What_is_LAgniappe Who_should_attend Sample_sessions Keynote_speakers
Stuart Omdal
E. Jean Gubbins Andre Prejean
Tom Hays Hector Lasala Louise Prejean
Sally M. Dobyns Tom Hébert Cindy Lassalle Susannah Richards

Cheryl Friberg

Gail N. Herman Melinda Mangham Jim Whelan
Kathy Gavin DeAnna Jenkins Rachel McAnallen Cissy Whipp

Susan Assouline

Susan G. Assouline is theBelin-Blank Center’s AssociateDirector. She received herB.S. in general science with a teaching endorsement, her Ed.S. in School Psychology, and her Ph.D. in Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, all from The University of Iowa. Upon completion of her doctorate, she was awarded a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) at The Johns Hopkins University, and upon completion joined the Belin-Blank Center in 1990. She is especially interested in identifi cation of academic talent in elementary students and is coauthor (with Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik) of Developing Mathematical Talent: A Guide for Challenging and Educating Gifted Students. As well, she is co-editor with Nicholas Colangelo of the series Talent Development: Proceedings from the Wallace Research Symposia on Giftedness and Talent Development, and co-developer of The Iowa Acceleration Scale—2nd Edition, a tool designed to guide educators and parents through decisions about grade-skipping students. She is a leading expert on the decision-making process for acceleration and has consulted on over 100 acceleration cases. She has conducted numerous workshops for parents and teachers on acceleration, development of mathematical talent, and gifted/disabled students. Dr. Assouline has presented at national and international conferences. Currently, she is lead investigator on the Belin-Blank Center’s national study on twice exceptional


Susan Baum

Susan Baum is a professor at the College of New Rochelle where she teaches graduate courses in elementary education and the education of gifted and talented students. Susan spends much time writing and consulting. Her publications include: Creativity 1,2,3; Chi Square, Pie Charts and Me; and To Be Gifted and Learned Disabled: From Identification to Practical Intervention Strategies. She is co-editor and author of several chapters of Nurturing the Gifts and Talents of Primary Grade Students and is one of three authors who has just completed a book, Multiple Intelligences in the Elementary Classroom: Pathways to Thoughtful Practice in collaboration with Howard Gardner. Her consulting takes her to exotic and not so exotic places around the world. From Zurich to Zimbabwe to Zagreb, from Colombia to Haiti to Nicaragua, from Prague to Helsinki to Estonia, and from Malaysia to Shanghai, you can find her spreading the word about talent development and stress management for adolescents. Susan serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Students and is the current secretary for the organization.


Christine Briggs

Chris Briggs recently completed her Ph. D. at the University of Connecticut in Educational Psychology, specializing in Gifted Education and Talent Development, with an emphasis in Multicultural Education and Professional Development. She has worked in education for sixteen years teaching middle school LD resource, 4th/5th grade multi-age gifted in the regular classroom, teacher coach/staff developer for gifted and reading programs, and elementary gifted coordinator in a large urban district. She has presented at state and national conferences and serves as co-chair of the NAGC Curriculum Studies Division Curriculum Competition. Her relaxation passions include collecting unusual objects at flea markets, pugs, and spending time in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.



Bonnie Cramond

Bonnie Cramond, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children, the editor of the Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, and the Interim Director of the Torrance Center for Creative Studies and Talent Development. An international and national speaker, she has published numerous articles and teaches classes on giftedness and creativity. She is particularly interested in the identification and nurturance of creativity, especially among students considered at risk for an alternative diagnosis (ADHD) or dropping out. She is a former elementary and middle school teacher and the parent of two. Most importantly, she is 1/4 Cajun and has retained the joie de vivre of that heritage.



  Gail H. Dack

Teaching in south Louisiana is filled with exciting and creative opportunities for Dr. Gail Dack. She is captivated by the cultural and historic richness of this area, including the Acadian story. Gail is currently an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in elementary language arts and social studies methods. Her research interests include technology integration in lesson design and using children’s literature and community resources in place-based education. She has presented nationally at SITE and NCSS conferences. Gail has one daughter, Hilary, who lives in North Carolina, and they have begun exploring the Outer Banks in search of local history interests in that area.


