Teachers, Parents Invited to Attend Gifted Summit at VSU

November 16, 2011

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Teachers, Parents Invited to Attend Gifted Summit at VSU


VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University’s Center for Gifted Studies will host a Gifted Summit from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, in the Psychology Building on Main Campus.

The Gifted Summit is open to anyone interested in the academic, emotional, and social needs of gifted children, including teachers and parents of gifted children, education faculty, education majors, school counselors, school psychologists, and educational leaders.

Hosted by the Department of Psychology and Counseling, the Gifted Summit will open with a welcome by Dr. Jim Reffel, professor and director of the Center for Gifted Studies; Interim President Dr. Louis Levy; Dr. Karla Hull, newly appointed dean of the College of Education; and Dr. Bob Bauer, department head. This will be followed by a performance featuring Valdosta High School dance students and an overview of the center’s mission and goals.

Dr. Thomas P. Hebert, a professor of education psychology at the University of Georgia and author of “Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students,” will deliver his first keynote presentation at 11 a.m. Titled “Portraits to Enlighten Our Understanding of the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students,” the one-hour talk will focus on the life stories of several noteworthy students who offer some insight into growing up gifted, according to the Gifted Summit program. “Highlighted are the social and emotional issues they encounter in life. From these portraits, teachers recognize their influential roles and examine strategies to provide support for the young people they teach.”

At 1:15 p.m., Hebert will return for a second keynote address, “Creating Classroom Environments to Support Social and Emotional Development.” During this one-hour presentation, which will be recorded and posted on the Center for Gifted Studies website, he will share “a variety of activities to assist teachers in creating classrooms where gifted students feel welcome and respected. Teachers learn how to facilitate non-threatening and enjoyable activities to establish a climate of support.”

During the last hour of the Gifted Summit, participants will break into special interest groups for various breakout sessions. There will be one to discuss research project goals and ideas, one for teachers and one for parents to discuss workshop goals and ideas, and one for those who have suggestions for special programs for students, such as summer enrichment activities. The summit will conclude with a discussion of possible future projects.

Because the Center for Gifted Studies is new, Reffel said that he hopes to learn a lot from Gifted Summit attendees about the types of services they want and/or need. He said the center will be able to accomplish more if its programs are specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of the population being served.

With the recent construction of the new 33,000-square-foot, $5 million Psychology Building, Reffel believed the time was right -- and the space available -- to open a Center for Gifted Studies. He had years of experience in the field of gifted education and knew that gifted children deserve to be better understood; they deserve to be challenged and guided.

The Center for Gifted Studies strives to develop talent, creativity, and critical thinking in individuals with gifts and talents; support cognitive, social, emotional, and wisdom development in individuals with gifts and talents; study the nature, identification, assessment, and evaluation of individuals with gifts and talents; and create curriculum, methods, and materials appropriate for individuals with gifts and talents. Through the center, teachers can add a gifted endorsement to their current Georgia teaching certificate, parents and teachers have access to a resource library, and students can talk to experts in the field about their unique social, academic, and emotional needs.

Reffel said that he and members of the Center for Gifted Studies staff, including Dr. David M. Monetti, a professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, are available to consult with teachers and parents who want to learn more, willing to conduct assessments, and eager to pursue research opportunities to better meet the needs of South Georgia’s gifted and talented population, including men and women of all ages, not just school-age children and teenagers.

“The establishment of this center has been a goal of mine for a long time and fortunately all the pieces have finally come together,” Reffel noted on the Center for Gifted Studies website (www.valdosta.edu/coe/psychology/giftedstudies/index). “Our mission is to help address the variety of needs of individuals with gifts and talents. Our mission is ambitious, but our efforts are necessary.”

Visit www.valdosta.edu/news/releases/giftedstudies.111111 to read more about the Center for Gifted Studies.

To register for the Gifted Summit or to request a consultation, email giftedstudies@valdosta.edu or call (229) 245-3869 or (229) 249-2777.