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    Illinois Association for Gifted Children

     IAGC 26th Annual Conference

Parent Saturday Forum

A VIRTUAL Gathering - Join us from where you are!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

8:00 AM - 1:00 PM

...together we lift advanced learners!

About the Parent Saturday Forum:

On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the IAGC Saturday Parent Forum will offer a variety of sessions focused on strategies for supporting children with advanced learning needs, building positive school-home partnerships, and advocating on the school, district, and state/federal levels. Learn about our presentations and view the program schedule below!


Parent Saturday Forum Only: $40- member; $50-non-member

Thanks to our 2021 Conference Sponsors for their generous support!


Find your Why "IMSA?" here


Adventures with Mr. Math, NFP

Riverside Insights


Parent Forum Schedule:


Nurturing Creativity in Your Child, Kristen N. Lamb, PhD

Session Description: 

In this session, we will confront and debunk myths and discover ways to nurture creativity at home. Parents will explore creative environments, how to advocate for creativity at their child’s school, and more. Parents will also have the opportunity to engage with one another to brainstorm ways to foster imagination and raise  creative thinkers at home.

Kristen N. Lamb, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama. She studies equity and policy issues in gifted education, the role of creativity in talent development, and classroom conditions conducive to developing creative thinking and advanced academic achievement. She is also the author of “Developing Creativity in the Classroom”

Kristen Lamb


Gifted Education: Reform It or Lose ItLeodis Scott Ed. D., Eric Calvert, Ph.D., Sneha Shaw Coltrane

Session Description: 

Protecting services for advanced learners has been challenging at the classroom, school, district, state, and national level. For gifted education advocacy to be successful, defensive advocacy will no longer be enough. Parents will need to educate themselves and become advocates for constructive reform while at the same time taking on critics whose arguments against gifted education rest on weak research. Learn some of the arguments against gifted education that have led to the elimination of programs and build knowledge on how to advocate for your child – and all children who need gifted services to grow – from experts who have deep experience in school, district, state and national advocacy efforts.

About the Presenters:

Leodis Scott

Leodis Scott, Ed. D., Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, DePaul University, College of Education. Dr. Scott has conducted research in the field of education. He developed a Quantitative Survey for Assessing Parent Involvement and Family Engagement at Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center (a Chicago Public School named as a 2020 Blue Ribbon School). Leodis has presented at IAGC regarding gifted schools at Chicago Public Schools and "Tools for Parent and Family Engagement of Gifted Students."He is an advocate for gifted children whose interests include developing educational leaders, schools, and organizations. Leodis possesses a Doctor of Education, Columbia University, Teachers College

Eric Calvert, Ed. D. oversees Center for Talent Development's (CTD) online programs, summer on campus programming, and leadership and service-learning programs. He is also actively involved in CTD's professional development, school outreach, and research. Calvertbrings extensive experience in developing innovative programs and services for gifted and talented students to his role at CTD. He previously served as Assistant Director for Gifted Education at the Ohio Department of Education, where he oversaw the revision of the state’s operating standards for K through 12 schools, administered university-based summer programs for gifted students, and oversaw the development of the state’s policy on academic acceleration, which has since become a national model. Calvert’s background also includes serving as Director of Youth Programs at Purdue University's Gifted Education Resource Institute. His desire to explore the potential of technology to enhance learning and thinking led him to designing and teaching graduate courses in “digital learning theory” and research methods in the Learning Design program at Bowling Green State University. Calvert has also been an advocate for global learning, serving as a consultant for the Asia Society’s International Studies Schools Network and coordinating international education initiatives for the State of Ohio for which Ohio was recognized with the Goldman Sachs Prize for Excellence in International Education. A former high school teacher, Calvert holds a BSE in secondary education from the University of Central Missouri, an MSE in educational psychology with a gifted education emphasis from Purdue University, and an EdD in leadership studies from Bowling Green State University.

