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  • M.A. and Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement
  • Only university in Washington with a degree in gifted education
  • Complete your specialty endorsement in one year
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  • Courses and institutes for professional development
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Gifted Education Institutes

Experience online and on-campus institutes that will help you grow as a professional and learn to address contemporary issues in gifted education.

For more information, please contact the Whitworth Center for Gifted Education at 509.777.3226 or gifted@whitworth.edu.

Upcoming Gifted Education Institutes

Changing Lives Through Social & Emotional Learning

Social and emotional learning provides a foundation for safe and positive learning and enhances students’ abilities to succeed in school. Promoting social and emotional development for all students in classrooms involves teaching and modeling social and emotional skills, providing opportunities for students to practice these skills, and giving students an opportunity to apply these skills in various situations. This institute focuses on an overview of the Washington State K-12 Social Emotional Learning (SEL) standards and benchmarks and practical approaches for integrating social emotional skills into the curriculum in today’s busy classrooms. Sessions also include workshops on the social and emotional challenges faced by some students who are identified for highly capable services and ways to address their needs.

How to Register

Register online at whitworth.edu/GiftedInstituteRegistration. If you have any questions about the registration process, please contact the Center for Gifted Education at 509.777.3226 or gifted@whitworth.edu.

Location, Date/Time

Whitworth University
300 W. Hawthorne Road
Spokane, WA 99251

Saturday, February 10, 2018
9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.


$175 per person (includes lunch)

9 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome
9:15 - 10:30 a.m. Keynote Presentation
Preparing Students for Life: Teaching Coping Skills, Problem-Solving, and Resilience – Dr. Dan Peters
10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Break
10:45 a.m. - 12 p.m. Session I
1) Making Worriers into Warriors: Anxiety in Gifted & 2e Youth – Dr. Dan Peters
2) An Update of Statewide K-12 Social Emotional Learning Policies & Practices – Dr. Mona Johnson
3) Changing Live Through Restorative Practice – Chris Moore
12 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch Break
12:45 - 2 p.m. Session II
1) Stealth Dyslexia: Flying Under the Radar – Dr. Dan Peters
2) Anxiety: The Curse of the Twice Exceptional Learner – Dr. Susan Baum
3) Strategies for Infusing Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) into Classroom Instruction (K-8) – Taylor Deitz
2 - 2:15 p.m. Break
2:15 – 3:30 p.m. Session III
1) Mindfulness Matters – Beth McGibbon
2) Teaching Emotional Intelligence – Dr. Susan Baum
3) Bibliotherapy in the Classroom: Using Literature to Promote the Development of Emotional Intelligence – Dr. Wendy Bleecker and Dr. Jann Leppien
  • Session Descriptions

    Keynote Presentation

    “Preparing Students for Life: Teaching Coping Skills, Problem-Solving, and Resilience”

    Dr. Dan Peters With childhood and teen anxiety, depression, suicide, violence, and drug use on the rise, it is critical that teachers and parents focus on preparing their students and children with the foundational life skills necessary for dealing with adversity, making good choices, and creating a meaningful life. Participants will learn strategies for building students’ internal strength, responding to adversity, and being open to life’s possibilities.

    Session I

    Making Worriers into Warriors: Anxiety in Gifted & 2e Youth – Dr. Dan Peters Worry, fear, and anxiety are common, yet often quiet “monsters” which have significant negative effects on a child’s academic achievement, social and emotional functioning, and self-esteem. Due to their various sensitivities and advanced thinking, gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) children are often vulnerable to, and impacted by, anxiety. Participants will: (1) examine the components of the brain and body responsible for the fear and relaxation response; (2) identify characteristics of gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) youth that make them more susceptible to anxiety; (3) explore the symptoms and behaviors associated with different types of anxiety; (4) examine the role of thinking in determining emotions and behavior; (5) acquire cognitive (thinking) and behavioral (doing) strategies for managing and overcoming anxiety; and (6) develop creative anxiety reduction and management plans for children and students. We will turn Worriers into Warriors!

    An Update of Statewide K-12 Social Emotional Learning Policies & Practices – Dr. Mona Johnson This workshop will provide a policy and programming update on implementation of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in Washington State. Discussion will include: an overview of the state SEL standards and benchmarks; an overview of the new online Educator SEL module; and a progress report on the collaborative development of SEL grade band indicators and state best-practice implementation guidance.

