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Upcoming Gifted Education Institutes

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

Registration now open!

Spring 2024 Virtual Institute

Identification for What? Aligning Services & Assessments for HiCap Learners

This year’s annual webinar series focuses on ways to create equitable identification systems that are matched to needed services for HiCap learners. The series begins with an overview of evidence-supported practices and potential barriers in identification. Subsequent sessions highlight best practices and practical strategies for aligning services by domains of strength and levels of intensity. Join in conversations with leading researchers and practitioners in Washington State and across the nation. Be prepared to ask questions, engage with scholars and colleagues, and share your own ideas and effective practices. 

Register here 

  • Dates: Tuesdays, Feb. 6-27, 2024
  • Location: Online; sessions will not be recorded.
  • Time: 4:30-6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time*
  • Cost: $120 per person (includes all four sessions)

*Feb. 6: 5-6:30 p.m. 

Attend the institute and receive one credit for free after you enroll in either our master's program or the specialty endorsement prior to July 1! You can start your application here

If you have questions about the registration process, please contact the Center for Gifted Education at 509.777.3383 or Whitworth University is a Washington state-approved clock hour provider. 

Check back soon for more details or see what our 2023 Institute consisted of below. 

After attending Whitworth's Institute on Differentiation last summer, I decided almost immediately that Whitworth was the best place to continue my education. The depth of knowledge, professionalism, and caring communication I saw from everyone I met there made Whitworth my clear decision.

Nick Castilleja, M.A.T., Gifted & Talented


Summer 2024 Teaching for Learning Institute

Resources & Strategies that Promote Differentiation & Talent Development for HiCap Learners

HiCap students need advanced instruction matched to their strengths and levels of understanding in order to learn and grow. In this engaging and practical three-day institute we will focus on providing the latest research, resources, and strategies that respond to the following questions: How do you differentiate instruction in ways that develop students’ talents and strengths? What evidence supported curriculum resources and instructional strategies encourage student learning? How do you identify HiCap students and assess their growth? What psychosocial skills do your students need to maximize learning? And, how do we support equitable instruction and identification for all students, particularly those from culturally, linguistically, and economically different backgrounds?

  • COLLABORATE with others in the field of gifted education.
  • CREATE new lessons, units and program designs based on evidence-supported frameworks and strategies.
  • CONTRIBUTE your ideas and successes in serving gifted students.


  • Dates: June 26-28, 2024
  • Location: On campus
    Whitworth University
    300 W. Hawthorne Rd.
    Spokane, WA 99251
  • Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Cost: $399* per person (includes lunch)
    School-based teams that register together will receive every sixth registration free; Whitworth University is a Washington state approved clock hour provider. 

Join us for three days of engaging sessions focused on ways we can use or adapt curriculum resources, identify strengths, differentiate instruction, and support psychosocial skill development. Each day includes a keynote, breakout session, an in-depth multi-day strand, as well as opportunities to share your ideas and network with others around specific topics of interest. Select STEM and SEL sessions and clock hours are available.

Click each link to learn more about our daily schedule, breakout session and strand topics, featured speakers and more. Participants may want to bring their own electronic device to access some materials. 

Daily Schedule

Time Activity
9-10:05 a.m. Keynote Session
10:05-11:35 a.m. Daily Breakout Session (choose a different one each day)
11:35 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch (provided)
12:50-2:50 p.m.* Session Strands (choose one strand to attend all three days)

*On Friday, June 30, the session strands will end at 2 p.m. and there will be no roundtables. This allows individuals ample time to travel home.
3:05-4 p.m.* Roundtables, Networking & Reflection

