The stars were aligned when University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) hosted its 8th annual Gifted Education Conference and Policy Symposium earlier this year. The conference brought together leaders in the field of gifted education, most notable, Palmarium Award winner Dr. Marcia Gentry from Purdue University. Gentry gifted MCE with a scholarship for a K-12 student to attend Purdue’s renowned Gifted Education Resource Institute (GERI) Summer Residential Program. On March 14, Denver Public Schools (DPS) high school senior Emma Staples accepted Gentry’s scholarship and finalized her summer plans. Staples was chosen as the scholarship recipient by stakeholders from DU, DPS, and Purdue because of her outstanding track record advocating for the nature and needs of gifted people in multiple settings.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Gentry for awarding this scholarship and for entrusting Morgridge with choosing its recipient,” said University of Denver Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education, Dr. Norma Hafenstein. “It is our mission to create a future where giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured. Dr. Gentry is not only exemplifying that mission through her work, but also working to make access to gifted education available with this scholarship.”

Staples is grateful for this opportunity. “I wouldn’t have had this option to go to [Purdue] and experience these classes without this scholarship,” she said. “I am also grateful to be meeting new people and talking to professors … working hands on with new experiences and people from around the world.”

Staples attends Denver East High School and is a proud participant of her gifted and talented program, led by MCE adjunct professor Brian Weaver. She is currently making college decisions and hopes to pursue academics related to her medical career goals in pediatrics (ER or Family Health). Staples advocates for equity and inclusion and has bravely spoken out about educational policy and philosophy on mediated student panels at the University of Denver (where she was directly observed by stakeholders of the scholarship gift), on camera on DPStv22’s Mile High Discussions, and with her school community at large. She shows extraordinary prowess not only as an academic, professional, and future doctor, but also as a kind and loving citizen of planet earth.

The University of Denver’s (DU) Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Ricks Center for Gifted Children has received accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The accreditation comes from the largest nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood education and reflects the highest professional standards for quality young children programs.

“Ricks Center for Gifted Children is committed to the accreditation process, which provides a framework for continuous improvement according to the highest standards of school performance.  NAEYC accreditation ensures top performance in our education of young children, including family support, teacher training, student safety, and community engagement.  Accredited by both NAEYC and AdvancEd, Ricks supports all of its students in realizing their full potential,” Anne Sweet, Ricks Center Director said.

Achieving NAEYC Accreditation is a four-step process that involves self-study, self-assessment, candidacy, and meeting and maintaining accreditation over a five-year period. Directors, teachers, and families all participate in the process. Programs are required to meet standards grouped into 10 areas: relationships with children, curriculum, teaching approaches, child assessment, nutrition and health, staff qualifications, relationship with children’s families, relationship with the community, physical environment, and program leadership and management.

“The Morgridge College of Education represents distinction in early childhood; from the Marsico Institute to the Fisher Early Learning Center to our Early Childhood Special Education programs, MCE serves as a leader,” said Dr. Karen Riley, Dean of Morgidge College of Education. “As such we want to ensure that we are meeting the highest standards for the children and families that we serve and that we are engaged in continual improvement.  NAEYC is the gold standard in this area and provides a framework to ensure exceptional quality and a means for thoughtful reflective practice.  This accreditation assures the families that we serve that we meet or exceed the highest of national standards and provides our graduate students with a model of excellence in the field.”

The Ricks Center for Gifted Children is operated by the Morgridge College of Education and is an extension of the College’s renowned work in the area of gifted education. In addition to providing a rigorous educational experience for gifted children from preschool to 8th grade, the model school also serves as an on-campus training and research facility for graduate students across the college including but not limited to school psychology, early childhood, curriculum and instruction and educational leadership.

The Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at the Morgridge College of Education is pleased to announce Dr. Marcia Gentry as recipient of the 2018 Palmarium Award, an annual award given to an individual who most exemplifies the vision of the Office of the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. The office seeks a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured. Recipients of the Palmarium Award demonstrate the vision through understanding of giftedness in the areas of:

  • Practice by impacting graduate education, pre-service, and P-12 community
  • Outreach through advocacy at a variety of levels (local, national, international)
  • Publications informing teachers, children, parents, policy makers, and academia
  • Research influencing theory, practice, and policy

“Through the generosity of the Considine Family Foundation, the Palmarium Award provides professional acknowledgment and tangible support to eminent leaders in the field of Gifted Education,” said Norma Hafenstein, the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. “We are pleased to recognize Marcia [Gentry] for her visionary work in understanding the needs of this population and advocating for gifted children traditionally unrecognized.”

Gentry is a Professor of Educational Studies and directs the Gifted Education Resource Institute at Purdue University. Her research interests include student attitudes toward school and the connection of these attitudes toward learning and motivation; the use of cluster-grouping and differentiation to meet the needs of students with gifts and talents while helping all students achieve at high levels; the use of non-traditional settings for talent development; the development and recognition of talent among underserved populations including students with diverse cultural backgrounds including Native American youth, and children who live in poverty. She actively participates in NAGC and AERA, frequently contributes to the gifted education literature, and regularly serves as a speaker and consultant. She was the 2014 recipient of the prestigious National Association for Gifted Children’s Distinguished Scholar Award and has received multiple grants worth several million dollars in support of her work with programming practices and underrepresented populations in gifted education.

Gentry will receive her award and present the lunchtime address at the 8th Annual Gifted Education Symposium and Conference, “Talented Voices: Diversity and Equity in Gifted Education” at the University of Denver on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Please visit the conference link for registration and other conference details. For more information about this award, visit the conference webpage.

There has been a substantial increase in the discussion of rural education in America. This conversation is particularly critical in states, like Colorado, where 80% of the state’s school districts are classified as rural. Add to that the diverse gifted student population, including those eligible for free and reduced lunches in these in these remote areas, and it’s easy to see why a major federal grant was awarded to identify and serve this underrepresented group.

R4R Researchers

University of Denver MCE researchers and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) are moving into the third year of a $1.4 million Jacob K. Javits federally funded research project. Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair for Gifted Education, is a co-principal investigator along with Jacquelin Medina, Gifted Director of the Colorado Department of Education. Dr. Kristina Hesbol, assistant professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS), serves as Leadership Director. Year three research support of $80,000 is examining influences in identification of underserved gifted populations.

The project is called Right 4 Rural (R4R) and has been examining the diversity of rural contexts that encompass the vast disparities of economy between thriving ranches and desolate range, or rich productive farms and barren lands. Rural areas in the state of Colorado, in particular, have a significant percentage of students who are English language learners, Hispanic, Native American, and/or live in a climate of poverty situations.

The data collection process has included in-person and online surveys, face-to-face workshops and online webinar sessions with key participants from rural school districts across the state. Although the data collection and analysis is still ongoing, persistent problems of practice are emerging. They include the 1) Ability to identify GT students accurately and consistently, 2) Ability to increase school-wide awareness and knowledge of GT programs/process, and 3) Ability to provide consistent supports, follow-up services, and communication.

Researchers anticipate that results of the R4R project will yield increased rigor in the classroom, increase student achievement as it relates to higher level thinking, and increased identification of gifted potential in these underrepresented populations.

MCE doctoral students participating in this research project include Justine Lopez, Curriculum and Instruction, Rachel Taylor, Research Methods and Statistics, and Fayaz Amiri, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

The Right4Rural project reflects the University of Denver’s and Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) long history of commitment to gifted education through service to gifted children, training of teachers to serve children’s needs, and support of doctoral research around giftedness.

The Right4Rural research team will be presenting at the Wallace Symposium of the Belin and Blank Center at Johns Hopkins in April 2018.

Ricks Center for Gifted Children was recently named a Top 5 Private School in Colorado by Colorado Parent magazine. Ricks, a nationally recognized gifted education school located on the University of Denver campus and part of the Morgridge College of Education, provides a dynamic and challenging educational environment to approximately 250 students from preschool through eighth grade. The award was part of Colorado Parent’s annual Top 5 issue and was selected by editors of Colorado Parent Magazine and voted on by magazine readers.