    Changing Lives Through Restorative Practices – Chris Moore Are you curious about how to change lives through Restorative Practice? Please join us! We’ll learn the mindset one must possess to effectively use Restorative Practice and why using Restorative Practice is paramount when working with others. You’ll walk away with tools and strategies to use in your schools, classrooms and in everyday life.

    Session II

    Stealth Dyslexia: Flying Under the Radar – Dr. Dan Peters In an educational era that promotes “meeting expected grade requirements,” children who are highly capable with learning disabilities are most often missed, and stealth dyslexia has become a primary culprit. Due to their advanced thinking and compensatory strategies, gifted kids with dyslexia struggle to sound out words, read fluently, spell, and write, despite having advanced knowledge and verbal abilities – while still performing “average.” Unfortunately, these kids can only compensate for so long before their academic performance, self-esteem, and emotional functioning deteriorates. Participants will learn how stealth dyslexia presents in gifted children, how to accurately diagnose it, what to do about it, and how you address their social/emotional learning needs.

    Anxiety: The Curse of the Twice Exceptional Learner – Dr. Susan Baum So many bright students with asynchronous development have high levels of anxiety, which make them unavailable for learning. In this session, you will understand the role of anxiety especially in terms of writing and production. Specific strategies will be offered to help these special students overcome their fears and find their voice.

    Strategies for Infusing Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) into Classroom Instruction (K-8) – Taylor Deitz While Social Emotional Learning (SEL) can certainly be taught as a stand-alone subject, research is beginning to show that SEL is most effective when integrated across content areas, classroom routines, and daily interactions amongst students. That’s right: you can change lives without changing your curriculum! Whether by creating explicit structures for conflict resolution in the classroom, using literature to teach empathy, pairing a science project with lessons on group skills and growth mindset, or teaching students to communicate assertively when asking for help – the opportunities for infusing SEL are endless! Participants can expect to leave this workshop with practical resources and activities that address some of the key SEL competencies outlined by CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic and Social Emotional Learning) – particularly self-management, social awareness, and relationship skills.

    Session III

    Teaching Emotional Intelligence – Dr. Susan Baum Too often students with high ability and learning issues have difficulty making friends and being valued in their classes. They often feel isolated and depressed when the learning environment does not value them or create opportunities for building friendships. In this session, we will discuss how to create an environment that helps youngsters develop social and emotional skills so that they can manage their emotions, develop friendships, and become self-regulated learners. You will engage in several activities that you can use with your students to help them develop their emotional intelligence.

    Mindfulness Matters – Beth McGibbon Today more and more high school students experience stress through academic and social pressures they face inside and outside of school. In this session, Beth McGibbon and her students from John R. Rogers High School will share a Service Learning Project they created in their AP Capstone Seminar class in 2017. Capstone Seminar is a rigorous course that teaches students how to analyze arguments, research credible sources, and synthesize information in both oral and written presentations. We will share a Stress Relief Website Capstone students created to help students and staff manage stress. This session will allow you to hear students explain why mindfulness matters in high schools today. In addition, you will learn practical strategies to reduce and manage stress effectively.

    Bibliotherapy in the Classroom: Using Literature to Promote the Development of Emotional Intelligence – Dr. Wendy Bleecker and Dr. Jann Leppien Discover the healing Power of Words! Learn more about the “Brain Science” behind bibliotherapy and how reading and writing can help children find their way through psychological, emotional and social problems. As a technique, both bibliotherapy and cinematography can help students resolve complex problems as emotional intelligence skills are interwoven into daily classroom curriculum. It serves to strengthen insight and understanding by pairing literature with reflection. During this session, examples of books and instructional lessons to explore complex social and emotional issues will be presented.

Additional Information

  • Check-in for the institute will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Registered participants will receive an email at least one week before the event with detailed check-in and event information.
  • We recommend you bring a laptop computer or tablet. Free wireless will be provided.
  • There is no dress code for this institute; however, we recommend that you dress in layers to maintain your comfort.

Payment Information and Cancellation/Refund Policy: Payments with credit cards can be made via the online registration form. We also accept checks and purchase orders. Please email purchase orders to gifted@whitworth.edu or mail them to:

Whitworth University
Center for Gifted Education
300 W. Hawthorne Rd.
Spokane, WA 99251

All monies will be refunded if paid registrations are canceled by 4 p.m. PST on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Requests for refunds received after these dates will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Contact the Center for Gifted Education at gifted@whitworth.edu or 509.777.3226 to cancel your registration and request a refund.

