Susan Baum, Ph.D., is the Director of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development at Bridges Academy, a school for twice exceptional students, and Provost of the Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education. She is the 2010 recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award granted by the Weinfeld Group, for her contributions to the field of the education of twice exceptional learners; the 2011 recipient of the Connecticut Association for Gifted's Friend of the Gifted Award; the 2015 Distinguished Professional Alumni Award from the Neag School of Education for her work with twice exceptional students; and the Lifetime Achievement Award from AEGUS and the 2e Newsletter in 2017. Professor Emeritus from The College of New Rochelle, Susan is widely published in the areas of differentiated instruction, twice exceptional students, primary-aged gifted students, and social and emotional factors affecting gifted students. Susan served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Students and is the past president and founder of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS). Susan serves on the advisory boards of 2e Newsletter and Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities.
Vidabeth Bensen has been a screen printer since college days. She has a BA in art education from Brooklyn College and earned a Master's degree in the Three Summers Program at UConn. She was a TAG Specialist at Seoul American Elementary school in Korea and taught Art at Yokota High School near Tokyo, Japan. During 27 years overseas Vidabeth exhibited her original prints in solo and group shows in Germany, Japan, Morocco, Turkey and England. Since returning to the States she has continued to pursue her career as a printmaker and exhibits extensively in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. She regularly presents workshops for the National and North Carolina Art Education Associations. She has been teaching the Screen Printing strand at Confratute since 1987 and her book, A Simple Guide to Screen Printing, co-authored with Barbara Forshag, was published in 2010 by Royal Fireworks Press and is in its second printing.
In 1997, Bob Bloom received certification by the Connecticut Office of the Arts as a "Master Teaching Artist." Bob's art form of arts-integration, interactive drumming, is offered in settings including education, recreation, disabilities, library and museum, social work, senior center, and corporate. His professional development workshops on leadership skills for interactive drumming have been presented by organizations and learning centers including: National Association for Music Education; American Music Therapy Association; Percussive Arts Society; Connecticut Association for the Gifted; New England League of Middle Schools; Connecticut After School Network; Southern Connecticut State University; University of Connecticut School of Music. For nearly two decades, Bob was a Faculty Assistant to Dr. Babatunde Olatunji for his "Language of the Drums" courses at the Omega Institute. He played drums and sang as a performance member of Olatunji's African music and dance company, "Drums of Passion" in concerts at venues including Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Washington Monument, and Jorgenson Center for the Performing Arts.
Valerie Bolling is the author of LET'S DANCE! (March 2020) and has been an educator for 28 years. Since her book was released a week before the pandemic shutdown, she has been engaged in virtual story times and author panels. Immersed in the writing community, Valerie is on the faculty at Westport Writers' Workshop, serves as the co-chair of the NESCBWI Equity and Inclusion Team and is a member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, NCTE, and ILA. She is also a 2020 WNDB Mentee and a member of Kid Lit in Color, Black Creators in Kid Lit, Soaring 20s PBs, PB Crew 22, 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, and two picture book critique groups. Valerie has two books scheduled for release in 2022 and five more slated for 2023. Valerie Bolling's website
Richard is a teacher, a marine biologist, and a former scientific diver for the Smithsonian Institution. Richard often opines that scientific divers and teachers have a lot in common. They both have the same first rule: avoid being eaten alive. Of course, teaching is the more hazardous of the two, since teachers can't carry a spear gun, and a sharp mind will devour the unprepared as quickly as sharp teeth. Worse yet, you are still around to remember it. Richard spends much of his time working with larval humans. Now and then he does staff development with the adults of the species.
Sandy Bothmer, M.Ed., is a former elementary school teacher, Kripalu yoga teacher, Integrative Yoga Therapist, Reiki Master-energy practitioner, and intuitive healer, offering these and other practices in her private, Integrated Therapeutics work. Workshops focused on self-regulation practices for children, teens, and adults are offered as well. She's the author of Creating the Peaceable Classroom: A 21st Century Wellness Guide for Teachers, Students and Parents and a CD, Happy to Be Me: Mudra Songs for Kids. Sandy is passionate about assisting others in the creation of inner balance, teaching them practices that will create greater calm and vitality for happier, healthier, more harmonious living.