Keynote Sessions

  • Leveraging Psychosocial Factors from Academic Potential to Academic Talent - Dante Dixson, Ph.D.
    Psychosocial factors (i.e., one’s thoughts, attitudes and beliefs) are imperative for the development of academic talent. Students must engage with and leverage a host of different psychosocial factors (e.g., motivation, self-concept, academic expectations) when trying to develop their academic potential into fully developed academic talent. In this keynote address, Dixson is going to discuss the role that psychosocial factors play in the development of academic talent. Specifically, Dixson will discuss why psychosocial factors are often overlooked when educators are trying to develop academic talent, how psychosocial factors encourage academic talent development, which psychosocial factors are most important for academic talent development, and how psychosocial factors can be leveraged to close excellent gaps.
  • Think, Question, Explore, Connect: Involving Advanced Learners through Rigor and Relevance -  Catherine Little, Ph.D.
    Advanced curriculum and instruction serve as one of the essential pillars of services for high-ability learners. Through access to advanced learning opportunities, students have opportunities to grow and learn not only content, but also more about themselves as learners. But in our discussions of ensuring challenging experiences, what do we really mean by the terms we use, such as meaning, depth and rigor? And how do we think about engaging advanced learners in a variety of settings with these emphases? In this session, we explore several core strategies for promoting depth in thinking, supporting rigorous exploration of the disciplines, and promoting opportunities for authentic, meaningful connections.
  • Ode to Joy: Remembering Why We Do What We Do - Tracy F. Inman, Ed.D.
    During these unprecedented times of pandemic, division, continued inequity, interrupted learning, and exasperated educators, we need some positivity. We need to be reminded of the many joys of our profession. That joy takes various shapes from utilizing a researched-based strategy that effectively challenges advanced learners or develops healthy partnerships between school and family to the face of a child who finally owns their unhealthy perfectionism or the hearty laughter of kids finding others like themselves. Join me in this rediscovery. This keynote inspires to be both practical in its advice and shared successes as well as uplifting and encouraging. Hear wisdom and joy from a wide variety of professionals in gifted education as we share their stories of practical strategies and tips effective for advanced learning as well as times they found joy working with these learners.

Breakout Sessions & Roundtables

Breakout Sessions (choose a different one each day)