Sally M. Dobyns

A former classroom teacher Sally earned masters and doctoral degrees in gifted education at the University of Connecticut where she is a regular presenter at Confratute. Now an associate professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she directs the Center for Gifted Education, teaches graduate courses in gifted education and support courses for Louisiana teachers who are candidates for National Board Certification. In 2000, Sally received the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given by the University of Louisiana Foundation. She is active in the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and served as co-chair of the NAGC Curriculum Studies Division. Sally enjoys exploring the Cajun history and culture around her, loves discovering evidence of local history in various parts of the country, loves antiquing, reading, birding, gardening, and a new interest, geocaching. She and husband Mike have two daughters, Amanda and Megan, and a sweet new grandbaby, Anna Grace.


Cheryl Friberg

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, and teaching in the western states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona, Cheryl Friberg, considers herself a permanent transplant to the heart of Cajun country and culture. With 29 years of teaching experience, Cheryl is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher with an M. Ed. in Gifted Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She presently teaches gifted students in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, mentors candidates through the national board process, and has had experience in assessing candidate's work for national board certification. Cheryl was recently appointed National Board Certified Teacher-in-Residence at UL Lafayette for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Cheryl is the mother/mother-in-law of four young adults, Michelle, Kayty/Gannon and Joshua. She is also the grandmother for two of the most wonderful little people in the world, Kaiser and Genevieve. Cheryl's hobbies include gardening, woodworking, and tent camping. Her favorite mottos are: "Live the life you love, Love the life you live," and "Look within, within you'll see." Cheryl's nutshell philosophy of education is: Children are the messengers we send to a time we will not see. Teach minds and touch hearts in a manner that will continue to make a difference 100 years from now.

Kathy Gavin

Kathy Gavin is an associate professor at the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut where she serves as the math specialist. She has 30 years of experience in education as a mathematics teacher and curriculum coordinator, elementary assistant principal, and assistant professor of mathematics education. She is currently the Principal Investigator and Director of a five-year Javits Grant, Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds that involves the development of math curriculum units for talented students in grades 3, 4, and 5, national field-test implementation, and professional development for teachers. She is presently coauthoring an elementary mathematics methods textbook for teachers. She is also a member of the writing team for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Navigations series and has co-authored a series of creative problem solving books.

Meredith Greene

Meredith Greene comes to the heart of Cajun country from the heart of Acadian country in Nova Scotia, Canada. Meredith completed her Ph.D., specializing in gifted education and talent development at the University of Connecticut. During her three years at UConn she taught graduate courses in gifted education, worked as a research assistant for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, and was the co-organizer and onsite coordinator of Confratute. Her research interests focus on helping teachers develop skills for the academic, social, emotional, and career counseling of talented adolescents. Last fall, Meredith returned to her job in NS as high school teacher (gifted program, French language and Acadian History, among other subjects) and guidance counselor. Meredith lives in a community called Paradise (really!) about 25 minutes’ drive from Habitation, the first permanent settlement in North America, founded by Samuel de Champlain! Meredith is thrilled to return to Lafayette, where she feels very much at home.


E. Jean Gubbins

Dr. E. Jean Gubbins is Associate Director of The National Research Center on
the Gifted and (NRC/GT) and Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Dr. Gubbins is involved in research studies focusing on professional development and using gifted education pedagogy with all students, with a special emphasis on students
with high abilities. Her research interests stem from prior involvement as a classroom teacher, teacher of gifted and talented students, evaluator, educational consultant, and professional developer. She teaches graduate level courses in gifted education and talent development related to identification, programming, curriculum development, and program evaluation.


Tom Hays



Tom Hébert

Tom Hébert would like you to understand that his ancestors apparently were directionally challenged. They left Canada and took a wrong turn, settling in Auburn, Maine. They worked in the textile mills and shoe factories while the rest of the Hébert family headed south to Louisiana and had a great time! Tom would also like you to know that he is the self-appointed President of the Bobby Hébert fan club in Athens, Georgia. Tom is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. He teaches graduate courses in gifted and creative education and is a Research Fellow for the Torrance Center for Creative Studies. He has been a teacher for thirteen years, ten of which were spent working with gifted students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Tom has taught in Maine, Georgia, Connecticut, Alabama, and West Germany with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools. He is the recipient of the National Association of Gifted Children’s 2000 Early Scholar Award. He is a member of the NAGC Board of Directors and serves as Governor-at Large for The Association for the Gifted (TAG) Board, Council for Exceptional Children. Tom’s research interests include social and emotional development of gifted students, underachievement, and problems faced by gifted young men.