Carla Brigandi is an Associate Professor at West Virginia University. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a focus on Gifted Education and Talent Development from the University of Connecticut on 2015. Prior to that, Carla was a classroom teacher for 15 years. She taught mathematics and gifted education, and coached Mathcounts, American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) 10 & 12, and Community Problem Solving International (CmPS). She has been recognized for outstanding teaching at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. Carla is an active member of the National Association for Gifted Children, the American Educational Research Association, and the West Virginia Association for the Gifted and Talented. She currently works as the project director for Appalachian Coders, a federally funded research initiative to increase identification of and support to students with high academic ability who live in rural, low education, and low socio-economic communities. Carla presents nationally and internationally on topics related to gifted education and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. She has been teaching at Confratute since 2011 and previously served as Confratute Coordinator.
Laura Courtright graduated from Elon University with a degree in Elementary Education and minor in Literature and earned her gifted certification from Queens University. She found her love for Gifted Education while working for the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) as a teaching assistant. She has spent the past eight years working in two gifted magnet schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools & Gaston County Schools, teaching in a full-time classroom of identified 5th graders. Laura will complete her Master's degree in gifted education at UNC-Charlotte this fall. She is a Certified Paideia Educator, and has implemented seminars in language arts, social studies, science, and math (but social studies is her favorite).
Rick Courtright is a consultant in gifted education, having recently retired as Gifted Education Specialist at Duke University's Talent Identification Program (TIP) in Durham, NC. With almost fifty years of experience, Rick has been a classroom teacher, gifted resource teacher, and gifted program district administrator, and has served as adjunct professor at Elon University and Duke University. He completed his studies in intermediate education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning his Bachelor's, and Master's degrees, as well as earning his Ph.D. there in special education leadership, with an emphasis in gifted education. Rick has delivered school and district presentations, as well as at regional, state, national and international conferences, including numerous sessions of Confratute.
Shanette Covington, M.Ed. is dedicated to supporting colleges, public and private schools in making real world connections to equip the 21st century workforce with branding and entrepreneurial skills. As an advocate championing for those who are marginalized due to inequities in corporate America, Shanette offer insight on Career & Technical Education through labor union sessions such as Courageous Conversations with AFT & NYSUT. She also launched support systems for young leaders to use their voices in traffic safety and international crisis prevention awareness initiatives including Vision Zero. In 2019, Shanette was featured at a Vision Zero Network Forum for "Building and Empowering Our Future: Engaging Youth in Vision Zero." In 2020, she presented "The Frontlines of Traffic Safety: Youth Engagement and Real World Implementation" during the Washington Area Bicyclist (WABA) Association Regional Vision Zero Summit. Critically acclaimed for her research on helping families, schools, organizations and businesses with bridging the alliance between corporate America and Youth, Shanette reflects "...by integrating Digital Art Technology, Business Marketing & Advertising into curricula to support Core Subjects and Special Education...we are equipped to provide solutions to constructs that traditionally would not serve as a disproportionate opportunity." As the author of "Preparing Students for the Real World," Shanette's experiential learning expertise spearheaded trendsetting programs that makes the learning experience fun and enjoyable.
Before joining Future Problem Solving Program International, Elizabeth taught the program in her classroom at a middle school in western Massachusetts. She has a B.A. in Classical Civilizations and Archaeology from UMass Amherst, and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from the same institution. She has experience in curriculum development and technology integration, and became a Google Certified Educator to train others in her district to properly use the digital tools available in their classrooms. She also successfully doubled the size of the FPS program in her school in less than two years. Before becoming a teacher, Elizabeth participated in archaeological excavations at a Native American fort in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and at a Roman bathhouse in Lincoln, England. Though she did not pursue this career further, these experiences gave her a unique perspective on history and on teaching the humanities that served her well as a teacher. Though she spent about half of her teaching career in gifted education, Elizabeth also spent several years as a Special Education teacher across the curriculum and feels passionately that education should be accessible to all.
