Honor Roll of Outstanding Educators

honor_roll_seal_copyThe ‘Honor Roll of SENG Outstanding Educators’ was created with two primary goals – to recognize educators who have made a difference in the lives of others, and to provide scholarships for current Education students.

By supporting the program with your donation you are invited to submit names of honorees with a brief description of why they are being honored. Honorees are sent a congratulatory letter from SENG, as well as being presented with a memento of thanks and appreciation for their outstanding contribution to excellence in education. Honoree’s names are listed on SENG website, along with donors’ names and descriptive paragraphs they wrote about the honorees.

 

ARIZONA

CALIFORNIA

COLORADO

CONNECTICUT

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

ILLINOIS

INDIANA

IOWA

KANSAS

KENTUCKY

LOUISIANA

MAINE

MASSACHUSETTS

MICHIGAN

MINNESOTA

MISSOURI

MONTANA

NEBRASKA

NEVADA

NEW HAMPSHIRE

NEW JERSEY

NEW MEXICO

NEW YORK

NORTH CAROLINA

PUERTO RICO

OHIO

OREGON

PENNSYLVANIA

RHODE ISLAND

TENNESSEE

TEXAS

UTAH

VIRGINIA

WASHINGTON

WISCONSIN

WYOMING

International AUSTRALIA

BRITISH COLUMBIA

CANADA

TURKEY

NEW ZEALAND

Online Educators

  • Jaime Smith, Online G3
  • Dr. Kirsten Stein, Athena’s Advanced Academy

    Letters of Nomination

    Read on for wonderful testimonials about the SENG Honor Roll nominees, listed in alphabetical order. Or click on a name above to jump to the nominee’s testimonial below:

    Beth Anderson Montessori Peaks Academy, Littleton, CO

    Ms. Beth approaches each child as though they are gifted and have special needs. I have witnessed her balancing emotional support and academically challenging gifted and talented children. She is open to their ideas of doing things in a way that makes sense to them. The children in her classroom blossom under her support and ecouragement.

    Pha Anderson

    St Johns Country Day School, Orange Park, FL

    There are no words to truly express our gratitude to this extraordinary teacher. Ms. Anderson is like an angel, sent to our son at a very crucial time of his life. She immediately saw him for the profoundly gifted 6 year old boy he is, and all that entails. In the past year she managed to re-ignite his passion for learning, advocating a non- traditional education format, and going above and beyond (on her own time) to help find outlets for his hunger to learn and explore. She has made him feel seen, cherished, understood, and so very loved. She has not only supported him academically, but also cared for his emotional needs the way I do, as his mother. Ms. Anderson is the kind of teacher I wish for every child, gifted or not. We will forever remember this wonderful year spent with her, and she will always have a special place in our hearts.

    Miriam Antich
    Parish Episcopal School, Dallas, TX

    Miriam Antich is tireless in her work making math fun and accessible. In addition to teaching her regular classes, she runs several levels of math clubs. My son has participated in MathCounts after school with her for several years and always comes home enthused and ready to show me new concepts or tricks. She is continually working after school and weekends to give our kids a great start in math.

    Allyson Apsey
    Grand Traverse Academy, Traverse City, MI

    As an extraordinary advocate for gifted students, Allyson Apsey, is like no other, succeeding where others have failed.As principal at Grand Traverse Academy, Mrs. Apsey uses her creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to ensure profoundly gifted students receive the education they crave. She removes boundaries to assure school-system issues do not prevent appropriate placement for these learners. Mrs. Apsey works unceasingly to seek opportunities for review, re-evaluation and modification of cirricula and teaching strategies while also looking out for students’ intellectual, social and emotional well-beings.Allyson Apsey is a true education professional and is extremely deserving to be recognized and honored for her tireless work and dedication to the profoundly gifted.

    Joseph Armpriester
    New Albany Plain Local Schools, New Albany, OH

    According to my daughter, Mr. Armpriester says he is not doing his job if he doesn’t teach her something she doesn’t already know; how refreshing that is! After years of already knowing what the teacher is teaching, my daughter was a bit bored with academic work. When Mr. Armpriester walks into her classroom, she is excited and ready to learn something new. He makes school worthwhile.

    Mr. Armpriester teaches critical thinking strategies and more importantly understands the gifted learner’s social and emotional needs. He has helped my daughter love herself as well as stretch her thinking. He has not only made learning fun, but she looks forward to challenging herself. He has enabled her to feel comfortable in a challenging environment. He has given her motivation and acceptance where other teachers have given her pressure, busy work, and frustration.

    Mr. Armpriester is an outstanding educator not only for what he has done in the classroom, but also for the guidance he gives outside those walls. His ability to understand the big picture of the gifted population allows him to determine when the emotional needs outweigh the academic needs. He is thoughtful in his advice and his knowledge base is vast. He is a precious gem to our school and I am so glad my daughter will forever benefit from his abilities. He deserves more accolades than I can express; thank you is not enough.

    Greg Ashworth
    Mackintosh Academy, Littleton, CO

    My 7 year old 2e son started 1st grade this year at Mackintosh Academy after being asked to leave his old school. He was bored, acting out, anxious, overwhelmed and misunderstood. This past year at Mackintosh Academy has changed all of that. He is a different child now: confident, happy and succeeding. Of course, he is still not without his challenges, but we are beginning to see more of the light that’s been hidden in him and less of the “static” that gets in his way.

    Mr. Ashworth has been an angel to my son this year. It takes a long time for my kid to warm up to adults and Mr. Ashworth recognized that early on. He talks about the “dance” he used to have to do with my son – giving a little and getting a little – allowing my son to bounce around (both figuratively and literally) while navigating the rules and expectations of a new school. His academic progress is amazing to us but the bigger growth has been the social/emotional development we have seen this year. And, while we recognize that a lot of the hard work has come from my son, he would not have been able to grow as much as he has this year without the support of Mr. Ashworth.

    Thank you, Greg, for helping our son blossom into the amazing kid before us!

    Katie Augustyn
    Connecticut Association of the Gifted Board of Directors, Westport, CT

    Katie Augustyn is the President of the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG) and Board Member of the National Association of Gifted Children. She is a tireless advocate on behalf of gifted children. She is a trusted advisor on gifted issues to administrations, parents, teachers, children and specialists in the field. Within CAG, Katie leads CAG to statewide levels of influence. Katie travels throughout Connecticut doing presentations and providing invaluable information on gifted children. Examples of Katie’s activities on behalf of gifted children include: radio shows, meetings with Connecticut Department of Education officials, lobbying the Connecticut legislature, setting up Minds in Motion day-long enrichment activities for gifted children with sessions for parents and teachers, providing written materials for parents and teachers on the challenges of gifted children, supporting teachers through conference grants, recognizing gifted children’s achievements through special awards, and serving on the planning committee for the Urban Gifted Showcase.

    Lisa Ayoub
    Morehead Middle School, El Paso, TX

    Kind, understanding and willing to accept and nurture all children blessed by her teaching style. Wonderful, kind science teacher for the gifted!

    Jason Baeten
    Julia Morgan School for Girls, Oakland, CA

    It is with great joy and appreciation that I nominate Jason Baeten, Assistant Middle School Director of Julia Morgan School for Girls, for the SENG Honor Roll. Jason was my daughter’s 6th grade advisor and math teacher this year and he went out of his way to provide her the support that she needed in making the transition from elementary school to middle school. Jason spent extra time with my daughter and met with me as well to determine the best strategies to address her uniqueness and how she could succeed to her fullest potential in helping herself and others. Jason exhibits the characteristics of a true education professional; he has a great understanding of educational methods and theories and his application of core constructs has given him a bulk of experience. Jason is well aware of ALL of his students’ uniqueness and social and emotional needs. We are very thankful that Jason was there for us this year. Thanks, Jason, for making a difference in our lives!

    Jane Bengtson Englewood Elementary School, Englewood, FL

    Ms. Bengtson has been a beloved teacher for many years and is an advocate for all children. She has made a significant difference in the life of my 2E child. He is certified gifted but has significant anxiety as well. Ms. Bengtson felt he needed special accommodations in order to be as successful as he can be but due to his gifted status she had to fight to get this allowed. Without her expertise and diligence we could not have accomplished this. As he enters middle school where things become more stringent,  he will be able to do so knowing he can take his time and ask the questions that he needs enabling him to feel comfortable and prepared. She is an amazing educator and we love her dearly! Thank you Ms. Bengtson!

    Nancy Biamonte
    La Grange Middle School, Grangeville, NY

    On the occasion of the retirement of my colleague, educator Nancy Biamonte, I nominate Mrs. Biamonte to the SENG Honor Roll Award. For the last 20 years, Mrs. Biamonte has run our MathCounts Club. She has mentored and inspired many gifted and talented students, and she has exhibited a sensitivity to the affective needs of these students as well as to their academic needs. Her efforts have helped our students achieve confidence, success and satisfaction—and an appreciation for challenge. She led our team to victories at least 12 times, selflessly giving up many weekends to accompany the team to statewide competitions at RPI. Mrs. Biamonte has helped our students maintain their joy of learning, and for her important influence on our gifted students, she is deserving of recognition via this honor.

    Tonya Beilstein
    The Barnhart School, Arcadia, CA

    Tonya Beilstein, is currently the Director of Curriculum at the Barnhart School and was formally my son’s fourth grade teacher. Fourth grade was a particularly difficult year for my son, but Tonya instinctively understood that meeting his emotional needs that year was paramount to his happiness and success. While she also worked to accommodate his academic needs, she went above and beyond to understand him as a person and to ensure that he felt safe and understood in the school setting. In the years after, while he was still at that school, she remained a confidante, a person he could turn to when he needed someone to talk to. She truly helped a gifted child to know he was not alone at a time he felt very much so. She also assured him that it was not only okay, but wonderful to be who he was.

    Richard Bouchard
    Rainard School, Houston, TX

    “Dr. B.” has been doing the admission screening for Rainard School, which is for gifted students, for over 20 years. He greets each child with enthusiasm and complete acceptance, establishing instant rapport with both the timid and the wild. In less than an hour, he is able to employ his 60 years in education to learn a wealth of information about that child’s intellect and heart. When he sits down to share the results with parents, they often sigh or cry with relief over confirmation of their intuition, and they come away from their meeting with a better understanding of how to serve their gifted child’s needs. He has met with hundreds of gifted children over the years, and they were each better for the experience.

    Jessica Bowen
    Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School, Marlborough, MA

    (nomination #1) Four years ago, Jessica Bowen had the vision along with one of her 9th grade students to start a quiz bowl team at the Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School. Initially it was a challenge to find students who wanted to participate but with perseverance, the team grew and thrived and after four short years, AMSA Quiz Bowl Team became a top contender at high school quiz circuit tournaments, WGBH High School Quiz Show and a top, nationally ranked quiz team!

    In addition to being an incredibly engaging history teacher & dedicated quiz team coach, Jessica also coaches and advises the award winning History Bowl team, has been one of the founding advisers to student government and initiated the formation of a choral group at our school which was previously without a music program. Jessica’s students have benefited directly from her refreshing wit, talent, passion, enthusiasm and energy. Jessica’s AP Government students are extremely well prepared for and consistently score very highly on their AP exams in direct correlation to the comprehensive and engaging curriculum which she teaches.

    AMSA Charter School has benefited directly from having such a talented teacher and strong and supportive adviser and coach serve its students in so many capacities. Jessica Bowen, your students, school, and parents salute “Captain Genius” and deeply appreciate all of your time, encouragement, support and motivation through the years! You have enriched the lives of your students and made an incredible difference at AMSA Charter School!

    (nomination #2) Mrs. Jessica Bowen is my son’s Quiz Bowl coach. We know Mrs. Bowen through my son’s musings about her coaching prowess, which inspired us to get to know her personally. Her extraordinary dedication and passion for the educational mission and supporting students various educational activities is awe inspiring. Her intellect, passion, and mentorship are the bedrock upon which my son and his peers’ love for Quiz bowl is based upon. Naturally, this foundation besides fostering astonishing love for learning organically yielded extraordinary results. AMSA, despite being a recently started charter school with a small student population became a powerhouse in various academic completions like high school quiz show, history bowl, and quiz bowls — both at state and national levels. AMSA history bowl team was small school national champions in both 2015 and 2014! Further, they finished second in small school quiz bowl national championships in 2014. Finally, AMSA is 2015 Massachusetts High School Quiz Show state champions. None of these achievements are possible without Mrs. Bowen. Mrs. Bowen was instrumental in coaching and taking the team to these and various other regional competitions throughout the years. We marvel her dedication and support and we feel fortunate we are in AMSA community and have her as our teacher.

    Monica Bowler
    Friedell Middle School, Rochester, MN

    Monica Bowler is the principal of Friedell Middle School, which hosts a brand new school within a school for highly gifted students. She has actively sought to learn about the needs and methods of educating gifted and highly gifted students. She also led her staff to learn about giftedness. She encourages them to truly differentiate instruction and assignments for their students.When a possible special program for highly gifted middle school students was discussed, she expressed interest in having it start at Friedell as soon as possible. She arranged for a professor of gifted education from an area university to travel to Friedell to offer courses leading to certification in gifted education. She encouraged all of her staff to enroll, and the vast majority of them are taking the courses.All of this study paved the way for the implementation of extended classes for gifted and high achieving students in 2005. The knowledge and insight the staff gained also helped them to prepare for the first class of HG students who started last September. Monica herself has made it possible for students to take above grade level classes. She has encouraged and supported her teachers to allow independent study and alternative assignments for students who need them. She facilitates the grouping of students in classes based on their needs so that students with similar needs can be instructed together and benefit from regular contact with their intellectual peers.Monica continues to listen to input from parents in general and from our advocacy group in particular. She implements requests and improvements when they are feasible. For instance, Monica encourages flexible grouping when placing Friedell students in math classes so that they will be challenged and stimulated. As a result, about half of he 6th grade math sections offered at Friedell are above-grade-level classes.

    Anyone who knows Monica can attest to her passion and enthusiasm for education, for her students, and for her staff. She truly cares for and values each individual student at Friedell and wants them to be happy and enjoy learning. She has cultivated a collaborative and respectful leadership style. She has been a courageous leader in gifted education within the Rochester school district. Her dedication is inspiring. Monica Bowler has led her staff to implement improvements which have improved the education of both gifted students and the entire student population at Friedell Middle School. Monica and her entire staff are to be commended for the time and effort they have invested in learning about and addressing the needs of gifted students. Monica continues to advocate for changes to better meet the needs of gifted students both in the HG program and throughout the school. Monica truly deserves to be honored for her great work and dedication to gifted students.

    Angela Boyer
    Eagle Point Elementary School, Weston, FL

    Mrs. Boyer is an outstanding gifted teacher at Eagle Point Elementary School in Weston, Florida. She is my daughter’s 5th grade teacher. My daughter is a very brilliant student who strives for perfect scores, is very hard on herself , and very sensitive. At the same time, she is a very outspoken child, who expresses her opinions on what she believes is right and would also talk in class. This sometimes is considered to be a behavior issue. Mrs. Boyer connected with my daughter, she was so patient and kind towards her, encouraging her and appreciating her. She is truly a gifted teacher, excelling in teaching academics while being very nurturing. She is an unbiased teacher who treats all her students equally. She is loving, yet firm.

    Mrs. Boyer’s devoted attention to my daughter’s social and emotional wellbeing, in addition to her academic wellbeing contributed greatly to my daughter’s success throughout her 5th grade. A pat on the shoulder goes a long way in enriching a child’s life, and leaves a footprint in the child’s mind and heart. Mrs. Boyer has shown a genuine interest and appreciation for my daughter as a person, showing us that respect is not something you inherit, but something earned, and she is a perfect role model to her. Mrs. Boyer has used positive reinforcements on my child to connect with her, and in turn bring out the best in her.

    Terry Bradley
    Fairview High School, Boulder, CO

    Terry Bradley is a TAG (Talented and Gifted) Advisor at Fairview High School in the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, CO. Her work there includes running TAG Student Affective Discussion Groups for students. She also ensures that students who are new to the district or who have been overlooked, especially twice exceptional students, are identified as gifted and talented and receive services based on their unique needs. Midway through every term, she gathers the list of GT students who are at risk of failing one or more classes and makes a personal connection with them. Every year she gets the list of incoming freshmen students and connects with them well before their first day at Fairview, gets to know them and connects them to her freshman affective group for transition support. She is that all-important caring adult for her students.

    Terry created a syllabus and curriculum in 2010, Creating and Facilitating Discussion Groups for Gifted Students, that includes not only the foundations and management of such a group to help facilitators be most effective, but also guides and resources for discussion group topics. She offers trainings using the curriculum she created for other districts and schools, thereby ensuring that many more gifted students benefit – not only those enrolled at her school.

    In 2007, Terry helped to establish the advocacy group Boulder Valley Gifted and Talented (BVGT). As BVGT President, Terry worked as part of a team of dedicated volunteers hosting expert speakers who have presented on a variety of topics aimed at supporting parents, educators, and gifted students to increase awareness and understanding of the nature and needs of gifted individuals. Terry’s now serves as President-Elect of CAGT (Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented), allowing her impact to be even more far-reaching. She is a SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator and presents at conferences at the local, state and national levels.

    There is much that can be said about Terry’s influence in the field of gifted education, and her impact as an educator, and more importantly the difference she has made in the lives of students and their families.

    Andy Bricker
    Lawrence High School, Lawrence, KS

    My daughter transferred to an out-of-district school last year, for her junior year in high school – in order to take more advanced classes than were offered in our small town school. Mr. Bricker, a physics teacher at Lawrence High School, knew nothing about my daughter, yet 3 days after classes started he accepted her into his AP Physics class even though she had not taken Intro to Physics and had not yet taken Calculus – just on the word of the Intro to Physics teacher that her abilities were beyond his class. Even though science and math have always been my daughter’s strength, I was concerned that this was a big step for her, given the much slower pace her previous high school had moved her through these classes. Mr. Bricker not only gave her a chance he helped to inspire her and motivate her to use her skills. Not only did my daughter’s confidence level in her abilities grow as she met the challenges he offered her, but he pushed her even beyond the classroom. In the Spring, he encouraged her to apply for a paid internship at the University of Kansas in the particle physics department; he had nominated her and a few of his other students for these positions. This turned out to be a wonderful experience for my daughter, she learned a tremendous amount during this internship and the group was provided a trip to Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Chicago. The whole experience really contributed to my daughter fully realizing her potential and the limitless possibilities for her future. Throughout everything Mr. Bricker was always there to challenge and encourage my daughter to use her skills and expand them, for this I am extremely grateful and feel that Mr. Bricker deserves acknowledgement for the steps he takes to push his students, as I know that my daughter is not the only person who benefits from such an amazing, caring teacher.

    Sonja Browe
    Spring Creek Elementary, Laramie, WY

    Sonja joined the Albany County School District GATE team in 2010. Since that time, she has really helped to grow our program. Her efforts to meet the academic needs of gifted students are appreciated by both parents and students, but it is her commitment to meeting their social and emotional needs that really make her stand out as a gifted educator. Sonja has brought an added emphasis on social/emotional needs to our program, and we are better able to teach to the “whole child” because of that added focus. Sonja has dedicated class time to discuss with her students some of the social and emotional issues that they may experience and how they might embrace and deal with them. She also started sending home a weekly article to help parents better understand the needs of their gifted children. During our team meetings where we discuss the academic needs of students, Sonja has consistently advocated for the needs of gifted students, including those who may be twice exceptional. All of these efforts have resulted in very positive changes for our students and families. We are incredibly grateful for her work on behalf of these kids!

    Donna Bulatowicz
    Pope John Paul Regional Elementary School, West Brandywine, PA

    My son’s education has been tough. Five years at a public school mislabeled and with plummeting self esteem, a stint at an online charter school with a gifted program that was unorganized and only “gifted” in name, and countless other obstacles. A part of our bittersweet experience was being a part of SIG, Summer Institute for the Gifted, a gifted camp that was wonderful. It was bittersweet as we tried to compare other educational outlets to this extraordinary experience. We interviewed public and private schools from our town to over an hour away from us. Nothing seemed to be a fit to bring a thriving education to our son; until we found the present school he is in. This is where Ms. Bulatowicz comes in.Ms. Bulatowicz was gifted herself and understands not only the intellectual challenges of a gifted child but also the emotional and social needs as well. She is his seventh grade teacher and though she is in initial development of proposing a gifted program, she is not a specific gifted teacher. What is incredible about this, is that it is easier to be a gifted or enrichment teacher when you have a group of only gifted youth; yet Ms. Bulatowicz has the ability to have a mixed level classroom with all very different needs and meet all of those needs. So, I speak not only for my own experience but the observations for all the youth. She, I feel, not only acknowledges and can develop the gifted who are labeled as such as my son has been but, more importantly initiates the giftedness in all of the youth. As many know, the diagnoses per se, of a gifted child is tough, because not all gifted fit into neat boxes and since gifts vary, and testing does not, many youth with gifts are unnoticed; yet not with Ms. Bulatowicz. She is a teacher who exemplifies superior teaching, by not only bringing children to their height, but by being strong enough to create boundaries and a safety and respect that encourages the intellectual, social and emotional lives of each student that she teaches. This is why, with the highest respect, I nominate this fine educator. She sets an example not only for other gifted educators but for educators in our country to aspire to. I can only hope that by programs like this, the Honor Roll, the standards of education will rise as the acknowledgement of educators who have touched lives across the United States are honored; and to us, Ms. Bulatowicz could easily be the spokesperson for giftedness, from experience in gifted programs as a gifted youth and adult, and an educator. She understands giftedness from the inside out.