Wednesday, June 28
  • Don’t Guess, Pre-Assess! – Tracy F. Inman, Ed.D.
    Imagine a trip to your doctor. She, without examining you or even listening to symptoms, writes a prescription. Since the doctor attended years of medical school, she understands the typical issues of a person with your demographics so feels confident in her treatment. Will you get better? Chances are no – yet chances are strong that you won’t be seeing her again. Our students don’t have that choice. They’re assigned to teachers who also have years of schooling and who understand typical educational needs of learners in whatever grade or subject they teach. Too often well-meaning educators approach all students with the same treatment, regardless of need. The key to matching treatment with individual is data collection or preassessment. This session explores preassessment best practices and strategies, complete with student examples. You will generate a variety of ready-to-use preassessments, so you can ensure a class of healthy learners next fall.
  • Depth, Complexity, and Content Imperatives for Middle and High School – Reby Parsley, Ed.D., NBCT
    This session is designed to have middle and high school educators dive deeply into the Depth & Complexity Icons and Content Imperatives, a research-based instructional strategy that can be used with all students to differentiate the content and increase the depth and rigor of classroom instruction. Participants will explore the many ways that Depth & Complexity can be used within their instruction to meet the needs of all student sub-populations within their instructional setting. Throughout this session participants will develop graphic organizers, explore differentiated questioning protocols, and engage in lesson design activities all while utilizing the Icons and Imperatives. By the end of the session, participants will have a deep and advanced understanding of how to effectively utilize the Depth & Complexity differentiation strategy in their everyday instruction. This session is applicable for middle and high school educators who have some previous experience with the Depth & Complexity Icons.
  • What’s the Big Idea? Teaching with Concepts – Catherine Little, Ph.D.
    Organizing learning experiences around a strong conceptual focus promotes depth in thinking, rich discussion, and opportunities for authentic connections across disciplines. Concepts also provide space for learners from a wide range of backgrounds to find relevance in the learning and pursue questions that matter to them. In this session, we explore specific strategies for engaging students in constructing meaning around big ideas, with applications across grade levels and subject areas.
  • Evaluating Your Identification System: Optimizing Cost, Alignment, Sensitivity, and Access – Lindsay Lee, Ph.D. 
    Effective gifted identification has been an ongoing struggle within the field of gifted education, but common criteria to evaluate identification systems has been lacking.  Inconsistencies in the identification process can influence equitable access, be expensive, be poorly aligned, and find less students being identified (Peters et al., 2022). In this presentation, we outline and provide practical tools for judging identification systems based on cost, alignment, sensitivity, and access (CASA). 
  • Beyond Notice and Wonder: Thinking Routines from Project Zero– Jen Flo
    Beyond the Core Routines, Project Zero has many more easy-to-learn mini-routines to extend and deepen students’ thinking. These routines are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills and make thinking visible. The routines are made up of open-ended questions that can be used across disciplines, topics, and age groups. In this session, we’ll explore thinking categories, ways to identify just the right routines, documenting ideas (student thinking), and share exemplars you can take back to use in your classroom. Participants will leave with “use-tomorrow” resources.
  • Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program: Scaffolding Reading Instruction from Lower to Higher Level Thinking Skills – Debbie Brandt
    Jacob's Ladder Reading Comprehension Program is a supplemental reading program which targets reading comprehension and critical thinking skills for all learners. In the form of three skill ladders connected to individual readings in poetry, myths/fables, and nonfiction, students move from lower-order, concrete thinking skills to higher-order, critical thinking skills. Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program provides differentiation for students at varied reading and comprehension levels. Participants will be introduced to, learn, and experience the Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program, so that each can apply the skill ladders within their classrooms and or schools. They will learn to modify each ladder’s skill set to further engage all learners. 
 Thursday, June 29
  • Talent Development: From Development to Implementation to Outcomes – Reby Parsley, Ed.D., NBCT
    Gifted programs across the nation are continuing to struggle with the underrepresentation of students of color, 2e students, multilingual students, and students living in poverty due to under-referral, use of biased identification tools, and the presence of the opportunity gap.  But, what tools are available to districts that address the root causes of these disproportionalities? This session covers the development, execution, and outcomes of a talent development program after the first year of implementation in one Washington school district. Participants will walk away with the research, tools, protocols, and resources that will support the full or partial implementation of a talent development program in their district. The session will focus on the components of professional development, classroom instructional materials, data analysis, and identification procedures. This session is applicable for district or school administrators
  • Advanced Differentiation: Beyond the Basics – Tracy F. Inman, Ed.D.
    You know the importance of differentiating content, process, and product to address gifted learners’ needs, interests, readiness, and abilities. You understand the rationale behind it and embrace a culture in your classroom that supports an effectively differentiated learning environment. You are probably comfortable with preassessment and some differentiation strategies. Now you are ready to go beyond the basics. This practical session explores research-based, real-world strategies for differentiation. Join us if you are ready to learn new strategies via student examples. You will leave with a ready-to-use differentiated lesson as well as tools to promote continuous growth for all learners, including those with gifts and talents.
  • Overcoming Intersectionality to Develop Advanced Academic Talent– Dante Dixson, Ph.D.