Glenn Dewell has been teaching science at the middle and high school level for the past 48 years. He is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and holds teaching certificates in general science and physics. He has conducted professional development programs for elementary and middle school teachers both in and out of their classrooms. Since 2009 he has presented Special Topics sessions at Confratute on topics ranging from Amusement Park Science to Math and the Science of Patterns, and is a regular participant in the annual variety show. He is currently teaching middle school science in Niantic, Connecticut and lives with his artist wife in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Hal Eisenberg, CEO and Founder of Windows of Opportunity, Inc. and The Eisenberg Leadership Academy is an education reform pioneer who focus on bringing the Holistic Learning Method to school across the globe. In addition to the various books and curriculums he has authored, he works diligently to create and facilitate workshops that elevate schools to reach their utmost potential in academics, social-emotional practices, and much more. For more information about his education reform practices, visit: https://eisenbergacademy.org .
Janine M. Firmender is a professor in the Teacher Education Department at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she teaches courses in the areas of Early Childhood/Elementary (grades pre-k – 4) education and elementary mathematics education. She is also pursuing research interests in the areas of engaging students in mathematical writing and meeting the needs of mathematically talented students. In 2015 she co-led the Elementary Mathematical Writing Task Force, funded by a National Science Foundation conference grant. Dr. Firmender earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Gifted Education from the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, with a related area of study in curriculum and instruction for elementary mathematics education. Dr. Firmender is currently the columnist for the iMathination column in Teaching for High Potential and is an active member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). She also is the chair-elect of the STEM Network of NAGC, served on the Advisory Board for Teaching for High Potential, and is the past chair of the NAGC Computers and Technology Network.
Dr. Denise Fleith is a licensed psychologist, a professor at the Institute of Psychology, University of Brasilia, a researcher at the National Council for the Development of Science and Technology in Brazil, and a founding member of the Brazilian Council for Giftedness. She is the president-elect for the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. Denise Fleith has conducted research on creativity development in the educational setting, socio-emotional development of gifted students, and family of the gifted.
Barbara Forshag is a retired teacher/assistant principal of middle schools for 30 years. She has been a part of Confratute for 25 years as a CMEr, screen printer, and social coordinator of the patio events. Now she consults for The Origins Program: Education for Equity, presenting summer workshops on Developmental Designs for middle school teachers across the country. She is a co-author of A Simple Guide to Screen Printing with Vidabeth Bensen. Join her at the evening socials for fun and dancing and in the art studio for a creative strand experience! Barbara currently dances with the Sugar Snaps, a line dancing group, and leads a line dancing class at Confratute for all those interested in dancing the pounds away.
Erik M. Francis, an international author and presenter with over 25 years of experience working in education. He is the author of Now THAT'S a Good Question! How to Promote Cognitive Rigor Through Classroom Questioning published by ASCD. His book on teaching and learning for depth of knowledge will be published by Solution Tree International in 2021. He is also ranked consistently as one of the World's Top 30 Education Professionals by the research organization Global Gurus. Erik received his Master's in Education Leadership from Northern Arizona University and Master's of Science in Television/Radio/and Film Production and Management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He also holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication and English from the University at Albany.
Marcia Gentry (Ph.D., UConn), Professor of Educational Studies, directs the Gifted Education Resource Institute at Purdue University. She has received multiple grants worth several million dollars in support of her work with programming practices and underrepresented populations in gifted education. Dr. Gentry's research interests include student attitudes toward school and the connection of these attitudes toward learning and motivation; the use of cluster-grouping and differentiation to meet the needs of students with gifts and talents while helping all students achieve at high levels; and the development and recognition of talent among underserved populations, including children who live in poverty and students with diverse cultural backgrounds including Native American youth. She enjoys spending time with her daughter (who attends Purdue) and with friends; running and staying fit; gardening; hanging out in the horse barn; collecting contemporary Navajo weavings; relaxing at her cabin on Lake Superior; and working with her doctoral students. Marcia was the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Association for Gifted Children—and at the same 2014 meeting, one of her graduates received the Early Scholar Award, and one of her doctoral students received a Doctoral Student Award!
Cindy M. Gilson is an Associate Professor of Gifted Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2014 with a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Gifted Education and Talent Development. While a graduate student, she was a research assistant at The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. She also helped establish a Renzulli Academy in Connecticut for elementary students. Cindy's areas of interest include differentiated curriculum and instruction for gifted and talented students, teachers' questioning and listening behaviors within the context of classroom discourse, and professional development for both pre-service and in-service educators.
