It has been a busy and exciting season for UAGC!
In this newsletter you can read about our annual Winter Symposium featuring Dr. Tamara Stambaugh, a workshop series with Dr. Maureen Neihart (sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education), a parent-focused book study of When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers by Dr. Jim Delisle, and our upcoming Summer Conference where Dr. Delisle will be the keynote speaker.
In this newsletter we also honor one of the pioneers of GT education in Utah, Dr. Jay Monson. Dr. Monson’s vision and efforts secured a foundation for gifted education upon which we are still building. We are grateful for his work and impact on education in Utah.
Recently I have been thinking of a campaign from NAGC, Giftedness Knows No Boundaries (http://www.giftednessknowsnoboundaries.org/promos). In it, NAGC promotes “Changing Minds, Changing Policies, Changing Practices.” You may want to visit the site, watch the video clips, and view the posters. The campaign captures the heart of our organizations: to See, Understand, Teach, and Challenge gifted children.
Thank you for your continued interest and advocacy. We look forward to continuing to work alongside you in our cause.
This year’s annual conference “Goes to Hollywood”! UAGC invites students of all ages to get involved and submit an entry for the UAGC Film Festival. See details below and click HERE to get started!
Do You Know an Outstanding Educator, Volunteer or Student Who Deserves Recognition? Submit a UAGC AWARD NOMINATION!
Each year at the annual summer conference, UAGC takes the opportunity to honor people who have made outstanding contributions to gifted children in our state. Check out the following awards and submit a nomination for a deserving recipient!
The National Association for Gifted Children Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Award recognizes excellence in young children. The award is made to a student who is in grade 3 through 5 and has distinguished him or herself in academics, leadership, or the arts.
The Utah Association for Gifted Children Distinguished Student Award recognizes excellence in students in middle grades. The award is made to a student who is in grade 6 through 9 and has distinguished him or herself in academics, leadership, or the arts.
Click below to nominate!
The Calvin W. Taylor Outstanding Educator Award is designed to recognize an exemplary Utah educator of gifted and talented youth. This award was established to honor educators who, like Dr. Taylor, greatly impact the lives of their students. Please assist us in recognizing our gifted and talented educators. You are invited to nominate an educator who has made a significant impact in the lives of gifted and talented youth.
Criteria to be Considered:
The Local Leadership Award was established in honor of Dr. Sally M. Todd who was a master teacher, an excellent scholar, and a woman of service. The Sally M. Todd Local Leadership Award is designed to recognize and honor community members who have displayed a long-standing commitment to gifted children and/or related issues, while living in the state of Utah. Please assist us in
honoring non-educators who have made a significant positive contribution to gifted education in their local communities.
Criteria to be Considered:
The Jewel Bindrup Award is presented to any person who, while living in Utah, has contributed significantly to the specific needs of Utah’s gifted children.
Criteria to be Considered:
Dr. Jay A. Monson: A Tribute
by Scott L. Hunsaker and Rebecca Haslam Odoardi
If any person deserves the title of Father of Gifted Education in Utah, that person is Dr. Jay A. Monson. Jay died on February 24, 2021. He is the third UAGC Jewel Bindrup Award winner to have left us in the last 12 months, having been proceeded by JoAnn Seghini and Phyllis Embley. When UAGC gave its first award for career contributions to the education of gifted learners in Utah, that award went to Jewel Bindrup, who passed away soon after. So, to honor Jewel, UAGC named the award after her. The next person to receive this career recognition, and thus become the first recipient of the Jewel Bindrup Award, was Jay Monson.
Jay was a trailblazer. As a member of the Utah State Board of Education from 1976 to 1984 and as chair of the Board for most of that time, Jay was instrumental in establishing a line item in the Utah education budget for gifted and talented education and oversaw the adoption of the first course standards in Utah for a teaching endorsement in gifted and talented education. As a professor at Utah State University, and, again, as chair of the Department of Elementary Education for 15 years, Jay organized the first university gifted and talented endorsement courses in Utah and offered them in collaboration with school districts around the state. In the same year that Confratute was started at the University of Connecticut, Jay founded the Intermountain Conference on Gifted and Talented Education, held early each summer on the USU campus, and brought leading scholars in gifted education to the state including such luminaries as June Maker, Barbara Clark, Robert Sternberg, Howard Gardner, Joseph Renzulli, and Sally Reis.