    A topic that is frequently overlooked in education is how intersectionality (i.e., being a member of multiple groups that encounter significant disadvantages) relates to student achievement. In this talk, Dante D. Dixson, Ph.D. is going to discuss how intersectionality plays a role in advanced academic talent development. Specifically, Dixson is going to discuss what intersectionality is, the importance of educators considering it when developing academic talent, how it can hinder academic talent development, and various interventions that educators can leverage to address it within the school setting.
  • Creativity-Supportive Advanced Learning Environments: Instructional Strategies for Advanced Academics  – Lindsay Lee, Ph.D. 
    Integration of creativity in education is commonly found within elementary school, but as students enter secondary schooling, interests become more specialized and related to specific domains (e.g., AP Statistics, AP Physics, AP World History, GT Humanities). This session will discuss how to intentionally construct creativity-supportive environments to incorporate elements of the creative process in different career fields, encourage creative self-beliefs related to student interests, and help students prepare for post-secondary life. The presenter will incorporate lessons learned from her experience as an advanced placement teacher, higher education instructor, and creativity researcher.
  • Identification of Potential in WA Schools: New Laws and Best Practices – Rebecca O’Brien, Ph.D.
    What are best practices for identifying and providing services to students from culturally, linguistically, and economically different backgrounds? How does this work with the new Washington state laws for identification? Washington state school districts are required to universally screen all students in a grade level for highly capable services, in both early and late elementary school. In this session, we will discuss why universal screening is important for equitable outcomes, research about universal screening strategies, and how you can put these strategies to work in your school district.
  • Catalysts for Learning: Creativity, Complexity, and Curiosity - Jen Flo
    Warren Berger describes a beautiful question as “an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something – and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change...the focus here is on questions that can be acted upon, questions that can lead to tangible results and change.”  Questions help students find meaning in what they do, what they encounter, and what they experience. This session outlines how you can infuse the 3 C’s into learning spaces and encourage students to take creative risks, innovate solutions, and get comfortable with uncertainty.  We will look at creativity, complexity, and curiosity as crucial components in a rapidly changing world.
Friday, June 28
  • Developing Effective Choice Activities – Reby Parsley, Ed.D., NBCT
    This session will focus on how to meet the academic needs of Highly Capable students through the use of choice menus. Participants will explore high impact teaching strategies (HITS) and engage with current research to help better meet the diverse needs of their Highly Capable students through choice menus. Participants will learn how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and grade level and content standards to create intellectually challenging choice menus that extend and enrich students’ classroom experiences. Participants will have the opportunity to collaborate, share, and develop activities for choice menus that can be used in their instructional setting. Participants will leave this session with the tools and resources necessary to create choice menus. This session is applicable for all K-12 educators.
  • Questions, Answers, and More Questions – Catherine Little, Ph.D.
    Educators have long emphasized the importance of high-level and high-quality questioning and discussion as an approach to challenging advanced learners. Yet, what do we really mean when we talk about this type of questioning, and what does it look like in action? How can we work on doing it as well across subject areas to promote high levels of student thinking? And how do we make sure we aren’t the ones asking all the questions? This session explores some of what we know about asking questions, listening to answers, encouraging student questions, and fostering inquiry as key components of engaging strong thinking and discourse in the classroom.
  • Embracing Radicalism to Overcome Underrepresentation in HiCap Programs – Dante Dixson, Ph.D.
    One of the most prominent issues in education today is that the academic talent of minoritized and disadvantaged students is not developed at the same rate as majority or advantaged students. In this talk, Dante D. Dixson, Ph.D. is going to discuss how the American educational system can start to turn the tide and make academic talent development more equitable. Specifically, Dixson is going to discuss how compounding factors result in excellence gaps. In addition, he is going to discuss the importance of leveraging high quality research, implementing interventions proactively, and being radical in increasing equity within GATE programs. Finally, Dixson is going to discuss several specific, evidenced-based strategies that schools and school districts can implement to close excellence gaps within their GATE programs.
  • Differentiation in Middle and High School Mathematics: Tried and True Practices – Sarah Etters
    How do we differentiate mathematics instruction for our middle and high school math classes? This session will explore options at the systems level, like acceleration, telescoping, and grouping strategies, as well as strategies at the classroom level such as tiered instruction and ways to increase complexity and promote in depth problem solving.  The focus will be on practical strategies to encourage highly capable students to engage in meaningful mathematical thinking at an appropriate level of challenge.
  • Developing Critical Thinkers and Consumers – Rebecca O’Brien, Ph.D.
    The rapid development of online media and increased internet access has created a firehose of consumable information. How do we teach students to think critically about that information, examining multiple perspectives and identifying their own biases?  Mandated curriculum, limited time flexibility, and lack of resources often restrict teachers’ ability to prioritize teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the classroom. In this breakout session, we will explore ways to engage students in developing the skills of critical thought (interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, explanation, and self-regulation) while encouraging the dispositions of successful critical thinkers and consumers of information.
  • The Power of Play: LEGOs and Metaphorical Thinking – Jen Flo
    "Learning is more than the acquisition of the ability to think; it is the acquisition of many specialized abilities for thinking about a variety of things," (Vygotsky). Join us in creative play (LEGOS) through activities designed to engage students in thoughtful discussions, design thinking, and make student-thinking visible. Participants will leave with a collection of ideas to take back to their classrooms. *LEGOS provided to use during the session; limited to 40 seats