Dr. E. Jean Gubbins is a Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut. Through Javits grants for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, Dr. Gubbins implemented research studies on curricular strategies and practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics high schools, reading and mathematics education in elementary schools, professional development, and gifted education pedagogy. Currently, she is Associate Director and co-principal investigator for the National Center for Research on Gifted Education, which focuses on exemplary practices in identification, programming, and acceleration for gifted and talented students from underrepresented groups, co-principal investigator for Project BUMP UP: Building Up Math Proficiency Utilizing Push-in, and principal investigator for Thinking Like Mathematicians: Challenging All Grade 3 Students. Her research, evaluation, and teaching interests focus on reading, mathematics, professional development, program evaluation, and identification and programming for gifted students from culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse communities.
Thomas P. Hébert, Ph.D., is a professor of gifted and talented education at the University of South Carolina. Previous to his 28 years in higher education, training graduate students and educators in gifted education, he had more than a decade of K-12 classroom experience with gifted students. Before arriving at South Carolina, he was on the faculty at the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia, conducted research for the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT), and served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The College of Education at Georgia awarded him a faculty research leave during which he traveled throughout the country to interview high-achieving men who had overcome serious adversity. Talented Young Men Overcoming Tough Times: An Exploration of Resilience (Prufrock Press, 2018) was the result. His latest book, Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students (2nd ed., Prufrock Press, 2020) appeared in bookstores this year.
Lynne Henwood has dedicated her career to advocating for gifted and twice-exceptional learners. She has served as President of the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children (NJAGC) since 2018. She also serves on the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee (SGTEAC) for the New Jersey Department of Education. Previously, she was a gifted teacher and program coordinator for Washington Township Schools in Morris County, NJ. She has presented at several conferences (NAGC, SENG, NJAGC, ASPEN, Rutgers Gifted Education Conference) and has been a panelist on the MindMatters Roundtable and the G Word Panel Discussion. Lynne earned a B.A. in Psychology from Dickinson College, a Gifted Education Certificate from Rutgers University, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education (Concentration: Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development). In 2018, Lynne was named New Jersey's Gifted Teacher of the Year and is the 2019 Mensa Foundation's Gifted Education Fellowship Award winner. Most recently, Lynne was awarded the NAGC 2020 Master's & Specialist Award, and her NJAGC Advocacy Team won the NAGC 2020 David W. Belin Advocacy Award.
Gail N. Herman, Ph.D. is a professional storyteller, college educator, and teaching artist in schools. As a former teacher of grades 1 and 2 and a coordinator of a K-8 enrichment SEM program, Gail's goal is to infuse the storytelling arts into the Core with creative movement, mime, visual arts, and drama. She received her doctorate at UConn in Curriculum & Instruction: Talent Development, and also has degrees in speech & theater, elementary education, and aesthetics in education. She taught education, early childhood education, gifted education, and storytelling for Lesley University, Quinabaug Valley Community College, and Garrett College, among others. She served on the Boards of the National Storytelling Network and the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS). She presents “Hearing Between the Lines” using folk instruments to awaken musical intelligence and in-depth meaning in folk literature. She co-authored Kinetic Kaleidoscope: Exploring Movement & Energy in Visual Arts and Tales of Mischievous Martha, as well as stories and articles in education. She directed “Coal Talk,” an oral history project in Mountain Maryland, and she wrote Sylvester and the Grumps about a grumpy monkey and bullying.
Sandra Kaplan is currently a Clinical Education Professor at the University of Southern California. She has been a teacher and administrator of gifted programs. Her interests are in defining and designing differentiated curriculum and instruction for gifted learners. Sandra has been an active participant in the California Association for the Gifted and the National Association for Gifted Children as a board member and president of these organizations. She has written books and articles in the area of curriculum development for gifted students generally and for gifted students who represent both linguistic and economic diversity.
Dr. James C. Kaufman is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He is the author/editor of more than 45 books, including Creativity 101 (2nd ed., 2016) and the Cambridge Handbook of Creativity (2nd ed., 2019; with Robert Sternberg). He has published more than 300 papers, including the study that spawned the "Sylvia Plath Effect," and three well-known theories of creativity, including (with Ron Beghetto) the Four-C Model of Creativity. He is a past president of Division 10 of the American Psychological Association. James has won many awards, including Mensa's research award, the Torrance Award from the National Association for Gifted Children, and APA's Berlyne and Farnsworth awards. He co-founded two major journals (Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts and Psychology of Popular Media Culture). He has tested Dr. Sanjay Gupta's creativity on CNN, appeared in the hit Australia show Redesign Your Brain, and narrated the comic book documentary Independents. He wrote the book and lyrics to Discovering Magenta, which had its NYC premiere in 2015.