Ricks Center at the University of Denver was founded in 1984 as the University Center for Gifted Young Children. The school grew from a doctoral summer project by Dr. Norma Lu Hafenstein. In 1984, Dr. Hafenstein developed a summer session for young gifted children at the University of Denver. The children were brought together for enriched, thematic activities designed to promote a supportive learning environment for gifted children.

Today, Ricks is housed in an innovative space designed specifically for educating gifted young people. Classrooms, a science and visual arts laboratory, library, foreign language labs, a multi-purpose room (for physical education, drama, music), and administrative office space are all housed in one building. Outdoor playgrounds are located on the site, and students also have access to many University of Denver facilities.

Content specialists in music, art, languages, and physical education have classrooms dedicated to their use. The Primary and Upper School students have access to a large playground with multiple playing surfaces and equipment. Technology is available for students of all ages in age-appropriate and curriculum-based situations, and a new Maker Space is under development and expected to be completed fall 2017.

Faculty member Norma Hafenstein, Ph.D., has been named the Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. The Chair reflects the University of Denver’s—and the Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE)—long history of commitment to gifted education through service to gifted children, training of teachers to serve children’s needs, and support of doctoral research around giftedness.

Dr. Hafenstein’s award-winning professional career spans numerous positions in leadership and scholarship. She is a Full Clinical Professor—and former Ricks Endowed Chair for Gifted Education—in the Teaching and Learning Sciences (TLS) department at MCE. She founded the Ricks Center for Gifted Children, a PS-8 school on the DU campus, in 1984. In addition, she founded the Institute for the Development of Gifted Education in 1997, which has moved to a dormant phase. The work of the Institute will be subsumed by the Ritchie Endowed Chair, and the widely respected annual conference on gifted education will continue to be offered.  The cast bronze bell at the entrance of the Ricks Center carrying the inscription, “Dr. Norma Hafenstein, Our Founder”, was a gift from former Chancellor Ritchie, and is tuned with the carillon at the Ritchie Center.

The impact of the gifted programming in MCE extends beyond the DU campus. In 2013, MCE launched an Ed.D. with a Specialization in Gifted Education in the TLS department. Led by Dr. Hafenstein, students work on research and impact projects such as training preschool teachers to understand giftedness, working with principals to implement school gifted programs, and examining social and emotional curricula for gifted learners.

Dr. Hafenstein’s accolades include the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented Lifetime Achievement Award and DU’s Outstanding Service to the University Award. She is the Co-Principal Investigator on a federally-funded Jacob K. Javits state grant for Right 4 Rural (R4R), a project developed in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education. R4R focuses on the identification of and service to underrepresented gifted children in rural Colorado. Additional research work includes E-RiDGE, a Bradley Foundation-funded project to measure the impact of doctoral training at the student-service level.

Dr. Hafenstein presents extensively on giftedness at national and international conferences. Upcoming engagements include the National Association for Gifted Children, where she will give three presentations at the 2016 conference titled, Evaluation and Replicability in Doctoral Gifted Education: Impact and Implications; Radical Acceleration: When is it Time to Imagine Early College Attendance; and Giftedness in Rural Poverty: What do we Know? Furthermore, Dr. Hafenstein has presented at the International Dabrowski Congress, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted Annual Conference (SENG), World Council on Gifted and Talented Children Biennial World Conference (WCGTC), and the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (AERA).

The Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair of Gifted Education was established in October 2016 by the Considine Family Foundation, making it the fourth endowed chair in the Morgridge College of Education. The College expresses its gratitude to the foundation for this generous gift.

Follow the personal journeys of a group of high school students in Los Angeles who have been identified as “twice exceptional”–gifted or highly gifted individuals with learning disabilities or differences. The Institute for the Development of Gifted Children at the Morgridge College of Education will screen the film, “2e: Twice Exceptional” on Thursday, October 1st. The event is co-sponsored by Jeffco Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, and the Ricks Center for Gifted Children.