    Kimberly Burkett
    Edgewood Middle School, Warsaw, IN

    Her students say she is …”a role model to me”…”kind, supportive, funny”… “whimsical, witty, crazy, independent, thoughtful, deep, caring, understanding, tolerant, honest, open, free, happy, awesome”… an “awesome listener, helpful, light-hearted” … “one of the coolest teachers ever!!!” … a “leader, reflective, awesome.”

    Mrs. Burkett is also one of those teachers parents never forget.

    For the 2010-11 school year, Mrs. Burkett innovated an honors block for 7th grade developmental reading and language arts at Edgewood Middle School. The LA block provides high-ability students an uninterrupted, expanded timeframe in which to explore literature and hone their writing. Within the block setting, Mrs. Burkett creates a synergy that inspires students to take greater risks and achieve more. Mrs. Burkett consistently challenges the block students beyond their own expectations.

    Mrs. Burkett is not distracted by the multitude of differences that may occur in a gifted brain. She is familiar with the many ways in which giftedness may manifest, and does not discount one strength due to another weakness. She is as accepting of twice-exceptional underachieving students as she is of neurotypical high-achieving students. Mrs. Burkett delights in debating ambiguity with her students. She explores and learns along with her students, rather than focusing on a “right” answer. Students in her classroom are treated as equal members of a learning community. The framework of mutual respect in her classroom contributes greatly to the willingness of students to work outside their comfort zones.

    Mrs. Burkett is not afraid to challenge assumptions or conventional wisdom, in or out of the classroom. She teaches with passion, with conviction, and with her whole heart. She is there for students who need an advocate or a mentor, or even just someone to talk to.

    Much of Mrs. Burkett’s time outside the classroom is spent considering how to better meet her students’ needs. She constantly reviews and re-imagines what she teaches and how she teaches it. It makes an impact. Her students continue discussing projects and experiences from her class long after they’ve moved on.

    Despite her obvious expertise, Mrs. Burkett is continuing her own education, completing an advanced degree and an endorsement in gifted education. She demonstrates for her students what it means to be a lifelong learner.

    We are blessed to call Mrs. Burkett teacher and friend, and we are privileged to nominate her for the SENG Honor Roll.

    Elizabeth Burley
    Gateways School for the Gifted, Tucson, AZ

    Elizabeth Burley has developed a school (Gateways School for the Gifted) that supports gifted children in both emotional and academic areas. She has provided a much needed resource in Tucson. Her creative, persistent, tireless efforts have truly resulted in something special.

    Jocelyn Bystrom
    Challenge Program, S.D. #71, Comox Valley, BC

    Jocelyn Bystrom is a passionate educator of, and advocate for gifted students. Ms Bystrom is the District Intermediate Gifted Education Teacher. Her program offers a supportive environment for other gifted students from around the District one day a week. She also provides in-school support for students in the Challenge program and offers in-service training for educators. She tirelessly promotes the needs of gifted students and seeks to find creative ways to have their oft misunderstood needs addressed .

    Over the years that Jocelyn connects with her students. she helps them to understand and accept who they are: their distinct learning gifts and challenges; their unique insights and passions; their developmental complexities and their creativity. For some students, she is the one who helps them to rediscover the beauty of learning. For others, she is the one who helps them to realize that they are amazing, just the way they are. For all, she is someone in their corner cheering them on to be all that they can be.

    Jocelyn provides a supportive, listening ear for parents, helping them to understand and appreciate their intriguing children. She encourages parents to become advocates for – and with their children and provides venues for parents to connect with both resources and other parents.

    Jocelyn Bystrom is a strong advocate for gifted students, their families and for gifted education. We believe that she is a worthy candidate for a SENG Honor Roll Nomination.

    Marion Caldwell
    Math Rocks Inc., Evergreen, CO

    Marianne began her “math rocks” group after retiring from the school system. Her after school group gives gifted mathematicians a place to shine! Her motto is “this is a place where it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to be smart!” These kids had hit walls in their formal classrooms — anywhere from boredom to misbehavior, hiding their gifts to trauma from their teacher. And has a gift with children and with math. She makes math fun, while “getting” them emotionally. A newcomer said “I’ve never seen kids have fun doing math before!” This parent group is so grateful for the difference she has made in our kids’ lives (and therefore in ours!)

    Leona Cameron
    Hunsberger Elementary School -SWAS, Reno, NV

    Mrs. Cameron has helped many gifted children with her work as a SWAS (School Within A School) teacher. She does not just stop at teaching, grading papers and going home for the day, she gives us higher level work that would suffice our needs if what she is doing isn’t enough, and Mrs. Cameron supports all of her students in their academic and extracurricular needs and hobbies. Without Mrs. Cameron, all of the students would be stuck in a regular classroom, unable to use their brains to the their highest abilities. Mrs. Cameron is a great teacher who believes in all of their students and helps them be the best that they can be. Her tireless efforts have positively impacted many students.

    Gay Carlson
    Ricks Center for Gifted Children, Denver, CO

    Gay has been an Upper Primary level teacher at Ricks Center for for nearly fifteen years. In this role she has helped each and every gifted child in her class to develop a passion for learning and realize his or her potential. Gay sees and acknowledges the value of each student, their strengths and challenges. She prompts them to think beyond the obvious and recognizes multiplicity of expression. Gay creates a stimulating environment, empowering her students and promoting independence.

    A parent of one of Gay’s former students, now a junior in high school, said, “She took a child who was slightly uncomfortable with his own intellect and somewhat awkward in the world, and launched him as a lifelong learner, simply by recognizing and affirming who he was. She gave him the right to be an independent thinker, which has proved to be of immeasurable importance later in life”

    A parent of four children, the youngest of whom is currently in Gay’s class, said of a conversation before her child entered the class, “I asked Gay if she ever had a child placed in her class and she felt it wasn’t really the best classroom for him or her to be in. She felt that once the children were placed in her classroom, this was now their community where everyone was accepted, as well as their special needs, their differences and any issues that came along with them. She works with the children, and they work with each other.”

    Other parents said of their now fifth grade daughter’s experience, “Gay has an absolutely preternatural capacity to understand her learners and engage them each individually in a way that is simultaneously respectful, engaging, motivating and fun. She blends pedagogy and andragogy seamlessly – many of these kids are more like adult learners and Gay sees immediately how to navigate that give and take.”

    A Ricks Center alumnus, now in a graduate program in vocal music, stated, “I vividly remember the assignments she gave, because they were so engaging. In fourth grade, we re-enacted the trial of the Rosenbergs, famously accused of espionage during the Cold War. Everyone in the class had a role to play…We spent three weeks preparing for the trial, researching the story and inhabiting the roles. It was amazing!” Another former student, now a junior in high school said, “Gay is just so calm and you can tell she’s genuinely having fun. You don’t feel like she has any type of agenda or wants to be anywhere else when she’s with her students.”

    Current students, alumni and parents see Gay as an extraordinary educator. She presents curriculum that encourages in depth investigation on expected topics, but also has the potential to lead students in a direction that not even she expects. It is one of her great strengths that she views such exploration not as digression, but as an opportunity for discovery.

    Gay maintains strong ties with her students and their families, and often e-mails alumni when she knows of an opportunity in which they would be interested. Parents of three Ricks Center siblings who have all been in Gay’s class said, “To say that Gay Carlson will be perhaps the most influential teacher in our children’s lives would be a gross understatement. She is “the one,” the one that stirs inside you a passion to be a lifelong learner and forever curious.”

    Thank you for the opportunity to nominate this inspiring teacher for the SENG Honor Roll.

    Kathleen L. Casper
    Ridgecrest Elementary School, Largo, FL

    Kathleen Casper is an all round outstanding gifted teacher in the full-time gifted program at Ridgecrest Elementary School. She was my daughter’s 4th grade teacher and we will never forget her devotion and energy. Ms. Casper created an atmosphere in which my daughter blossomed and felt free to express herself academically, socially, and emotionally.Kathleen Casper doesn’t treat her students as a homogenous group of gifted students preparing for a test, but as individual and independent learners who value the subject being taught as much as she does. She is a creative thinker who demonstrates that learning does not stop outside of the schoolyard, and that real life applications are more than just theoretical classroom assignments. Kathleen capitalizes on her gifted children’s intense interests, curiosity, and individual gifted traits, thus earning their trust so they feel confident to activate their higher level thinking talents both inside and outside the classroom environment. In addition, Kathleen Casper is an unbiased open and clear communicator to both parents and children, which creates an inviting and friendly atmosphere for everyone involved.In her one year with Ms. Casper, my daughter stepped out of her role as thoughtful observer to run for and win a position on the student council, volunteer as a math mentor to younger children, have many of her creative writings receive both local and national recognition, and earn her first gold medal on her science fair project. It is clear to me that Kathleen Casper’s knowledge of gifted learners and her devoted attention to their social and emotional wellbeing, in addition to her devotion to their academic wellbeing, contributed greatly to my daughter’s success in these areas throughout 4th grade. Kathleen Casper’s knowledge and passion for the content she teaches, her love of teaching gifted children, and her ability to inspire her students to reach their gifted potential shine through with each and every encounter.

    Elizabeth Charlton
    Spring Ave School, LaGrange, IL

    Ms. Charlton has been an incredible teacher for my daughter. In addition to challenging her talents, she showed a genuine interest and appreciation for my daughter as a person. When she started the year, my daughter was particularly uncomfortable about who she was/what she was doing. With Ms. Charlton’s thoughtful guidance, she has matured so much this past year, and is much more “comfortable in her skin.” Many kudos to Ms Charlton for not just nurturing the academics, but adept skill at educating the whole child by supporting her emotional development as well.

    Debbie Chesney Tony Tobin Elementary School, Temecula, CA

    I am nominating Debbie Chesney an outstanding teacher at Tony Tobin Elementary School because she has taken innovative avenues in educating my gifted child, and has cared enough to listen and care for his needs. She has also helped him become more self motivated to go down roads intellectually in which, without her guidance, he would not have discovered on his own. Ms. Chesney is a teacher who goes beyond the standard and teaches with purpose. She has filled not only his unique mind, but also his unique heart! In the past 3 years of his education, and now as he has entered into his fourth year at school, this is the first time his cup has been filled with knowledge and he is actually happy to go into the classroom and know that he will be filled on his level. My sons’s unique perspective and his unique mind is given room in her classroom to grow. She gives him (and all her students individually) confidence as a growing human being. My son knows that it is because of her that his thoughts are counted, respected, and needed in this world. Ms. Chesney’s humility and kindness is what makes her a great teacher and she comes everyday to teach with purpose! Mary Christopher Hardin Simmons University Years ago, I stepped into Dr. Mary Christopher’s classroom expecting to take one class – “Social Emotional Issues in Gifted Education.” I was seeking guidance in raising my eldest stepdaughter. Instead, I embarked on a life-changing endeavor that has included completing a master’s degree in gifted education, becoming an active SENG facilitator and pioneering an innovative academy for the gifted. Socially and emotionally, I discovered more about MYSELF during that first class than I did about my stepdaughter! I discovered why I had struggled so much socially in school. By the time I was in her course I had actually talked myself out of being gifted. I figured they had made a mistake when they tested me as an elementary school student. (I actually took the Mensa test “just to check”!) Whether through formal assignments or informal private conversations, Dr. Christopher helped me work through so many issues that stemmed from my own giftedness that I had stuffed deep inside as I had tried to hide for so many years. Instead of scoffing, she understood what I meant when I shared my challenges stemming from multipotentiality, perfectionism, overexcitabilities and the imposter syndrome. Dr. Christopher not only educated me about how to teach better, she taught me how to both live passionately and truly enjoy learning. I went from enjoying my job to finding pure joy each and every day I stepped into the classroom. Her zeal for gifted and talented education is contagious.

    Richard Choi Edison Regional Gifted Center, Chicago, IL

    Using the Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting, Richard has helped his entire class of 7th graders work out their social/emotional issues. Through blogging and the Morning Meeting, Richard has brought many issues to our attention that have been hidden and stewing. Our 7th graders are under tremendous pressure to get good grades for high school entrance so this social/emotional support is invaluable. As an Edison alumni, Richard can relate to the students in a way that no other teacher can. He offers many puzzle and animal-care opportunities in his classroom which is calming for many students. His virtual classroom economy gives everyone a responsibility as well as a paycheck for work completed.

    Richard can anticipate the academic needs as well as the social needs of our gifted student population. He has offered math extensions that our students desperately crave. He is the math competition team leader and offers math club in our after school program. The special education teacher tells us her services are not needed in his classroom because Richard differentiates for every student in the room, including those students needing extension/enrichment and those needing an extra scoop of attention for understanding.

    Kathleen Cochrane
    Stuart R. Paddock Elementary School, Palatine, IL

    Kathleen Cochrane has inspired and challenged her gifted students to reach their full potential. Under her direction they have been awarded national recognition at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. for their environmental activities. They have also consistently scored in the top 10 percent in a national analogy competition. From students with autism to those with behavior concerns, all students rise to meet the challenge. As she tells them, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

    Kathryn Coffin Pacific Cascade Middle School, Issaquah

    Mrs. Coffin is a talented teacher who brings compassion, understanding, and fun to her math classes on a daily basis. My daughter has LOVED being in Mrs. Coffin’s math class and has especially enjoyed being challenged by her. Mrs. Coffin connects math to the real world through relevant examples. My daughter has her for the last period and she never wants to miss even a minute of the math class. It says a lot that Mrs. Coffin is able to engage her students at the end of the day when kids are tired and ready to go home. My daughter quotes her daily and always has a smile on her face when talking about her time in math class. Whenever my daughter has needed extra help, Mrs. Coffin has been more than happy to spend time with her one-on-one. It is clear she wants her students to succeed.

    Debra Cohen Thomas Grover Middle School, NJ

    Debra has been instrumental in teaching the gifted children in the middle schools the skills they need to learn, conduct independent research, and express their ideas in a cogent way. Her dedication to National History Day, Future Problem Solvers, and the writing program at the school (which includes a focus on writing for the real world as well as publishing in the school’s literary magazine) is unparalleled. She provides both a big picture and ensure that all the students are offered the lessons and overview of the programs and offering, and then spends individual time with each student to ensure they receive not only the focused attention for their individual learning style but also the tailored approach for their research project. Her students have excelled at the national and international level for National History Day (winning medals and honors each year), at the Future Problem Solvers competition (winning national recognition) and most importantly in the classroom both at the middle school level and through their high school classes. As an example, one of her students for a National History Day project, which won gold!, interviewed Nobel Prize winners, Congressmen, and top notch professionals in their field – all under Debra’s guidance. The fact that her students continue to do well (her initial class has already been graduated and are attending top notch schools across the country, including Princeton, Tufts and Penn State) is a tribute to the lessons and core capabilities she has instilled in them.

    Sarah Cooper Wavery-Shell Rock Community Schools, Waverly, IA

    Mrs. Cooper is a dedicated teacher who devotes much of her time to her gifted students. She finds opportunities to enrich their educational experience and is personally involved running the programs. Mrs. Cooper is also continually educating herself to on ways to assist gifted students, including learning about and addressing the needs of 2E students as well as being an advocate for acceleration. Students respect & respond positively to Mrs. Cooper because they know she does whatever is needed to help them. She is readily available to parents answering questions, giving advice, and being a liaison for our student.

    Amy Cordrey
    Goshen Elementary School at Hillcrest, Prospect, KY

    My son, Allen, was identified as a G/T student in the general category last year. During his earlier years of elementary school, though, he was suspected to have ADD due to the fact that he got distracted in the classrooms, despite the fact that he otherwise did well academically. Some teachers even got upset when Allen sat by himself, reading books or otherwise day-dreaming, instead of listening as he was expected. As inexperienced parents, my wife and I sought helps from all resources we could find, but not much really worked, even though the educational psychological experts at University of Kentucky believed that he did not have ADD. Being constantly criticized, his self-confidence was heading straight down.I relocated in 2005 and Allen was transferred to Goshen Elementary. There we met Mrs. Cordrey, who was the instructional coordinator at the time. Based upon her experience and her observation on individual students, she recommended specific strategies, and closely coordinated with teachers and parents to carry them out. Mrs. Cordrey talked with individual students, like my son, from the time to time and got to understand their needs, intellectually and emotionally. She monitored the progress and adjusted the strategies when she felt necessary. So over the next couple of years we saw changes happening to my son. With constant encouragement, he became more and more motivated to pursue academic excellence in school with his intellectual ability. He tested very well in virtually all subjects measured by the Gifted and Talented Educational Service program. He has been more attracted to Science than ever before. He willingly spent his summer vacation on Stanford EPGY online math class. He had even become a good writer before he graduated, although he hated writing when he first came to Goshen Elementary.And my son was not alone. He was just one the many kids there lucky enough to have great educators like Mrs. Cordrey who took huge nurturing efforts to help students live up to their potentials.

    Brian Crawford
    Seattle Country Day School, Seattle, WA

    As one of Mr. Crawford’s 8th grade English students, I can say that he has made an impacting difference in my academic and personal life. His weekly vocabulary quizzes prompted me to expand my vocabulary, and the numerous books he lent me on semiotics and linguistics ignited an interest in the theory of language. Mr. Crawford has an incredibly energetic and empathetic nature. He’s managed to not only teach our class comparably dense material such as Shakespeare and rhetoric, but to deliver it with humor and wit. Mr. Crawford’s passion for teaching shows through in his lessons and expansive set of knowledge. He’s always taken great concern in my emotional well-being. I consider Brian as a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.

    Sherri Croghan John F. Pattie Elementary School, Dumfries, VA

    Ms. Croghan’s love of educating gifted children is evident in her work. She takes the time to work with each child to identify their strengths and help them shine, each in their own unique way. The time my son spends in Ms. Croghan’s gifted class is the highlight of his week. He enjoys the challenges and problem-solving activities, and these are skills that will help enhance his learning experience for a lifetime. Ms. Croghan is very kind, considerate, and connected to her students. She is always available for advice or help when I have a concern. She is upbeat, funny and outgoing — a teacher who forms bonds with her students and makes learning a wonderful and entertaining experience for all of them. My son looks forward to his time in the gifted program with Ms. Croghan more than anything else. He doesn’t always “fit in” with the other children in his regular class, so learning new things with kids like him is crucial to his well-being and overall happiness in school. It’s been a wonderful experience for my son to have Ms. Croghan to work with and learn from. She loves her job and it shows.

    Pam Davis
    Baldwin High School, Baldwin City, KS

    Pam is the gifted (extended learning) teacher for our area’s educational co-op; she works with gifted students at 3 different high schools. Since we are in a smaller area, the schools themselves do not always offer the range of academic resources for advanced students which some larger districts have. Pam has always gone above and beyond to assist the gifted students in obtaining challenging materials for them, taking them on educational trips to colleges and other areas to show them where they can go and what is out there for them. She has played a large role in helping my daughter realize her full potential, to set high expectations for herself and to not give up even though her regular class work my not live up to her potentials.I cannot begin to explain how great it is to know that my daughter has an advocate in the school setting, someone to encourage her and just to listen to her when she becomes frustrated, board, etc with the normal school day. I think a large number of people believe that if a child is gifted they are lucky and should be satisfied with fact that regular educational requirements are easier for them – Pam understands that this is not how it really is. Gifted students face challenges that are not even considered by most teachers and other students, they have to learn to “deal” with regular classrooms and rules that do not allow them to progress at the rate they are able to, they must find a balance to keep them from “getting bored” with education in general and they must have a vision and maintain that vision to get through their assigned classes so that some day they can make it into an environment where they can finally soar.Pam is wonderful in this respect, even if she is just listening to their troubles and is encouraging in her responses – she is is still “there” for these students. She is definitely the one constant in their lives who never lets them forget their talents, who finds ways to challenge them and gets them to reach for more on a regular basis.Pam deserves to be honored by the gifted community as she is one of the few in our area who really understands and cares about the needs of these special, talented kids.

    Cynthia DeAngelis
    McCall Middle School, Winchester Public Schools, Winchester, MA

    As supervisor of the middle school program Cynthia has shown commitment and great attention in meeting the needs of all special education students including highly gifted students with special needs. She is an educator who is deeply concerned about the needs of children and works tirelessly to assure that each child is taught in a way appropriate to their needs. As you are aware educating highly gifted students can be a challenge which is only compounded when the child has special needs as well. These children have much to offer our society and need people like Cynthia DeAngelis on their team.

    Karen DeBruler
    Apollo Elementary School, Renton, WA

    Ms. Karen DeBruler has helped my son make the emotional adjustment into the 5th grade Gifted Program in our school district. Our family moved to WA from TX two years ago. Ms. DeBruler was very understanding to our child’s needs. She told us from the beginning of the year that if he ever had a problem, to let her know and that she’d help. He transitioned into her class beautifully, with the help of her calming disposition.Throughout the year, she was available for counsel when assignments looked larger than life to our son. She calmly sat with him, walked through the assignment, and encouraged him to take one step at a time. Other days, when he would forget a book and felt “the world had ended”, she calmly understood that things in life happen that we cannot control. She eased his fears by letting him know he could borrow another book for the day.I know that our son is not the only one that has benefited from Ms. DeBruler’s insight of the emotional needs of gifted students through the years. Others have told me that they’ve too experienced these qualities of a truly gifted educator! We wish to honor her!

