such a distinction matter? Join us for our 3rd annual Q & A with panelists Marlo Payne Thurman, Jenny Hecht, and Jim Delisle as we discuss the complex and often painful relationships between giftedness and mental health. With real-world questions and expert answers, this panel will open up a discussion about the need for increased understanding about mental health in our gifted population. 

Parent Mini-Session Info

*Topics and presenters subject to change. Check back for updates.