Bryan Kirby is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He teaches gifted students in Connecticut and is passionate about social justice education, technology integration, and equity in gifted programs. Bryan specializes in theater and science. Twitter: @MrBKirby
Benjamin Lacina serves as the Supervisor for Talent Development and Acceleration Services in Saint Paul Public Schools in Minnesota. With more than 20 years in public education, Ben's work has centered around both arts education and gifted and talented/talent development in both urban and suburban school districts. He began his career as an elementary as an Music Specialist for Highwood Hills Elementary School (Saint Paul), where he worked in close collaboration with the Schoolwide Enrichment Model Specialist and with students to create more than 15 original musicals. Ben has degrees in Vocal Music Education, Gifted Education & Talent Development, and Educational Leadership.
Tracey Lafayette is in her fifth year of teaching and is currently a third grade teacher in East Hartford, CT. She is an alum of the Neag School of Education ('15, '16) and is one of the co-founders of Leadership in Diversity, an organization focused on supporting current and future educators of color. She is currently enrolled in UConn's Administrator Preparation Program ('22).
Dr. Lou Lahana has worked alongside students at PS/MS 188 to better our world for two decades. Within his Social Action-themed Makerspace middle schoolers use low- and high-tech tools to create projects that raise awareness of social issues and help to solve them. To facilitate this process, Dr. Lahana’s website, Techbrarian.com, helps students and educators dive deeply into problems affecting our local/global communities and showcase solutions. Student projects take many forms: documentaries and songs, jewelry and wood crafting, paintings and pottery, game design, coding, and DIY Electronics. As an academic, Dr. Lahana teaches and writes about the intersection of equity, activism, and Maker education. Dr. Lahana is the recipient of the 2020 FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence.
Christine Lawlor-King is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Invention Convention. In her position, she trains educators on how to incorporate invention education into their curriculum and programming. Christine has been training teachers for quite some time now as the Invention Education Programming Manager for Lemelson MIT and the Invention Convention Worldwide Program Manager for The Henry Ford Museum. Christine has over fifteen years teaching STEAM and invention education and managing invention education programming. Her award winning STEAM program, when she was teaching in the classroom, led her district to create a position for her as the first districtwide STEAM Coach. Christine has mentored young inventors, educators, administrators, and corporate professionals; which recently earned her the STEMConnector Award Community Trailblazer. Her passion for introducing youth to STEAM careers started when she was working in the lab as a microbiologist.
Dr. Jann Leppien is the Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education and Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Whitworth University located in Spokane, Washington. Whitworth's Center for Gifted Education supports and develops policies and practices that encourage the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups and offers educators a specialty endorsement and Master's degree in gifted education. She conducts professional staff training for educators in the areas of differentiated instruction, curriculum design and assessment for advanced students, thinking skills, and gifted program development, both nationally and internationally. She has served on the board of the National Association for Gifted Children and currently serves on the board of the Washington State Advisory Committee for Gifted Education, the 2E Center for Research and Professional Development, and NAGC's Leadership Development Committee. She is the coauthor of The Multiple Menu Model: A Practical Guide for Developing Differentiated Curriculum and The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop High Potential and Challenge High-Ability Students, and she is the series editor for instructional units designed using the Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM).
Catherine Little is a Professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. She teaches courses in gifted and talented education and in the undergraduate honors program. Her research interests include professional development, differentiation of curriculum and instruction for advanced learners, and classroom questioning practices. She currently works as the project director for Project SPARK and Project LIFT, both of which are federally-funded research initiatives focused on working with schools to recognize and respond to advanced academic potential in the early grades, particularly in students from underserved populations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Gifted Children.
