Beyond IQ
Last updated: 11/04/05

Gifted Conference Planners


Beyond IQ: Mid-Atlantic

Sharing Theory, Practice, and Questions about the needs of these children, their families, and their schools

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Presentation Descriptions and Speaker Biographies


John Wasserman

Behind the Scenes in the Intelligence Testing Industry: Ten Things a Consumer Should Know.

Subtypes of giftedness
There are different subtypes of giftedness, and not all gifted children are the same. This session will present the differences amongst various groups of the gifted.

John D. Wasserman is an Associate Professor in Psychology at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia, where he developed and directed the Gifted Assessment Program through 2005. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1990 in clinical psychology from the University of Miami, Florida, and he completed a two-year fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at Louisiana State University and Tulane University Medical Centers in New Orleans, Louisiana. The author of over 50 chapters, papers, and professional presentations, he is also a coauthor of Essentials of Nonverbal Assessment. He sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. Dr. Wasserman directed a pediatric neuropsychology service at Children's Hospital in New Orleans before entering academics. For nearly a decade, he also worked in psychological test development serving as Director of Psychological Assessments at Riverside Publishing and as a project director at The Psychological Corporation. He has directed research and development on leading measures of intelligence, psychopathology, and neuropsychological functioning. He maintains a private practice in Fairfax, Virginia.


Dr. Nadia Webb is a practicing neuropsychologist, college professor, and step-mom. In her private practice, she assesses and intervenes with neurologically impaired, learning disabled and gifted youth. In addition to teaching at a university, Dr. Webb has created in-service training programs, designed systems for coordinating care across agencies, and served on several state and national boards addressing the needs of children. Her work has received honors from the American Medical Association, the Department of Defense, and a personal citation by Governor Jane Hull of Arizona. She is also one of the coauthors of Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, and Other Disorders. She can be found on the internet at

Adult Presentations

Owning the Problem, if it Really is a Problem: Introversion as a Positive Personality trait
Introversion is a preference found in a minority of the general population but a majority of the gifted population. Originally explained by Yung, it is now a common discussion point when exploring development of identity and career pathways. This difference in placement on the personality continuum can further exacerbate the difference between gifted individuals and the many other students and adults in their local world. It impacts learning, working, and relational styles, personal energy levels, and career interests and paths. This session will explore introversion in gifted individuals and suggest ways of encouraging and supporting coping strategies for introverts at home, at school, and at work.

Jill Burruss has a BS in Biology; an MS in Science Education with specialization in Ecology/Geology and a PhD in Educational Psychology with specialization in Gifted. She spent 15 years as a middle and high school teacher/administrator in science,math and gifted; 16 years as a university faculty member in gifted education, curriculum and educational research. At the University of Denver, she was the Director of the Rocky Mountain Talent Search and the Bureau for Educational Research and taught in the College of Education Gifted Education program. At the College of William and Mary, she was on faculty in the Graduate School of Education and taught in both gifted and curriculum. Currently she is the Coordinator for Gifted Education for the Department of Defense Education Activity and work with policy and the implementation of gifted program services across 223 schools internationally. 

From Panic to Planning
Some parents come to these conferences because they are desperate and seeking answers to questions such as: Why isn’t the available environment working? Am I unreasonable to think that childhood shouldn’t hurt this much? Is it just me, are they right, and I should just force my child to fit into the mold? Can they fit? Some have a less traumatic path, and come looking for an opportunity for community, advice on how to handle a few things and to share their experiences. Learning about the range of intelligence, and the discomfort our society feels at the thought, can provoke strong feelings as past experiences are reinterpreted in this new context. Some people are overwhelmed by their reaction to this aspect of their reality. I want this presentation to assist people in respecting their emotional reaction while addressing the practical time-sensitive needs of their children and themselves. We will discuss the range of emotional reinterpretations, identifying time-sensitive priorities, and coming up with a plan.

