(Sponsored by TECA)

 Molloy College
1000 Hempstead Ave
Rockville Centre, NY 11571
Friday, May 18

Join us for an exciting day with expert speakers on the topics of gifted and twice-exceptionality at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, just outside of NYC. Rub elbows with the likes of celebrated author and Atlantic columnist Ann Hulbert, psychologist Dr. Devon MacEachron, 2e expert Melissa Sornik, and be the first to Tom Ropelewski’s new film 2e2: Teaching the Twice-Exceptional. Finally, are you interested in becoming a SMPG facilitator? Training will be available at the conference.

Registration Costs:

SENG Member: $95.20 (Early Bird)  $111.20 (Walk-in)
Non Member: $119.00 (Early Bird)  $139.00 (Walk-in)
SMPG (includes books): $375

8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
2e2: Teaching the Twice-Exceptional Movie and Discussion: 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM
SMPG Facilitator Training: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
(followed by 4 hours of Online Training, at a date & time determined by the group)


Time Speaker Title
8:30-9:00 Dr. Michael Postma Welcome & Opening Remarks

Dr. Postma is the Executive Director of the SENG Organization

9:00-10:15 Dr. Devon MacEachron Morning Key Note Address

A Strategic Plan for Development through Neuropsych Assessment

10:30-11:45 Melissa Sornik, LCSW Break Out Session #1

Using Talent Development to Support Social Cognition in Gifted and Twice Exceptional Individuals


10:30-11:45 Lisa Zaretsky,

LMSW, NY Certified Teacher
Break Out Session #2

Compassionate Parenting: Raising children with balance and wholeheartedness


11:45-1:00 Lunch and Discussion
1:00-2:15 Ann Hulbert Afternoon Key Note

Lessons From a Century of Off-the-Charts Children


2:30-3:45 Janine Torreson Afternoon Break Out Session #1

Understanding and Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Students in Traditional Educational Settings

2:30-3:45 Maratea Cantarella & Laurie Modell Afternoon Break Out Session #2

The importance of Support for Parents of Twice-Exceptional and Gifted Children

 4:30-6:30 PM 2e2: Teaching the Twice-Exceptional Movie Screening and Discussion


About the Sessions

A Strategic Plan for Development through Neuropsych Assessment – Dr. Devon MacEachron

Every individual has a unique profile of cognitive, social, and emotional strengths and weaknesses, and it is by understanding one’s abilities and learning how to work with and around them that we find the potential for growth. The twice exceptional learner has a particularly diverse profile of very high intelligence coupled with significant weaknesses in one or more areas. In my presentation, I will address how a neuropsych evaluation explains the 2e learner’s diverse needs and provides an actionable plan for optimum development. I will cover misdiagnosis, dual diagnosis, the importance of broadly and thoroughly assessing strengths and interests not just weaknesses and academic achievement levels, what parents can reasonably expect schools to do and what they may need to take on themselves, and teaching students how to “own” their wonderful, unique minds and be proud of their “neurodiversity.”

Devon MacEachron, PhD provides comprehensive neuropsych and psychoeducational assessments focused on discovering the student’s unique profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses and identifying how individual differences impact learning, achievement as compared to ability, social, emotional, and behavioral functioning, and interests and affinities. As a specialist in twice-exceptional and gifted learners, dyslexia, ADHD, Asperger’s, and academic motivation with a positive psychology focus on strengths and interests, Dr. Devon is an expert diagnostician who provides an actionable game-plan to families enabling students to achieve their highest potential.


Using Talent Development to Support Social Cognition in Gifted and Twice Exceptional Individuals – Melissa Sornik, LCSW

The use of areas of interest as entry points to learning is key for both gifted and twice exceptional (2e) children and adolescents. In this presentation, Melissa Sornik, a licensed clinical social worker will discuss a mentor-supported talent development model she created twelve years ago for 23 adolescents with musical talent and interest, and how that model has evolved into a social cognition model that teaches social thinking, collaborative problem solving and peer relationship- building through interest and strength-based activities and teen mentoring. A description of the current model and case studies will be presented. 

Melissa Sornik, LCSW is the co-founder and president of Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy, Inc. and has been working with gifted and twice exceptional (2e) children and their families since 2003.  A licensed clinician, Melissa earned her masters degree in social work from Fordham University with a specialization in children and families. She has developed programs for 2e children and adolescents, facilitated professional development sessions for the Achilles Project for 2e college students at Nassau Community College, has authored several articles on the subject of twice exceptionality, and has conducted lectures and parent workshops at local school districts and national conferences. Melissa is the co-presenter of the first online course on twice exceptionality for the NY Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She has served on district and county Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) boards and is a member of the Long Island Progressive Education Alliance. Melissa has been a parent education workshop facilitator for Ramapo Training, conducting workshops focused on behavior management, social skills and relationship building for children with ASD and other special needs, and facilitates professional development workshops for Ramapo staff. She is a SENG SMPG certified parent support group facilitator. Melissa is an adjunct professor at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, NY where she teaches undergraduate social work students a systems approach to working with children with special needs and their families. Melissa is also the former director for admissions and outreach at a school for gifted and 2e learners in NYC.  She resides in Sea Cliff, New York where she maintains her private practice. Melissa has raised her own twice exceptional child.


Compassionate Parenting: Raising children with balance and wholeheartedness – Lisa Zaretsky, LMSW, NY Certified Teacher

Parenting a child is an experience of both wonder and joy. Also challenging at times, it may cause us to question ourselves. Are we making the right decisions for our children? Are we “good enough” parents? How do we raise our children with balance and compassion?

