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University of Iowa News Release


May 6, 2008

International scholars to participate in Wallace Symposium May 18-20

Adama Alemdjrodo is an administrative assistant and IT specialist for a human development and educational association in the West African country of Togo. Renata Rodriguqes Maia-Pinto is a doctoral student in Brazil. And Fatma Anwar Al-Lawati is an educational expert in the ministry of education from Oman.

Their backgrounds differ widely, but all three have a stake in the future of gifted education. Consequently, they are among an estimated 50 international scholars coming to the University of Iowa May 18-20 to take part in the Ninth Biennial Henry B. & Jocelyn Wallace National Research Symposium on Talent Development.

Joining them will be Donna Y. Ford, professor of education and human development at Vanderbilt University, who will give a keynote address on "Under-Representation and the Ongoing Search for Equity in Gifted Education" at 7:30 to Sunday, May 18, in the Iowa Memorial Union's Richey Ballroom.

Ford's talk will be followed at 9 p.m. by a panel, to be moderated by Malik Henfield, an assistant professor in the UI College of Education, and a dessert reception. The talk, panel discussion and reception are free and open to the public. The public will also have an opportunity at this time to meet the Templeton International Fellows and invited symposium speakers.

Paid registration is required to attend all other Wallace Symposium events. A complete schedule and registration information is available at

"Gifted education has typically been seen as an American schools issue," said Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development in the UI College of Education. "But it has become an issue important to the rest of the world. I would say the growth spurt internationally is greater than the growth nationally."

Though the concept of gifted education is vastly different in each country, the scholars, who represent more than 40 countries, will come together at the Wallace Symposium to share ideas, research and best practices to advance gifted education on a global scale.

The symposium brings together researchers and theorists from around the world to present their current work on talent development, creativity and gifted education. The Belin-Blank Center sponsors the event.

All 50 visiting educators are Templeton Fellows, whose visit is made possible by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The grant to bring international educators to the UI is part of the Templeton International Fellowship Program for 2008-09. Although the symposium has always attracted scholars from around the globe, for the first time this year scholars will attend from more than 40 countries, bringing the total to an estimated 250 participants.

"The Wallace Symposium has built a very strong reputation both nationally and internationally as being the premier research symposium on gifted education and talent development," Colangelo said. "We highlight leading researchers and scholars in fields that complement gifted education. We have people from sociology, psychology and psychiatry and so it gives us very strong and diverse dimensions. It's one of our trademarks."

Alemdjrodo, Maia-Pinto and Al-Lawati will bring their own unique perspectives to the symposium. Alemdjrodo said that gifted education is "unknown in his country" (Togo).

Maia-Pinto said that Brazilian laws ensure that gifted children receive specialized services and support to meet their special educational needs in mainstream classrooms, thanks to the passage of the Nucleus of Activities of Gifted and High Ability Children in 2005. This ensures that 308 teachers assist 2,170 gifted students in the 27 states of Brazil.

And Al-Lawati wants to build a bridge for further exchanging and exploring ideas and experiences in gifted education, saying there are few government efforts in Oman to educate gifted students, but there are movements among parents, teachers and school administrators.

For more information on the Templeton International Fellowship Program, visit

Ford is Betts Chair of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University and she teaches in the Department of Special Education. She has been a professor of special education at the Ohio State University, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Virginia and a researcher with the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. She also taught at the University of Kentucky.

Ford conducts research primarily in gifted education and multicultural/urban settings. Her work specifically focuses on recruiting and retaining culturally diverse students in gifted education; multicultural and urban education; minority student achievement and underachievement; and family involvement.

Ford's keynote will focus on a critical issue in gifted education, minority student underrepresentation. She will speak to barriers related to testing/assessment and educator referral. Recommendations from theory and research for recruiting and retaining minority students in gifted education will be presented, including suggestions regarding definitions, measures, attitudes and educator competence. A program targeting black male achievement and identity will also be presented.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI events. Anyone in need of special accommodations may contact the Belin-Blank Center in advance at 800-336-6463 or 319-335-6148.

The Belin-Blank Center, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. It conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, pre-college programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs. It also has partnerships with programs in other countries, making it both a national and international force. For more information, visit

Additionally, the Belin-Blank Center has programs targeting teachers and students in nearly every grade level and from a variety of backgrounds. Its summer programs have drawn almost 10,000 students from elementary school through high school, and from both rural and urban areas, to take part in hands-on programs in the arts, humanities, mathematics and science. Its Invent Iowa program encourages students in elementary, middle and high school to create inventions and other innovations. And it runs the National Academy of Arts, Sciences and Engineering (NAASE), a program -- the first of its kind at a major research institution -- that allows students with high academic ability a chance to move into the stimulation of university research and course work following their junior year in high school.

The Belin-Blank Center is part of the UI College of Education. Founded in 1872, the UI College of Education was the nation's first permanent, college-level department of education. Since then, the college has gained an international reputation of excellence in programs as diverse as rehabilitation counseling, educational measurement and statistics, counseling psychology, elementary and secondary teacher education and higher education administration. The College of Education is also home to the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. For more information visit

NOTE TO EDITORS: If news media would like to arrange an interview with some of the Templeton International Fellows, contact Laurie Croft at 319-335-6148 or Lois Gray at 318-384-0077.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,; Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6148