Saturday, October 6, 2012

To the Moon: Reaching New Heights in Gifted: 2013 PAGE Conference

Lisa Van Gemert

Keynote Speaker: Lisa VanGemert, American Mensa, Arlington, TX; sponsored by the Mensa Foundation

Lisa Van Gemert, M.Ed.T., is the Gifted Youth Specialist for American Mensa, as well as a popular conference speaker and professional development facilitator. A teacher and school administrator prior to joining Mensa, Lisa focuses on serving those who serve the gifted. Being a product of gifted education and the parent of gifted children herself allows Lisa to bring practical (and often humorous) insight into the needs of gifted youth. Lisa lives in Arlington, Texas, with her husband and the youngest of their three sons.


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Keynote Abstract:
The Five-Headed Dragon: Threats to Giftedness
Gifted youth face many threats to their well-being, both cognitively and emotionally, that prevent them from achieving their dreams. We will face five of these threats head-on: Stereotype Threat, Imposter Syndrome, Bullying the Bright, Underachievement, and Perfectionism. These threats distort gifted youths’ views of themselves, create hesitancy where boldness is needed, turn victors into victims, deny gifts, and prevent academic risk-taking. Giving educators and parents the tools they need to ward off the five-headed dragon will allow gifted learners to soar to new heights of personal and academic fulfillment.

Workshop Abstract:
Deliberate Excellence: Embrace the power of effective classrooms!
What does a plane crash have to teach us about effective classrooms? Find out how a well-run classroom benefits the gifted learner, as well as small adjustments teachers can make to what they are already doing that take learning from acceptable to amazing. Take away ten simple, non-threatening ideas you can use to make your classroom a place of deliberate excellence for gifted learners and their peers.

Other Featured Speakers Include:
Erik Schwinger
Dr. Kimberly Chandler, College of William and Mary

Dr. Brian Housand, East Carolina University

Andrew Mahoney, Noted Author, Counselor, Family Therapist

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph. D. ;
Dean, School of Education and Social Sciences; Robert Morris University 

Mary Ann Rafoth, Ph.D. is Dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences at Robert Morris University. She previously served as Dean of the College of Education and Educational Technology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 2005 until 2011. Dr. Rafoth served as chairperson of the Educational and School Psychology Department at IUP since 1999. She was also the Director of the Center for Educational and Program Evaluation and coordinated the Educational Psychology Master’s degree program and the School Psychology Certificate program and directed the department’s Child Study Center. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education at Miami University of Ohio, and her Master’s degree in School Psychometry and Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Georgia. She worked as a classroom teacher in Ohio and as a school psychologist in Georgia and Illinois. She held a faculty appointment in the Psychology Department at Eastern Illinois University from 1985 to 1987. A frequent consultant to schools and agencies, her research interests involve strengthening independent learning skills in students, alternatives to retaining students, school readiness issues, and program and student learning outcomes evaluation. Dr. Rafoth has authored several chapters in the frequently referenced Best Practices in School Psychology and Children’s Needs volumes published by the National Association of School Psychologists. She is first author of Strategies for learning and remembering: Study skills across the curriculum (NEA Professional Library, 1993) and the author of, Inspiring independent learning: Successful classroom strategies (1999, NEA Professional Library). Dr. Rafoth has published over thirty publications and made over fifty presentations at state, national, and international conferences.


Thursday afternoon

Risk factors for gifted adolescents: Research and recommendations for prevention and intervention
Anyone who works with gifted adolescents knows that they are at-risk for a number of developmental and psycho-social problems. Underachievement is a common phenomenon. In addition, stress factors that are present for all adolescents may be exacerbated for the gifted student causing alienation and social isolation. Factors that increase vulnerability for gifted children and adolescents will be discussed including the concept of risk and resilience. Changes in classroom and school system-wide practices which encourage achievement for all students including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and from low SES families will be presented. Finally, what parents and teachers can do to help these individuals move toward integrated, mature personalities will be discussed. 