This workshop will explain the importance of compassionate parenting and help parents become aware of how social norms and familial expectations can challenge their feelings of adequacy. Parents will learn how to cultivate a daring spirit that owns individuality while living in a culture of conformity and competition, and how to cultivate love, worthiness, empathy, and belonging by owning the diversity within themselves and their children.

This presentation will also explain the importance of embracing our own imperfections as parents, fostering creativity and play with our children, practicing self-compassion, and regarding the value of self-acceptance.  

Lisa Zaretsky, LMSW, NY Certified Teacher is a NYS licensed social worker and certified teacher in special education, reading education and elementary education. She specializes in gifted, twice exceptional, and special needs students and their families. A practitioner in the practice of Melissa Sornik, LCSW PLLC Lisa also volunteers her time and expertise to Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy, Inc. (TECA), Brooklyn Free School, and her local community where she spearheads annual forums for special needs families and multidisciplinary professionals through her school district’s local Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) chapter. Lisa provides professional development and parent workshops on 2e, cognitive diversity, social emotional development, assessment tools, and compassionate parenting. A central tenet of her work is identifying and expanding best practices within the education and mental health systems. Lisa has presented at numerous national conferences and on a variety of panels. She is the co-presenter of the first online course on twice exceptionality for the NY Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Lisa is a contributing writer for the upcoming book, Auditory Processing Disorders: Assessment, Management, and Treatment 3rd Edition, authored by the renowned expert in APD, Dr. Donna Geffner (November 2017). She is currently developing 2e screening assessments. Lisa is the mother of three twice exceptional children.


Lessons From a Century of Off-the-Charts Children – Ann Hulbert

Child prodigies have been greeted throughout history as wondrous anomalies, but they are also figures who raise broader hopes about social progress and stir fears about social pressures. Drawing on stories from her new book, Off the Charts: Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies, Ann Hulbert will talk about the debates stirred up by a succession of remarkable children down the decades. She’ll trace the growing recognition of the importance of listening to children’s own views of their fast-track development.

Ann Hulbert is the author most recently of Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies, and before that of Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children and The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford. Her articles and reviews have appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, Slate, and The Atlantic, where she is the literary editor.


Understanding and Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Students in Traditional Educational Settings – Janine Torresson

This presentation will discuss a working model of a pull-out program for gifted elementary school children in grades three through six who are being educated in a traditional public education setting. Janine Torresson has been working with gifted children in the Hewlett-Woodmere school district for more than twenty years. Janine will explain how she meets the social and needs of an eclectic mix of gifted students that includes diversity in areas of interest abilities and support. With consideration to the importance for gifted students to have continued access to pull out gifted programs, Janine has advocated to maintain these programs in within both challenging and changing political and educational climates, believing that the gifted have needs that cannot be met in a traditional mainstream classroom.

Janine Torresson holds a masters degree in Teaching the Talented from the University Connecticut where she studied under Joseph Renzulli, the director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.  Janine has more than 20 years of experience teaching gifted children in grades K- 6 in the classroom. She is also currently the coach of three high school robotics teams as well as a Math Olympiads coach for younger students. As she has throughout her career, Janine continues to provide education and advocacy for all gifted populations.


The importance of Support for Parents of Twice-Exceptional and Gifted Children – Maratea Cantarella & Laurie Modell

Cultural myths surrounding giftedness suggest that gifted children are compliant, happy students who naturally excel at school. However, the reality is far different. Gifted and twice exceptional children are children who are more – more intense, more sensitive, more likely to test limits and question authority, more likely to experience anxiety and depression.  Parents often feel frustrated, isolated and out of synch as they come up against the myths of giftedness, confront the realities of providing for their children’s specific needs and grapple with their fears of failing them. In this session, Maratea Cantarella and Laurie Modell explore the challenges parents of gifted and twice exceptional students face and the importance of accessing support to find validation, gain confidence, and build community.

Maratea Cantarella, Executive Director, Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy, Inc.

Since joining TECA as its Executive Director in 2014, Mara has expanded this grassroots organization into a vibrant, national, online resource and community for families of twice exceptional children. As the mother of a 2e child, she experienced first-hand both the scarcity of resources and information available to help parents raise these uniquely challenging children and the sense of isolation that comes from having a differently wired child. After years of struggling to assemble a knowledgeable and effective team educators, related service providers and mental health professionals to help her son, she was determined to help other families by providing them with empathy, information and community. Before joining TECA, Mara was a development professional working with numerous local, national and international organizations addressing such issues as human rights, education, mental health, social justice, medical research, leadership development and the arts. Mara received her BA in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two gifted and 2e teens.

Laurie Modell is the mother of an amazing twice exceptional son, Laurie Modell vividly recalls the daunting challenge of understanding her son’s profound needs coupled with the paucity of readily available resources. Through research, perseverance and networking, she helped build a team of professionals that helped her family thrive. Believing in the importance of paying it forward, she joined TECA and became a lead volunteer, working with parents to help guide them through the process of understanding and supporting their 2e children. She is especially knowledgeable about advocating on behalf of 2e children in the IEP and fair hearing processes. Laurie has also spent the past two years helping to build Achievement Unlocked, a new educational program located in Brooklyn, NY, serving 2e children aged 5 – 15. Laurie has a professional background in the corporate finance and technology world. She received her BA in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University.


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