Known simply as Ms. Math to children across the country, Dr. Rachel McAnallen has devoted her life to sharing the joy and beauty of mathematics with learners of all ages. A professional educator for more than 60 years, she travels the globe teaching her subject at every grade level. In addition to her experience in the classroom, Rachel has served as a department chair, a school board member, and a high school administrator. She claims the latter position is responsible for the majority of her grey hairs. She has a passion for teaching, reading fictional mystery novels, and mathematical modular origami, though not always in that order. Recently Rachel has co-authored with Carol Williams, children's math books and teaching manuals that accompany the books. A life-long learner, Rachel approaches the world around her with a boundless curiosity and a playful sense of humor that is reflected in her teaching style. She believes that mathematics is a language to be spoken, a music to be heard, an art to be seen, and a dance to be performed.
Renata Muniz Prado, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, an assistant professor at the Institute of Psychology, University of Brasilia, and a delegate member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. Her publications and research interests are on talent development, counseling and parenting the gifted children.
Luis Orione is a Ph.D. student of the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education. The psychologist obtained a Master's degree in Human Development and Health at the University of Brasília, focused on talent development studies. The researcher is centrally interested in comprehending the role of psychosocial factors in the trajectories of talented people. He investigates possible psychosocial and technical impacts of the use of Psychological Support Training on talent development. Luis has experience researching and applying the interfaces between elite performance, psychology, motor learning, and human development.
Connie Phelps directs the Gifted, Talented, and Creative MS-Special Education and P-12 Gifted endorsement programs at Emporia State University. In 2019, she received the inaugural Dr. John E. King Endowed Professor award recognizing her impact on students. Prior to her university appointment, she taught P-12 gifted students in the Wichita Public Schools. She completed doctoral studies in Elementary Education at the University of Arkansas and graduate degrees in Elementary Education at East Texas State University and Gifted Special Education at Emporia State University. She directs the Great Plains Center for Gifted Studies where she conducts research on giftedness, creativity and innovative pedagogical practices.
Cheryl Quatrano served as an educator in the New York City Department of Education for over 36 years. She started her career as a technology and mathematics teacher and then went on to many administrative positions such as Assistant Principal, District Testing and Assessment Director, Magnet Schools Program Coordinator, Supplemental Educational Services Coordinator, and 21st Century Schools Coordinator. She then was promoted to the position of Regional Instructional Supervisor of Gifted and Enrichment Education, where she became a member of the Citywide Gifted Education Advisory Committee. During this time, she established 46 Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) programs in NYC schools. She eventually opened her own middle school in Bayside, New York, BELL Academy, MS294. In less than three years, the school was recognized as a national and international model, ranked in the 98th percentile of student academic performance in NYC, and became the most highly sought-after school in the district. The school received outstanding numbers of student admissions into Specialized NYC High Schools. From a request in the community, she and several staff members then opened a second school, the Veritas Academy, in September 2013. Ms. Quatrano has received numerous awards and honors for her outstanding work, not only as an educator, but as a team builder.
Dr. Sally M. Reis recently completed a six-year term as the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and is the Letitia Neag Morgan Chair in Educational Psychology, a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, and a University Teaching Fellow at the University of Connecticut. She was a teacher for 15 years, 11 of which were spent working with gifted students on the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. She has authored or co-authored over 250 articles, books, book chapters, monographs, and technical reports. Her research interests are related to special populations of gifted and talented students, including students with learning disabilities, gifted females, and diverse groups of talented students. She is also interested in extensions of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model both for gifted and talented students and as a way to expand offerings and provide general enrichment to identify talents and potentials in students who have not been previously identified as gifted. She is the co-director of Confratute, the longest running summer institute in the development of gifts and talents.
Joseph S. Renzulli is a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, where he also served as the former Director of the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development. His research has focused on the identification and development of creativity and giftedness in young people and on organizational models and curricular strategies for differentiated learning environments that contribute to total school improvement. A focus of his work has been on applying the pedagogy of gifted education to the improvement of learning for all students. He was designated a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at the University of Connecticut in 2000, and in 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In 2009 Dr. Renzulli received the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Award for Educational Innovation. The American Psychological Association's Monitor on Psychology named Dr. Renzulli among the 25 most influential psychologists in the world. Although Joe has obtained more than 50 million dollars in research grants, he lists his proudest professional accomplishment as being the founder of the summer Confratute program at UConn, which began in 1978 and has served thousands of teachers and administrators from around the world.