    Hank Dewhurst
    Miami Killian Senior High School, Miami, FL

    Mr. Dewhurst provided me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills throughout my high school years as a member of the band. He recognized my potential and provided me the opportunity to develop interpersonally and intrapersonally. I have thought many times throughout the 20+ years since I was in school that his foresight was essential to how I came to understand the social, ethical, and emotional awareness that is essential to effective leadership. Beyond challenging my musical talents and feeding my soul through performing arts, he contributed significantly to my character development, developing maturity, and belief in self. I am thankful to him for his vision and his passion for education.

    Nikki Dressel Webb Elementary, McKinney, TX

    Mrs. Dressel helped me in many ways. She was very kind and compassionate and always helped me through my problems and questions. Mrs. Dressel made me want to explore and learn more about the science and literature that we talked about during the school year. I even wrote a back story to the character that I played in the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Even though Mrs. Dressel took on a lot of responsibilities during the year she made sure we all had fun and learned many new things. Really, all the ALPHA teachers at Webb are great!

    Adrienne Dunn
    Weston Intermediate School, Weston, CT

    Adrienne Dunn is an amazing teacher whose joy in what she does and whose regard for her students is obvious to anyone fortunate enough to be in her classroom. Her balance of warmth and rigor motivates students to push themselves beyond the normal expectations of school, encouraging them to take charge of their own education. Ms. Dunn’s students learn from her how to be creative thinkers within the boundaries of a school setting. She is the perfect role model for them: open to new ideas and willing to step outside the typical comfort zone of public school. Unafraid to keep trying different approaches with her students, Ms. Dunn tailors her teaching to what is best for each student as an individual, as well as what works for them as a group. The kids in her class adore her and learn from her and with her.

    David Eisenstat
    Salem Hills Elementary, Inver Grove Heights, MN

    David Eisenstat is a full time teacher in my gifted magnet program. He has been a part of the program since its beginning in 2002. His dedication to seek out and create valuable learning experiences that excite and extend his students’ learning has helped to make our program a great success.

    Dixie Enerson
    Bilkent International Lab School, Turkey
    Laurie Faith
    Montcrest School, Toronto, Ontario Canada

    Laurie Faith is a truly extraordinary teacher. In addition to addressing her students’ academic needs, Laurie connects with each of them in a way that makes them feel valued, appreciated, and safe. Then she deploys her awesome knowledge to challenge them to grow and learn. Most impressively, she does all these things with kindness, calmness, firmness and commitment.

    Victoria Faldani
    Spring Ave School, La Grange, IL

    After teaching fourth grade for a number of years, Mrs. Faldani made the move to serve as the Coordinator of Gifted Learning for District 105. In that capacity she has worked with a variety of people to continue to overhaul the district’s advanced learning program. These changes will ensure that more students are appropriately identified and reached with advanced learning opportunities. We have had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Faldani for a number of years, and she does an exceptional job of reaching many students.

    William Fennelly Trivium Academy of New Jersey, South Plainfield, NJ

    Mr. Fennelly has been the bright spot in our academic search for the right school and the right teacher for our son. After years of putting our son in enrichment classes after school, our son struggled to be challenged and stay interested in his classwork during school hours. Mr. Fennelly’s teaching style pulled my son off of the sidelines and got him back into the game of learning. I feared my son had lost heart. Early in the school year, my son knew Mr. Fennelly was different from his other teachers because Mr. Fennelly was interested in seeing his mind work and seeing his eyes light up at school. Throughout the school year, Mr. Fennelly embraced his inquisitive mind and welcomed his questions. He prodded him to take his responses one step further and to develop critical thinking skills. Mr. Fennelly recognized the ease with which our son completed his work. Rather than letting my son coast, Mr. Fennelly gave my son advanced assignments and readings to stretch him. Not only did Mr. Fennelly challenge my son academically, he invested time in helping him work on his emotional intelligence. He emphasized the importance of building character and becoming a leader. He engaged us with continuous feedback to help our son improve his weaknesses, as well as to amplify his strengths. My son has grown exponentially on many levels as a direct result of Mr. Fennelly’s guidance, support, and teaching style. He is an exceptional teacher.

    Kathy Feinberg
    Advanced Learning Program, Green Public Schools, Greenwich, CT

    Kathy Feinberg is a teacher in the Greenwich Public Schools’ Advanced Learning Program. She is not only able to reach her students academically, but she is also able to connect with them emotionally. She is attuned to their intellectual curiosity; she is able to make them feel comfortable, at one with their peers in social settings; and she is sensitive to the needs of those who have both a learning issue, such as sensory processing, and advanced learning needs. She has a deep understanding of individual students’ strengths, and has the ability to allay their anxieties and to bring out their best.

    Judy Feinstein
    White Oak Elementary, Westlake Village, CA

    Mrs. Judy Feinstein is a vivacious loving and quick educator who is always looking for and encouraging her children to think outside the box. Her primary goal is to excite her children into learning by understanding each child – their interests and what lights up their brain. She was quick to note how bright my son (new to the area and school) was and yet recognized he had deficits in organization, auditory processing and social skills. She wasted no time in assigning buddies, plugging him into an IEP evaluation and getting him engaged at the front of the classroom. She makes sure he does not fall behind during class by recognizing when he gets distracted and subtly brings him back (I have difficulty with this when it’s one on one with my son – cannot imagine 1:32). She encourages his interests and investigates and furthers his strengths. Can’t speak highly enough of her.

    Dr. Stephanie K. Ferguson
    Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA

    In her five-year tenure as Director of the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) at Mary Baldwin College, Dr. Ferguson has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of acceleration as a viable educational option for gifted students when tempered with appropriate social and emotional support. Her office open-door policy showcases her willingness to stop whatever she is doing to attend to the immediate needs of the students enrolled in PEG.

    Kelly Fisher
    Excelsior Elementary, Excelsior, MN

    Kelly Fisher is truly a gifted teacher. We had an inkling of this when, upon enrolling in the district, the principal told us that she planned to put our son in a class with an experienced, accomplished teacher who has developed and oversees a “cluster classroom.” Our son came into first grade working above grade level, of course, but also with some emotional and physical intensities that any other teacher might have found frustrating or might have simply ignored, particularly with twenty-three other students in the class, including special needs students. Instead, she spent a great deal of time getting to know him, reaching out to us to get a handle on who he is as a person, and worked out an intensive curriculum plan to keep him challenged while also allowing him to remain part of the social environment. We have seen him not only enjoy every minute at school–we’ve seen him thriving and excelling. Although not in a dedicated gifted program, Kelly essentially designed one herself by utilizing her own deep well of knowledge and the expertise of others on staff. I know she has done this for other gifted children as well. And I have absolutely no idea how she does it. We are so grateful to Kelly for what she’s done for our son, and what we are certain her talent, skill, and deep intelligence will do for others in the same situation.

    Melissa Ford
    Flaherty Elementary School, Ekron, KY

    My son, Benjamin, is identified gifted under the general intellectual label. As with most children, his achievement waivers, based on the interest of the subject and relationship with the teacher. Most teachers consider gifted students just as high performers who need no real assistance or intervention. So when Melissa Ford had the opportunity to work with Benjamin, he had begun to be reported with behavior issues, started to have self-esteem issues and well on his way to underachievement.Mrs. Ford is a gem among teachers. She looks at each student as an individual that needs acceptance and validation beyond just a grade on a report card. Mrs. Ford does not focus on gifted students, underachievers or average students. She simply gives each student the emotional support that he or she may need. For Benjamin, that meant that Mrs. Ford gave the encouragement and reassurance that he so desperately needed. The self-confidence that my son built over the 2006 – 2007 school year, 5th grade, with her was a life altering experience for Benjamin. He grew to enjoy reading, came to say that he was good in mathematics and expanded his horizons by entering into a drama group to act in a musical performed before the school and parents.Benjamin has always been a bright child and a quick learner. Anyone could present the content material to him. However, it was not until the unconditional support and understanding given by Mrs. Ford that he realized his abilities and gained the confidence to acknowledge what others already knew. Standardized tests and state testing demonstrate the level of content mastery that Benjamin has achieved; he is excelling! This is far different from the child that arrived in Mrs. Ford’s room, new to the school and unacquainted with anyone there. Melissa Ford is a wonderful example of what teachers can achieve when they are receptive to and supportive of the emotional needs of gifted and other students. It is with greatest gratitude and respect that I say “Thank you, Mrs. Ford!”

    Christine Franc
    Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Heights, OH

    Christine was our daughter’s third grade teacher. We knew our daughter was very bright, but it was Chris who gave us perspective as to how bright she is, relative to her peers. This gave us the impetus to quantify her aptitude so we could put in place the appropriate academic rigors.

    Our daughter has many of the characteristics of other gifted children, such us hyper-sensitivities and over -excitabilities. Christine provided her with a safe haven, and helped her work interpersonal issues that arose in the classroom as a result of these gifted-related characteristics, all the while remaining patient, constructive and nurturing. Christine’s close proximity in the school building allowed her to remain a source of reassurance in the subsequent school year, as well.

    Now, our daughter is moving on to middle school, and Christine is retiring from teaching, but they will have a lasting connection because of Christine’s contribution to her gifted development, both academically and socially.

    Laurie Frank
    Sycamore Schools, Cincinnati, OH

    Ms. Frank has been a tireless advocate for the needs of gifted students in the Sycamore Community Schools for many years, first as a gifted resource room teacher in the schools, and for the past several years as Assistant Director of Student Services, overseeing gifted services for the entire district. In this role she has helped many gifted students both directly, in advocating for the needs of individual students, and indirectly by developing model policies and programs for delivery of gifted services in the district. The work she has done and continues to do in the district will improve the lives of many, many gifted students for years to come. The individual students who were privileged to have her in the classroom will never forget the difference she made in their lives.

    Peggy Gaffney
    Metairie Academy for Advanced Studies, Metairie, LA

    My son is the type of gifted child that doesn’t impress teachers. If he’s interested in something, you can’t drag him away from it. But if he’s not interested, there’s almost nothing that can get him to do the work. He can entertain himself inside his own head for hours or distract the other children from doing their work. While amazingly intelligent, he can be a teacher’s worst nightmare. Peggy Gaffney was so patient and creative with him. She challenged him in his interest areas to keep him engaged and from being disruptive. While other children were doing 8+3, she might have him doing 823+342. When a new student joined the class, she let him show the student the ropes and help him get adjusted to the routine. She even went so far as to let Skylar think up some wrong answers for a test. He was a happy six year old.

    Diane Gallagher
    Roosevelt Middle School, Red Lodge, MT

    Mrs. Gallagher was my gifted teacher a good twenty-five years ago. She made my school life interesting and fun, opening up not just academic challenges but great activities as well to me. Because of her, I learned to write for a paper, develop film, and build balsa wood bridges. I didn’t think much about how hard it must have been to develop a good program – I just appreciated it. But now that I’m a parent and having to help my own children’s education, I am beyond impressed with Mrs. Gallagher – and the Red Lodge schools – for the great variety of gifted children’s accommodations they achieved — and its happy results for kids who weren’t labeled gifted but shared in the activities. My son’s CT public school has nothing on what Red Lodge managed on far less money. I’m convinced that’s due to a combination of Mrs. Gallagher’s imagination, research, and determination, and an administration and teachers willing to listen to her and try something different. She made my life a far more interesting and happier one. I only wish I could send my own kids to be taught by her today.

    Clara Garruto JFK Elementary School, Wayne, NJ
    As a parent struck by lightning, Mrs Garruto was our shelter. She told us “I want to help this amazing child to reach his potential at school.” She made us open up to her about how depressed we are and how smart he is. She encouraged us to find a way to learn what is wrong. When our son took an IQ test we learned that he is gifted. Mrs. Garruto evaluated his reading and knowledge level and told every body how smart and funny he is. She talked the school and the board of education and she always tried to give her best to help us. Before I had a son who hated going to school, He was always depressed, but not now. Last year was the beginning of our journey to accomplish better things for our son. Thank you Mrs. Garruto for all your effort , patience, and guidance.
    Heidi Gauger
    Dearborn Heights Montessori Center, Dearborn, MI

    Mrs. Heidi has been a godsend for our family. She and my kindergarten aged daughter, Erin, have a wonderful relationship. Mrs. Heidi knows when to nudge Erin a little bit and when to stand back and let Erin dive into something. She has taught her wonderful coping skills to use when she is excited or frustrated about something. She has been open to us sharing information with her that we found on the SENG website, and has even shared this great website with other families. Overall, she accepts Erin for who she is and it’s amazing to see how far she has come. As a result, Erin loves school, and our concerns about her not being challenged at school were put to rest a long time ago. Thank you, Mrs. Heidi, for playing such a key role in all of our lives!

    Mechelle Galyon Webb Elementary, McKinney, TX

    We are so thankful for Mrs Galyon and her passion for these kids. She has taught both my children, one of which is 2E and she always gets where they are coming from. She fully understands their social and emotional needs and is present for them every single day. Mrs Galyon is incredibly passionate working tirelessly for our program. She has a heart of gold! Thank you Mechelle! We love you!

    Barry Gelston
    Mr. Gelston’s One Room Schoolhouse, Lexington, MA

    (nomination #1) My son is 8 years old and has been a student of Mr. Gelston for a little over a year now. Barry has a natural instinct for working with gifted kids and a knack for knowing how much challenge to present and when it’s best to go with the flow. He has really taking the time to get to know my son as an individual and has been able to meet his academic needs while also encouraging him and fostering his confidence and perseverance. He gives my son space to think and can tell when he’s focused on a question or when he’s become distracted and knows how to get him back on track. He’s a fun and engaging teacher and has found a unique way to bring math to gifted kids through individual online video chat sessions that allow his students to work at their own pace. He is flexible and accommodating. My son looks forward to his math lessons. When I asked him what he would like to say about Mr. Gelston, he said, “Barry is understanding when I make mistakes.” We are very comfortable inviting Mr. Gelston into our home twice a week through the computer and look forward to many more years of math studies with him.

    (nomination #2) Barry Gelston has been a huge blessing to our lives. He is an amazing teacher as well as an excellent human being. My 14-year-old gifted son loves math again because of Barry. He is reclaiming his interest and natural capacity for the subject, after some unpleasant group learning experiences. Barry’s teaching is comprehensive and is filling in the gaps in my son’s education at an excellent private international school. We are so grateful to have Barry as part of our learning team. He empowers and inspires and creates a solid foundation for future learning and later admissions testing. He understands gifted learners and works to help them relax and gain confidence and mastery. My son and I wholeheartedly nominate him as an outstanding educator for the SENG honor roll.

    (nomination #3) We “found” Barry Gelston about a year ago, when we realized that our older son needed something in math instruction that neither of us could provide. As non-mathy, homeschooling parents, we watched our son struggle with the traditional “memorize these facts” approach to math instruction. And yet, we knew he was capable of so much more. Over the last year, Barry has been able to engage our son in ways we could not. He is patient, and kind. He embraces our sons interests, and has really gotten to know him as a person. He allows our son to come to the answers on his own, rather than pushing him through a specific topic. Recently, as our son became frustrated with math, he has suggested new ways to approach the subject in hopes of rekindling that love of learning. Barry knows when to push a student, and when to step back and regroup. He is truly a master of individualized learning.

    We were so pleased with the work that Barry has done with our older son, that we asked him to evaluate our younger son (HG/2e) for readiness to do the online classes. Barry’s patience and creativity in dealing with a 7yo who loves numbers but not sitting still has been epic.

    (nomination #4) After just one year in school, my daughter thought she was “bad” at math. We left school and began homeschooling, but the math anxieties continued. It was a rare math session that didn’t leave her completely in tears. One day, I was reading through a post by a woman who talked about how her daughter was doing well in math thanks to a teacher that was teaching in a new way. That is how we found Mr. Gelston. And when my daughter bounded out of her first math session with a huge grin and exclaimed, “I had so much fun!” – that was when everything began to turn around for her and math.

    We have been with Mr. Gelston for over 2 years now and he has been extraordinary for our daughter. He is patient and thorough; knows when/how to use humor to diffuse her anxiety; and customizes his teaching to her PG/stealth dyslexic mind. It is this latter, the ability to observe and really get to know a child – and even more to go beyond and learn more about their particular challenges (he’s reading up on stealth dyslexia to better understanding how our daughter thinks) – that makes him particularly suited to teaching the gifted. We are most grateful that he is in our lives and wish to honor him with this nomination.

    Kathy Gerber
    Salem Hills Elementary, Inver Grove Heights, MN

    Kathy Gerber is a full time teacher in my gifted magnet program. She has been a part of the program since its beginning in 2002. Her dedication to seek out and create valuable learning experiences that excite and extend her students’ learning has helped to make our program a great success.

    Sarah Gerding
    Jarrettown Elementary School, Dresher, PA

    Sarah Gerding is a teacher that believes in gifted education. She is the gifted teacher at three out of four of the elementary schools in our school district. She has been the gifted teacher for our children since they were first identified as needing enrichment. She has worked long and hard to make the experience in her classroom that of education and fun. Some of the things our children did this year were: made marble runs, did parabolic cooking, and made solar cars. However, the one thing that really stood out was the children read Macbeth, wrote their own rendition called McDonald, and performed it in front of their fifth grade class. It was an experience the children won’t soon forget.Ms. Gerding cares for all of her students. Our school district had a review of our gifted education programs two years ago. Ms. Gerding had done a presentation for our school board at that time. The following year the school district had a task force to follow the review along with focus groups. Who was at every task force and focus group meeting? Sarah Gerding. She works very hard to improve gifted education in our school district. Sarah Gerding deserves to be recognized for all she has done or gifted education and our children.

    Judy Gervase Highlands Elementary School, Naperville, IL

    Mrs. Gervase does an amazing job figuring out how to reach each child by introducing topics they like and strategies that work for them. She goes above and beyond to find what will engage each student and spark their interest in learning and what scaffolding is needed to help. Ms. Gervase recognizes that students may need help in some areas and yet be extremely gifted in others, and students feel good about themselves while she helps them make huge progress on the areas they struggled with.

    Gail Gibson
    Mapleton Elementary School, Mapleton, ME

    Ms. Gibson has always exceeded our expectations by going “to bat” for gifted children. She knows that Gifted Children are not always the children who do well in school and get good grades. She recognizes highly gifted children even when they don’t “perform” and recognize themselves. She realizes that it is important for children to receive academic challenges that will require them to learn how to study, to cope with grades less then an A, and to interact with intellectual peers before they go to college. She encourages them to discover the correlation between effort and results. She makes the goal of having a child who is happy, loves to learn, and receives a good education a worthwhile journey. Ms. Gibson truly deserves this recognition.

    Christina Gwin
    The Evergreen School, Shoreline, WA

    Christina Gwin provides a warm, energetic, supportive kindergarten classroom with a just-right level of academic challenge for all her gifted students. Her keen observations about individual children’s differences are reflected in her commitment to inclusiveness, which she models in the classroom and discusses explicitly with the students. She uses a huge variety of multiple approaches to teach and reinforce content (verbal, visual, musical, dance, etc.), and she differentiates both the social-emotional and academic curricula effectively for an extremely diverse group of learners. Every child in her class seems to feel included, welcome, supported, and stretched, no matter what their learning style and no matter what their social, emotional, and intellectual needs. That she accomplishes all of this while also modeling unwaveringly kind, patient behavior and upholding positive-discipline principles is nothing short of magic. We cannot say enough about the value of a teacher like Ms. Christina in the early, formative part of our child’s school experience.

    Thomas Hale

    Chain of Lakes Middle School, Orlando FL

    Mr. Hale has singlehandedly created stimulating curricula for many successive classes of gifted children including mine. He has always appreciated the intellectual needs and unique personalities of gifted children. My son and his friends are very grateful to have been taught by him.

    Julie Halpert
    Frank Porter Graham Elementary School, Chapel Hill, NC

    My son Louis is 8 1/2 years old. He loves the Titanic (the ship and the wreck, not the movie), Japanese naval history and water balloons. He thinks “Calvin & Hobbes” is the funniest thing in the world, spaghetti with butter and cheese is favorite food and Julie Halpert, his gifted teacher, is the single most important person in his world. Because of Louis’ unique gifts — he spoke very early, he taught himself to read at age 3, his idea of fun is memorizing the periodic table — Louis had a very, very rocky time starting public school. His brain was so far ahead of his little body, and he had serious social anxieties as a result. My husband and I got him through by hook and by crook, explaining as best we could to his educators about his special needs, about how “gifted” is sometimes a special need all its own.

    Then this year, in third grade, Julie Halpert came to FPG. Never had a teacher devoted herself to understanding his mind before. Julie took the time to really listen to Louis, to determine that he learned best visually and required lots of visual cues (instead of oral, spoken ones) and to make special schedules and other written supports available to him so that he could catch up with his peers in terms of ability to function in a classroom. Julie believed in Louis when it was hard to, when he was at his most frustrated (and frustrating) and told him he could do it when he was flagging. She told him he was smart and that he was capable. She helped us and him arrange differentiated work. She helped him have confidence in himself. She realized he needed to learn to work with other kids and she arranged his first ever “group project” — and it went off without a hitch!

    My son is forever changed because of Julie Halpert. She is the one-in-a-million teacher who knows that “gifted” is not always a blessing, that it’s something that requires skill and care and emotional support to figure out how to deal with. We are so grateful for her.

