Join us for the next SENG Mini-Conference!

Co-Sponsored by Northwest Gifted Child Association
WA State Clock Hours Available

Saturday, May 5, 2018
The Brig at Magnusson Park
Seattle, WA

The events, connections, and fun of the SENG Annual Conference are all packed into one day at SENG’s Mini-Conferences! Join us for sessions, SMPG Facilitator Training, and more. 

Mini-Conference Schedule

Time View Ridge Room Garden Room Belvedere Terrace Room
8:00-8:30 AM Registration
8:30-9:00 AM Introductions: Making the Most of a SENG Conference SENG Local Meeting
SMPG Facilitator Training
9:20-10:40 AM Neurological Development and the Gifted Brain SENG Local Meeting SMPG Facilitator Training
11:00 AM-12:00 NOON What Parents And Educators Need To Know About Smart Kids Developing Identity: Mathematics and the Gifted Individual SMPG Facilitator Training
12:00-1:00 PM Lunch & Reflection SENG Local Meeting Lunch & Reflection
1:00-2:15 PM Understanding the Essential Need for Social Emotional Development in Gifted Children SENG Local Meeting SMPG Facilitator Training
2:30-3:30 PM On-line Professional Development Opportunities that Support the Needs of Highly Capable Students Confronting ‘Cultureblind‘ Ideology: Toward a Social Emotional and Cultural (SEC) Contextual Model for STEM Identity and Talent Development SMPG Facilitator Training
3:30-4:30 PM Closing Remarks Parent Volunteers
Until 5:00 PM

About the Sessions


Understanding Brain Development in Gifted Children – Dr. Beth Houskamp 

In order to be a helpful adult in a gifted child’s life, it is very useful to understand the unique trajectory of brain development in gifted children and ways in which brain development directly impacts a child’s emotions and behavior.  Challenging behavior has traditionally been thought of as willful and goal oriented. However, recent neuropsychological research with gifted kids suggests that challenging behavior is often not purposeful. A conceptual model of brain development in gifted children, along with relevant research data, will be presented. When adults are able to understand what’s happening from a brain development perspective it allows us to consider ways of relating to gifted children in order to develop positive, helpful deep relationships with them and to enhance their ability to maximize their potential.

Dr. Beth Houskamp spent over 25 years in academia, as a Professor of Clinical Psychology, Director of Neurodevelopmental Clinics, and administrator of graduate programs in Clinical Psychology.  Her areas of research, teaching, and clinical interests include neurodevelopment in gifted children and parenting gifted children.  She currently is retired from academia, lives in the mountains in Southern California, and consults and lectures on holistic approaches to parenting and a neurodevelopmental understanding of gifted children.


Understanding the Essence of Developing Social and Emotional Needs in Gifted Students – Dr. Michael Postma

Developing social and emotional intelligence in gifted children is the foundation to a successful life. Explore what it is like to be a gifted student in school and the social/emotional impact of stress, anxiety, and relationships on the social/emotional well-being of the gifted student. Examine these challenges and discover strategies to help.

Dr. Michael Postma is the Executive Director of SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted). A former consultant, speaker, and author, Dr. Postma has dedicated his career to the holistic development of both gifted and twice-exceptional children. Dr. Postma has worked in the field of gifted/talented education as both a teacher and administrator in the public school system and was the architect of the Minnetonka Navigator Program, a magnet school for highly and profoundly gifted students. You can check out his latest book “The Inconvenient Student: Critical Issues in the Identification and Education of Twice-Exceptional Students” on Amazon. He currently lives in Surf City, NC and is the father of four children, three of whom are twice-exceptional.


Developing Identity: Mathematics and the Gifted Individual – Barry B. Gelston, M.Ed.

The Gifted Identity is diverse and challenging. Our self-image and identity of who we are as smart people can present us with challenges in many areas, including the study of Mathematics. Gifted people struggle in Math much more than the stereotypes would have you believe. This workshop is focused on an open discussion of those struggles for ourselves, children, and students. We will explore our current mindset on learning, identify an ideal problem solving identity, and begin the conversation on how to change our approach.

Barry Gelston is a licensed mathematics teacher with a diverse background in private, public, and alternative education supporting both general and special education populations. Barry is the principal educator for Mr. Gelston’s One Room Schoolhouse, whose primary focus is supporting gifted homeschool children from around the world to develop a successful, comfortable, and joyful math identity. Barry’s primary hobby is volunteering in SENG to make a difference in the lives of gifted people.


