The Summit Educational Service Center (ESC) recently hosted a Twice Exceptional (2e) conference on March 10 for parents and educators looking to better understand and support gifted students with disabilities. With over 83 registered attendees, the conference had a great turnout due to collaborative efforts of the Summit ESC, the invested parents of 2e students, Kent State University, Kent City Schools, Ashland University and State Support Team, Region 8 (SST-8).
The conference, titled “Exceptional in Two Ways: Understanding, Supporting & Connecting Gifted Students Who Have Learning Needs,” was a professional development opportunity that provided both education and awareness about the needs of students identified as gifted, who also exhibit deficits in other areas.
The conference occurred from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Summit ESC, giving educators the chance to receive six contact hours for attending.
“We hope the conference delivered much-needed information to all of the attendees and promoted awareness,” said Kristin Fazio, Summit ESC’s director of student services. “The takeaway for many attendees was that these students require individualized instruction and support.”
This informative event included several industry-leading speakers, including keynote speaker Carol Sparber, Ph.D., Kent State University’s gifted project coordinator and instructor; Tracy Mail, SST-8 consultant; Shawn Jividen, Summit ESC consultant; Carrie Spangler, Au.D., Summit ESC audiologist; Karen Rumley, Kent City School District’s director of instructional program; Patricia Farrenkopf, Ed.D, Ashland University’s adjunct professor; and more.
“The 2e population is growing and there needs to be heightened awareness and acceptance,” said Fazio. “Since these students tend toward anxiety and depression, it is important for teachers to understand how to best meet their needs in the classroom.”
Moreover, the event reflected the ESC’s motivations to provide school districts with the resources and services to help all students learn. Not only could attendees better understand how the ESC meets the goals of Twice Exceptional students, but they also gained knowledge of how to advocate for gifted students and to teach self-advocacy.
According to ESC Superintendent Joe Iacano, the conference delved into topics such as executive functioning, standards of gifted operating, identity development and social/emotional support.
“Twice exceptional students need to be supported in various ways, and the event was meant to create an ongoing dialogue about these issues that need to be at the forefront of gifted students’ education,” said Iacano. “We hope the conference, and all of our other professional development opportunities in the future, continue to raise awareness about these important concerns.”
By definition, Twice Exceptional refers to students that are identified in one or more areas of giftedness, and who additionally give evidence of one or more federal or state-defined disabilities, such as speech and language disorders, emotional/behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, autism spectrum, or other learning or health impairments, such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
“Connecting people who work for the education and well-being of twice exceptional students is so important,” said Fazio. “The conference was a rewarding and enlightening experience for everyone involved.”