    Cynthia Hansen
    Ojai Valley School, Ojai, CA

    On behalf of the parents of Ojai Valley School gifted students, I nominate Cynthia Hansen, M.Ed UCLA, Post Masters Certificate in Gifted and Talented Education, UCSB at Ojai Valley School in Ojai, California. Cindy has SENG prominently placed in her professional life. She has established an on-campus SENG-Model Parent Support Group where she is the facilitator. In partnership with Beverly Janazewski, PhD. Psychotherapist Ventura, California, Cindy presents a off-site 5-week seminar for parents on Saturdays. In the classroom, Cindy incorporates a student self-assessment tool called, “My Learning Print,” ([email protected]). The summary form derived from this instrument is useful to the student’s teachers as a learning plan identifying strengths and areas of challenge and prescribing teaching methods. She encourages parents to take it also. Students say she stands out as someone who really cares. My son Will is one of them, verbally gifted, but ADHD has affected his reading and writing development. Administering and coordinating evaluations Cindy is enhancing understanding of my son’s gifts and challenges for all parties concerned. He has large gaps to overcome socially and academically and she has put him on a promising path for future self-awareness and achievement. She is making a huge difference in his learning progress.

    Joanna Hansen
    Columbia Elementary, Annandale, VA

    Ms. Hansen is amazing – a truly caring, supportive and energetic teacher. As Jacob’s 4th-grade Special Needs Instructor she has supported him and worked with him tirelessly every day this year. Jacob has Autism, and thanks to Ms. Hansen’s help and the entire school he has made enormous strides this year, and we are so very proud of him. There are rare teachers in life that come along and will always be remembered, and Ms. Hansen is one of them. She really believes in Jacob, and never lets him do any less than the amazing things she knows he is capable of achieving. We are grateful for such a wonderful teacher!

    Bruce Harlan
    St. Matthew’s Parish School, Pacific Palisades, CA

    Bruce Harlan is a very special man and educator who has the gift of identifying a child who has special needs. He also has the desire to reach out to the kids in any way he can. He has gone above and beyond with his time and kindness to support our son to give him special assignments to keep him stimulated and to encourage the love of learning for the sake of it. He has also set up his classroom to support many types of learners and still provides and enriching, stimulating environment. He does this with humor, his vast science knowledge, intelligence, sensitivity, personal experience, and with a kind heart.

    Joeley Harper
    Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA

    Joeley Harper is an Admissions Counselor at a local private University. Though her position is not specifically that of an educator, she has a direct impact on the education of many. Contacted only via a cold-call, Joeley took the time to listen open-mindedly to our family’s situation and then went out of her way to find a creative solution to meet our child’s educational needs. Our experience is that the key to happiness and success for a gifted child is how open and flexible the people around them are. Children that don’t fit inside the box can often only be helped by those who are willing to look outside the box for solutions. In less than 48 hours, Joeley went from being a stranger on the phone to being one of those rare and wonderful individuals who looked at a situation, and even though it did not “fit” the norm, found a solution that would accommodate our sons needs and thus had a significant impact on a gifted child’s life.

    Stacy Hawthorne
    Claggett Middle School, Medina, OH

    This nominee has helped many gifted children by using innovative ways to encourage gifted middle schoolers to reach for the stars. This can be a tough age group to reach, however she always gets them to put their all into every project that she assigns. This year alone, she was awarded a grant by the National Middle School Association for her 6th grade group to develop a video that educates other students about financial literacy. Also, she started a “lunch club” for 6th grade girls to feel good about being smart and provide options to the peer pressure.

    Pamela Hendrix
    Thomas Crossroads Elementary, Sharpsburg, GA

    I nominate Pamela Hendrix from Thomas Crossroads Elementary. This individual took over the gifted program this year at our school, and immediately qualified more students. She has come up with creative lessons, and has held gifted students accountable for their work. She has also helped the school community by providing ideas for lessons for typical peers, and ways that we can use our time more wisely.

    Matthew Herz
    Pawling Elementary School, Pawling, NY

    Principal Matt Herz, in his first year at Pawling Elementary School, chose to take a risk and put the needs of one gifted child ahead of politics. It was a gusty move to accelerate a kindergarten child in the last seven weeks before school ends. Especially gutsy if it is your first year in a new school district. Matt read the independent assessment, which arrived eight weeks before the end of the school year, and agreed with the recommendations. Matt Herz trusted his instincts and took that leap of faith. As a result of Matt’s courage, the life of at least one child has been permanently altered for the better. The immediate result is that our child is now getting the appropriate curriculum for her and is thriving where once she was withering. The possible long-term result extends beyond this one child as administrators and teachers take an interest in the fascinating information available on giftedness, as Matt has. Matt Herz has shown courage of his convictions, integrity, and passion for learning.

    Frances Hill
    Alpha Education Consultancy Ltd., Timaru, New Zealand

    Frances Hill and her husband Tony — with the help of their children — have developed an on-line virtual school in New Zealand primarily for gifted children and specialising in those with co-existing learning difficulties. They have an entire curriculum from preschool to the end of secondary school. As funding has been a problem, Frances teaches at a local school part-time in order to earn enough money to keep Alpha operating. Frances has also written several books.Frances is an amazing teacher and shares her love of learning with the students. I would have to call her a genius! The curriculum includes social and emotional literacy. Frances and Tony have dedicated their lives to gifted education with a strong focus on helping gifted underachievers. They are both state trained secondary school teachers/principals with a breadth of experience in both Primary and Secondary education. They recognised that these children were missing out and developed Alpha (at personal cost and effort) to address the discrepancies in the education system. So, so deserving of recognition!

    Penny Hite
    Perkins County Middle School, Madrid, NE

    Penny Hite is an enthusiastic, dedicated teacher. She fuels creativity and curiousity to involve her class and make history come alive. Penny has also gone the extra mile, attending NAG conferences and sponsoring a trip to Washington D.C. and New York City.

    Mary Ellen Hodapp
    Mundelein School District #75, Mundelein, IL

    Mary Ellen has served as the gifted coordinator for many years. While I was a gifted teacher in the district she worked tirelessly to support my program and the students. She provided materials, attended after school events, and advocated for the needs of the gifted students. She always attended to the needs of the parents in the program and sought out new ways to educate them and involve them in their children’s lives.

    Jeanette Holliday
    Broadmeadow School, Rantoul, IL

    After an emotional and unpleasant Kind. year, my son (Cody) was discovered to be gifted during his first grade year. Cody’s gifted teacher (Jeanette) has been a ray of shining light for my son for the past 4 years. Even though his gifted class only meets one day a week, it is the one day that Cody doesn’t feel different. Jeanette has given him the confidence to believe that he is just as important as any other student – gifted or not. In a time when school funding is based so much on test scores, many times there is not funding available for gifted students and learning. Jeanette has been known to spend her own hard earned money on supplies that are needed for her classroom. She has encouraged her students to learn their way – and not to conform to other’s ideas or thoughts. She realizes that not everyone learns the same way or has the same interests. She incorporates drama, history, culinary, art, writing, and math into the classroom – all in one day’s learning! She has been supportive and informative during her own personal issues. It is wonderful to have this woman involved in our lives. She is amazing!

    Lois Hutchins
    Center of Differentiated Education, Raytown, MO

    Ms. Hutchins has served for more than 32 years as an educator, working with gifted children of all ages. She is a master teacher who not only provides excellent academic learning experiences for her gifted students, but also attends to their social and emotional needs. She is very deserving of recognition.

    Joyce Igo
    Henry W. Moore, Candia, NH

    Mrs. Igo has read several books about my sons needs and how to help him find his way at school and for the years to come. She has helped him grow emotionally and educationlly by listening to him and watching his indivdual needs. She has watched him grow so…. much this year and has even chose to move up and teach forth grade next year so they can learn and explore togehter for another school year.

    Grace Jacobs
    Marshwood Great Works School, South Berwick, ME

    Mrs. Jacobs has been a guardian angel to our gifted girls. As the gifted and talented specialist at our school, she identified our oldest daughter as gifted when she was in the third grade. The first parent evening that Mrs. Jacobs held was a huge eye-opener for us. As we listened to her talk and explain giftedness, we kept thinking, this sounds even more like our youngest daughter. And with that, Mrs. Jacobs began the process of helping us understand what makes both our girls tick. We had always suspected that our daughters were different, but until Mrs. Jacobs shared her time and knowledge with us, we never really understood why. She has been a wealth of knowledge, suggesting books and articles to read, and always having an open ear to listen. It is thanks to her that we have a better understanding of the sensitivities that can accompany giftedness. Mrs. Jacobs puts in extra time and energy to provide special offerings for the gifted students in our school. She is always looking for ways to stretch them, encourage them and even comfort them. The World Ambassadors Club and the Lego Mindstorms NXT Robotics groups are a couple of the amazing after school opportunities she has headed at our school. Mrs. Jacobs goes above and beyond what is expected of her and is a genuine advocate for her gifted students. We definitely would have struggled these past four years without Mrs. Jacobs’ care and support. Not only has she made a huge difference in the lives of our girls, but she has helped hundreds of other gifted children in our school district. Mrs. Jacobs deserves this honor and so much more! We are forever thankful for her!

    Kathryn Jasinski
    Montessori School of Lake Forest, Lake Forest, IL

    Miss Jasinski believes in the power of observation. She integrates the practice of observation with her commitment to the philosophy of empowering the child to help himself. Gifted children benefit from her steadfast faith in the power of observation and empowerment. She does not judge any child’s behavior, particularly the gifted child’s intensity, emotionality, focus and idealism. Rather she encourages a child to leverage his gifted strengths. As parents we deeply appreciate Miss Jasinski’s consistent faith in letting our children be free to be themselves

    Jorge Jacquez
    Morehead Middle School, El Paso, TX

    Wonderful, wonderful math teacher, smiles. Accepts and works with the uniqueness of each student with compassion. Role model for other teachers.

    Barbara Joffe
    Special Needs Resource Group, Santa Monica, CA

    It is with great admiration and gratitude that I nominate Barbara Joffe for the SENG Honor Roll. I am a child psychologist specializing in the assessment of young gifted children, and when a highly gifted child comes to me who is struggling in preschool or early elementary school, Barbara is the person I call. As an educator herself, she works closely with teachers to help them to recognize and nourish the strengths of young gifted children, while at the same time supporting their areas of lagging skill. Barbara has a profound understanding of the unique joys and challenges that come with being gifted, and she provides consultation and continuing education to local schools that are interested in developing systems for successfully supporting these children. In this work, she maintains a collaborative and respectful approach, and an intuitive understanding and acceptance of individual differences among parents, teachers, and, above all, children. I cannot imagine a professional who is more deserving of this recognition.

    Heidi Johnson
    Gateways School for the Gifted, Tucson, AZ

    Heidi has introduced my son to the world of movement. He is now much more comfortable in his body and knows that he is more than just his intellect. She has taught him honor, courage and respect through the “Squires Challenge”

    Grace Jones
    Top of The World, Laguna Beach, CA

    Mrs. Jones is the school psychologist and tested Grant during the middle of his 3rd grade year (March 2013). Grant was placed on medical home school leave after being diagnosed with anxiety and expressing thoughts of suicide.

    We had Grant thoroughly tested at Summit Center in April, 2013. He was diagnosed 2e (Gifted with Dysgraphia). Mrs. Jones conducted tests through the school district as well, and she took Grant under her wing. She was pivotal in Grant returning to school in the 5th grade this Fall (grade acceleration). The District took all of Summit Centers suggestions to heart and implemented ALL them. It was truly a miracle!

    Mrs. Jones created a brain power group to assist kids like Grant to better regulate their thoughts and behaviors. He loves this group and I have witnessed self control and maturity beyond belief. Mrs. Jones relates well with Grant and communicates in a way that has Grant taking responsibility for his actions in school. When he is upset or anxiety is present, Mrs. Jones sets up a meeting with his teacher and they create solutions to keep the curriculum engaging for Grant.

    We have experienced private, public and home schooling. SENG, Summit Center and my son’s school have healed his heart and mind to stay connected to his current school. Nothing is perfect in life but Mrs. Jones has certainly made it successful under the circumstances. She is energetic, creative, a good listener and a problem solver that empowers individuals. We are so blessed to have her in our lives and to be part of this school district.

    Cindie Jue-Leong
    Joaquin Miller Elementary School, Oakland, CA

    Cindie Jue-Leong has four levels of assignments for each classroom project, homework assignment, school-wide program and district-wide program. She is a first grade teacher at Joaquin Miller Elementary School in Oakland, California. Our school does not officially identify gifted students until third grade. Our school district is bankrupt and has been taken over by the State of California. And, Cindie does not let any of this affect her four levels of assignments. My daughter, who began talking at 7 months with the word “diaper” with all three syllables intact, was a student in Cindie’s classroom. The children learned Chinese, how to write the symbols and what the characters mean, she learned the craft of African fabric printing, my daughter wrote a speech for the school-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical, while she did not win, one of her classmates placed second district-wide. High achieving / highly motivated students were encouraged to participate in the science fair. And my daughter learned how to write a five paragraph essay. With the outline, rough draft, three sets of modifications and the final copy.Because of Cindie’s effort in first grade my daughter was able to attend the Academic Talent Development Program sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley and write a 13 page report on seahorses to end her three week course on Ocean Studies.The expectation of working up to your potential was set in first grade. When my daughter now evaluates her own work and that of others, her comments range from that is not my best work, I need to work on it some more, to, Mom, the two pay report that my friend turned in is his best work.

    Michele Kane Northeastern Illinois University, Special Education, Chicago, IL

    Dr. Michele Kane, Associate Professor at Northeastern Illinois University and a leader in gifted education, regularly shares her extensive knowledge and understanding of gifted students in Illinois, this country and the world. Michele’s passion for helping gifted individuals understand their academic, as well as social and emotional issues, impacts many lives on a daily basis. During her early years as a gifted educator in a northern Illinois school district, Michele coordinated activities for students and staff. Today she continues with her mission by serving as a Northeastern special education staff member in order to train teachers to better understand and thereby assist those students who learn quickly and easily in their classrooms.

    Recently, the Illinois State Board of Education approved an endorsement for gifted education. Obtaining this endorsement will encourage staff members to implement curriculum that helps the advanced learner, whether that curriculum is in the academic or social and emotional areas. Because there’s a need to update these gifted classes at the university level, Michele has embraced the challenge to have her department be compliant with state standards. As such, more teachers will be able to consider obtaining the endorsement for gifted education and the opportunity to fine tune their classroom teaching to help all students, but particularly the gifted and talented, to reach their full potential. Congratulations to Michele and the leadership that she shares regularly to improve the pathway for the best teaching possible that supports the gifted student’s journey.

    Lisa Kaplan
    Tracey School, Norwalk, CT

    Lisa Kaplan has helped my daughter succeed in ways I am simply blown away by. Initially, Mrs. Kaplan was incredibly receptive to and proactive in assisting Jacki in transitioning easily and happily into a class of new children to Jacki. This was critical in a time of major transition in Jacki’s home life. From the first day of class, Mrs. Kaplan started to form a relationship with Jacki that goes above and beyond simple teaching. She increased her self-esteem, kept an eye out for, and encouraged friendship building, and observed her talents to properly challenge her as needed.As Jacki was beyond the reading level of the class, she paired her with another talented child and worked with them together at their pace. She encouraged Jacki’s love of learning and enthusiasm for success, and recognized Jacki’s character values as appropriate. She gave Jacki such pride in her artistic abilities, as she is advanced in that as well, displaying her work and letting Jacki share with the class.Mrs. Kaplan does not single out my daughter, she simply blends her talent into the class, and encourages children to be proud of themselves and each other. Jacki’s self esteem and commitment to school has been remarkably improved and developed because of Mrs. Kaplan. She has supported my daughter in a healthy way, keeping her socially on par with the class and developing her advanced abilities as she moves through the school year.Each child in Mrs. Kaplan’s class feels dear to her, and knows that their needs will be met. My daughter, in particular, feels like Mrs. Kaplan is her personal cheerleader.

    Dr. Blanche Kapushion
    Jefferson County Colorado Public School District, Golden, CO

    Dr. Kapushion began her “gifted journey” as a teacher in Jefferson County, CO. She became the principal of Kyffin Elementary School, a gifted center school. In 2009, Dr. Kapushion took the reins as the Director of GT education for Jefferson County School District (Jeffco), one of the largest school districts in the United States. She is an affiliate professor at Regis University for their School of Education and Counseling. Dr. Kapushion is also President of the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented. As President, she is working closely with the National Association for Gifted and Talented as they plan for the national GT convention to be held this autumn, 2012 in Denver, CO.

    In her capacity as Director of GT for Jeffco schools, Dr. Kapushion is responsible for the affective, social/emotional and academic needs of Jeffco’s gifted students, over 8,900 students (approximately 10% of Jeffco public schools’ population). She works closely and diligently with students, parents and teachers to ensure that GT students’ needs are meet. Her efforts to create a more supportive learning environment for GT students are evident by the expansion of the GT Center program that now includes 8 elementary schools, six middle schools and one high school. In addition, her close partnership with the parent group, JAGC, is a welcome channel for parents to discuss what is needed for GT children. Dr. Kapushion meets with JAGC on a monthly basis and invites other key personnel in Jeffco school’s administration to attend to ensure direct lines of communication. She also provides a learning environment for GT parents with quarterly seminars, thoughtful speakers and one-on-one communication with parents.

    Dr. Kapushion’s dedication to GT students is also exemplified by her tireless support of the educators who teach GT students. She has defended the need for teachers’ GT certification to teach GT students in GT Center Schools and has offered access to such certifications through on-line learning and professional development opportunities. In addition, she works to provide teachers with quality resources that are specifically designed for GT students. These resources enable teachers to differentiate their teaching based on students’ needs. She also recognizes that not all GT students are able to access the GT Center schools; therefore, she works with neighborhood schools to create other educational pathways for GT students.

    One specific area that Dr. Kapushion focuses on is expanding the identification process that allows GT students within Jeffco to be identified early in their educational experience. These identification processes ensures that gifted students are recognized with a body of evidence from all populations, including diverse learners and children with specific talents.

    As one of Dr. Kapushion’s peers so aptly stated “Dr. Kapushion has advocated for the needs of our gifted learners with educators and administrators within our District, and as a result, gifted students are supported and understood to a far greater degree than ever before.” At the same time, parents have noted that speaking with her individually they have felt “heard” regarding their children’s needs. It is for this commitment to gifted children, both personal and long-reaching, that the Jefferson County Association for Gifted Children would like to nominate Dr. Blanche Kapushion to the SENG Honor Roll.

    Katy Kash
    Strawberry Hill Elementary, Anamosa, IA

    Mrs. Kash is a good teacher because she challenges me. She has fun magnets in her room that I can build stuff with. Mrs. Kash is really nice. ~Grayson

    Mrs. Kash is very nice and she helps challenge me. I have lots of fun in her class. I look forward to going to her classroom every day. I’ll miss seeing and working with Mrs. Kash next year when I am in middle school. I hope my brother challenges Mrs. Kash like I do! ~Tristan

    John Katz
    Gateways School for the Gifted, Tucson, AZ

    John has been able to provide the guidance and flexibility my son needed to continue to advance in math, even though he is ahead of the rest of the class.

    Debbie Kinard
    Lincoln Elementary School, Gettysburg, PA

    When my son entered Lincoln Elementary, I already knew that he was profoundly gifted. What I did not know was that he also has bipolar disorder, which caused many behavioral problems in the classroom setting. (To compound this, he had previously been homeschooled and so the school setting was especially new and stressful.) Everyone at Lincoln Elementary worked extensively with my son on both his academic and his social skills. He is leaving Lincoln more stable, happy, and confident.Mrs. Debbie Kinard, in particular, showed amazing patience in dealing with my son’s early behavioral issues. She was willing to try many different strategies to gain his trust and respect. Many other teachers might have given up in such situations; I would not have blamed them.In addition, she saw my son’s exceptional abilities. She worked with him individually on math and reading. When it became clear that his abilities surpassed her areas of expertise, she successfully advocated for him to go to the middle school to take geometry with 8th graders, despite the fact that such acceleration had never before been allowed. She recognized the importance of this advancement, not only for his intellectual development, but also for his self-esteem and confidence.She also facilitated meetings between me and other members of the school and the middle school, in order to find the best placement for my son in the future. In all of our interactions, Debbie remained focused on all of my son’s needs. She could see his social and emotional delays, but also recognized the extent of his giftedness and how that could be used to address his weaker areas. She understood the dilemmas that I faced, as a parent, in trying to juggle his multiple needs and helped me to brainstorm many options. Her support was very important to me.

    My son and I feel extremely fortunate that he had two years at Lincoln Elementary and especially that he had Debbie’s guidance. She has literally changed the direction of his life. In addition to helping him on to a more positive path, her influence has inspired him to want to teach gifted students in the future, whether on a volunteer or professional basis.

    We appreciate this opportunity to publicly thank Debbie for all that she has done for our family.

    Susan Knight
    Novi Meadows Elementary School, Novi, MN

    The excitement of Broadway is only a shooting star compared to the ever brilliant, Northern Star of excitement, Mrs. Knight’s classroom! Each year over 500 children write, choreograph and elaborately perform their own Meadows’ Taft/Broadway show; during each rotation of vocal music, Susan Knight and the 5th grade music teacher plan with the students a fabulous musical extravaganza. Children become extroverts that have hardly spoken a word in their home classroom; the excitement is contagious and seeps into every child’s soul, as they move and sing to the rhythm of various musicians. Laughter, sincere admonishing of peers to work harder, musical voices in harmony, and dancing are often seen and heard in any area close to Mrs. Knight’s classroom. Her students take personal pride and ownership of their learning. They realize they are part of a long tradition of fabulous vocal music performances at Meadows as well as for the longevity of their education in Novi Community Schools. Mrs. Knight has been instrumental in that tradition and ignites children’s excitement in singing and performing every day she touches their lives. She brings music to life for our students.