“2e: Twice Exceptional” features illuminating and thought-provoking interviews with students, parents, teachers, psychologists, and therapists to present an honest, up-close look at what it’s like to be—or to be the parent or teacher of—a young person who’s both gifted and coming to terms with a learning difference. According to filmmaker, Thomas Ropelewski, these children vex their parents. “They are often considered ‘at risk,’” he says, “but they may very well grow up to change the world if they are given the chance to demonstrate and develop their abilities.” Among them may be the next Einstein, Mozart, or Steve Jobs… if they can survive the American school system and their own eccentricities.

“2e: Twice Exceptional” was a 2015 Official Selection at the Richmond International Film Festival, the Portland Film Festival, the Silver Springs International Film Festival, and Dances With Films.

EVENT DETAILS:

Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m. (one hour) – Discussion panel to follow
Location:
Morgridge College of Education
1999 E. Evans Ave.
Denver, CO 80208

The Institute for the Development of Gifted Education (IDGE) is pleased to announce Dr. Julia Link Roberts as recipient of the 2015 Palmarium Award. She is the Mahurin Professor of Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University as well as the Executive Director of The Center for Gifted Studies and The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky.

The Palmarium Award is awarded to the individual most exemplifying the vision of the Institute for the Development of Gifted Education. A vision of, “a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systemically nurtured throughout the nation and the world.”

Recipients demonstrate the Institute’s vision through understanding of giftedness in the areas of:

  • Practice by impacting graduate education, pre-service, and P-12 community
  •  Outreach through advocacy at a variety of levels (local, national, international)
  • Publications informing teachers, children, parents, policy makers, and academia
  •  Research influencing theory, practice, and policy

For the full article on Dr. Julia Link Roberts visit WKUNews.

This quarter, the Morgridge College of Education welcomed Dr. Diana Howard as the new Interim Director for the Ricks Center for Gifted Children. Dr. Howard is a nationally recognized leader in the field of gifted education and brings a wealth of experience to this new position.

Diana Howard photo

The Ricks Center is a pre-eminent program that provides gifted education to about 250 advanced learners ranging from three years of age to eighth grade and serves as a model demonstration site for graduate students. Its mission is, “to provide a dynamic and challenging educational environment that anticipates and responds to the individual, intellectual, social, emotional, physical, aesthetic, and cognitive needs of gifted children.” Dr. Howard’s commitment to gifted education and strategic vision will move the school forward in furthering this mission throughout the remainder of the academic year.

As a University of Denver alum, Dr. Howard graduated with a Ph.D. in Gifted Education and Administration in 1994. Her 24 year career includes studying in Ghana as a Fulbright scholar, a Peace Corps volunteer in Uruguay, and serving as a librarian and facilitator for advanced learners in both private and public schools thought Denver. She has also aided in opening and/or leading schools such as Challenge K-8 in Cherry Creek, Douglass Elementary in Boulder, Polaris at Ebert in Denver and Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy K-12 in Denver. In addition, Dr. Howard has been honored as outstanding Elementary Principal for the State of Colorado with the Wright Way Award in 2004, Colorado Art Education Association’s Award for Distinguished Leadership in the Arts in 2009 and the Gully Stanford Award for Arts Leadership in 2011.

In addition to her current position, Dr. Howard teaches college courses in Arts in Education, Young Gifted Children, Girls and Mathematics, Children’s Literature and Curriculum Integration. Her community involvement includes serving on the boards of VSA/Access Gallery, which serves youth with disabilities, and The Globeville Community Center, which provides education to people in need in the local community. She has also worked with the Denver Art Museum’s Creativity Resource website for teachers, and assisted with launching El Sistema Colorado at Garden Place Academy, which transforms the lives of children living in poverty through music.

This month, the University of Denver will launch a national search for a permanent director for the Ricks Center, with the goal of instating the new director by June 1, 2014.


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