Dr. Susannah Richards is an associate professor of education at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she teaches courses in English Language Arts and Children's and Young Adult Literature. She earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology/Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut, where she worked with Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis on SEM-R and other curriculum delivery models for gifted and talented learners. She was a member of the 2013 John Newbery Award Committee, 2017 Geisel Committee, and the 2018 inaugural Excellence in Graphic Literature for Children Committee. She writes a column about books for Teaching for High Potential for the National Association for Gifted Children and regularly presents on books, book-ish topics, strategies for highly able language users, and ELA instruction at international, national, and state conferences including ILA, NCTE, AASL, NCSS, and NSTA. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SussingOutBooks.
Del Siegle is director of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education and the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development. He is a past-president of the National Association for Gifted Children and past co-editor of Gifted Child Quarterly and the Journal of Advanced Academics. He was a recipient of the NAGC 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award and 2011 Distinguished Service Award. Del is co-author of the 6th and 7th editions of Education of the Gifted and Talented. He is also author of The Underachieving Gifted Child: Recognizing, Understanding, & Reversing Underachievement. He holds the Lynn and Ray Neag Endowed Chair for Talent Development at the University of Connecticut. Prior to earning his Ph.D., Del was a gifted and talented teacher in Montana.
Melinda Spataro is a lifelong philomath, a lover of learning and studying. She received her Professional Diploma in School Administration and Supervision from Hunter College, and from St. John's University she received an MS in Special Education and BS in Elementary and Special Education. Ms. Spataro began her professional career as an inner-city NYC Department of Education special education teacher. Then as the school's Magnet Coordinator, she supported the principal with various administrative duties and functioned as the school's community liaison. She moved on to the position of coordinator for the NYC DOE Gifted Programs and Special Grants, where she participated in all aspects of gifted programming for various school districts. Ms. Spataro then moved on to working at BELL Academy, a school she helped found with principal Cheryl Quatrano. Thereafter, Ms. Spataro assisted in founding the Veritas Academy, a public NYC high school. Ms. Spataro has been widely recognized for her service to the field of education, winning multiple awards and commendations.
Jessica Stargardter is a gifted & talented teacher with Norwalk Public Schools. She was selected as a Fulbright Scholar for the upcoming school year to research instructional strategies used with gifted immigrant students in Helsinki, Finland. She was awarded the Outstanding Early Career Educator through the University of Connecticut and the Rogers Educational Innovation Fund. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the Neag School of Education. She is passionate about integrating technology and social justice into student-driven, project-based learning. Twitter: @MsStargardter
Dr. MaryGrace Stewart has been active in gifted education and talent development since 1978 in NY, MA, and CT. She is the founder of IDEAL4Gifted, an online program for gifted and 2e students. She is a member of the Massachusetts State Gifted and Talented Advisory Council, is a board member and the prior president of MA Association for Gifted Ed. and is an active member of NAGC. Dr. Stewart has been a gifted education specialist, art teacher, energy-efficient home designer, commercial real estate agent, and is the founder of Mutuus Mime Theater. She has presented on gifted education topics at conferences across the U.S., was a delegate to China for an exchange on Gifted Ed., an advisor for gifted ed. in Dubai, and went to Kenya in 2018 to help build their gifted education policy and train teachers. She has designed G/T programs for PreK-12, written gifted education curricula, and articles on gifted education. Her doctorate is from USC in Ed. Leadership, her CAGS from UConn in Gifted Ed., her M.A. from SUNY Fredonia, her B.S. from SUCNY Buffalo in Art Ed., and a certificate from The Canadian Mime School in Mime for the Actor.
Sylvan Taylor is the Schoolwide Enrichment Teacher and Magnet Coordinator at The Downtown School, a public magnet school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This is her 17th year as an educator; her third as a Schoolwide Enrichment Teacher. Previously, she has worked as a classroom teacher in grades 2–5, as a university-level instructor teaching Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education courses, and as the lead teacher in a small play-based preschool. She has always been drawn to working with gifted children, perhaps because she is a grown-up 2E gifted child herself, and considers Schoolwide Enrichment Teacher to be her dream job!
