Students from the Ricks Center for Gifted Children—a University of Denver model demonstration school which is a part of the Morgridge College of Education—are enrolled in the inaugural year of the Lamont Piano Preparatory Program, run by the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. Established by M.M. Piano Pedagogy program chair Chee-Hwa Tan, the preparatory program is designed to provide graduate students enrolled in Lamont’s M.M. Piano Pedagogy degree program with opportunities to gain practical teaching experience in both group and individual formats.

The preparatory program’s approach is experiential and immerses the Ricks students in an all-encompassing musical education through listening activities, interactive games, and reading exercises. Additionally, Ricks students are given an introduction to music history surrounding the pieces they learn. They participate in performances as part of the curriculum, and gave an inaugural public recital in January 2017. The preparatory program is designed to be a three-year experience for Ricks students; in the 2017-2018 academic year, the current first-year cohort will begin their second year, and a new cohort of students will enroll. Mary Beth Shaffer, coordinator for the preparatory program, says of the Ricks students that they are “a model group to work with.”

About the Ricks Center

The Ricks Center for Gifted Children was founded in 1984 by Norma Hafenstein, Ph.D., Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Clinical Professor & Daniel L. Ritchie Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. Furthermore, Dr. Hafenstein leads the Gifted Education Ed.D. Specialization in MCE’s Curriculum & Instruction program. Ricks current director Anne Sweet is thrilled with the Lamont partnership, saying that the preparatory program is a “wonderful opportunity” for the students to engage in higher-level creative learning.  The partnership exemplifies the One DU philosophy of the Chancellor’s strategic plan Impact 2025, benefitting the Ricks students and their families while providing a unique experiential opportunity for the students of the Lamont School.

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.


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