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.
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.
Carla Brigandi is Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology 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. Prior to that, Carla was a classroom teacher for 15 years. She taught both mathematics and gifted education and in 2012 was elected Windsor High School educator of the year. In 2015, she received the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Doctoral Student Award, and in 2016, she received the NAGC Research and Evaluation Dissertation Award. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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, Rachel McAnallen has devoted her life to sharing the joy and beauty of mathematics with learners of all ages. A professional educator for over 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, birds, and mathematical modular origami, though not always in that order. A life-long learner, Rachel went back to school at age 70 and received her Ph.D. at age 75. She approaches the world around her with a boundless curiosity and a playful sense of humor that is reflected in her teaching style. Rachel 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. She loves to dance.
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.
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
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.