Anna Caveney is an education consultant. She has designed and implemented individualized curricula for homeschooling teenagers, developed a theory of the emotional foundations of underachievement and led workshops addressing the challenges and joys of being highly gifted. She has created and taught classes in calculus, thinking skills and peer counseling.

Online Communities
What are the benefits and pitfalls of online communities, for children and for ourselves? In this session, we will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of online communities and the sorts of needs they can serve.

Kit Finn is the Director of the TAGFAM family of Gifted and Talented email lists, and also serves as administrator of Sheroes Central and Nightingale's Lamp message boards.

Research Meets Reality: the Exceptionally Gifted Child
Gifted is not a light switch that is either on or off, but a continuum that much gifted research fails to take into account. Parents of exceptionally and profoundly gifted students struggle, wading through the research and "educationese" to find information that helps them understand the particular problems faced by their very unusual children. In this session, I share what I have learned through research and reality, about advocating, supporting, and educating for this special population. Topics include asynchronous development, underachievement, twice exceptional, educational options, and more...

Carolyn K. is the webmistress of Hoagies' Gifted Education Page ( and Hoagies' Kids and Teens Page ( She served on the board of directors for SENG, and writes a column for the Gifted Education Communicator, as well as articles for various gifted newsletters and journals. But first and foremost, she is the parent of two profoundly gifted girls, her pride and joy, and her guiding force in her gifted education research and writing.

Communicating as a Family
Shira , Aviva and Sherry Pittle have survived many of the same trials that all gifted families face and a few that are uniquely their own. Come listen and discuss as they share some of the techniques and attitudes that helped them thrive as individuals and as a family.

Sherry Pittle is the mother of two daughters, both of whom she likes. She's been involved in the gifted community since she realized she had to be.
Shira Pittle is, as you might expect, a pretty bright kid. She's interested in most everything, and plans to start college in January.
Aviva Pittle is also pretty bright, but no longer a kid. She is, rather, a licensed professional. She lives in New York City.


Being Gifted: How Extreme Giftedness Changes The Way We, As Adults, Perceive, Believe, Work, Play, And Love
The final stages of development, according to Dabrowski, are when we move beyond concern for meeting our own needs to a concern that encompasses the larger society, and the earth itself. Various traditions describe this as enlightenment, clearing, the boddhisatva state, or sainthood. But these states cannot be attained at the expense of one's own wholeness. Maslow described a hierarchy of needs, starting with food, shelter, safety, etc., going on up to the highest level of what he called self-actualization. He emphasized that we could not reach the higher levels without satisfying the needs of the more primitive levels. If we are not coming from a place of joy, then we are unlikely to know how to help create joy in others. Our quest for personal wholeness is not a self-indulgent one; only by learning to meet our own needs, and find our own joy, can we have the resources we need to help heal and inspire others as well. 

Michael Rios is the parent of profoundly gifted children, has published on giftedness, and has done extensive healing work with gifted adults. He co-creates events that foster personal growth and social change, has been an entrepreneur for over 35 years, and has founded more than a dozen not-for-profit groups, including crisis centers, free schools, social change organizations and intentional communities.
Dr Sarah Taub is a professor of linguistics at Gallaudet University. She has been working with George Lakoff's "Reframing", which has become a significant force in Progressive political thought. Sarah co-founded the first co-housing development in Washington, DC. She co-creates events that foster personal growth and social change and teaches co-counseling techniques.

First Time Attendees
This will include a brief presentation on terminology you are likely to hear during the weekend, which presentations are aimed at newcomers, and other introductory material. A good chunk of this period will be spent doing Q&A; with the attendees. 

Josh Shaine is the former director of the MIT High School Studies Program and former headmaster of Massachusetts Academy for Gifted students. He is currently the president of Gifted Conference Planners (, the sponsor of the Beyond IQ Conferences for and about highly and profoundly gifted children. His current research with Locus of Thought, a small think tank, includes exploration of the different Non-Linear Learning Styles, Underachievement, and Depression among highly and profoundly gifted children. 


