The Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented (CAGT) will hold its annual state conference on Monday, October 20 and Tuesday October 21, 2014 at the Marriott Denver Tech Center, 4900 S. Syracuse Street in Denver, Colorado. CAGT’s Parent Institute will be held on the evening of Monday, October 20. On Tuesday morning, October 21, CAGT and the Colorado Department of Education will co-sponsor the annual Leadership Forum. The theme for this year’s conference and its related events is The Many Faces of Gifted, acknowledging that each gifted child is different and comes from a unique background.

Conference Meets an Important Need

There are about 67,000 gifted students in Colorado, children from every race, culture, gender and income level. In 2013-14 approximately 7.6% of Colorado’s K-12 public school population was identified as gifted and there are also gifted learners in other educational settings such as homeschool and private schools. These students have varying strengths, interests, and needs; some students have disabilities as well. 

It is a challenge to support the differences and uniqueness of every gifted child, in the schools and at home. However, as CAGT President, Dr. Blanche Kapushion, noted, "Supporting the academic and social-emotional development of gifted learners is imperative to Colorado's economic development and educational sustainability. The Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented has been supporting educators, parents, and students for forty years to assure that the multiple dimensions and faces of gifted learners is addressed and elevated. As we move into the next forty years we must be able to address the complex macro problems and potential for macro opportunities that will provide gifted learners with opportunities to be problem finders and problem solvers for our future.” 

Featuring local and international experts, the state conference introduces knowledge and strategies for the support of Gifted and Talented population. It is attended by teachers, administrators, parents and guardians, counselors, mental health practitioners, legislators, community leaders, and gifted students. Dr. Kapushion said that “through our state conference, we will bring together all the key players who are involved in assuring our gifted learners contribute to our future economic development and educational sustainability, locally and globally, and recognize the efforts of those who have worked toward this goal."  

CAGT Conference Details

The conference schedule offers two full days to gain knowledge and strategies to support the differences and uniqueness of every gifted child. The conference opens each day at 7:15 a.m. with registration, continental breakfast, and exhibitors; breakout sessions begin at 8:00. Check out the Monday and Tuesday descriptions of the breakout sessions. There are 80 sessions to choose from, addressing the needs of children from early elementary through high school. A broad variety of topics are offered, including classroom instruction, parenting, creativity, advocacy, underachievement, arts, technology, twice-exceptional students, and of course, many areas of diversity. These sessions offer attendees—whether educators, parents, students, or mental health practitioners—the opportunity to customize their conference experience according to their professional or individual interests.

In keeping with the theme, the conference will offer an intriguing and diverse array of keynotes. Mental health practitioners, educators, organizational leaders and parents will benefit from hearing from Dan Siegel, M.D., a world-reknown neurobiologist and author of Mindsight, The Whole-Brain Child, and Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. Dr. Siegel offers a scientifically grounded, integrated view of human development to promote the growth of vibrant lives and healthy minds. Dr. Rosina Gallagher will be another keynote speaker. She is an educational consultant and lead author of Diversity and Equity in Illinois: Responding to Differences within the Gifted Population and of Educando Hijos Exitosos. Dr. Gallagher brings her experience as a psychologist, a past President of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), and a member of both NAGC’s Parent Education Committee and Advisory Board. Lisa Van Gemert, Mensa's Education Liaison, will share her expertise; in addition to her work with Mensa, she conducts professional development sessions for thousands of teachers each year on best practices in the education of the gifted CAGT has also acknowledged the important by inviting keynotes from two local students who are already making a difference in the world: Kai Kloepfer, an Intel Science and Engineering Fair winner, and Xiuhtezcati Roske-Martinez, a 13 year old indigenous environmental activist and performer. 

Conference registration is available on the CAGT website. Conference registration is $290 per person for both days and $190 per person for a single day, either Monday or Tuesday. The cost of the conference includes lunch and continental breakfast. Conference attendees receive a 2014-15 annual membership to CAGT and to a local Affiliate of their choice. Professional development hours and graduate credit will both be available.

A number of attendees are staying at the conference hotel. There is a special CAGT conference rate at the Denver Tech Marriott. Staying at the conference hotel allows conference attendees to avoid a commute and get a refreshed start in the morning. It also gives time after the conference day to decompress and synthesize or to collaborate with fellow colleagues. Or this can be a chance to socialize; CAGT is having a free Trivia Night on Monday evening from 7:30-9:00 p.m. in the hotel restaurant to make it easier to connect with old and new GT-minded friends. 

Parent Institute

As in past years, CAGT will take advantage of having some much GT expertise gathered in Denver for the conference by offering a special event for parents and guardians. Monday night is CAGT’s Parent Institute, a great opportunity to hear from leading speakers in giftedness. This will be held 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Evergreen Ballroom of the Denver Tech Marriott. The expert panel will feature Dr. Rosina Gallagher and Lisa Van Gemert, who are also conference keynote speakers (see above). Also on the panel will be Dr. George Betts, a perennial favorite at the Parent Institute. He is Professor Emeritus at University of Northern Colorado, President-elect of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), and author of several books, including The Journey of Lifelong Learning. Dr. Beverly Trail will also be on the panel. She is a professor at Regis University, past Chair of the NAGC Special Population Network and author of Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children. There will be time for audience questions to the panel. Parent Institute registration is available on the CAGT website. The fee is $20 per person or for two adults from the same household. Spanish interpretation will be available upon request. Light refreshments will be served.

Leadership Forum

CAGT’s annual Leadership Forum is held during the CAGT conference and co-sponsored with the Office of Gifted Education at the Colorado Department of Education. The 2014 Forum will be on Tuesday morning, October 21, from 8:00-11:00 a.m. In keeping with this year’s conference theme, The Many Faces of Gifted, the forum will focus on diverse learning needs, culture and school climate for all gifted students. The special leadership session is an outreach to Colorado’s educational leaders who influence the learning of all students. Superintendents, central and building administrators, school leaders, university and community leaders, and legislators are encouraged to attend as a district or regional team organized with their local director of gifted education. 

Dr. Rosina Gallagher will speak on Improving Student Outcomes for Underrepresented Populations. Table talks and a question and answer period will follow her presentation. Forum participants will have the opportunity to discuss this and other important issues concerning gifted education. Leadership Forum registration is available on the CAGT website. The cost of the Leadership Forum is $25 per person, which includes breakfast, materials and speaker.

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