Academic Credit / Clock Hours: You may elect to receive one graduate-level credit from Whitworth University for an additional fee of $125. There will be additional course assignments. This credit can be used to meet the elective requirement for the state-recognized Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement. One graduate-level semester credit equals 15 clock hours. Registration for credit will occur during the institute.

Clock hours will be available for an additional fee.

Meals: Lunch is included in the registration fee. On the registration form, you will have the opportunity to inform us of any dietary needs.

Travel: The institute will be held on campus at Whitworth University. Click here for a campus map and driving directions.

For a list of local accommodations, click here. We have not reserved a block of rooms at a hotel. However, several hotels on our accommodations list offer special Whitworth University rates. To receive the special rate, use the provided online code or inform the hotel you are attending an event at Whitworth when making your reservation.

  • Presenter Biographies

    Dr. Dan Peters

    Dr. Dan Peters, licensed psychologist, is co-founder and executive director of the Summit Center, specializing in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents and families with special emphasis on gifted, talented and creative individuals and families. Dr. Dan speaks regularly at state and national conferences on a variety of topics including parenting, gifted and twice-exceptionality, anxiety and dyslexia, as well as writes for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. Dr. Dan is author of Make Your Worrier a Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Child’s Fears, and its companion book, From Worrier to Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Fears. He is co-author of The Warrior Workbook: A Guide for Conquering Your Worry Monster, as well as co-author of Raising Creative Kids. Dr. Dan is also co-founder of ParentFootprint.com, an online interactive parent-training program.

    Dr. Mona Johnson

    Dr. Mona Johnson is director of student support at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 public education in Washington state. Student Support at OSPI is a resource for school districts and communities regarding a wide array of nonacademic barriers to learning — from bullying to homelessness. Mona provides strategic leadership and policy guidance to this diverse organizational unit and is responsible for integrating and coordinating a variety of initiatives to assist districts and schools in the provision of safe, civil, healthy and intellectually stimulating environments that foster success for all students. Mona served previously at OSPI as director of learning and teaching support.

    Before her appointment at OSPI, Mona served as executive director of Health Professions and Facilities at the Washington State Department of Health. Previously, she was chief of school behavioral health at the U.S. Army Medical Command Child, Adolescent, and Family Behavioral Health Office on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. While there she had overall responsibility for the development and management of an international Army School Behavioral Health outreach project and staff, ensuring that evidence-based and standardized practices are implemented at Army installations in the U.S and Europe.

    Mona also presents, publishes and consults at the local, state and national levels in professional wellness, resilience, childhood trauma, substance abuse and violence prevention. She authored “Surviving or Thriving: Educator Change Following School-Based Trauma” and co-authored “The Heart of Learning and Teaching: Compassion, Resiliency and Academic Success;” Supporting and Educating Traumatized Students: A Guide for School-Based Professionals (2009), with Ray Wolpow, Ron Hertel and Susan O. Kincaid; Compassion Fatigue Training for Educators (2012), with Marleen Wong; and “How the Traumatic Experiences of Students Manifest in School Settings,” co-authored with Ron Hertel, in Supporting and Educating Traumatized Students (Rossen & Hull, Editors, 2013). Mona was recognized in 2012 as a Champion for Children by the National Association of Children of Alcoholics and received the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Advocate of the Year Award in 2009.

    Mona completed her doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Washington Tacoma in 2016. She earned her master’s and undergraduate degrees in social sciences and social work from Pacific Lutheran University and is a certified Chemical Dependency Professional. She and her husband, Dan, live in Gig Harbor, Wash., with their overindulged rescue cat Jae.

    Chris Moore

    Chris Moore has worked in Spokane Public Schools for 25 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator. Currently, Chris is a coordinator in Student Services supporting staff and families at 18 elementary schools. Her expertise and leadership provide support for restorative practice, suicide prevention, LGBT advocacy and the district's Crisis Team. Chris works closely with multiple community resources and partners to meet the differing needs of Spokane Public Schools students. She earned her master of education in school counseling from Whitworth University and her administrative leadership certificate from Eastern Washington University. Chris works with passion and commitment every day to support and change students’ lives.