Erik Schwinger, M.A., Davidson Institute for Talent Development 
Erik Schwinger has been working with profoundly gifted young people and their families as a Family Consultant and the Young Scholar Ambassador Program Coordinator at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development since 2007. He received his B.S. in Psychology from Northeastern University in 2000, and his M.A. in Sociology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2007. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife. He can be reached at


Thursday Evening Mini-Session
GET OUT OF THE CLASSROOM! The value of service learning and social entrepreneurship for gifted youth
Being proficient at reading, writing and arithmetic may get you through high school, but as we all know those are only a few of the many skills young people will need to master if they want to succeed personally and professionally as adults. Providing avenues for students to make a positive impact in their communities provides an empowering experience, and a venue for teaching executive skills such as leadership, task commitment, organization, civic responsibility and communication. Sometimes outside of the classroom is where the most valuable learning takes place!

Mr. Schwinger coordinates the Young Scholar Ambassador Program, which includes rigorous online instruction for selected youth launching social enterprises across the United States.

Friday Morning Workshop
Apply Smarter, Not Harder: A strategy for finding (and getting into) the right college for gifted high school students

Finding the right college fit can be challenging, especially in today’s hypercompetitive admissions environment. A common misperception is that selectivity = quality when it comes to higher education, leading many to think the harder it is to gain admission to a college, the “better” that college must be. Not always true. This presentation will address the college planning and application process to help gifted students look beyond brand-name colleges to find the institution not only that they want to attend, but that also that wants them to attend.

Lawrence A.Tomei, Ed.D.,Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Professor of Education, Robert Morris University
Born in Akron, Ohio, Dr. Tomei earned a BSBA from the University of Akron (1972), master degrees in Public Administration (1975) and Education (1978) from the University of Oklahoma, and a Doctorate in Education from USC (1983). He entered the United States Air Force in September 1972 and served on active duty until his retirement as a Lt. Colonel in 1994.

As Vice Provost, Dr. Tomei directs the activities of academic services including the Office of the Registrar, the University Honors Program, and the Veterans Education and Training Services Center. He serves as the dean of Student Academic Programs, internship/ cooperative education programs, first year studies programs, and veteran services. He is also responsible for academic budgets, capital expenditures, instructional technologies, and strategic facility planning.

His most recent articles and popular books include: Designing Instruction for the Traditional, Adult, and Distance Learner (2010), the Lexicon for Online and Distance Learning (2010), ICT for Enhanced Education and Learning (2009), and Taxonomy for the Technology Domain (2005).


Thursday Evening Mini-Session
Preparing Students for the Post-Secondary Demands of an Online Environment

During the 2011-2012 academic school year, more than 600,000 high school students participated in an online course, up nearly 20 percent from the previous school year. (Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning, 2012). Over the past 12 months, more and more students from K-12 schools and school districts throughout the nation have embraced new requirements to take online courses or participate in the online learning experience as an integral part of their required curriculum. A greater number of states and school districts adopted or revised their graduation requirements mandating online courses for high school graduation with the aim to teach students how to operate in a an increasingly digital world.

Whether these students are seeking careers right out of high school or plan to extend their formal education in a university setting, the online-course requirement will better prepare students for the “job market of the 21st century,” so stated Virginia’s Gov. Robert F. McDonnell this past year when he signed into law a bill that will require Virginia high school students to take at least one virtual course to graduate with a standard or advanced diploma.

Alabama, Florida, and Michigan already have laws on the books requiring virtual education for graduation. Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee are close behind.

Where is Pennsylvania in this process? It sounds like a no-brainer, right? Online education is the wave of the future – actually, it’s the current wave for increasing student learning skills and knowledge while preparing them for the demands that they will encounter in higher education, the workplace, and in personal life-long learning.

So, what’s the holdup? Well, the Idaho Board of Education recently repealed a pending policy that would have required their ninth graders -- and classes in years following -- to take two online courses to graduate from high school. Why?

Preparing Students for the Post-Secondary Demands of an Online Environment will introduce the audience to the status of online learning and how several states across the US expanded their online programs.