Eric Calvert

 Sneha Shah Coltrane

Sneha Shah Coltrane is currently the Director of the Division of Advanced Learning and Gifted Education at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).She works with public school district and charter school leaders and teachers, policy-makers, families, colleges/universities, and other advocates of advanced learning opportunities and gifted education to ensure that the advanced learning needs of students are effectively met in the state of North Carolina.Ms. Shah-Coltrane has direct responsibility for overseeing the state implementation of Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted programs, Career and College Promise, NC’s dual enrollment program including Cooperative Innovative High Schools/Early Colleges, and NC Governor’s School.She also leads NCDPI’s efforts for AP/IB/Honors programming, Credit by Demonstrated Mastery, and other advanced learning programs.She also serves as senior policy analyst for agency-wide academic needs. Sneha has served the public education community for over 25 years in various roles.Her path has included serving as a classroom teacher, AIG lead specialist, district leader, Associate Director of Project U-STARS~PLUS, a Javits grant with UNC-Chapel Hill, and various positions in several professional organizations.She currently serves as Past-President of the Council of State Directors of Programs for Gifted.Throughout her career, Sneha has worked towards ensuring that schools are cultivating, recognizing and responding to outstanding potential, especially untapped potential, and advocating for the needs of all advanced learners through mindsets, policies and practices.

BREAK OUT SESSIONS - Session 1: 10:50 AM - 11:50 AM; Session 2: 12 Noon - 1:00 PM

Megan Foley


Session 1A, 10:50 AM - 11:50 AM: Parenting Your 2E Child (Megan Foley-Nipcon)

Session Description:

Rollercoaster. That is the word that comes to mind when I think of parenting a twice-exceptional child. In this presentation, I will discuss the peaks and valleys that accompany this experience and will review what the research says works (and does not work) in terms of interacting with school personnel and aiding development through elementary, middle, high school, and beyond. Bring your questions.  

About the Presenter:

Megan Foley-Nicpon, Ph.D. is a professor in Counseling Psychology and Department Executive Officer for Psychological and Quantitative Foundations at the University of Iowa. She also serves as the Associate Director for Research and Clinic at the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.Dr. Foley-Nicpon’s research and clinical interests include assessment and intervention with high ability students with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and emotional/learning difficulties, and the social and emotional development of talented and diverse students. She has one co-edited book and over 50 referred articles and book chapters in the areas of talent development, counseling psychology, and twice-exceptionality, and given over 100 presentations at international, national,and state professional meetings. Dr. Foley-Nicponprovides clinical and research supervision to doctoral students in Counseling Psychology, many of whom focus on child psychology and talent development.Awards include the Big Ten Academic Alliance Fellowship, NAGC Early Scholar Award, AERA Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Path Breaker Award, AERA Division E Outstanding Research Award in Human Development, and, twice, the MENSA Research Award, MENSA Education & Research Foundation.

Session 1A, 10:50 AM - 11:50 AM: Parenting Your 2E Child

Session 1B, 10:50 - 11:50 AM: Acceleration: Real Life Stories from Parents (Mandie Porick, Fran Khawaja, Beth Dirkes)

Session Description:

Illinois’ Accelerated Placement Act passed in 2017 as the result of the leadership and efforts of IAGC working alongside organizations such as Center for Talent Development and many other parents and educators from across the State. The law has been in effect since 2018 and it’s time to check in on how it is working in the real lives of families. Parents who have firsthand experience advocating for acceleration in their child’s school share their experiences, offer their insights and answer questions. This session is for anyone who is considering acceleration for their child, whether you’re a parent who is unsure when it’s time to seek acceleration or a parent who is more than ready to take the next step.

About the Presenters:

Beth Dirkes (facilitator) is a graduate of Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy and has worked with Center for Talent Development (CTD) since 2010. As an administrator of CTD’s programs for young students, she has presented at the annual conventions of the National Association for Gifted Children and IAGC on CTD’s innovative approaches to enrichment for young, academically talented children. As CTD’s Parent Education Specialist, she works to provide parents with the resources and connections they need to support their high ability students on their pathway to fulfilling their potential.

Beth Dirkes

Mandie Porick, M. Ed. is the Director of Academic Advising for the Learning & Teaching Collaborative at Wheaton College, Illinois. Mandie grew up as a military brat and moved every few years. Once identified as gifted in elementary school, her mother fought to get Mandie placed in appropriate classrooms every few years as the Marines moved the family around. Her husband, Brian, grew up in the Wheaton Warrenville Community Unit School District 200 through 5thgrade. He was identified as a gifted student in elementary school before his family moved to Japan. He also had a mother who advocated for appropriate placement when they moved back and forth overseas. Together they have 3 daughters: an 8thgrader, a 7thgrader, who attend the same school district as dad, and a 2 year old. The middle daughter has had 3 accelerations at school to date. Mandie has a BA in Applied Linguistics, a Masters of Education, and holds an Illinois elementary teaching certificate. She is the Director of Academic Advising at Wheaton College.

