Last week, Christian Holland and I traveled to NYC to attend the national “Breakthroughs in Twice Exceptional Education” conference sponsored by The 2e Study Center and The Quad Prep, in partnership with Cooper Union. I was asked to speak on a panel of other 2e school leaders, including Dr. Kim Busi and Dr. Kristin Berman (Quad Prep), Jacqui Byrne (FlexSchool), Carl Sabatino (Bridges Academy), and Dr. Leah Brzezinski (Arete Academy). We spoke about the pillars of each of our schools and responded to spontaneous questions from the audience, which included parents, public school officials, educators, physicians, advocates, and mental health professionals. While we did not coordinate our responses ahead of time, it was a reassuring realization that similar themes were repeated: the importance of a sense of belonging and community, flexibility and creativity, a focus on social-emotional issues, individualized and personalized learning, a strengths-based approach, and the importance of supporting students transitioning out of our programs.
For me, this conference was an exciting opportunity to reconnect with friends and meet other colleagues in the field. Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis, leaders and pioneers in field of gifted education, were keynote speakers, and it was delightful for me to step back into the days of my graduate study at UVA where I was initially immersed in all things “gifted ed”! Christian and I also had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Susan Baum, another great leader in 2e education, about specific issues for high school settings. The work that she and others are doing at The 2e Center at Bridges Academy is inspiring and encouraging!
Finally, it was reaffirming to witness so many passionate and curious young people, many just out of college, whose eyes have been opened to 2e issues and who are moving forward with great energy! When I was a graduate student almost 20 years ago, I felt very alone in my pursuit of this specialty, but in recent years, I have witnessed an ever-growing community of people who care about the needs of twice-exceptional students. And I am grateful and proud to lead John Dewey Academy, which has attended to these students since 1985, into a bright and promising future as we continue to innovate and dream big!
— Andrea Lein, Ph.D.
Head of School, John Dewey Academy