Allison Teicher-Fahrbach, Director of Curriculum Development and Chief of Staff for Windows of Opportunity, Inc. (WOO) and The Eisenberg Leadership Academy (TELA), has extensive experience in curriculum design. She has developed countless curriculums that focus on leadership, empowerment, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, and has authored two self-help books that highlight self-worth, self-actualization, and growth. Allison has earned a variety of graduate degrees in Curriculum Design, TESOL, School Leadership, and Online Learning, and earned the WE Teachers Award from the ME to WE Foundation and Teacher of the Week from the Future of School organization for her educational efforts. Allison has spoken about educational reform and teaching on many panels and forums at Queens College and Touro College, and contributes to the education reform framework being developed by WOO/TELA.
Melissa Thom, (she/her) is a teacher librarian at Bristow Middle School in West Hartford, CT. She earned a Master's in educational psychology/gifted and talented from the University of Connecticut. She spent 12 years teaching grades four to six as a classroom teacher, and six years ago she earned her library media specialist certification from the ARCLMS program. She is the vice president of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians (CASL), a member of the Customer Advisory Board for Scholastic Book Fairs, and 2019 AASL Social Media Superstar Reader Leader finalist. She has been honored by CASL with the Follett Creativity Award in 2018 and the Carlton W.H. Erickson Award in 2020. Most recently, she was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Professional Award by the UConn Neag School of Education Alumni Board. Her most recent publications include an article in the October 2019 issue of School Library Connection entitled Create a Culture of Reading and multiple webinars for School Librarian Connection and EdWeb on topics such as Developing Inclusive Collections, Making the Most of Your Digital Collection, and Building a Culture of Reading. Find Melissa on Twitter/Instagram @MsThomBookitis and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/melissathomjoyfullearning
NCTE/NELAC Teacher Hall of Fame Teacher Jennifer Troester has had a major influence on enrichment education both in her state and nationally. Her combined Masters degrees, one from University of Connecticut in Gifted & Talent Education and another from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in English, have contributed to her knowledge for more engagement in the teaching of English. As department head for her district, Jennifer has been a leader in the area of curriculum alignment and course development. Earning Apple Teacher distinction since 2016, she is a master at using technology as an instructional tool. Her excellent professional contributions to the teacher education literature and her leadership in professional organizations have helped many teachers infuse highly engaging enrichment teaching activities and strategies into the traditional ways in which English has been taught.
Dr. Daniela Vilarinho-Pereira is a licensed psychologist with experience in psychological assessment of giftedness. She received her doctoral degree in Human Development Processes and Health from the University of Brasilia. During her doctoral studies, she was a visiting scholar at the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development Program at the University of Connecticut. She is currently pursuing her second doctoral degree in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University. Her research interests include creativity and innovation, talent development, and digital technology integration in education.
Heather vonOesen Dean, M.Ed., NBPT, currently works with all types of educators and leaders to develop and improve learning experiences for their students, clients, or teams. She specifically trains preK-12 teachers to integrate the arts into their content area classrooms. This approach supports deeper content understanding, increased creative thinking skills, enhanced risk-taking, and enrichment of the culture to value authentic analysis of complex topics. She has a B.A. in Studio Art/Art History from Denison University and a Master's in Education from DePaul University. In 2005 she earned and currently holds her National Board Professional Teaching Certificate for Middle Childhood Generalist. She has taught for over twenty years in Chicago and Tampa and lives with her family in Madison, WI.
Nicole Waicunas is the Schoolwide Enrichment Model Outreach Coordinator for the Renzulli Center for Creativity, Gifted Education, and Talent Development at the Neag School of Education. Prior to her work with the university, she was a secondary English teacher for 15 years, focusing on the implementation of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model in the regular classroom. She holds a Master's degree in Gifted Education from the University of Connecticut, and she received her undergraduate degree in World Literature with a Minor in Education at Columbia University and Barnard College in New York, New York. Nicole travels across the country and the world, working with administrators, teachers, and students to provide instruction on implementation of the SEM, including enrichment clusters, the enrichment triad, curriculum compacting, creativity, the social and emotional well-being of the student with a focus on self-efficacy, and critical thinking skills. In 2012, Nicole was awarded the Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award, one of twenty nationally selected teachers to be recognized by the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards.
Lihong Xie is a doctoral student in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. She obtained her M.A. in Social Studies Education from the University of Connecticut. She is currently working as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Creativity. Her research focuses on creativity and humor as coping skills, investigating how they correlate with each other and one's self-efficacy and identity. Her research interest also lies in the development of creative problem-solving skills in the computational thinking curriculum.