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Vanderbilt Gifted Education Institute

Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth is pleased to offer professional development opportunities designed to help educators better serve and support high-ability students. Known collectively as theVanderbilt Gifted Education Institute, we endeavor to develop those who work with them throughout the academic year and summer. 


Spring 2020 Opportunities

What Works? Curriculum Resources & Design for the Gifted Learner

Need to know where to find more evidence supported resources to support teaching gifted and academically advanced students? Perhaps you just need time to learn more about the Vanderbilt curriculum units or other evidence supported resources you already have.  Join us March 5 and 6, 2020 as we explore curricular models and strategies to support gifted and high achieving students. Discover models to help you create your own curriculum units, take a deep dive into specific curriculum units and models, or select from sessions that focus on important instructional strategies for differentiating lessons.  Learn more about specific questioning techniques, concept development, scaffolding and tiering, and models that support complex thinking.

The “What Works” curriculum conference offers a wide variety of breakout sessions that range from a minimum of 75 minutes up to 180 minutes so that you have time for application and practice. Featuring local and nationally recognized speakers, this conference was designed with general education teachers, teachers of gifted, and administrators in mind.

We hope to see you at Vanderbilt in March!

Spring Conference Registration Information

Dates: March 5 and 6, 2020

Time: 8:30AM to 3:30PM each day


  • March 5 and 6, 2020 (Thursday and Friday): $279

Registration fee includes continental breakfast, lunch, and parking for both days. This event is eligible for TASL Credit.

Conference Registration – PDF | Conference Registration – Online

Hotel and Lodging Information

Questions? Contact Dr. Eric Fecht ( or 615-322-5657)

Conference Schedule and Breakout Session Descriptions

Click here to view our conference schedule and breakout descriptions for the conference.

Educator Scholarship Opportunity

Who can apply for the TN Space Grant Consortium Scholarship?

Tennessee educators who teach rural, low socioeconomic, or culturally diverse students typically underrepresented in STEM pipelines are eligible to apply for this scholarship. The conference sessions include STEM options, humanities options, integrated and interdisciplinary options (i.e., STEM/ELA integration), and general instructional processes applicable across multiple disciplines.

What is included in the scholarship?

This scholarship provides the recipient with a free registration (a $279 value) to attend the PTY Gifted Education Institute Conference on March 5 and 6, 2020. Additional expenses less the registration fee and general conference provisions are the recipient’s responsibility. Scholarships are not transferable.

How do I apply for this scholarship?

Click here to complete a scholarship application. You do not need to be registered for the conference to apply.

How soon do I need to apply and when will I know if I received the scholarship?

We begin reviewing applications at noon on February 19, 2020. Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision on or before February 21, 2020. Information provided in your application will be shared with the selection committee, which includes the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium grant recipient and the recipient’s team.

What is The Tennessee Space Grant Consortium and Scholarship?

The Tennessee Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) is comprised of fifteen colleges and universities around the state of Tennessee, as well as two not-for-profit organizations. TSGC is part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, supported by NASA and all member and affiliate institutions. TSGC’s mission from the beginning, twenty-seven years ago, has been to promote space and science education on all levels throughout Tennessee. PTY has partnered with a TSGC/NASA grant recipient from the Vanderbilt School of Engineering to provide educators with support to further their professional development through conference attendance

Featured Guest Speaker

Ellen I. Honeck, PhD is currently an Academic Program Manager for the Gifted and Talented Department in Denver Public Schools.  She previously worked with The Knox School of Santa Barbara, The Gifted and Talented Academy at Laurel Springs School, and Nasri Gifted Academy.  She has been involved in the field of gifted education for over 20 years in various roles as a classroom teacher, administrator, gifted specialist, curriculum developer, consultant, adjunct professor, and Associate Director of a Gifted Education Institute. She is actively involved with the National Association of Gifted Children, serving as an At-Large Member of the Board of Directors and member of the Whole Child Task Force, Special Schools and Programs and Early Childhood Networks and received the 2016 NAGC President’s Award.

Her doctoral degree is in the area of Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate in Gifted Education from the University of Denver. She has authored Teaching Gifted Children in Today’s Preschool and Primary Classrooms designed for teachers and parents, “Let’s Play!, Around my House!, and Let’s Go to the Market! all part of the “Smart Start Series” for parents and caregivers, Teacher Compendium for Human Rights Education and various integrated curriculum units and journal articles.