    One of Mrs. Knight’s former students (Lydia Raburn) explains that, “My days in the spotlight at the Novi Meadows talent show are long gone, the life lessons I learned from Mrs. Knight will stay with me forever.(She) has a way of developing talent in (her) students in a very short period of time. Year after year she takes new groups of students with varying talents and levels of ability and consistently produces polished musical productions. The time, care, and endless preparation are evident to the parents and other members of the audience. What the audience doesn’t see, and what truly sets Mrs. Knight apart from other teachers, is how Mrs. Knight is shaping the lives of each young performer off the stage.

    Mrs. Knight inspires students by setting the kind of example that is easy to want to follow. She is confident and strong, yet compassionate and understanding. She approaches each day with energy and a passion that is contagious. She is always prepared, always enthusiastic and always working hard. Most of all, Mrs. Knight sets the highest of expectations for her students while at the same time instilling the confidence it requires to meet such expectations. This is truly a gift.

    Mrs. Knight taught me to always strive for perfection. She was demanding, yet positive and supportive at the same time. She taught me how important it was to continually challenge myself, even if I was already a step ahead of my peers. Good was not good enough for Mrs. Knight unless she knew it was your very best; and she took the time to learn what each student’s very best could be. Mrs. Knight was my music teacher, my piano teacher, my role model and friend. She took a genuine interest in my development as a student, a musician and more importantly, as a person. She taught me to believe in myself and to stay true to what I believed in. She helped me to learn how important it is to treat others with love and compassion. She inspired me to be a person of class and integrity, no matter what the circumstances. I cannot think of a person more deserving of this award. Mrs. Knight is truly an excellent educator and a wonderful human being.

    Susan Knight is the type of teacher that awakens her students to realize that they are part of something greater than themselves, a larger world, and works with each of them to stay on the right track to realize their place in our world at large. Susan Knight is a woman of unwavering character. She is countless Meadow students’ role model and hero, by her example and actions. Susan Knight celebrates the cultural diversity and backgrounds of her students. I am honored and humbled to nominate her for this prestigious award. Susan Knight is a teacher of excellence!

    Stephanie Kohorn Highlands Elementary School, Naperville, IL

    Ms. Kohorn makes sure all the students including gifted, special needs, and 2E feel valued and have a sense of belonging. She ensures that students are not bullied and are treated with respect, and that their special needs are addressed so they can not just survive, but thrive! Ms. Kohorn puts in considerable personal time including late hours and occasional mail during the summer. She is a mentor, coach, and friend who helps each child grow and perform to the best of their abilities.

    Nancy Krial
    Durham Nockamixon Elementary School, Kintnersville, PA

    Mrs. Krial has worked with my two boys for the past 9 years. Quite simply, she is the perfect model for what a teacher of the gifted should be. Our family and the Palisades School District have been greatly benefited by her many years of work here.

    Nick LaRosa
    Hommocks Middle School, Larchmont, NY

    Where to begin! My son, Eli spent his elementary years “out of district” in a Gifted Students with Learning Differences program. My home district decided to create a similar program for our district at our middle school. My son entered 6th grade back in our district as a guinea pig for a new program that had just been created. With Nick LaRosa leading the way, he has created one of the most wonderful, nurturing, secure and learning programs there is. It’s been three years that Mr. LaRosa has been with these students and on the eve of their graduation to High School, I can think of no better way to honor him. He has turned these gifted students into thinkers, learners, problem solvers, students, friends, performers, athletes and most importantly, young men. I owe Mr. LaRosa my life and the life of my son.

    Dominica Lassalle Esc. Superior Frncisco Mendoza, Puerto Rico

    What are the ingredients in a day in the life of an educator? You bravely take risks like a base jumper, you bring sheer joy like the duct-tape surfer, you fight injustice like Superman, and you nurture like the kitten-rescuing fireman. But most of all, you bring love to your work. Every day you go boldly into your classrooms and face a room full of expectant kids. Or bored ones, or nervous ones, or hungry ones, or excited ones. You must find a way, for those few precious hours, to be their guide, their entertainment, their support, their leader. Wherever you are coming from, wherever they are coming from, you must meet in the middle and make magic happen, because you are an educator — driven by the belief that you can make a difference in the life of a young person. Here’s to you for dealing with meltdowns; for celebrating small victories. Here’s to you for coming in early and staying late; for giving your all for your students, so that the magic of learning can be sparked in their hearts. Here’s to you for bringing love to every kid’s life. In honor of National Teacher Day — and every day

    Loi Latscha
    Nativity School, Cincinnati, OH

    Our daughter’s 2nd grade was tumultuous, and ended with her self-esteem next to nothing. We felt like we were losing the joyful little girl we knew. We were so frustrated, and nothing seemed to be working. It was the schoolyear of “What’s Wrong With Rosie?” and she no longer wanted to go to school. She was evaluated over the summer and found to be 2E with giftedness and mild ADD. It was clear that third grade was now “make or break” – she’d either love school or hate it from here on out. Her 3rd grade teacher, Loi Latscha, made her #1 goal to get Rosie’s confidence back up, everything else came second.Loi is compassionate, encouraging, intuitive, supportive, and accepting of our child’s emotional and intellectual needs. She even discovered Rosie has acute hearing & solved it with headphones and classical music. All the while, explaining to the rest of the class Rosie’s learning differences, and encouraging them to celebrate their uniqueness. She has created a safe haven for our daughter, understands her issues, supports her, and has allowed her the necessary room to grow. Above all, and the reason we are nominating Loi, is because of her, we have been given back our vibrant, funny, inquisitive little girl. Loi Latscha has been a Godsend when we needed it the most.

    Kristen Lesher
    Spring Creek Elementary, Dallas, TX

    Kristen Lesher was a shining star in the first grade year of my child. Although we have only been in her class for one year, in a pull-out gifted class for one morning each week, several parents in our class felt grateful for how well she understood the personalities of our children. My child felt accepted and understood in her care, excited about learning in her class, and proud of work completed with Ms. Lesher’s encouragement. Students are able to pursue their passions through research presentations, and Ms. Lesher provided the guidance, encouragement, and parent communication which allows each student to learn and to create a final product at his or her ability level. She is available for parent questions, enthusiastic about exchanging information we learned regarding our child’s specific needs, and supportive of our efforts to learn more about our child as an academically gifted student. When we watched class presentations, we were impressed with Ms. Lesher’s energy and her respect for all of the children. We love Ms. Lesher, and most importantly, our child loves her, and loves learning from her and because of her.

    Lisa Lillibridge
    Quest Academy At Challenger, Spring Hill, FL

    Ms. Lillibridge’s entire class of parents want to nominate her for this honor. We don’t know how she manages a class full of gifted, busy, excited 5-7-year olds, but she is so loving and accommodating with her students. She is constantly trying to think of new ways to incorporate all of the children’s gifted strengths, areas of opportunity and gifted quirks. We have seen her implement social-emotional strategies in her classroom such as: the Mind-Up curriculum, velcro glued to the inside of the desks, stress balls, popcorn distractions, meditation and breathing exercises, individual quiet time for the anxious children, allowing colored pencils for writing (versus “boring” gray pencils), and exercise to get the wiggles out – just to name a very few!

    Ms. Lillibridge is so vigilant – and so patient! She makes the parent-teacher-student relationship a real partnership with meaningful two-way communication. She listens to our concerns and always comes up with a solution.

    She is a fantastic teacher and works tirelessly every day to teach to each child’s individual strengths and to boost each child’s weak areas – always taking their social and emotional concerns into consideration. If there is such a thing as an “orientation to being gifted,” I would highly recommend Ms. Lillibridge as a facilitator – for the students, parents and teachers. What a wonderful start and introduction to being gifted these children are getting with Ms. Lillibridge in her combined Kindergarten and First Grade Class!

    Elise Lind
    The Roeper School, Bloomfield Hills, MI

    Elise has been working at The Roeper School for many years, most recently in the role of Stage IV Humanities and Homeroom Teacher (4-5th grade). Elise’s classroom is filled with all kinds of gifted learners who present a beautiful range of asynchronous attributes and intense edges. Elise understands the key component of working with her children; patience and relationship. She understands the need to bring her authentic self to the table as she uses her quirky sense of humor to find a place in each child’s heart. I have long admired her ability to nurture our most complicated gifted children year to year, but this year has been special as I have watched my own son settle into himself and to start to feel comfortable letting others into his passionate world. Although he is an introverted learner to the core, Elise has him sharing, leading, and taking risks. She has that “special sauce” that a teacher needs to make a difference in the world of giftedness.

    David Linder Science and Arts Academy, Des Plaines, IL

    Mr. Linder is the kind of educator that we wanted my son to have when we decided that a school for gifted kids was the right place for him. We were looking for a nurturing environment where my son would be cherished and valued for who he is while his social maturity caught up with how advanced he can think. Mr. Linder has been an advocate for my son since the first day. He looked passed my son’s impulsive interruptions and saw his love of learning. Mr. Linder focuses on the enthusiasm and the spark in my child instead of the challenges of dealing with an excitable student. Mr. Linder is an outstanding educator endowed with high proficiency in his field and excellent teaching skills as well as empathy, genuine interest, and advocacy for his students.

    Jan Lundquist
    The McGillis School, Salt Lake City, UT

    Jan Lundquist does a superb job of differentiating curriculum and designing authentic learning opportunities that allow for multiple points of entry and intellectual engagement. She is a master teacher who is truly committed to her students achieving their individual most. Jan was a remarkable teacher for my son and helped him love creative writing and work hard to achieve something.

    Debra MacGregor
    Miller Elementary, Canton, MI

    Debra MacGregor dedicated more than 33 years of her life to teaching in the elementary classroom. A lifelong learner, she understands the value of listening to students talk about their own passions. Debra was able to work with students to set boundaries and high expectations while keeping the classroom comfortable, safe and challenging, without compromising her role as leader of the classroom. While diligently following the prescribed curriculum of the school district, Debra masterfully differentiated assignments so that advanced learners could challenge themselves intellectually, laying the foundation for them to follow her outstanding example and become lifelong learners themselves.

    As an elementary teacher, Debra used her creativity to ensure gifted students received the education they crave, purposefully getting to know each student individually and finding methods to ensure the intellectual, social and emotional well-being of every single child, uniquely, in her classroom. She addressed fears and worries adeptly, over- exuberance wisely and social challenges with a calm assurance that allowed every child to feel certain that they were safe and understood in that place and that it was not only okay, but truly wonderful, to be who they are. The child who was gifted in language found ways to become excited about another subject matter when their classroom peer had an enthusiastic tidbit of extraordinary knowledge to share about the world of physics.

    Debra was not only an extraordinary advocate for gifted students, but also a valued mentor to teachers and administrators with whom she worked. She regularly took on additional responsibilities in the form of a graduate education student, thereby training numerous young adults in her exceptional methods of teaching. Even in “retirement,” Debra continues to further her passion for education by working with graduate education students, evaluating education policies and university education departments. This attests to her passion for education and makes her a notable educator…one the likes of which a student is blessed to have experienced in life, if only just once.

    Linda Madden Long Meadow Elementary School, Rochester Hills, MI

    Mrs. Linda Madden is a teacher who helps gifted learners soar! The past two years, she has helped reignite the love of learning in our daughter by providing her opportunities to work at her level. When Leah and Ethan, two fifth grade students, were scheduled to begin an early day at middle school taking Advanced Sixth Grade Math, she volunteered to take on the extra instruction to teach it at the elementary school. She guided these two students at their own learning pace and surpassed the standard curriculum for the class.

    Mrs. Madden has been one of the most responsive teachers in the Rochester Community Schools to the needs of gifted learners and understands that gifted students deserve the same right to learn new material; grow academically, socially, and emotionally; and experience struggle and failure on the road to success. She has made a difference for our daughter and other gifted children.

    Mrs. Mallozzi
    J.A. Coles Elementary School, Scotch Plains, NJ

    Mrs. Mallozzi was our son’s second grade teacher at Coles School, a public elementary school in Scotch Plains, NJ. She sets high standards for each child in her class and helps them achieve their potential.Mrs. Mallozzi expended a great deal of time researching ways to challenge our son academically and also ensured that our son was growing socially. We cannot think of a person more deserving of this award. Mrs. Mallozzi is an outstanding teacher and a wonderful person. She truly is in a league of her own.

    Cara Martin
    Holmes School, Darien, CT

    Cara Martin has taught my two older girls – my oldest daughter for 2 years, and now my 3rd grader this past year in the Darien school system’s gifted program, and she is just great!!! She is constantly coming up with new ways to motivate the children, and always is fun and they love her. She is very inspirational and dedicated.Cara is always learning new things about the gifted and she is up on new studies and new methods of identifying and working with gifted children. She is fun and the kids love her. My third grader looks forward to Mondays – ONLY because she has ‘IDEA’ – Darien’s gifted class with Cara Martin. If it were not for Cara, and the gifted program, I think I would have to think seriously about putting my kids in private school – even though Darien is lucky to have a great school system. What she does in 1 1/2 hours a week make a huge difference in my daughters life (and did for 2 years of my older daughter’s life as well). She challenges them, nurtures them, and helps them take on challenging projects step by step. She is kind and encouraging and has a huge smile. She treats them like the intellects they are, and she knows each kid so well it is incredible. She is the perfect example of what a teacher can and should be for all kids. Teaching gifted kids requires additional insight and perhaps patience, both of which she has. Some of these kids are so smart that they are frequently faced with adults (other teachers too) who are bothered/scared by their questions, or their quick answers. Cara is not afraid to say she does not know – or to let the kids know that even she got one answer wrong on a vocab. test. So they respect her – know she is honest (they can usually tell!) and feel comforted by her example that they are not expected to be perfect all the time! (This is a huge issue especially with my girls for whom perfection – or striving for it – is definitely an issue). She is not afraid to engage them in working ‘with’ her to solve a problem, which is a great way for bright kids to work and learn!

    Katie Mathews
    Indian Run Elementary, Dublin, OH

    Katie really engaged our 4th grade daughter though rigorous project-based inquiry. We were touched by our daughter’s end-of-the-year letter to Katie: “Thank you for giving me the best year of my life.” From our perspective as parents of a 2E child, this is priceless. Katie provided a nurturing environment and sparked our daughter’s curiosity. Most importantly, our daughter was happy to attend school. Katie is a great teacher, but she is also very skilled at communicating and building relationships with students and families. We appreciated Katie so much this year!

    Robert McCain
    Nathan Hale Middle School, Norwalk, CT

    Mr. McCain is the principal of Nathan Hale Middle School. In 2008, Mr. McCain discovered that two of his gifted program students had earned near perfect scores on the math portion of the Connecticut Mastery Test. He decided that they should receive differentiated instruction in the classroom and worked with their math teacher to develop a totally differentiated curriculum for these two students. As a result, (these students) continue to be appropriately challenged each and every day! Additionally, Mr. McCain has had his entire staff trained in how to work with gifted children in the regular classroom. He has demonstrated a genuine commitment to challenging all children. Thank you Mr. McCain!

    Mrs. McLellan
    Hope Montessori School, Manassas, VA

    My daughter tested ready for kindergarten when she turned 2. Mrs. Mac (as the children call her) took my daughter for a half-day class when my daughter was 2 1/2. No other school would. Mrs. Mac thought my daughter was ready for the full-day kindergarten when my daughter was 3 1/2. She was by far the youngest in the class and a head shorter than everyone else, but she thrived. Mrs. Mac kept my daughter’s mind stimulated while working on the physical – mental disconnects, such as knowing what to write but not having the physical skills to do so. Mrs. Mac established an environment where my daughter was viewed as an equal of the other children, while watching out for social imbalances due to age. We are extremely grateful that Mrs. Mac was my daughter’s teacher.Mrs. McLellan (on left) receiving her SENG Honor Roll Certificate from Hope Montessori School, Annandale VA .

    Christie McWilliams
    Cy-Fair High School, Cypress TX

    I have had the pleasure of working with Christie McWilliams as a colleague in the English IV Department for six years at Cy-Fair High School. While currently retired from teaching, I still remained active at Cy-Fair High School by substituting for dual-credit and honors classes until I recently moved to Arlington, TX. Last summer, Christie attended the SENG Summit in Salk Lake City, and I became interested in your organization. After perusing your website, I decided to nominate Christie for the SENG Honor Roll, an honor which she highly deserves.I am still truly amazed by Christie, a truly gifted leader and creative teacher, who goes that extra mile in every endeavor she attempts. She motivates, positively influences, and inspires all students and teachers directly or indirectly by her influence (even teachers with master’s degrees in gifted education who have taught thirty years such as me!). Christie’s Dual Credit English IV classroom, comprised of high achieving and gifted learners, is phenomenal because of her excellent academic and educational qualifications and her abounding energy. With a master’s degree in English Education from SHSU and currently completing her doctoral work in Gifted Education at the University of Houston, she motivates and electrifies classroom lessons for her students by making every lesson a multi-disciplinary, differentiated, and enriching experience. She has even taken on extra classes during the day to satisfy student needs. AND, she has started the first DC ENGL IV Service Learning course in Cy-Fair ISD., where her Dual Credit students complete at least fifteen hours of community service related to their self-selected research topic. Students want to take her classes, as evidenced by her class load of 165+ (more than double the student load than other English IV teachers), and teachers come to Christie for guidance in effectiveness of their lessons.Not only does Christie teach these extra classes and work on her doctorate degree, she finds time to teach at the college level as well in the evenings! Because of her desire to share her techniques with others, she has presented at many workshops including at the University of Warwick in England last summer and more recently at the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) and TCTELA (the statewide branch of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)) conferences.

    I have also had the pleasure of traveling with one of Christie’s student European trips. Yearly, because the district doesn’t offer enrichment activities for gifted students, she sponsors trips so they may experience firsthand the old world literature studied in her classroom. Whether in Canterbury, England, discussing Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, or in Stratford-on-Avon immersing themselves in Shakespeare’s life and works, Christie brings the literature to life for her students. These young adults form lasting memories because of Christie’s leadership, vision, and devotion to offering life experiences. Christie’s energy level for offering interesting and challenging experiences for her students never ceases to amaze me!

    Therefore, Christie is a much-deserving candidate for the SENG Honor Roll.

    Karen Mensing
    Sonoran Sky Elementary School, Scottsdale, AZ

    As part of my weekday morning ritual, I stand with a class of wiggly-giggly kids, my son included, on the playground of Sonoran Sky Elementary School. We hang out until the first bell rings, at which time Ms. Mensing leads her self-contained class of K-2 gifted students into school. Every morning, without fail, she receives a hero’s welcome. The kids literally clamor at her feet; their faces brighten at the sight of her. What’s not to love? Here’s a teacher with boundless energy, a warm smile and a quick wit. Her curriculum is quirky and engaging, and she exudes an earnestness that kids sense and admire. She communicates clearly, without condescension. This alone sets her apart in my son’s experience (he once said his former teacher spoke to children “like we were puppies and not people”). A cloud was lifted for him when he entered her class. He isn’t simply challenged – he’s inspired. He would jump over the moon for Ms. Mensing. Come to think of it: so would the vast majority of her students, and their parents as well. Bottom line: We know a winner when we see one. Thank you, Ms. Mensing, for your tremendous commitment to gifted kids.

    Melissa Milburn Lakemont Elementary, FL My 10-year old son is a highly gifted child who can be very challenging to teach even for those with gifted certifications. Last year (4th grade) he had the experience to work with Mrs. Milburn and it was his most successful year – academically as well as his interest in school and to learn. It wasn’t luck nor chance, it was hard work by my son and his teachers. Mrs. Milburn is flexible, patient and curious as to how her students learn which she in turn adapts her teaching style versus teaching disconnected to her students. I recall her sharing stories of how if my son was challenged, she often would praise him for his efforts and then quickly move him onto another subject, allowing time before going back to tackle the challenge. While this seems like a simple strategy, it was significant as it took time, patience and an understanding of his needs. I saw his confidence surge within weeks of school starting and it never stopped. I asked Mrs. Milburn what was her secret and these were some of the words she shared “holistic approach…came up with a plan to make it his best year from day one… spent time praising him for a job well done and didn’t make him feel bad for incomplete work….everything was phrased in a positive manner and seen as how can we improve next time the pressure was gone so he started to relax and excel.”

    Mary Ann Miller
    West Elementary School, Colorado Spring, CO

    I wish to wholeheartedly nominate Anne Shargel and Mary Ann Miller to the SENG Honor Roll. Mrs. Shargel is a teacher and Mrs. Miller is her invaluable teaching assistant. They are in charge of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in the Colorado Springs District 11 EAGLES program (Exceptional Academic Gifted Learning Experience Site).I first met Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller when our son James was in 3rd grade. He was struggling mightily in trouble all the time, miserable, having nightmares, hating school (yet he had all “As”!). He had been identified as above his grade level in Kindergarten and as gifted in 2nd grade (but the school did not have any services until 3rd grade). We met with his teacher, the GATE teacher, the principal, the school psychologist, even took him to a private therapist (who said there was not a thing wrong with him). The principal actually told us that they’d “never seen a kid like James” and suggested that there was something “organically” wrong with him.My husband heard an ad for the EAGLES program on the radio and we decided to move him from our small town school to the neighboring District 11. I visited Mrs. Shargel’s classroom at the end of the 2008 school year and sat observing for over 2 hours. I was enthralled! Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller had a classroom full of gifted children eating out of their hands! I was mystified how could these two women have such control? After observing and speaking with them I saw that it was magic it was the magic of two people who genuinely cared about the little hearts and minds of their charges.Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller are compassionate and caring when dealing with the kids yet they are also “no nonsense” and hold the students to high standards. In addition, they are educated with regard to gifted children and constantly seek to learn more. From speaking with me briefly (and having not even met James yet), Mrs. Shargel identified that he was probably a spatial learner and promptly handed me a book on the subject. (By the way, she was 100% correct in her assessment!)