Mandie Porick

Fran Khawaja obtained her first degree in computer science and then changed careers to trauma/critical care nursing. She and her family moved to the Chicago area and eventually to rural Dixon, Illinois. She has three sons, her eldest is a college graduateand professional chef working in Chicago. Her two younger sons are in the ninth and eighth grades. Each of her sons’ special qualities and challenges confirmed for her the importance of informed advocacy for uniquely talented students, and co-participation in the educational journey.

Fran Khawaja obtained her first degree in computer science and then changed careers to trauma/critical care nursing. She and her family moved to the Chicago area and eventually to rural Dixon, Illinois. She has three sons, her eldest is a college graduateand professional chef working in Chicago. Her two younger sons are in the ninth and eighth grades. Each of her sons’ special qualities and challenges confirmed for her the importance of informed advocacy for uniquely talented students, and co-participation in the educational journey.

Fran Khawaja

Allen K. Sabey, Ph.D., LMFT

Session 2A, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: My Perfectionist is Anxious. What Can I Do? (Dr. Allen Sabey)

Session Description: 

Gifted students work at increased levels of performance, often competing and achieving at high levels. This can lead to these students experiencing anxiety. Join us for a presentation and conversation with Dr. Allen Sabey, in which he provides parents with the tools to help their students understand and alleviate the anxiety that may come from the context in which gifted students find themselves.

About the Presenter:

Allen K. Sabey, Ph.D., LMFT, is currently a therapist and core faculty member in the Master of Science in Marriage & Family Therapy program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. He completed his M.S. degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University. He also completed a postdoctoral clinical research fellowship at The Family Institute.

Dr. Sabey primarily provides therapeutic services to couples and families and maintains an active program of research that is aimed at understanding how and why family members provide care and support for one another, especially in times of distress. He has presented at national and international conferences and has published on the nature of family relationships in numerous academic journals, including Family Process and Journal of Family Psychology.

clinical supervisor and faculty instructor in Northwestern University’s Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy Program

Session 2B: 12:00 AM - 1:00 PM: Kathleen Nilles, Building Positive Relationships with Teachers and Administrators Post-Pandemic: Parent Strategies for Success

Session Description:

Parent-school partnerships are essential for student success. However, the pandemic may have put those relationships on pause and the focus on your gifted learner’s needs on a back burner. As we embark on another “new normal” in this school year, how can we rebuild relationships with schools to effectively advocate for our gifted children? This session explores ways parents can work with classroom teachers, gifted coordinators, and district administrators to build a trusting, mutually supportive relationship as we return to in-person learning, while keeping the focus on your student’s needs. You’ll walk away with proven strategies and ideas to foster even stronger relationships with your child’s teachers, school, and district.

About the Presenter:

A parent and passionate advocate, Kathleen Nilles is the Parent Services & Communications Manager and editor of Parenting for High Potential magazine for the National Association of Gifted Children. She has spent the past 15 years immersed in understanding for the needs of the gifted, and is well-versed on issues at the national, state, and local levels. Kathleen holds a master’s degree in gifted education from Northeastern Illinois University and is co-editor of the book Success Strategies for Parenting Gifted Kids: Expert Advice from the National Association for Gifted Children. She is a frequent speaker and facilitator at live and virtual conferences, workshops, Parent Days, and professional learning events.

Session 2B: 11:00 AM - 12:00 Noon: Kathleen Nilles, Building Positive Relationships with Teachers and Administrators Post-Pandemic: Parent Strategies for Success

Kathleen Nilles

Full Conference - October 14 - 16, 2021

Registration fee (includes Thursday, Friday, and Parent Saturday Forum):

Early Bird (on or before Sept. 1, 2021) - $290.00

Regular Rate (after September 1, 2021) - $325.00

                                         LEARN MORE & REGISTER FOR THE FULL CONFERENCE!

Registration includes an annual membership with IAGC.

*Prior to September 1, 2021 cancellations will receive a refund minus a $25.00 processing fee. There are no refunds for cancellations made after September 1, 2021. Changes in attendees can be made without charge.

Presentation sessions will be recorded and available for a limited time following the conference.

*session times/topics may be subject to change.


Contact Us:

Illinois Association for Gifted Children

1500 Sullivan Road
Aurora, IL 60506

Ph: 630-907-5047
Fax: 630-907-5976

email us:

The Illinois Association for Gifted Children is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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