Confronting ‘Cultureblind’ Ideology: Toward a Social Emotional and Cultural (SEC) Contextual Model for STEM Identity and Talent Development – Dr. Kristina Henry Collins, SENG President-Elect

At  the earliest stages of development for any individual are the family and the community. Culturally responsive educators first recognize the values and interests that families and communities instill in students as members of that culture. As they work to empower students through the perspective of their own social, emotional, and cultural capital, they validate that which families offer in terms of development and guidance of the gifted individual. This compels us to approach learning, including gifted and advanced development, as extended development with continuity and a positive perspective of all communities. This presentation addresses shortcomings in the contextual examination and implementation of STEM talent development, offering insight and strategies throughout the STEM pipeline.

Dr. Kristina Henry Collins’ research focuses on STEM identity, STEM talent development, parent engagement, and multicultural gifted education.  She is a graduate of the The University of Georgia, where she earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology.  She also holds an Ed.S. in educational psychology from the The University of Georgia, a M.S.Ed. in mathematics from Jacksonville State University, a B.S. in engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Military Science diploma in cryptology from the United States Navy.  Dr. Collins has many years of experience with STEM teaching and leading in Title I middle schools and high schools.  Her professional certifications include technology education, AP computer science, and educational leadership/administration.  At Texas State University, she teaches courses related to talent development and gifted education.


What Parents And Educators Need To Know About Smart Kids – Austina De Bonte, President NWGCA

Many people  are  surprised  to  learn  that  their  bright  child’s  unique  “quirks”  are  actually  well studied social  &  emotional  behavior  patterns  that  appear  across  large  populations  of  highly intelligent  children.  Whether it’s refusing to  wear  shirts  with  buttons  or  tags,  overreacting  to  the  slightest  criticism, gravitating  towards  adults  and  older  children, forgetting  to  turn  in  their homework,  trouble  with  handwriting,  anxiety  about  trying  something  new,  or  preferring  a  book  to  a  party,  these  and  many  other  perplexing  behaviors  are  common  in  this  population.    

Learn  what’s  normal,  what  to  expect  as  they  grow,  and  why  genuine  challenge  is  vitally important  for  kids’  social  and emotional  development,  as  well  as  developing  their  academic talents,  from  the  preschool  and  elementary  years  all  the  way  to  high  school  and  beyond.

Presented by Austina De Bonte, the President of the Northwest Gifted Child Association (, the Washington State support and advocacy organization for families with gifted children. Founded in 1963, NWGCA is the oldest gifted organization in Washington state. A dynamic and engaging presenter, Austina is frequently invited to present at school districts and communities across WA state, providing both parent education as well as professional development for educators. She is a regular presenter at WAETAG, and was thrilled to be invited last year to speakto truancy officers at King County Juvenile Court. She will also be presenting her signature talk at the NAGC national convention this November in Orlando, Florida. Austina is a certified SENG Model Parent Group facilitator. Contact Austina at [email protected].


On-line Professional Development Opportunities that Support the Needs of Highly Capable Students – Todd Christensen and Jody Hess

This session provides an exploration of two on-line professional development courses available through OSPI as a component of the HiCapPLUS Project, a project funded by the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program.  The two online courses, Access and Equity and Pedagogies and Strategies that Enhance Learning for Highly Capable Students, were developed by the project’s two university partners, Dr. Jann Leppien at Whitworth University, and Dr. Nancy Hertzog at the University of Washington.  We will explore more deeply one of the professional development modules, Social and Emotional Learning.

Dr. Todd Christensen is a consultant for programs serving highly capable children.  His career has covered over forty years in the field of gifted education, including roles as a teacher, program director and building principal in public school highly capable programs.  Currently, Dr. Christensen works with OSPI in the HiCapPLUS Project, a federally funded Javits grant project that provides professional development for educators serving highly capable students.  The project also focuses on identifying and serving underrepresented populations in districts across the state.  Dr. Christensen also works as a consultant with NW ESD 189 where he coordinates the Highly Capable Programs Co-operative.  The Co-op currently has 15 member school districts serving students in the north Puget Sound region.  NW ESD also is one of three pilot ESDs in the state HiCapPLUS Project.  Dr. Christensen serves as the coordinator of project activities throughout the NW ESD region.  Dr. Christensen earned an Ed.D. at the University of Washington in Curriculum and Instruction, in the field of gifted education.

Jody Hess is Program Supervisor for Highly Capable in Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Project Director for Javits Project HiCapPLUS.  A former teacher, principal and district director, Ms. Hess earned her M.A. in Exceptional Child Education, with emphasis on gifted education, from the University of South Florida.  She is an SDB fellow with the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at The Johns Hopkins University.


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