    Both Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller encourage positive friendships for James (and the other students), they encourage and nurture his leadership skills and encourage and support his interests (currently medieval weaponry). They challenge him to reach his full potential and do so without criticism and all the while boosting his self-confidence. They are both advocates for James and for all the children in their charge.

    But the bottom line for me, and the reason I am making this nomination, is that Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller have saved James’ life. If he had stayed in his previous situation we would have lost him (probably both literally and figuratively). Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller returned to us our sharp-witted, inquisitive, highly intelligent, very funny little boy and are now working to make him into a content, well-adjusted, educated and still very funny young man.

    Maureen Montone
    Murray Ave. School, Larchmont, NY

    Maureen Montone has encouraged the intellectual curiosity and growth of my daughter, Dara, and at the same time supported her emotional sensitivity. By gently nudging Dara to consider ideas and points of view outside of her comfort zone, Maureen has stretched the depth of her thinking. Overall, Maureen is flexible and responsive and has made the classroom a safe community for all of her students. She acknowledges students’ individual gifts by partnering with them to tailor projects to their interests and strengths.

    Geoffrey Moon
    Gallup McKinley County Schools, Gallup, NM

    Mr. Moon is not only a teacher, he is the Gifted Coordinator for Gallup McKinley County Schools in Gallup, New Mexico. Mr. Moon has helped not one, but all of the gifted children in New Mexico.Mr. Moon’s greatest talents are critical thinking, creativity, and collaborative leadership. Other areas of expertise include verbal and written communication, use of technology, and presentation skills. He has brought these skills together to advocate at local, state, and national levels for the equitable identification of all gifted children in New Mexico. Mr. Moon played an essential role in changing statute to allow for an alternative assessment where students’ test results may be negatively impacted by cultural, language, socio-economic, or disability factors. In fact, Mr. Moon has completely revised and renormed the Frasier Talent Assessment Profile for the state of New Mexico to remove the bias and adverse results of traditional testing to those students with the above mentioned factors. He has made multiple presentations at the National Level regarding the equitable assessment of twice exceptional and special populations of gifted.

    Mr. Moon was also instrumental in changing New Mexico statute to require that teachers working with gifted students have an endorsement in gifted via gifted endorsement classes at the University level. That requirement has been codified and goes into effect July, 2012. Mr. Moon and five other University Instructors/Professors aligned all the syllabi for these endorsement classes to maintain the highest level of competence for gifted instructors.

    Mr. Moon has done extensive research in the areas of critical thinking skills, creativity, intelligence theories, and the integration of technology into instruction. He has worked diligently to ensure that the Native American population has the same access to appropriate gifted services throughout the state. He works synergistically with students, colleagues, parents, and administrative staff. Not only is he an advocate; he also inspires others to advocate. Each year he lobbies at the state legislature to maintain gifted funding, equitable identification, and appropriate services for the gifted students in our state. He has assisted with Gifted Education Day at the capital and assisted students to learn to lobby for themselves.

    Peggy Murphy-Gerk
    Mackintosh Academy, Littleton, CO

    My 7 year old 2e son started 1st grade this year at Mackintosh Academy after being asked to leave his old school. He was bored, acting out, anxious, overwhelmed and misunderstood. This past year at Mackintosh Academy has changed all of that. He is a different child now: confident, happy and succeeding. Of course, he is still not without his challenges, but we are beginning to see more of the light that’s been hidden in him and less of the “static” that gets in his way.

    Mrs. Murphy-Gerk is an amazing teacher. She came in half way through the year and has helped my son blossom. He began the year reading below a Kindergarten level and he is now reading at a 2+ grade level. He refused to write anything and come home with 0’s on his spelling tests. We are now posting his 100%’s on our refrigerator almost every week. And, he’s writing cursive!

    But, it’s not just our child. Mrs. Murphy-Gerk clearly cares for her students, recognizes their strengths and understands their weaknesses. She has implemented reward programs in the classroom that has helped all of them with their social/emotional growth. She runs a gifted classroom with some very strong personalities. She has the energy to keep these kids on their toes – which is not an easy feat!

    We owe so much to the time and effort Mrs. Murphy-Gerk has put in to her classroom this year. Thank you!

    Noble Newman
    Brighton Area Schools, Brighton, MI

    Noble Newman… draws upon a wealth of personal knowledge and research to teach his students on all levels. Noble Newman embraces the multiple intelligences research in virtually everything he does. He actively praises students, inspires them, and engages them in a variety of ways. Noble Newman effectively prompts, leads, encourages students to take risks in their thought process, and compels students to spend time on task. Students vigorously learn even during transition times. He orchestrates learning in group settings by matching appropriate forms of social interaction to the various instructional formats. Noble Newman uses his understanding of individual and social learning theory, as well as child and adolescent development theory to form his decisions about how to teach. He strives to provide multiple contexts in which to promote and evaluate student achievement. Students learn to take ownership of their learning and selves through his guidance. Noble Newman excites his students to reach beyond themselves to find their own answers, own questions, and own voice… Mr. Newman shows great concern for his students’ dignity, self-concept and motivation which he maximizes to develop his students’ affective and physical domains… Mr. Newman cared about our son’s learning first and foremost, not rules. It is a great honor and privilege to recommend Noble Newman as a true educator.

    Joshua Noah
    Rainard School for Gifted Children, Houston, TX

    Mr. Joshua Noah is a bright, sensitive, and thoughtful teacher who has a special ability to connect with and nurture the gifted middle school students he teaches. He has understood my son’s learning style and gone out of his way to help my son use his strengths and work on his weaker areas. Mr. Noah sees the strengths in his students even when others are seeing the struggles, and works to help the students see themselves in a positive light. He is creative in his teaching, adapting material to each student’s level and abilities. Even more importantly, Mr. Noah has taught them about themselves, the world, and life in general. Mr.

    Noah was a gifted student himself who clearly loves working with his students. My son is lucky to have had Mr. Noah to guide him this past year.

    Mary Oates
    Central Unified School District Office – Educational Services, Fresno, CA

    Mrs. Oates is the District GATE Psychologist in Central Unified School District located in Fresno, California. She developed and currently facilitates the “Voices Program” for gifted and talented students. Voices is a discussion group which allows gifted and talented students the opportunity to voice their specific needs with like peers and adults who work with gifted children and adolescents. Mrs. Oates runs discussion groups and works with other district psychologists so that many of our gifted students benefit from this program. Her compassion and understanding of the social and emotional needs of the gifted is absolutely priceless!

    Ulfet Okbay Bilkent Laboratory & International School, Ankara, Turkey

    Ms Ulfet Okbay contributed to the self achievement of a gifted child by providing an enabling environment to realize her social responsibility project. Ms. Okbay listened and valued the ideas of her students. When a young child wanted to make a project for mitigating the negative results of the Syrian conflict on the refugees, Ms. Okbay acted out of the box, different than most of the other adults who would tell young children to leave the big world issues to adults. Ms. Okbay welcomed, encouraged, mentored, and guided her student, but did not interfere and manipulate her ideas. She let her student fly with her own wings to make a difference and encouraged her other students by telling them that “if one child can make that much of a difference imagine how much you can do together.”

    Mike Ortmann
    Lawrence High School, Lawrence, KS

    My daughter transferred from a small town high school to a larger out-of-district high school last year, her junior year, in order to take higher level classes than were offered at her district school. Mr. Ortmann became my daughters AP US History teacher. While my daughter is gifted in math and science, history is not only a difficult subject for her, she also has always disliked the subject of history. My daughter and I knew that it was likely she would have trouble in this class, but felt it was better to have her experience a difficult class in high school (something which had never occurred in my daughters previous school years) than it was to have her go through this in college for the first time. I was amazed initially at how much my daughter spoke about Mr. Ortmann’s abilities to make the class fun, even though it was hard and not an interesting subject for my daughter. However, after the first test, my daughter was extremely discouraged when she received a “C” – which had never happened to her and she had difficulty understanding, since she had actually studied hard (in her estimation at that time) for the test. I met with Mr. Ortmann and found out that it was possible for her to bring her grade up to an “A” in the class by the semester, but she would have to really work hard and receives “A’s” on almost everything else, including a major research paper and project. Both I and Mr. Ortmann discussed this with my daughter and then the changes began to happen. For the first time in my daughter’s education an “A” would not be easy, she had to learn new ways of studying the information and she had to learn how to even do a research paper; since her previous school had never had such an assignment in all her previous classes. Mr. Ortmann was wonderful with my daughter, not only did he deliver fun and interesting classroom lessons, he continually praised and encouraged the changes she was making and she did make it – she achieved not only an A in his class, this summer we found out that she scored a 4 on the AP exam. I cannot express enough how major of an accomplishment this was for my daughter, she was challenged in an area she was extremely weak in and motivated to rise to the occasion. It has always been a fear of mine that once she really faced an academically challenging class, especially in a subject she did not enjoy or have a natural aptitude for, that she would give up – she was so use to things being easy for her. I truly believe that if I was the only one standing behind her she may have faltered (because I am her mom and she knows I always believe in her) but, having Mr. Ortmann be so interested and involved in the process made all the difference in the world. I truly believe that it is the supreme test of a teacher to be given a student who dislikes a subject and has no real aptitude for that subject and then to achieve the outcome of a student who excels in the class, a national exam over the materials, and in the end has the utmost respect and admiration for that teacher – Mr. Ortmann obtained just that with my daughter and I will be forever thankful. If all teachers had the same belief in their students and even half the passion for their subjects as Mr. Ortmann does, this would really be a different world for all students.

    Hari Nair
    Whirlpool Design Studio India, Chicago, IL

    Mr. Nair developed several Research Design Studios globally, with a great opportunity to develop discussion groups which allow gifted and talented students and professionals, the opportunity to voice their specific contributions to the tasks delivered. Mr. Nair runs discussion groups and works with other research labs creating a wonderful opportunity to achieve outstanding results from both sides. His compassion and understanding of the social and emotional needs of the gifted is absolutely priceless!My son, Guilherme, was selected with his high scores to attend a university internship in India, while he was studying material engineering at a leading federal university in Brazil. Guilherme was appointed to do one research project during the period (6months), on a real industry lab. He was given more tasks (7 total) and was able to accomplish all of them with more them 95% success (the 5% was regarding to the local language Indi, that he managed to learn well during that time too). Guilherme went to China after that, and we believe that Hari’s previous guidance made a clear difference on these achievements. Hari was able to increase my son’s motivation, and identify and extend his abilities.

    Becky Painter Bilkent Laboratory & International School, Turkey

    Ms. Becky Painter made big difference in the life of a gifted child, by realizing she has some difficulties in reading and writing and provided her with encouragement, academic support and motivation. Even though she was not my daughter’s teacher at the second grade, the moment she realized my daughter’s situation, she offered extra help during her free time. She did this on a completely voluntary basis.

    After that she had been one of the anchor teachers for my daughter, while she was coping with her writing and reading skills. Ms. Painter helped my child to focus on her strengths while she was improving on her weaknesses. She kept her motivated and showed her the way.

    Now this year as a fifth grader my daughter was among the best readers according to the standard assessment tests that were performed at her school, and among the highly achieving students. Ms. Painter’s skill as a teacher still inspires and motivates my child to believe in herself and realize her potential.

    We are so grateful that she was always there for us with our other teachers, showed us the way, and never let my daughter to give up until she fully reached her potential. No words would be enough to express our appreciation.

    Dorina Passio Pine Run Elementary School, New Britain, PA

    As a third grade teacher, Mrs. Dorina Passio truly exemplifies superior teaching in the challenging settling of a public school and its particular broad range of academic student abilities. By expressing her own curiosity and love of learning her highly engaging teaching style becomes a ‘contagious’ tool in inspiring the most reluctant learner as well as the gifted child. Mrs. Passio intuitively embraces the uniqueness of every student by nurturing each child with acceptance and by stressing the importance of self-expression. Her consistent message to the gifted child is that she values his fast-pace thinking skills and ever questioning, highly curious nature in the most non-judgemental way and equally guides him to work on his weaknesses. This exceptionally gifted educator excels at creating an all important safe haven by encouraging risk taking and not perfectionism. Aside from the academic enrichment that this non-specialty, homeroom teacher naturally provides to her gifted student and advanced learners, she gives them the far greater and lasting gift of social and emotional acceptance as well as group belonging. We are eternally grateful for the difference that this remarkable educator makes in her students’ lives.

    Diana Patchett Kristin School, Aukland, New Zealand

    Diana Patchett is the principal of Kristin Junior School. She is wholeheartedly committed to gifted education. She has made significant impacts on the lives of gifted students since her arrival 3 years ago.

    Diana is devoted to every single gifted child. Under her leadership, learning in a regular classroom is very flexible in order to meet the needs of gifted children. For example, my daughter has been well catered with her ability 3-7 years above her age across academic subjects while still being able to engage in physical activities with her peers.

    Diana’s dedication is exemplified by hugely expanding extension opportunities in various aspects (writing, reading, maths, technology, philosophy and much more). Inspiring and innovative methods are adopted to bring out children’s potential. For instance, famous authors were invited to provide workshops and drama shows. Imagine my 9 year-old child writing a series of science fiction after being inspired by an author!

    Diana is passionate about looking after the emotional and social needs of gifted children, especially the intensity of exceptionally gifted children. If a child is in need, her tireless, immediate help is always there. With Diana’s incredible efforts and enthusiasm gifted students are always joyful. My daughter commented, “Mrs. Patchett has turned the school into a paradise for me!” She truly cares for and values each student at Kristin and makes sure everyone has a happy school life.

    Joe Pausback
    Mackintosh Academy, Lakewood, CO

    Joe is the most inspiring, committed teacher our son, Alex, has ever had. He understood how to motivate and engage his entire class of students, and Alex never worked harder. Looking back, it’s clear that Alex got so much value out of his 5th and 6th grade years. Now that we are heading into high school, I understand better what a difference a great teacher can make.

    Alex is twice exceptional, with dyslexia and ADHD. Despite these challenges, Alex made every effort to go above and beyond for Mr. P., and these efforts were rewarded with positive feedback. Thank you for being the kid of teacher that Alex will remember for the rest of his life.

    Kip Perkins
    Gateways School for the Gifted, Tucson, AZ

    Kip has a wonderful relationship with the gifted children. He provides for experiential learning that lets each child’s creativity soar. He treats each child with respect and honors his/her individual differences in an appreciative, non judgmental way.

    Julie Perks Kyrene Monte Vista Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ

    Julie Perks has over 15 years experience in gifted education. She is a HUGE advocate of SENG. Her past has brought her where she is now. Julie’s brother was profoundly gifted and found himself living in his car for a year before finally finding success in cancer research. Back then there was no help for gifted people. Mrs. Perks also has a grown daughter who is gifted and has successfully completed her doctorate. When her daughter was a child and struggling through school, it was up to Julie to figure out how to support her daughter’s social and emotional needs. And that marks just the beginning of Mrs. Perks’ vast expertise in the area of giftedness. Imagine a child who is brilliant but cries about not having friends and whimpers about making a SINGLE mistake on a math test. Imagine a child who thinks she is just average but is at the top of her class in a self contained gifted classroom. What is one to do? Enroll your student in Julie Perks’ class and she will help your child gain the necessary social/emotional skills that your gifted child needs to succeed in life. Julie Perks has compassionately paved the way for gifted kids to succeed by learning how to COPE with life. She turned a sweet shy and sensitive nine-year-old, highly gifted girl with many social and emotional impairments, into a ten-year-old who is friendly and confident — and even a leader!

    Josh Philibert
    Sage School, Foxboro, MA

    3rd and 4th grade math and science teacher Josh Philibert is always interested in finding new ways to motivate and support those who want to learn and their tireless energy demands.

    Lois Pipkin
    Hillsborough Elementary School, Hillsborough, NC

    Lois Pipkin has served as an advocate for gifted students in the Orange County schools as a teacher in several schools and has assisted in developing system-wide programs. As an advocate for students she understands the importance of offering challenging lessons, differentiating the curriculum in those lessons, connecting with the students personally, and offering encouragement and counsel for their parents. Her classroom is a warm and welcoming oasis where students are challenged academically and are comfortable asking those questions gifted peers might also ask. She understands that “square pegs” should not be forced to fit “round holes” but should be allowed and encouraged to flourish in their uniqueness. As one of her fortunate principals I was continually impressed with the relationship she developed with students and the challenges she offered them academically.

    Suzanne Plume
    Emanuel School, NSW, Australia

    Suzanne Plume, as coordinator of the gifted and talented program at Emanuel school (and the only member of her department), helps countless children to realize their potential. She has provided multiple extension opportunities for my two boys, in years 2 and 4, advocating for their needs – whether academic, social or emotional. Most importantly she does the most outstanding job at educating parents as well as supporting them in understanding their child’s unique needs and providing the necessary resources, whether reading material or activities. Suzanne never complains about her massive workload, has never said “no” when I’ve requested yet another meeting. Her support has been invaluable in enabling me to be a better and more understanding mother to my cognitively gifted and emotionally challenging children.

    Keely Porter
    Byrom Elementary School, Tualatin, OR

    Mrs. Keely Porter, TAG Specialist for Byrom Elementary School in Tualatin, Oregon, is a very special person and talented educator who advocates for all her students, including those who attend the school and may not be identified by district standards. Mrs. Porter provides a variety of activities that are fun, challenging and allows time for exploration of current interests for all her TAG students and their friends. She works hard to provide a stimulating learning environment, and uses creative, diverse, and scientifically researched teaching methods to allow her students the freedom to be challenged. Mrs. Porter provides valuable resource materials and instruction to the entire staff at our school and district and is always available for parents who may need additional support in raising their exceptional children. She has helped our two sons in so many ways – socially, emotionally and especially intellectually. Although he had a rough time in elementary school, he is resilient, and is doing fabulous in middle school. Mrs. Porter saved him, and has helped him become an outstanding young man that he is today. He is able to visit her on occasion and she still provides him a strong foundation in support and advice on how to be his own person. He is a Star Scout in Boy Scouts, OA member, and is on the trail to Eagle Scout. Mrs. Porter ROCKS! We are looking forward to our youngest son working with her soon.

    Sarah Protzmann
    ACE Academy, Austin, TX

    Mrs. Protzmann teaches a class of 12 gifted children, ages 6-8. These kids are full of boundless energy and creativity, and Mrs. P is very engaged in meeting the needs of each of these special children. She is an amazing teacher with seemingly infinite patience. Our 7-year-old son Jack is not only gifted, but he has struggled with behavioral and social issues. During the past 18 months, Mrs. P has gone above and beyond to help Jack succeed in the classroom. She has worked closely with our “team” (OT, social therapists) to take suggestions and put in place strategies that work for Jack as an individual. She has demonstrated understanding of and extrodinary willingness to work with Jack’s challenges, and he has grown and improved tremendously under her guidance. We have seen our son go from the kid on the playground who just wanted to be by himself to a fully engaged child with friends and much more typical social interactions. Mrs. P has set goals for Jack and helped him reach them, and she has kept an eye on the skills he’ll need to be successful after he leaves her classroom and moves on to other environments. We are truly appreciative of Mrs. Protzmann’s belief in Jack and her support and focus on the “whole child.” She didn’t give up on him, and for that we are incredibly grateful.

    Susan Posmer
    Traughber Junior High School, Oswego, IL

    Susan Posmer treats each child in her class as if that child were the ONLY child in the class. Personality quirks? No problem, she helps children realize the greatness in individuality. Difference of opinion? Fabulous! It becomes a subtle chance to model constructive tactics for persuasive arguing. As a teacher, Susan is a student’s dream. For G/T students, she is a lifesaver. Her poise is unflappable, her sense of humor witty and sharp. A more compassionate, demanding, fun-loving, focused educator you will never find. Mrs. Posmer is gifted education’s prima ballerina.

    Sue Rabas
    Westside Elementary, Elkhorn, WI

    I had not known Miss Rabas, and although Hannah had excellent teachers, and the most amazing principal, Miss Rabas was a silent Angel supporting Hannah’s emotional needs, without ever advertising to me or anyone else, that she was doing so. I watched my child grow from a girl who was focusing on negative situations in school, making herself the victim (already at age seven), and becoming a professional day dreamer, to a girl who was shining and being kind to others ( because she no longer felt unnoticed or unchallenged). I watched her come up with new projects of her own, and then tell me how her teacher allowed her to… during class.

    This past year., Miss Rabas allowed Hannah to visit second grade and teach this year’s class about anti- bullying etc. The children requested to skip recess so that Hannah could teach for another half hour. Miss Rabas allowed it, even t risk of fallout. It was Hannah’s best day of third grade, an otherwise challenging year, in regards to her emotional needs at school.