Is Homeschooling Right for my Family? And if so, Where do we Begin?
This interactive presentation will address the question many parents of gifted children face during the school years-- "Is homeschooling right for our family?" From scheduling problems and curriculum questions, to legal matters and sanity, the thought of homeschooling leaves many feeling overwhelmed. The purpose of this seminar is not to convince you to homeschool, but to help you explore your options. Come have your how-to, nitty-gritty questions answered about the realities of having your children at home with you every day. Then leave prepared to make the best decision for your family.

Rebecca Watson is the mother of six gifted children. She has, at various times, had all of her children in public schools and private schools, had some of her children in school part-time, and had all of her children homeschooled. She is currently homeschooling four of her children while two are enrolled in public school. She studied physics at Brigham Young University and has worked as a private school teacher. She currently reviews children's books for Children's Literature and teaches a teacher-improvement class in Dale City, Virginia.


Children's Presentations

Hogwarts' Academics
An introduction to the courses that Harry Potter and others have taken at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry such as Arithmancy, Herbology, and even Divination.

Harry Potter & Beyond
J.K. Rowling will uncover her seventh book, last of the Harry Potter series, in due time. Meanwhile, we shall explore what is to become of Harry and his friends. The facts from Harry's past and present will be a glimmer to his imminent future. Will we be able to solve the mysteries beforehand and foretell the ending? We shall certainly try.

Thaiphi Bui received her undergraduate degree in psychology. Currently, she is doing research and pursuing her education. Giftedness is among her area of interests.

Math Fun: Fibonacci,the Golden Ratio, and more...
Alexa will introduce the Fibonacci Numbers, and the amazing things this sequence does for us, in math, in nature, and more...

Alexa K. is a 12th grader in public high school. She enjoys history, math, cryptography, writing stories, science homework, and talking to her friends. Her greatest interest is in reading fantasy and history books.

Writing, Your Muse, and Your School Essay 
How to follow your writing muse, and how to write when your muse doesn't follow you, a.k.a. writing school essays. There will be pictures! Bring your favorite writing implement... 

Steven Scripko is a high school student, and an Administrator of the Internet Book Database of Fiction

Yoga comes to life in this fun and creative class! The use of animated poses and basic stretching exercises promote strength, flexibility, coordination and body awareness. Breathing and visualization techniques teach children how to focus, relax and develop self-control.

Connie Warasila is yoga certified through Yoga Fit, ACE certified as a group exercise leader and personal trainer, AEA certified in aquatics, AFAA Primary certified and Pre and Post-Natal Exercise certified with the Moms in Motion Program through SCW Fitness. She was awarded the Aquatic Exercise Association’s Fitness Professional of the Year 2001, is a published author of articles in various trade publications and researched, developed and wrote the Aquatic Exercise Fundamentals Certification for SCW Fitness. She has over 20 years of teaching experience in the USA and abroad and is presently teaching for Sport & Health in Northern Virginia. She has traveled around the world presenting new and creative workshops to make fitness more accessible, professional and fun. Connie is also the featured presenter in seven water fitness videos and a marathon finisher with TEAM Diabetes..

What Does Gifted Mean to ME
What does being gifted mean to me? To my parents? To my teachers? Does it really mean I am different from most people? Does it mean that things will be easier for me? Does it mean I have more responsibilities? In this session we will discuss these questions, and many others related to navigating the world as a gifted kid.

Spirituality and Philosophy with Gifted Kids
What happens when we die? Why are there different religions? Is there really a God? What is after the edge of the universe? What is "energy" and where did it come from? Can people "hear" the thoughts or feelings of others around them? These and other questions are common amongst the highly gifted. Often ignored or avoided by teachers who just "don't want to go there" this will be a chance for kids to talk about their questions, their theories, and to find out some of what other kids and philosophers think about.

Shulamit Widawsky is a Counselor for the Gifted, with a private practice in Annandale, VA. She has been working professionally with gifted children, adults, and families since 1988. Her expertise is in working with the highly/profoundly gifted, and the twice exceptional. Shulamit’s other interests include lecturing, writing, philosophy, and art. Her website can be found at

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