Dr. Christine Deitz is the Associate Director of the Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education.  She holds a Master Professional Educator teaching license in multiple areas, including elementary education, and two National Board Teacher certificates with a third certificate in Middle Childhood in progress.  Dr. Deitz has directed the state’s largest National Board Teacher support site at UA Little Rock since 2008. She has over 26 years of teaching experience in metropolitan elementary and middle schools and coordinated gifted and talented services in schools with high proportions of students from low-income households. She has taught gifted education courses at UA Little Rock since 2002, and lectured internationally since 2016.  Her dissertation was an examination of teacher perceptions of implementing biography in elementary classrooms. Dr. Deitz received the A. Harry Passow Classroom Teacher Award and as well as the Curriculum Award from the National Association for Gifted Children.  She has co-authored six of the Blueprints for Biography STEM-Starters series.

Kristy Kidd is the STEM Starters+ Director, a Jacob K. Javits research and demonstration project, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  Kristy has 21 years of experience teaching elementary and middle school science in the Little Rock Public Schools.  She has also served as a gifted and talented facilitator for the Little Rock Schools, an adjunct professor of early childhood science methods for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and as the k-12 math and science specialist for the eStem Public Charter Schools. Kristy is also the recipient of the Milken National Educator Award which honors top educators around the country for their achievements in education.

Featured PTY Speakers

Tamra Stambaugh, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Programs for Talented Youth and an Associate Research Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Stambaugh conducts research in gifted education with a focus on students living in rural settings, students of poverty, and curriculum and instructional interventions that promote gifted student learning. She is the co-author/editor of several books including Comprehensive Curriculum for Gifted Learners (2007) (with Joyce VanTassel-Baska); Overlooked Gems: A National Perspective on Low-Income Promising Students (2007) (with Joyce VanTassel-Baska), Leading Change in Gifted Education (2009) (with Bronwyn MacFarlane), the Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program and Affective Series (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2019) (with Joyce VanTassel-Baska), Practical Solutions for Under-represented Gifted Students: Effective curriculum (2012) (with Kim Chandler), Serving Gifted Students in Rural Settings (Legacy Award Winner) (with Susannah Wood).  She led a curriculum cohort that resulted in the co-authored award winning Programs for Talented Youth ELA curriculum units (2016)(with Emily Mofield) and the Programs for Talented Youth elementary and interdisciplinary science/ELA curriculum units (2017-2019) (with Eric Fecht, Emily Mofield, Kim Knauss, and Kevin Finn).   Stambaugh has also written numerous articles and book chapters.  She frequently provides keynotes, professional development workshops, and consultation to school districts nationally and internationally and shares her work at refereed research conferences. She serves on the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Board of Directors and has served on several committees for NAGC.  She is a reviewer for leading research journals in the field of gifted education.

Eric Fecht, Ed.D. is an Education Consultant and Professional Development Coordinator for Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth (PTY). In his current role, Dr. Fecht supports curriculum development for gifted students, serves as Director of Academic for PTY’s Saturday and summer K-12 grade accelerated programs, provides coaching and professional development in schools across the state for teachers working with gifted students, and presents at local and national conferences. He has served on the board of the Tennessee Association of Gifted since 2018. He is also the co-author (with Dr. Tamra Stambaugh) of several Programs for Talented Youth published curriculum units, including Interactions in Ecology and Literature, which was recognized by the National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum and Instruction Network.

In addition to his work at Programs for Talented Youth, Eric serves as an adjunct assistant professor in University of California Rossier School of Education’s doctoral program. Prior to joining Programs for Talented Youth, Dr. Fecht taught elementary school in Abu Dhabi and worked with Vanderbilt faculty on implementing academic initiatives in Abu Dhabi public schools, including a pilot gifted program. He also was an elementary and middle school teacher in Baltimore City Schools. 

On-Site Professional Development Opportunities

PTY’s Gifted Education Institute is pleased to offer a variety of professional development sessions to school staff or parent groups in an effort to provide additional support and information about the unique learning needs of high-ability students. PTY will work with school leaders or parent groups to design a session that addresses the specific learning needs and interests of the audience.