    Miss Rabas is not touted as an expert of G&T. Miss Rabas did not play favorites with my daughter. Miss Rabas saw a child with exceptional emotional needs and complications. She saw a seven year od girl with an I Q of 143, who was keenly and sometimes painfully aware, that she had different ideas

    Krista Radsick
    California Virtual Academies, Simi Valley, CA

    Krista Radsick is a Jr. High Teacher for the California Virtual Academy (a public charter school, independent study program) and my son’s 7th and 8th grade teacher. While we did not know exactly what to expect switching from a private brick and mortar school to a public independent study program, we most certainly did not expect the level of care and support we received from Krista. Beyond just assisting us with the curriculum matters, Krista took the time to get to know our son, who he was and what motivated him as a student and as a person. She understood the connection between his need for challenge and his happiness, and worked creatively and proactively to pave the way for his needs to be met both within the CAVA system and beyond. Both her support and advocacy have resulted in the best journey we could have ever imagined…. Krista is a true Rock Star to our family.

    Jennifer Reed
    Acacia Elementary School, Thousand Oaks, CA

    Mrs. Reed was the first and only teacher to take the time to complete the necessary paperwork to nominate my child for GATE testing. In fact, she took the time to nominate at least 5 students in her class that same year. She strives to bring out the best in all of her students and rewards them with kindness.

    Richard Reese
    John Glenn School Corporation, Walkerton, IN

    Richard Reese has a heart for all students. Since becoming superintendent of schools in Walkerton, he has supported the High Abilities program with action. He has “walked the walk” when funding has been in question. Mr. Reese has backed the program and provided staff with educational opportunities to learn more about High Ability needs. He has given staff precious time to work on programming ideas. When a presenter, Dr. Jean Peterson, was scheduled to speak to parents regarding the special social and emotional needs of high ability youth, Mr. Reese made it possible for the entire school corporation staff to have a professional in service day opportunity with Dr. Peterson. He has placed great value on helping to educate our staff from kindergarten through grade 12 on the specific counseling and guidance needs of high ability youth. He is quickly becoming a champion of high ability youth in our district and is making a difference in the lives of our high ability students with his support.

    Lisa Reid Reid Day School, Costa Mesa, CA

    When Dr. Reid began teaching my son, she told me she wanted to consult with two Summit Center psychologists on his behalf. The three of them spent hours pouring over his extensive assessments, school reports, and writing samples to finally uncover his complex learning profile. After hearing the diagnosis and reading about it, I realized I had finally found a teacher who understood my son.

    I began the journey to understand my son’s learning challenges over 6 years earlier. It included meeting with teachers, doctors, learning specialists, OTs, and psychologists for numerous evaluations, treatments and assessments. It was both mentally and fiscally exhausting and by that time my son was in third grade, I realized that he was spending seven hours a day in school and the remainder of his time each day was spent doing ridiculous amounts of homework or in a tutoring or Occupational Therapy session.  His once outgoing and happy personality had changed completely.

    My son’s name is Augie and he is Twice exceptional.  His cognitive strengths work alongside dyslexia, and because of Dr. Reid, his self worth is being restored and his strengths are being acknowledged. Her commitment and dedication to teaching 2e students is evident and she is clearly working for a higher purpose. The bill for both Dr. Reid and the Summit Center psychologists for the necessary hours needed to identify Augie’s learning profile, was $0.  I hope that sums it up.

    Cynthia Rhodes
    Andale High School, Andale, KS

    During the past fifteen years, Cynthia Rhodes has inspired her gifted students to discover the potential of each and every individual child. She has encouraged these students, teachers and parents towards a greater understanding and acceptance of the needs of the gifted. She has worked tirelessly to provide each of the students with learning opportunities to expand knowledge, to make progress in academics, as well as to develop their personal character. Ms. Rhodes certainly has been, and continues to be a bright part of many students’ days and school years.

    Jennifer Rielly
    Cherokee Elementary School, Lake Forest, IL

    Mrs. Rielly draws out brilliant ideas from the great young minds of her students. She encourages them to engage in intellectual discussions and to take risks in a respectful and safe environment. Mrs. Rielly epitomizes excellence in teaching.

    Linda Rich
    Seacrest Country Day School, Naples, FL

    This wonderful teacher makes every effort to role model appropriate behaviors and attitudes so that every child may see first hand how to be a good friend. She also tirelessly extends herself in creative ways to help our child “survive” in the ever-stressful regular classroom. We are forever grateful for your dedication to all the children and especially to those that couldn’t make it without you!!!

    Marcia Riley
    John Weldon Elementary, Dardenne Prairie, MO

    Mrs. Riley is John Weldon’s gifted educator. Her every day, day to day, is helping the dozens of gifted children at this wonderful school thrive in the Spectra program. She helps them flourish with out of the box thinking, gives them just enough decision making to form leaders, and patiently teaches social-emotional skills and expectations. The Spectra program would not be where it is today without her. She is a blessing to my family and to so many at John Weldon.

    Tracy Riley
    Massey University, New Zealand

    Tracy is a passionate educator. She has touched many lives and offers fantastic professional development opportunities. She reaches many individual gifted children through their teachers. Tracy gives much of her personal time to gifted education. She sets very high standards for herself and is always looking for ways to raise awareness in gifted education. She is a team player and works collaboratively with gifted organisations throughout New Zealand. She also has a lot to offer on the international stage. She is a national treasure in gifted education!

    On a personal level she has touched the life of my daughter Sophie. She is always prepared to listen and offer support with a depth of understanding that others just don’t have. She is truly unique and New Zealand is lucky to have her. She is inspirational!

    Cynthia Risner Schiller
    J Paul Taylor Academy, Las Cruces, NM

    Mrs. Risner-Schiller is presently the head administrator for the J Paul Taylor Acadmey, a state charter school in New Mexico. As a founder of the school, she is passionate about the education the school provides, believing that all children are capable of academic excellence and wish to achieve it. As the head administrator, she has aimed to shift this belief into the school’s fundamental expectation of its students and then to provide the environment and opportunity for its students to meet those expectations. One in six children at the school have special needs and she strives to provide a team to assist each child through teachers, therapists, social workers, and gifted facilitators. The team works together to develop strategies to help each child succeed.

    Deborah Romero
    Mesilla Park Elementary, Mesilla Park, NM

    Mrs. Romero was my son’s 1st grade teacher. She understood very early that he was a square peg that could not fit in a round hole. He has several overexcitablilities and she helped him direct these in a positive way. She arranged his seating to help him block distractions in the classroom and allowed him to wear his jacket hood over his head so that he could block out sensory input. As he completes 4th grade, he continues to say that Mrs. Romero was his best teacher. He said that any time she was talking, she made the subject interesting. He said that he never really loved science or history, until he had her for a teacher. At times, she would use her “serious voice” and that voice always made him want to listen. As a parent, I saw a child who was appreciated for his differences, and was encouraged to learn just by the way Mrs. Romero presented information to her students.

    Barbara Rosenberg
    Gateways School for the Gifted, Tucson, AZ

    Barbara has been a mentor to my daughter. Barbara discovered my daughters synesthesia, and allowed her to explore it at her own pace. She understands my daughter’s issues and has supported her and allowed her to grow. Because of Barbara my daughter is able to see herself fitting in to the “real world” in spite of being different.

    Paul Rotaru
    STAR Prep Academy, Culver City, CA

    Paul is a creative and dedicated math teacher who consistently goes way beyond the textbook to make math compelling and fun for the gifted high school students he teaches. He has created a math club, a math blog and daily math challenges/puzzles that engage and inspire both gifted students who aren’t math aficionados and those math gifted who need and want more depth. Paul is innovative and utilizes technology in the classroom, integrating the curriculum with the internet and using a computer based virtual chalkboard for all his classes. By getting to know each student, their strengths and their possibilities, Paul personalizes his instruction and serves as both a mentor and a coach. His love of math and his ability to explain its relevance in day-to-day life inspires many different gifted students to excel in the field — his students have been awarded full scholarships to college in part because of their math facility.

    Paul Rotaru is a dedicated, passionate, and innovative educator who has successfully implemented authentic student-paced math education in both the middle and high school levels at STAR Prep Academy. His computer-based program is fully integrated with a peer-supportive classroom environment. Paul has made it possible for highly capable students to accelerate in math as desired, while making sure that all his students accomplish what is needed. Paul has had a powerful impact on my daughter’s confidence and concept of learning. She says: “Before I learned with Paul, I disliked math and believed I was not good at it. Paul inspired me to push myself and give my best effort.  Being able to move at my own pace, and learn from Paul’s explanations, I realized that I am actually good at math, and now I find it interesting.” Through his genuine caring and individualized academic approach, Paul Rotaru is an exemplar of a teacher who supports the academic and emotional needs of students.

    Colleen Roth
    Hales Corners Elementary, Hales Corners, WI

    We recommend Mrs. Colleen Roth for the SENG Honor Roll. As our elementary school’s GT facilitator, Mrs. Roth has proven to be an excellent teacher, mentor, and advocate for our son, and our family has benefited from the continuity of her presence through all five years of his elementary education. Mrs. Roth listens open-mindedly to our input; communicates frequently with us about our son’s educational plans; collaborates with his other teachers; and advocates for his academic, social, and emotional needs. She is skilled at guiding groups of bright independently-minded students, and maintaining a lively yet constructive exchange of ideas. Mrs. Roth is professional and organized in her approach, and takes preparation seriously. She is also an engaging and enthusiastic teacher, providing appropriate challenge for our child while sharing a joy of learning. Mrs. Roth deserves this recognition of her dedication and excellence. We are profoundly grateful.

    Alexandra Savka
    Global Concepts Charter School, Lackawanna, NY

    This amazing violin teacher has gone way beyond her regular duties. Since 2008 when my son started Kinder at Global Concepts Charter School, she was able to see his potential and started nurturing his passion for violin day by day, including vacation time. He is Suzuki #3 now, and he wouldn’t have accomplished what he has, if it weren’t for her. He excels in violin and this brings him peace. She has also marked a difference on a personal level, because she has helped him like no other to overcome moments of depression, anxiety, sadness and if it weren’t for her his life would simply be different. She has been his rock, his tender hand and if I could give her a Stradivarius, this would be a simple present, because she deserves the world. We need more teachers like her. Thank you Mrs. Savka.

    Lori Schulman
    Temple Emanuel Academy Day School, Beverly Hills, CA

    Over the last six months, Lori Schulman, the new Assistant Director of Temple Emanuel Academy Day School (TEADS), has set out to transform it into a school that is able to meet the intellectual needs of highly gifted children, while also supporting their individual social, emotional and learning needs. TEADS has always been a warm, nurturing setting, with the intention of serving highly gifted children, but it has been Lori who has truly made this a reality. We have been continually impressed with Lori’s unique vision, tremendous determination, wonderful leadership skills, as well as her flexibility, open-mindedness, and willingness to think outside of the box. Because of these characteristics, she has been able to sustain the genuine sense of community and good will that has always characterized TEADS, while transforming it into an academically rigorous program that offers rich opportunities for “hands-on” and project-based learning, and offers each child an opportunity to learn and development in ways that meaningfully engage students’ intellectual and creative potential.

    Anne Shargel
    West Elementary School, Colorado Spring, CO

    I wish to wholeheartedly nominate Anne Shargel and Mary Ann Miller to the SENG Honor Roll. Mrs. Shargel is a teacher and Mrs. Miller is her invaluable teaching assistant. They are in charge of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in the Colorado Springs District 11 EAGLES program (Exceptional Academic Gifted Learning Experience Site).I first met Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller when our son James was in 3rd grade. He was struggling mightily in trouble all the time, miserable, having nightmares, hating school (yet he had all “As”!). He had been identified as above his grade level in Kindergarten and as gifted in 2nd grade (but the school did not have any services until 3rd grade). We met with his teacher, the GATE teacher, the principal, the school psychologist, even took him to a private therapist (who said there was not a thing wrong with him). The principal actually told us that they’d “never seen a kid like James” and suggested that there was something “organically” wrong with him.My husband heard an ad for the EAGLES program on the radio and we decided to move him from our small town school to the neighboring District 11. I visited Mrs. Shargel’s classroom at the end of the 2008 school year and sat observing for over 2 hours. I was enthralled! Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller had a classroom full of gifted children eating out of their hands! I was mystified how could these two women have such control? After observing and speaking with them I saw that it was magic it was the magic of two people who genuinely cared about the little hearts and minds of their charges.Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller are compassionate and caring when dealing with the kids yet they are also “no nonsense” and hold the students to high standards. In addition, they are educated with regard to gifted children and constantly seek to learn more. From speaking with me briefly (and having not even met James yet), Mrs. Shargel identified that he was probably a spatial learner and promptly handed me a book on the subject. (By the way, she was 100% correct in her assessment!)

    Both Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller encourage positive friendships for James (and the other students), they encourage and nurture his leadership skills and encourage and support his interests (currently medieval weaponry). They challenge him to reach his full potential and do so without criticism and all the while boosting his self-confidence. They are both advocates for James and for all the children in their charge.

    But the bottom line for me, and the reason I am making this nomination, is that Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller have saved James’ life. If he had stayed in his previous situation we would have lost him (probably both literally and figuratively). Mrs. Shargel and Mrs. Miller returned to us our sharp-witted, inquisitive, highly intelligent, very funny little boy and are now working to make him into a content, well-adjusted, educated and still very funny young man.

    Kate Shaw Highlands Elementary School, Naperville, IL

    Mrs. Shaw is a terrific classroom teacher. She is positive and encouraging and helps each student grow. She is extremely flexible and truly differentiates for different types of learners — whether the need was remediation or advanced work (sometimes both for the same student). Mrs. Shaw is open to trying out-of-the-box  strategies if that is what works best for a student. She and Mrs. Gervase wrote and received a grant to create and run a wonderful extra-curricular program grouping students with social and academic gifts and challenges so they could  learn from each others’ perspectives and strengths.

    Meera Shin, PhD
    BKPlay Academy, Bellevue, WA

    Meera’s commitment to meeting the varied needs of gifted young children is truly exceptional. My son was floundering in a cooperative preschool program, because his special needs were not being addressed. Thanks to the learning environment Meera has created at BKPlay, he is thriving socially, emotionally, and academically.

    Vicki Sisco
    Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, Overland Park, KS

    Vicki has been involved with our daughter’s educational needs for seven years, since she entered second grade. When [our daughter] expressed a desire to participate in the national spelling bee, Vicki facilitated the school bee and coordinated [our daughter’s] participation on the district and state level, which was no easy feat since we are at a small, private school. … Vicki has designed and implemented the gifted resource program in our school since its inception. She is a great inspiration to the students and a strong advocate for the students.

    Barbara Gerraughty-Skulszki
    Deerfield Beach Elementary School, Deerfield Beach, FL

    “Finally!” says it all. Ms. Skulszki has a genuine desire to teach my highly gifted child. Her attitude and style are unlike any other. She has a confident, challenge-teach-to-reach passion for education and a true concern for his mind and spirit. Her relationship involves patience, a tangible expectations, and an open mind to see a point of view which less than .1 % (one tenth of one percent) have an understanding of. Without the “I know it all” or “you’re nuts” attitude, she is willing to seek answers in this lesser known area and understand that extra smartness, sensitiveness, and determination need extra time and nurturing in a nonjudgmental, empathetic environment. By providing positive social interactions using ethical integrity, she gives my son a chance to develop the friendly, sensitive, respectful, smart boy characteristics that I see. Ms. Skulszki is respectful, simply by feeling from my son’s perspective, preventing idiosyncrasies, being fair, giving him intellectual, social an emotional respect, and being his advocate. My son says, “Ms.Skulszki is friendly, smart, likes teaching, is a problem solver, and comes up with cool ways for me to learn – like math card tricks and made up words. She understands me by not telling me I am always doing something wrong. She knows I’m a well-behaved boy. She doesn’t make me nervous. She is not a specially designed robot programmed with only mean feelings. She is my friend. I come home happy from school now.”

    Jaime Smith
    Online G3

    If only every gifted child could have Jaime Smith, aka Headmistress Guinevere, as a teacher. My daughter has been taking classes online with Jaime at onlineg3.com for the past three years and has loved every single minute – including her homework assignments!  Jaime is enthusiastic, encouraging, patient, and treats every child as an equal at the discussion table. In a world of teachers that believe they impart all the knowledge, Jamie is unique in her assumption that all her students have knowledge of their own to impart. The depth of her classes, the varied homework assignments and accelerated pace have been the perfect learning environment for our PG daughter. Jaime, affectionately known as “HG” among her students, has earned my daughter’s adoration and we are so grateful to have her in our lives. We are honored to nominate and recognize her tremendous contribution to the gifted community.

    Valerie Steele
    Shuler Elementary, Clive, IA

    Ms. Steele has welcomed our son with open arms, and his twice-exceptionality (he has ADHD and is also exceptionally gifted) hasn’t daunted her in the least. In fact, she’s able to see him for who he is and what he can become. She has provided him with differentiated instruction, as well as advocated for additional acceleration when she felt it was needed.

    Ms. Steele’s support of our son’s social development has been invaluable. Among students two and three years older, he needs an insightful and empathetic educator to help him. Ms. Steele has gone above and beyond to understand our son and help him emotionally and socially. We feel so fortunate to have had her teach our son this year.

    Dr. Kirsten Stein Athena’s Advanced Academy, Online

    We are extremely thankful for Dr. Stein and Athena’s Advanced Academy. We have been with Athena’s for four years and absolutely love, love, love her program in every way. Our three PG children have been fortunate to have taken classes with Dr. Stein, “Headmistress Athena.” She truly understands gifted children, is inspiring, respectful, engaging, and dedicated. She encourages students to participate, connect, and become engaged with the class – making it their own. Taking classes at Athena’s has given our children confidence and a true love for learning.

    Dr. Stein has created a safe and welcoming environment that fosters community and friendships within the online classes. Our children are so happy to have friends who can relate socially as well as on an academic level. One of our sons, who deals with 2E issues, feels completely at home at Athena’s. We love that we can tailor the classes to fit our educational lifestyle (something Dr. Stein promotes). Before connecting with Dr. Stein, we were floundering with our children’s education; I don’t know where we would be without her. We are so grateful to Dr. Stein for providing such a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn and grow beyond what we ever thought possible.

    Susan Stueber
    The Archer School for Girls, Los Angeles, CA

    Ms. Susan Stueber has been THE motivating, positive force, inspiration, role model and mentor to my highly gifted but underperforming ADHD daughter. She innately understands my daughter’s potential and hurdles and thus has managed to motivate her to love music, challenge herself to identify and achieve her unique potential, and to develop confidence in herself as a musician, wherever she currently is on the spectrum of music appreciation and performance. In particular, she has taught my daughter that through daily practice and reasonable goal-setting, she will grow and flourish as a musician. Ms. Stueber’s positive, consistent support and understanding of my daughter have made a profound and permanent mark on our family and for that I will be eternally grateful!

    Wes Swing
    Sapientia Academy, Atherton, CA

    When my daughter came to me at the age of 8 and asked to learn Latin, I had no idea where to start. It seemed like a venture doomed to fail as I do not speak Latin and my PG/stealth dyslexic daughter has a deep aversion to rote memorization and worksheets. But then Wes Swing entered our lives and now, 2 years later, I have a daughter that loves to read, speak, write stories and even crack jokes in Latin.

    Wes is the teacher that every gifted child should have. He has a multi-disciplinary approach and combined my daughter’s passions (history and classic literature) with her interest in Latin. Gifted minds like my daughter’s need connections – learning in a vacuum is the kiss of death – and Wes has been masterful at weaving an amazing tapestry of subjects (architecture, mythology, debate, creative writing) in combination with Latin. Under his guidance, Latin has come vibrantly to life for my daughter and she is passionate about it. We are so very grateful to have Wes in our lives and wish to honor him with this nomination and recognition.

    Eric Tarsia
    Vail Farm Elementary School, Lagrangeville, NY

    Mr. Tarsia is both a great teacher and a wonderfully spirited individual. He taught my daughter for three years from Kindergarten to second grade. He easily relates to children and truly enriches their lives.Mr. Tarsia has an intuitive consciousness of his students needs far beyond their academic requirements. He is capable of seamlessly addressing emotional challenges as they arise in the academic arena.

    Christi Taylor
    Chestnut Hill Academy, Bellevue, WA

    Mrs Taylor truly embraces the philosophy of SENG and it’s mission to support thr social and emotional gifted students. In Mrs. Taylor’s language arts class 4th grade students not only receive age appropriate open-ended choices for writing assignments they also find a real advocate for their social and emotional needs. Mrs Taylor attended the national SENG conference in Seattle of her own accord during the summer two years ago. She offers gifted learners the opportunity to express their creativity, their feelings, and their challenges in a safe environment. She manages all of this while maintaining an orderly environment in the classroom balanced with opportunities for students to relieve stress.

    Mrs. Taylor has helped our daughter as she struggled with perfectionism and underachievement encouraging her simply to just try, offering understanding, and providing scaffolded assignments that have allowed Lilly to delve deeply and broadly into subject matter that interests her personally. This made assignments more appealing and provided a springboard for Lilly to not only improve her writing skills but also to gain a real love for the writing process. As a parent it is rewarding to see my child complete school writing projects joyfully and to also write for fun in her own free time.

    Wendy Teismann
    Wilson Elementary, Cincinnati, OH

    Mrs. Wendy Teismann teaches the gifted program for students at Wilson Elementary School in the Forest Hills School District. She goes above and beyond in her time and effort to educate each child as an individual. Mrs. Teismann is knowledgeable in the area of twice-exceptional students and is an advocate in helping all gifted students succeed. Mrs. Teismann goes the extra mile to read, find articles for parents, forward resources, and collaborate with other teachers. She has a gift for teaching in a way that is cognitively stimulating and very creative.