    Dr. Jann Leppien

    Dr. Jann Leppien is an associate professor and the Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at Whitworth University in Spokane. Whitworth's Center for Gifted Education supports and develops policies and practices that encourage the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups and offers educators specialty and master’s degrees in gifted education. She conducts professional staff training for educators in the areas of differentiated instruction, curriculum design and assessment for advanced students, thinking skills, and gifted program development, both nationally and internationally. She has served on the board of the National Association for Gifted Children, and currently serves on the board of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS), the 2E Center for Research and Professional Development, NAGC’s Diversity and Equity and Leadership Committees, and Washington State’s Gifted and Talented Advisory Board. She is the co-author of the The Multiple Menu Model: A Practical Guide for Developing Differentiated Curriculum and The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop High Potential and Challenge High-Ability Students.

    Dr. Wendy Bleecker

    Dr. Wendy Bleecker has been working with youth in the field of counseling for over 30 years in both the juvenile and educational setting. Wendy currently works at Whitworth University as the director and assistant professor for the School Counseling and Social and Behavioral Health programs. The spectrum of Wendy’s work includes the development of programs to support drug/alcohol intervention and prevention, violence prevention, youth development, mental health, dropout prevention, truancy reduction, alternative education and counseling and promote trauma-sensitive environments for students. Wendy continues to work collaboratively with local leaders and community members focusing on effective strategies to engage all students in their education and reduce disproportionality for students with diverse backgrounds within the educational setting. Dr. Bleecker received her B.A. degree from Eastern Washington University, M. Ed. from Whitworth University and Ed.D. from Washington State University and has conducted research in the area of racial awareness of Washington school administrators and counselors in correlation to disproportionality in academic achievement, truancy and discipline actions for students of color.

    Beth McGibbon

    Beth McGibbon, National Board Certified Teacher, teaches world history and AP Capstone Seminar at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash. She has taught in Spokane Public Schools since 1990. For over two decades, Beth has worked as a teacher leader in the roles of literacy coach, professional development trainer, National Board facilitator and advocate for student empowerment. Beth is also a certified yoga instructor and shares her love for yoga with students and staff. Beth received her B.A. and 5th Year Degree from the University of Washington.

    Taylor Deitz

    Taylor Deitz currently works at Longfellow Elementary in Spokane, Wash., as a Social Emotional Learning Teacher for K-2 students. Taylor has spent much of her teaching career working with primary grades, but also has experience teaching language arts to intermediate students in an international setting. She is passionate about serving youth affected by trauma and poverty and desires to equip these students with the skills necessary to regulate emotion and build positive, empathetic relationships. Her current position includes weekly lessons with classrooms as well as individual and group lessons with students in need of Tier 2 intervention in the PBIS framework. Taylor received her B.A. in Elementary Education from Whitworth University and has recently returned to Whitworth to complete a M.Ed. in Social and Behavioral Health (Social Emotional Learning). She plans to conduct research for this program based on the effect of a collaborative “SEL Workshop” (which responds to student office visits with referrals for specific skills-based lessons) on frequency of office referrals at Longfellow.

    Dr. Susan Baum

    Dr. Susan Baum is the director of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development at Bridges Academy, a school for twice exceptional students, and recently retired as the coordinator for the International Graduate Program for Educators at SUNY, Buffalo State College. As a professor emeritus from The College of New Rochelle, Susan is known for her seminal work in the education of twice exceptional children and has published extensively on the topic. As an international consultant, Susan has published in the areas of twice exceptional students, primary-aged gifted students, and social and emotional factors affecting gifted students. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Students and is past president and co-founder of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS). She is the 2010 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award granted by the Weinfeld Group, for her contributions to the field of the education of twice exceptional learners, 2011 recipient of the Connecticut Association for Friend of the Gifted Award, and the 2015 Distinguished Professional Alumni Award from the Neag School of Education for her work with twice exceptional students. Susan has published widely in the areas of creativity, twice-exceptionality and talent development. Her books include Creativity 1,2,3; Chi Square, Pie Charts and Me; and To be Gifted and Learning Disabled: Strategies for Helping Gifted Students with LD, ADHD and more. She is co-editor and author of several chapters in Nurturing the Gifts and Talents of Primary Grade Students and is co-author of the book Toolkit for Teens: A Guide for Helping Adolescents Manage Stress. Dr. Baum is co-author of the popular book Multiple Intelligences in the Elementary Classroom: A Teacher’s Toolkit, written in collaboration with Howard Gardner.