Roundtable Discussions

Celebrate and share in your learning as you engage with other participants at the end of each day. Each day will feature a different way to learn more and reflect on best practices. Enjoy special panel discussions, select a roundtable about a topic of interest and learn or practice a specific skill or strategy, share your own ideas, talk with an expert, win door prizes, and more!

Content for roundtables include the following:

Wednesday Thursday
Supporting Thinking Through Discourse Share Your Favorite Math Games 
Acceleration Conversations Ideas for Partnering with Families 
Ask Dante: Psychosocial Skills Ask Dante:  Diversity, Equity & Inclusion  
Universal Screening Law: Ask Jody Hess, OSPI Get Involved in Washington State: WAETAG
Cluster Grouping: What Are Others Doing? Get Your Endorsement or Master’s in Gifted
Rural Schools: Networking Conversations Books & Media for Psychosocial Conversations

Session Strands (choose one to attend all three days)

  • Cultivating Psychosocial Perceptions to Develop Advanced Academic Talent – Dr. Dante Dixson
    Psychosocial perceptions (i.e., one’s thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs) play a pivotal role in advanced academic talent development. However, many educators have outdated or incorrect information regarding the best practices of leveraging students’ psychosocial perceptions. In this deep dive, Dante D. Dixson, Ph.D. is going to discuss best practices in cultivating psychosocial perceptions for advanced academic talent. Specifically, Dixson is going to discuss how various school personnel can help students cultivate influential psychosocial perceptions at the individual, classroom, and school levels.
  • One Room Schoolhouse 2.0: The Basics of Differentiation – Tracy Inman, Ph.D.
    Many teachers in the early 1900s taught in one-room schoolhouses with learners of all ages and grades in one place; they differentiated daily in order to address the needs of their wide range of students. It was best practice. More than one hundred years later, differentiation is still considered to be best practice, yet it proves to be a most challenging aspect of teaching today. Teachers mistakenly believe differentiating the curriculum means starting over, creating completely differentiated lessons for each topic. Not so!  Differentiation can be tweaking favorite lessons, focusing on content, process, and product and students’ needs, interests, and levels of readiness. This practical workshop tackles that challenge head-on by exploring research-based, real-world strategies for creating a culture conducive to effective differentiation as well as strategies for pre-assessing and differentiating. After learning about these strategies via student examples and actual practice, participants will leave with tools to create their own one-room schoolhouse 2.0. (Bring materials needed for lesson creation; this is a minds-on, hands-on workshop.)
  • Universal Truths in Identification and the CASA Criteria: How to More Effectively Identify Students for Gifted Programs – Lindsay Lee, Ph.D. 
    Identification is a controversial topic within the field of gifted education due to equity issues that remain. For gifted administrators, there are multiple decisions that they must make beyond the individual tests chosen (e.g., combination rules, cut scores, norming techniques, identification committee protocols; Lee et al., 2020) and uncertainty over the best path forward can be daunting. This session will offer administrators eight universal truths of gifted identification that can be widely applied and provide evaluation tools for the CASA Criteria framework (see Peters et al., 2022) to reflect upon their own identification systems.
  • Low-Prep Differentiation for Mixed Ability Classrooms: Depth and Complexity Icons – Sarah Pack
    This training will introduce teachers to the depth and complexity icons developed by Kaplan and Gould. Then, teachers will learn how to apply the icons to existing materials and core curriculum to differentiate for multiple levels of readiness in their classrooms. Examples of these kinds of applications are provided for all grade levels and subject areas. Finally, teachers will have time to practice applying the icons to upcoming lessons with opportunities to collaborate with other teachers. Participants will need personal technology to access the presentation during the training to participate.
  • Models, Resources, & Frameworks for Teaching Students How to Think Critically, Creatively, & Within Disciplines – Tamra Stambaugh, Ph.D.
    The use of models, evidence supported resources, and frameworks guide teachers in intentional differentiation and support students in developing expertise and thinking skills within and across disciplines.  In this strand, we will learn about critical thinking models such as Paul’s Reasoning Model, creative thinking and problem-solving models, and content-based models for questioning and complex thinking (Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth wheels).  We will also preview curriculum resources that apply these models, particularly in English language arts, science, and social studies.
  • Inviting and Encouraging Student Inquiry – Catherine Little, Ph.D.
    Inquiry-oriented learning provides spaces and supports for all learners to access challenge and pursue questions. Through embedded thinking skills and targeted engagement strategies, inquiry invites students to demonstrate potential that might not emerge in other learning approaches. In this strand, we explore approaches to supporting inquiry, including a broadened application of the 5E inquiry model to encourage students to engage in advanced, challenging learning experiences in mathematics, language arts, and other areas.