    I am especially thankful to Mrs. Teismann for teaching my daughter for the past 3 years. My daughter, who is gifted, has ADHD, and is on the Autism Spectrum, has made tremendous progress. We were hesitant to put our daughter in the gifted program due to her disabilities, but Mrs. Teismann encouraged us to do it. Our daughter’s increased Math grades and scores on State tests in the past 3 years are proof that it was the right decision. In 2011, Mrs. Teismann nominated our daughter to go to Washington, DC to the National Youth Leadership Conference. Again, we were hesitant due to some of her limitations, but Mrs. Teismann had confidence in her abilites. Our daughter did fabulous and continues to say it was one of the best experiences in her life. I think about where we would have been if we had not been fortunate enough to have had a teacher like Mrs. Teismann, who understood our daughter. I see many gifted kids fall through the cracks or told they can’t do something because of their disability. Thank goodness we had Mrs. Teismann always there to see her strengths, make adjustments in her learning, and help advocate for her. We are deeply greatful and believe Mrs. Wendy Teismann sincerely deserves this nomination.

    Molly Therrien
    Wakefield Elementary School, Wakefield, RI

    Our daughter Isobel is gifted and has moderate Tourette Syndrome. Ms. Therrien has consistently recognized Isobel’s emotional as well as intellectual needs, withdrawing Isobel immediately from the ordinary reading curriculum and setting her on a path of guided study that started with the Redwall Series and came to include works such as The Wind in the Willows, The Wee Free Men and the His Dark Materials series. In parallel developments Ms. Therrien procured a computer program that allowed Isobel to explore Greek and Latin etymology while also inviting her to examine Einstein’s life and some basic issues in space science. This year Ms. Therrien has been an eloquent advocate as we work with our school district to address the challenges posed by twice-exceptional children in the mainstream classroom. At present Ms. Therrien is encouraging Isobel’s work on an independent Colonial History project (with a fifth grader) while also inspiring Isobel to write a book of her own. Because of Ms. Therrien’s warmth, intelligence, support and innovation, Isobel has learned to love rather than dread school. Our school district has followed Ms. Therrien’s lead in responding to the needs of Isobel and others like her. Molly Therrien cares for the individual child. She is remarkable!

    Bridgette Thompson Chapman’s Retreat Elementary, Spring Hill, TN

    Mrs. Bridgette has been the glue of my son’s support system this year. In her first year as the gifted specialist at his school, she took him under her wing and led him to an extremely successful and fulfilling school year. This year, my son grade advanced from 1st to 3rd. Mrs. Bridgette didn’t know him at the beginning of the year, but she quickly got to know him and his strengths. She has challenged him in group sessions, she has been a huge presence in the classroom, attending to their general education needs, and her communication with me has been superb. She immediately addresses any problem or concern we may have. She encourages Spencer when he feels overwhelmed or stressed. She is loving, caring, kind, friendly, positive, enthusiastic, and an amazing role model. Mrs. Bridgette Thompson is an amazing gifted specialist. She is intelligent and engaged and has a wonderful relationship with her co-teachers and her students. We can’t wait to see what next year holds for Spencer. Thank you for everything you do!

    June Trenty
    Heritage Elementary School, Medina, OH

    Mrs. Trenty has not helped just one gifted child, she has helped many. She goes out of her way to find creative and inventive ways to stimulate all facets of giftedness in children, e.g. math, language arts and dramatic arts.Not only do “identified gifted” children benefit from Mrs. Trenty’s expertise and love of teaching, but all children at the school benefit. She does activities with entire classrooms and grades that benefit every child, e.g. annual play for 4th and 5th graders, introducing high-level math concepts (venn diagrams) to entire classrooms in a way that anyone can understand.She has not only been a blessing to my child’s educational development, but she has provided opportunities to so many children over the years.

    Thomas Valencia
    STAR Prep Academy, Culver City, CA

    Thomas Valencia has a gift for teaching.  The students tackle a large amount of information in his history classes, and through creative means, he gets them to digest it with ease and enjoyment.  He expertly integrates lecture and book study with group and project-based learning.  The kids all seem to insist he is one of the best teachers they have ever had.  Hearing from a wide range of students, it is clear that Thomas creates an academic environment that provides optimal challenges and minimal stress.  Properly managing this tricky balance is a key to success for gifted students; Thomas apparently understands their academic and emotional needs. Thanks to Thomas Valencia, and STAR Prep Academy, my child has regained her love of learning, which had nearly been extinguished in another school.

    Caroline Varner Sage Vista School, San Jose, CA

    Ms. Caroline understands the gifted and 2E child and she does her job with tireless enthusiasm. She has a knack for finding out what engages your child and uses that to spark their interest in a variety of topics, even ones they have no interest in. She has also been able to challenge my son without making him frustrated, providing just the right amount of freedom to try new things while being there to catch him if he falls. It’s been wonderful to see my son grow and continue his love of learning with her guidance this year.

    Katrina Wagner Pacific Cascade Middle School, Issaquah, WA

    Katrina Wagner is a gift to the educational world. She is passionate about her area and it’s obvious that she loves what she does. Ms. Wagner is my daughter’s Advanced Humanities teacher. She brings the classroom alive with her creative approach to teaching. As a result, the students are inspired and enthusiastic about the challenging and interesting projects. Although Ms. Wagner uses a textbook, it is not a “textbook” classroom. Her students are not just writing essays and tests. They are immersed in the history that they are studying. Most recently, they created a simulation of historical Greece. In the past they have also collaborated on websites, plays, and songs. She challenges the kids to use their creativity through a variety of media. The students learn easily because they are enjoying it. The best part is that they retain what they learn. Ms. Wagner is constantly evaluating new material and methods. Her classroom benefits from the most recent research on teaching. Outside the classroom the children are encouraged to use an educational social networking site, where she moderates the discussions. It has been a great tool for the kids to learn about the appropriate ways to use social networking. By the end of the year Ms. Wagner’s students have a solid foundation and love of humanities. They are well prepared for their future academic career.

    Bonnie Walmsley
    Karigon Elementary School, Clifton Park, NY

    Bonnie Walmsley was my three (gifted and sensitive) sons’ kindergarten teacher, and she expertly guided us and our children for years. Our oldest son is profoundly gifted, yet we entered the public school system knowing he fit in beautifully within our gifted family, but unaware of how different he was from the other children he would encounter there. Because Bonnie is an expert (and author) on differentiated education, she had a curriculum and teaching style that not only recognized high ability, but also embraced and nurtured it. She once asked the children how many different ways they could make ten, and when my son answered “two to the tenth power minus 1,014”, she initiated a complete evaluation, which led us to various national organizations and experts. She set up a mentorship and visits with local experts in areas of my son’s special interests, and got his writings published in various venues. Bonnie advised and advocated successfully for us over t! heir elementary school career, multiple accelerations, programs, and provider choices, always with our sons’ happiness foremost in her mind. We truly would have been lost without her, and continue to be grateful for her help on a daily basis. The solid foundation Mrs. Walmsley laid for our family continues to be celebrated in our happy, healthy, and well-adjusted sons.

    Michele Walsh
    Frank A, Berry School, Bethel, CT

    We had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Walsh when our daughter entered third grade. Mrs. Walsh completely blew us away with her willingness and openness to work in partnership with us to enrich our child life in school. She exhibits exemplary qualities in so many areas that it begs to be emulated by others. We find her to be conscientious, diligent, and competent with superior communication skills. In essence, her approach is thoughtful and methodical in using available tools to properly evaluate her students and implement strategic plans and goals. We believe that even after all the attention and work she has done for our daughter, going beyond the call of duty; she might question whether her efforts were enough. We know for sure that it was. To find such a qualified teacher with that level of self honesty and humility is a quality rarely seen in any industry, which makes us wonder even more how absolutely lucky we were to have shared our precious child with her.

    When our daughter entered third grade we did not know she was “gifted”. We knew that she was very smart or “bright”, as we were told many times before. As first time parents, we did not realize the full extent of her gifts. At the first parent-teacher meeting, Mrs. Walsh pointed out that there was something special about her. She backed it up with MAP scoring and other data and gave examples of what she doing in class to let us know that our daughter was in the top percentile. She even advocated for additional testing since she believe there was still more to discover.

    Mrs. Walsh understood that a kid like our daughter requires a different level of “handling”. She did not just leave her on her own, believing that she will be just fine. She made sure that she gave her ample amount of attention so that she thrived and flourished.

    It is clear to us that if it weren’t for Mrs. Walsh knowing our child and seeing in her what we could not see as parents, we would have been none the wiser. We would not have fully realized where our daughter stood intellectually and would have squandered time and opportunity. She has unselfishly given her time to communicate, create a partnership with us and was dedicated to our daughter. A whole new world has opened up for her that we didn’t know existed. For that we are entirely grateful and cannot be thankful enough. We strongly feel that we want to acknowledge Mrs. Walsh for her hard work and dedication. The difference she has made to our daughter’s life has been profound.

    Kerstin Warner
    Bedford Middle School, Westport, CT

    Kerstin is the teacher of the gifted at the middle school my son attended in grades 6-8. Being a gifted individual herself, she definitely “gets” the kids and helps them understand themselves. Kerstin goes out of her way to make sure her students are not only challenged, but become better people by being in her class. She is a lifelong learner who also continues to challenge herself. She attends gifted conferences and is always looking for new ideas. She advocates for her students with classroom teachers and administrators. My son once told me that the only thing that got him through middle school was Ms. Warner’s “workshop class” and I think that says it all!

    Louis Weinberg
    West Rocks Middle School, Norwalk, CT

    As a sixth grade middle school science teacher, Mr. Weinberg wants his student to be successful in this world – not just in his class. He teaches them respect for education, each other, learning, their community, and most importantly themselves. He engages with his students with interactive, hands-on, fun and impactful lessons. Mr. Weinberg has the students BECOME the lessons. As part of a pyramid ofstudents, the idea of atmospheric pressure makes sense – from any place in the pyramid! And not only are the students learning about atmospheric pressure, they are also learning how and why they MUST work together as a team. By being part of the learning, the students are immersed in science in ways that are memorable and powerfully effective. Students leave for the day with Science on their minds. For middle school girls, that is a feat in and of itself!

    Mr. Weinberg quickly intuits the essence of his students. He has expectations for my daughter that are appropriate, and he speaks to her on her level. He encourages her, and positively motivates her to want to learn more and dig deeper. He celebrates her successes. At this age, my daughter is interested in a bioscience career. I believe that she may continue with that path due to Mr. Weinberg’s influence. She now views science as a way to not only prove ideas, but more significantly as a way to improve ideas and life. What could be more valuable than that?

    Marian Weiser
    Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles, CA

    Marian Weiser, Los Angeles Pierce College Dance Department Vice Chair and Faculty Advisor, developed a program at Los Angeles Pierce Community College that welcomes high school students to concurrently enroll as dance theatre production college students, which culminates in a full lighting, sound, and costumed stage performance on the main stage of the campus. The class is for credit and is documented as a college transferable unit-based class on each student’s official college transcript.

    This innovative and progressive program is aligned with the national student outcomes goal of increasing college-degreed and career-ready Americans by the Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Barack Obama. Because of this program, both my daughters stayed in school and furthered their academic studies at the college level. Concurrent classes allowed my 18 year old to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and gain and maintain full time employment. It motivated my 15 year old to continue her academic studies, instilled belief in her, and gave her hope and conviction in attaining a college degree, as she reported watching school-aged peers having babies and dropping out of high school. This innovative and progressive community college program should be used as a prototype for all community colleges in smoothing access to college for K-12 students, which facilitates college completion.

    This production class is a lifesaver for students, families, and communities in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, especially during this economic time. As a community center, it provides wholesome family entertainment to the community, a healthy expressive outlet for high school students in an era of K-12 arts-in-education budget cuts, and a much-needed safety-net in a system where kinesthetic, underperforming, unidentified twice-exceptional gifted, and gifted learners have severely limited healthy avenues of expression and creative acceleration.

    Each of my children had their own unique struggles within the traditional K-12 educational system in Los Angeles. I credit Ms. Weiser with providing them a healthy alternative to dropping out of school or out of life.

    Marian Weiser was the only teacher who saw my children as human beings and intrinsically-driven, capable college students, and understood that I, as Mom, was only following their lead in their quest for knowledge, creative expression, independence, and acceptance.

    Marian Weiser is a unique gift in that she never shamed us. She never made the children feel unusual or less able than other college students, never encouraged the children to “play like peers” their physical age, never questioned their choice to be in college, or my choice to “allow them”. Likewise, when I was enrolled in class, I was treated as the independent student that I was, never as an extension of my children. We all felt very welcomed and respected in her classes for our unique creativity and abilities.

    Marian Weiser was instrumental in my daughters feeling welcome in college. She did not view them as anomalies of society or tortured products of pushy parents. I was not seen as the enemy, but as supportive of the learning process, and I was encouraged as a student, independent of my children. This ability to recognize individuals, regardless of societal roles of age, gender, or duty, is the rare quality that allows Ms.Weiser to shine bright.

    Marian Weiser emulates great teaching pedagogy for uniquely gifted learners at any age, and is a role-model for best practices, encouraging, guiding, and engaging life-long learners in community centers in Los Angeles. I will forever be grateful to her for her wisdom, character, nurturing guidance, and acceptance.

    Laurel Williams
    McDowell Elementary, Hudson City School District, Hudson, OH

    Laurel Williams is my nominee to the SENG Honor Roll. During her 30 years as an educator, Laurie has inspired, challenged, nurtured, and championed gifted students in grades 1-3. Her colleagues recognize her as an ideal teacher and coach and cherish the times they collaborate with her. She is a talented writer of gifted curriculum and all of the teachers in our district want her on their team, on their committee, and in their classrooms, modeling best teaching practices for all students. Administrators look up to her and value not only her skills as an educator, but also as a compassionate and caring friend. She is a keen observer of children and has made a huge difference in the lives of gifted students, recognizing in these youngsters burgeoning gifts that may, in the early years, make school a bit difficult. I so admire and love her and my life is richer for having known her.

    Bill Wittman
    Liberty Elementary, Salem OR

    Bill was new to our school this year though he had served as principal at another school. He has worked with us from the beginning to make sure that our TAG-identified daughter, Talia, is being challenged in 4th grade. The year started out with our daughter being bored and unhappy. Bill was able to work with her 4th grade classroom teacher and the 5th grade math teacher to work out a schedule so that she could go to 5th grade math. This was a great move for her and she thrived in the 5th grade math class and was excited again about school.

    However, in December, she was upset that her 4th grade homeroom wasn’t covering the topics in social studies and science that the other 4th grade homeroom was. When she eloquently explained her problems and concerns to us, I made an appointment with Bill. When we met, I explained to Bill that I’d like Talia to tell him her concerns since she had delineated them to us so well. He said that he had never had a student “run” a meeting before (I think it surprised him) but he was happy to talk to her. She was very nervous at the beginning of the meeting. Bill put Talia at ease by telling her that he had been nervous when his boss visited in his office earlier that day. After going over Talia’s concerns, he gave her some choices to solve these issues and she chose to make a list of subjects that she’d like to learn about. She presented the list to him after winter break and they went over them together.

    About a month later, she had chosen a project, organic chemistry, but she hadn’t made much progress without guidance: the classroom teacher didn’t have time to manage her project or those of the other two TAG kids. Bill went above and beyond his normal duties and chose to meet with Talia and the two other TAG kids in her class once a week to guide and encourage them on their projects. When I found out about this and I thanked him for giving his time to these kids, he said he enjoyed the contact with the students. It was great to see him temporarily put aside his “administrator’s hat” and help these kids who were desperate for structure. He helped them organize display boards and work on their presentations.

    As the school year was ending, I asked Bill what Talia should do for math next year since the school serves K-5 and she should go into 6th grade math. He explained that the district was reticent to have elementary kids in the middle schools, but gave me the phone numbers of the relevant district people to contact. I found out that Talia needed to pass a couple of tests before she could move to middle school math. I contacted Bill with their answer and he put together a testing schedule for her. There are some logistical issues to be worked out, but Bill is working with the middle school to advocate for Talia.

    Bill showed Talia a great deal of respect in “taking a meeting” with her. His actions there greatly increased her confidence in her own competence to speak with adults about issues concerning her. Bill has supported and encouraged Talia — without his extraordinary interventions, she might have lost interest in school.

    Dorothy Witzeling
    Odyssey, Appleton, WI

    Dorothy Witzeling has helped my daughter with learning math. It is hard for a gifted child to have a subject in which they do not excel, and I really appreciate that Mrs. Witzeling found time to tutor my daughter on Monday evenings throughout the school year. It made a difference: my daughter’s score on the Measure of Academic. Progress (MAP) test went from 80% to 97%! Mrs Witzeling has also been instrumental in providing her students with instruction in manners and social skills, which may be even more important for overall success than how well they do on a MAP test!

    Sarah Wolsey
    Top of The World, Laguna Beach, CA

    Mrs. Wolsey is one of the most creative teachers we have experienced. She is technologically savvy and earning her Masters Degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Technology. This is a perfect match for our son, Grant.

    Grant was diagnosed 2e back in April of 2013 (gifted with Dysgraphia) and writing has always been an area of upset. Grant was placed on medical home school leave in March 2013 after being diagnosed with anxiety and thoughts of suicide. Returning to school was completely out of reach, especially to the same school.

    After various tests and collaboration with Top of the World Elementary School, Grant returned to school in the Fall.

    Grant was moved from 3rd to 5th grade and Mrs. Wolsey has assisted with the transition immensely. She uses technology in her classroom allowing our son to accelerate in ways he was unable to in the past. She works closely with him to reduce his anxiety (related to physically writing) and create a safe environment for him to learn and write. She modifies the curriculum so he stays engaged and challenged. Mrs. Wolsey is flexible yet firm… just what our son needs.

    Witnessing a young teacher give so much to all her students and still be able to modify for our son is a true blessing. After what we experienced at the end of last school year I could have NEVER imagined my son responding so well at the same school.

    It was with a combination of many resources: SENG, Summit Center, private psychologist and LBUSD that my son has made a complete turn around. Teachers like Mrs. Wolsey are the backbone of our future. We are so thankful for her efforts and commitment to each child. She really makes a difference in our community.

    Kenneth Wood
    Tracey School, Norwalk, CT

    Mr. Wood is the kind of teacher movies are made of… He truly cares about each and every child and learns about what makes them tick. He is interactive in his teaching style and immerses the students in the topics they learn about. For example, my daughter will always remember being a “molecule” as the “heat turned up and she became a part of gas” in the classroom. Mr. Wood spends a lot of extra time by involving parents in the classroom for “Reading Conferences” where the students discuss books they’ve read and track the number of pages written. The students who reach a certain level are recognized and entered into the Reading Hall of Fame. Mr. Wood makes the rules clear,and gives a consistent environment for kids to do the best they possibly can while learning respect, self-awareness, and civility.

    Mr. Wood has a talent for seeing children’s abilities and encouraging them to take responsibility for their education. For talented children, he teaches them advanced concepts in a non-invasive way and guides them toward growing their own development, while providing a safe sounding board and foundation.

    Children who have had the honor of being Mr. Wood’s student do not forget him. He makes an impact on the self-esteem and character of every child he teaches. For talented children in particular, Mr. Wood provides the trust in them that they need to explore their own abilities. That is truly priceless.

    Paula Wurst
    Madrid Middle School, Madrid, NE

    Mrs. Wurst’s kindness allows her to connect with kids so they can be comfortable trying new things. She sees the whole person in gifted kids and applauds strengths while gently encouraging areas of weakness. She is willing to think outside the box to help gifted kids thrive. In her capacity as English teacher and track coach, she encourages kids to grow by partaking in activities that they may not excel in or be comfortable with at first. She also encourages kindness toward others and an appreciation for effort. She has been a wonderful teacher for our gifted son.

    Gretchen Yagow
    Eagle River Elementary School, Eagle River, WI

    Mrs. Yagow always looks for the very best in every child at whatever intellectual or academic level that child is. But she especially understands the needs of children who are high-ability learners. She understands that children who learn easily and quickly may not do so in every subject area, may behave exactly their age outside the classroom (and in too!), and may have quite interesting sensitivities that just seem quirky. A very talented learner herself, Mrs. Yagow has that rare gift of being able to completely connect with her students in a way that allows her students to take learning risks, accomplish amazing goals and feel truly good about themselves for having taken on a challenge and succeeded. Mrs. Yagow is a gift to each one of her students and to the parents of those students who know that for the time they are in her class, these children are in the very best possible place they can be for that school year.

    Barb Zailyk
    Townline Elementary, Vernon Hills, IL

    Mrs. Zailyk has motivated and inspired me to work harder than I would normally have in class. I have had Mrs. Zailyk as a teacher for the past three years. In math she helped me raise my MAP test scores 36 points! I love her use of Einstein awards and challenges. I learned how to make a stellated icosahedron for our polyhedraville project. Mrs. Zailyk has been a great teacher to me these past few years and I would like her to be recognized for it!

    Terri Zazove
    Sunset Ridge School, Gurney, IL

    Terri recently helped a gifted student through a project with another teacher. The teacher wanted them to come up with a character for a story. The gifted student replied “average.” The other teacher considered this unacceptable. In the coming days, Terrie immediately asked the student what he meant by “average.” The student replied, “someone who fits in and is well-liked by their peers.” Something this student is not. She promptly had a group conference with the student and teacher, with the student explaining what he meant by this. The teacher had never encountered a reply or a student like this. After the meeting, the teacher and the student came away with new respect.

     

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