Jay loved humor. He enjoyed handing out humorous certificates to each faculty member in the Department of Elementary Education at USU at the end of each school year. For example, at the end of Scott’s first year at USU, Jay awarded him the “He’s Quiet Until You Talk About Something He Really Cares About” Award. Everyone who attended the Intermountain Conference while Jay was still in charge will remember that at the closing session on Friday, Jay would pretend he had been taking pictures of people at the conference throughout the week. Then he would show slides of vintage photographs, usually of the Buster Keaton or Keystone Cops variety, and provide an anecdote about the main speaker or someone attending the conference that went with the photograph, much to the delight of all attendees. Jay did presentations on the use of humor in teaching all around the country. After presenting at a national conference, he received an invitation to present his work on humor at a well-respected university. He didn’t really have time to make the trip, but they were insistent, so he gave them an outlandish figure as his speaking fee. “Scott,” he told me somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “they accepted it, so now I have to go.”
Jay was personable. He had the unique ability to remember names and faces. Every year, at the Intermountain Conference, he would give appreciation by name to everyone who had attended every conference. By the time the conference got to about 20 years old, there remained only one teacher who had been to every conference. He continued thanking her every year. When a young undergraduate student (Rebecca) came to him early in the 1970s before courses on gifted education had been developed at USU, she expressed interest in gifted and talented education and was frustrated with the elementary education classes being offered. Jay listened carefully to the goals Rebecca had set for herself to learn how to work with gifted children. He assisted her in developing an individualized program that would help her meet her goals while still meeting the requirements for teacher licensure. In addition, he introduced her to the work Renzulli and Reis were doing, and that connection led to her to eventual work with them. In the mid-1990s, when USU opened a position for an Assistant Professor in Gifted Education, Jay would telephone Scott to give him updates and reassurance as he went through the application and interview process. When he introduced Scott to the USU faculty and at the Intermountain Conference, Jay would recall first meeting him at an Intermountain Conference years before when Scott was Gifted Program Coordinator for Alpine School District.
Jay was a mild-mannered man who got things done. He was the epitome of that old adage about how much people could accomplish if they didn’t worry about who got the credit. Nonetheless, he deserves much of the credit for the initiation of gifted and talented education in Utah. His kindness to all and his commitment to gifted education will be missed.
A Workshop Series: Supporting the Social/Emotional Needs of Twice Exceptional Students
The Utah State Board of Education recently sponsored a free workshop series for parents and educators. This free virtual event featured nationally recognized expert Maureen Neihart, Psy.D., a licensed child psychologist with more than thirty years’ experience working with gifted children and their families. Registrants from across the state gathered for four sessions to learn ways to help support the social and emotional needs of twice exceptional children who are gifted.
Helping twice exceptional students realize their full potential is often a daunting task. Dr. Neihart shared many strategies that are effective for helping these children succeed, such as providing success experiences, keeping expectations high, having children work at the edge of their competence, and praising effort and personal success. She also suggested using games to improve executive functioning skills while having fun and uniting as a family. Addressing the struggle that twice exceptional children can have with managing stress, worry and anxiety, Dr. Neihart provided practical solutions for helping children learn to cope. She noted that providing proper nutrition, teaching breathing and relaxation exercises, and encouraging optimism are ways of helping children manage these emotions
UAGC is hosting a book study as a prelude to the UAGC summer conference June 15-17. We are doing a book study from Jim Deslile's book When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers. This is a virtual book study geared toward parent conversations and concerns. Our first session we discussed defining gifted, identification of gifted, and challenges gifted children face. Our second session we focused on the needs of the whole child. We discussed social and emotional needs of gifted looking specifically at perfectionism, hypersensitivity, and gifted girls. Our final session will focus on being an advocate for all gifted children. We are excited to hear from Jim Deslile in June as the capstone event to our first virtual book study. Thanks to the 30+ patrons who registered for this opportunity. We will look to doing another virtual event through our advocacy committee.