Additional Information

Academic Credit/Clock Hours

You may elect to receive one graduate-level credit from Whitworth University for an additional fee of $150. There will be additional course assignments for those receiving graduate-level credit. This credit can be used to meet the elective requirement for the Washington State Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement offered at Whitworth. One graduate-level semester credit equals 15 Washington state approved clock hours. Registration for credit will occur during the institute. 

Washington state approved clock hours will also be available for $3 per clock hour with a total of 16 clock hours available. Contact if you have questions. Additional information will be sent regarding signing up for clock hours to all registrants prior to the conference. Some sessions meet STEM, DEI, Leadership or SEL clock hour requirements.  

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 or mail them to:

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

All monies will be refunded if paid registrations are canceled by 5 p.m. PST on Friday, June 9, 2023. Requests for refunds received after this date will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Center for Gifted Education at or 509.777.3383 to cancel your registration and request a refund.

Hotel Accommodations

Need a place to stay? Hotels near campus, with discounts, can be found here

Featured Speakers

Dante Dixson, Ph.D.

Dante D. Dixson received his Bachelor’s degree (Honors) in psychology, Master’s degree in education, and Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, he serves as a tenure-track faculty member at Michigan State University within the school and education psychology programs and is certified for the practice of psychology both inside and outside of schools. The author or co/author of over 30 scholarly articles, research presentations, and book chapters, Dixson is a recipient of the Cota Robles Fellowship (from UC Berkeley) and an African American Success Foundation Research Grant. His areas of expertise include the role of hope in the educational and psychological functioning of children and adolescents, positive psychology, psychosocial precursors of achievement, at-risk youth, the achievement gap, academic talent development/gifted education, and the translation of psychological research findings into school-based practice. Dixson currently serves on the editorial boards of Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal for the Education of the Gifted and Journal of Black Psychology. In addition, he is a board member for the Roeper Institute, Boys Hope Girls Hope-Detroit and the Michigan Association of Gifted Children. Dixson is a member of several professional associations, including the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association for Gifted Children and the Association for Psychological Science.

Tracy Inman, Ed.D.

Tracy Ford Inman, Ed.D., has devoted her career to meeting the needs of young people, especially those who are gifted and talented. She has taught on both the high school and collegiate levels as well as in summer programs for gifted and talented youth. Now a consultant, she previously served as associate director of The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University. Inman has presented on the state, national, and international levels; trained thousands of teachers in differentiation and gifted education; published multiple articles and books including three TAGT Legacy Award winners, and worked with hundreds of parents. She has served in multiple parenting roles in NAGC including PECAB chair, Parent & Community Network chair, PHP Advisory Board chair, PHP author, co-editor of NAGC’s award-winning parent service publication, and co-author of NAGC’s ebook on parent organizations. She has also been appointed to multiple task forces. Inman currently serves on the board of The Association for the Gifted Board, a division of CEC, is past-president of her state gifted association, and chair of her state’s gifted foundation board. She is the mother of two gifted young men, including one who is twice-exceptional.

Catherine Little, Ph.D.

Catherine Little, Ph.D., is a professor in giftedness, creativity, and talent development in the department of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in gifted education from William and Mary and worked in the Center for Gifted Education there prior to coming to UConn. Her research interests include professional learning, differentiation of curriculum and instruction for advanced learners, and classroom questioning practices. She has published multiple articles and books focused on curriculum, instruction and questioning. Little currently works as the project director for Project SPARK and Project LIFT, two Javits-funded initiatives focused on working with schools and teachers to recognize and respond to advanced academic potential in the early grades, particularly in students from underserved populations. She serves on the NAGC Board of Directors as a Member-at-Large, and has previously served as treasurer and as governance secretary. Little’s work is recognized widely. Most recently in 2020, she received the NAGC Distinguished Service award.

Lindsay Lee, Ph.D.

Lindsay Ellis Lee, Ph.D. is an assistant research professor at East Tennessee State University. She graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT) with a Ph.D. in educational psychology with a concentration in gifted and talented education. She was a recipient of the 2021 NAGC Carolyn Callahan Doctoral Student Award for an outstanding degree of scholarship in gifted education. Also, her dissertation focused on evaluating program diversity and the probability of gifted identification with the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking-Figural, whereby she was a recipient of the 2022 NAGC Research & Evaluation Network Dissertation Award. She is currently working as a research analyst on a Jacob K. Javits-funded project to optimize gifted identification practices across the United States. Lee’s research interests include talent development across domains, measurement, equitably identifying advanced students, and developing learning environments that encourage creative growth. See more of her work here

Whitworth Faculty & Washington State Speakers

Rebecca L. O'Brien is currently an assistant professor of gifted education in the Graduate Studies of Education department at Whitworth University. She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology with a concentration in giftedness, creativity, and talent development from the University of Connecticut. Before receiving her doctorate, she taught science, math, and robotics at a middle school in Baton Rouge, La. Her research primarily focuses on characteristics and behaviors that encourage and limit the identification of high potential behaviors, particularly in students from underserved populations. Additionally, she has experience and professional interest in assessment, instrument development and teacher learning.

Tamra Stambaugh is an associate professor and the Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at Whitworth University, Spokane, Wash.  Stambaugh is the co-author/editor of several articles, monographs, book chapters, and award-winning books and curriculum units.  Her research interests are focused on curriculum and instructional interventions for promoting talent development and expertise as well as strategies and systems for identifying and serving students from low income and rural settings. Stambaugh is a reviewer for several journal articles in the field and serves on the Gifted Child Quarterly Advisory Board, the American Educational Research Association Gifted SIG Executive Committee, and the National Association for Gifted Children Board of Directors. Prior to her role at Whitworth University, Stambaugh was the executive director of Programs for Talented Youth and an Associate Research Professor at Vanderbilt University.  She received her Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary. Prior to moving to higher education, Stambaugh was a teacher of gifted and a coordinator of gifted programs at the local and regional state level.  

Reby Parsley earned her doctoral degree in education leadership with an emphasis in gifted education from University of Washington. Masters of Education from University of Washington with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction. Undergraduate work at Saint Martin’s University. Superintendent Credential. National Board Certification: Early and Middle Childhood Literary. Classroom teaching experience since 2005. Parsley earned her doctoral degree in education leadership with an emphasis in gifted education from University of Washington. Her dissertation evaluated the impact of elementary talent development models on academic growth and identification rates of minority students for gifted education services. She earned her Masters of Education from University of Washington in curriculum and instruction and undergraduate degree in elementary education from Saint Martin's University. Parsley has her National Board Certification in Early and Middle Childhood Literacy and currently holds a Superintendent Credential. She currently works as the Secondary Gifted Specialist in Kent School District in Washington State. She has 14 years of classroom teaching experience, most being in self-contained and gifted cluster classrooms.

Jen Flo, M.A.Ed. and M.A.T.-gifted & talented, has been an educator for over 25 years. As private and public school teacher, she worked in a variety of general education and gifted education programs. It was during her tenure as an enrichment teacher, where Flo began to truly understand the unique needs of gifted and talented students (and her own children). Driven by her own need to learn, she joined the Washington Association of Educators of Talented and Gifted, volunteering to train with a newly formed cadre of Washington trainers. After almost a decade with the organization as a board member and conference presenter, Flo transitioned to the role of WAETAG President in the summer of 2020.  She pursued a Masters in gifted and talented education through Whitworth University; her interest in addressing the unmet needs of students led her into program evaluation, where she developed a guidebook to assist districts with internal program evaluation. Currently, she is the regional administrator for advanced learning and teacher support with Capital Region Educational Service District 113, overseeing two multi-district consortiums- supporting advanced learning and comprehensive induction support for new educators. Flo consults with districts and schools in the areas of gifted and talented and also serves on the Washington State OSPI Advisory Committee for Gifted Education and serves as an adjunct instructor in gifted education at Whitworth University.

Sarah Pack is a Nationally Board-Certified High School English Language Arts teacher who is currently serving as Pasco School District's Highly Capable Teacher on Special Assignment. Pack has worked for the Pasco School district for the last 14 years, most notably at Delta High School, a STEM high school where she was awarded three times for her innovative and collaborative instruction using long-term project-based learning practices to integrate English Language Arts curricula with STEM classes such as Advanced Organic Chemistry and Algebra. However, her greatest honors are being asked by Delta's graduating class of 2014 and 2017 to deliver the keynote speech at their commencement ceremonies. Pack holds a bachelor's degree in secondary English education from Eastern Washington University and a Master's degree in strategic communication from Washington State University.

Debbie Brandt has been an expert in the field of gifted education for over 30 years. She holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, in gifted education, from Seattle University. She earned her undergraduate degree from University of Washington in speech communications, with a minor in education. Brandt began her teaching career in Richland, Washington, and continued teaching in the field of gifted education for Issaquah and Bellevue School Districts. She also served as a student-teacher supervisor for the University of Washington and a consultant to four Washington school districts. Currently, Brandt serves as a curriculum developer and professional development leader for Bellevue School District’s Advanced Learning Program. Additionally, she provides consulting and professional development for Yakima School District. Brandt is passionate about empowering educators to raise the level of rigor in their classrooms, to further develop students as flexible and innovative thinkers. She employs effective, innovative, and unique instructional strategies using general education, as well as gifted education, curriculum materials.

Sarah Etters is a middle and high school math teacher with a passion for gifted education and for meeting the needs of advanced learners in the regular education classroom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and secondary teaching certification from Whitworth as an undergraduate, and has taught in both public and private schools for over 15 years. Her current teaching role is in a classical, Christian setting, and she has a particular interest in how applying best practices in gifted education can work effectively in a classical education environment. She teaches mathematics, ranging from grade 6 to precalculus, as well as basic coding, robotics and chess. She is also currently a graduate student in Whitworth University’s Master of Arts in Gifted and Equitable Instruction program.

Jody Hess is a Project Director for Javits HiCapPLUS and Program Supervisor for Highly Capable Student Programs at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. A former teacher, principal and program director, Hess is experienced with a variety of talent development models.