Gail N. Herman

Gail is affiliated with Garrett College, Lesley University, and Garrett County Schools as a professor of education, storytelling and dance/drama. In addition to consulting in the arts and gifted and talented programs, she performs as a storyteller and conducts workshops for teachers nationwide and for the Maryland State Arts Council. Gail coined the term, “organic storytelling” to describe her techniques of engaging students in creative ideas, musical sound effects and songs, and meaning making in the storytelling process. As a former primary teacher and K-8 enrichment/GT Teacher, Gail produced tapes, cds, videos in creative movement, mime and storytelling, and a cable TV show, “The Storyteller.” After completing the UConn Ph. D. Program, Gail co-wrote Kinetic Kaleidoscope: Exploring Movement and Energy in the Visual Arts, and Storytelling: A Triad in the Arts. Gail’s research interests include the oral history project called “Coal Talk,” underachievement, and the arts in the curriculum. She is a member of the board of AEGUS, which focuses on gifted underachievers, and the youth Special Interest Group of the National Storytelling Association. Gail is a contributing editor to Roeper Review.




DeAnna Jenkins

DeAnna is a Curriculum Specialist for Gifted and Writing Education with the Fort Worth Independent School District. A former classroom teacher she earned a masters degree in gifted education at the University of Connecticut. DeAnna was trained in service-learning by the Service-Learning Summer Teacher Institute sponsored by the National Youth Leadership Council. She enjoys working with and supporting teachers in developing classrooms that infuse depth and complexity and differentiation into their daily curricular lessons and activities. Her hobbies include: reading, boating, traveling, snow skiing, and spending time with her husband Clint and their beagle Jorge.

  Anne Johnson

Anne Johnson currently serves as Head of ESA Lower School, a newly created SEM model school serving students in PreK3 through Grade 5.  Anne taught language arts and mathematics in Lafayette Parish Public School gifted programs prior to accepting her current position in the independent school system.
Sandra Kaplan

Dr. Sandra Kaplan is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Division of Learning and Instruction, University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Kaplan teaches the methods courses for the Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential. She is a consultant for several state departments and school districts nationwide on the topics of education for gifted students, differentiated curriculum in depth and complexity, and thematic interdisciplinarity.

Karen Konnerth

Artistic Director of Calliope Puppets, Karen Konnerth has been building and performing with puppets for over twenty five years. Following an education from Tufts University and Rhode Island School of Design, and an initial career as a touring musician, her background in sculpture collided with study in classical mime. Puppetry was the natural result, when these were intermeshed with her life long love of traditional stories.

Performing solo, as well as with various skilled partners, sometimes including her family troupe, she has received recognition as a Louisiana State Roster Artist, as well as recipient of a State Division of the Arts Fellowship in Theater. CALLIOPE PUPPETS present over 200 shows a year, along with numerous workshops and residencies for children and adults on aspects of creative expression through puppetry, and also school curriculum based learning through this inspiring art form.




Hector Lasala

Hector is a Professor of Architecture. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from USL in 1973, and completed his graduate work at Texas A & M University in 1976. He has taught primarily design studios since 1974. His ongoing research interests are design pedagogy, in particular as it applies to beginners; and issues of meaning and ethics in postmodern culture. Hector has been the recipient of the following awards: the 2003 Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology, given by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, the 2001 Excellence in Teaching Award, given by the University of Louisiana Foundation, the 1998 Blue Key Faculty Excellence Award. He was also a nominee for the 2003 Ernest Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching. His award-winning architectural practice focuses primarily on residential, exhibit, and stage design (The Tempest, 2002; Eleemosynary, 1997; Cabaret, 1995). He has also participated in multi-disciplinary performances: Opening Bells, 2002, with poet Jerry McGuire, and composer Paul Tassin; and Seven Artists: Sixty Minutes, 1994. Hector is an advocate of education reform via the arts. He is a member, along with his two Louisiana partners (see “Acknowledgements”), of the Kennedy Center program Partners in Education since 1995. He has served this national program as a member of its Board of Advisors, 1996-1999, and as a member of the Nominating Review Committee, 1999-2000.




Cindy Lassalle

Cindy Lassalle, a National Board Certified Teacher, has been trained as a facilitator in both the K-6 and 7-12 INTECH models and has taught technology classes on topics such as the Inspiration program and on use of the Sony Mavica camera. She was recently the facilitator for a student School-To-Work school-based enterprise using digital and traditional photography. She has eclectic interests exemplified in her certifications in art, English, elementary and gifted education. She has presented open forum sessions at previous LAgniappe and Confratute conferences, and a School-To-Work seminar. Cindy is a teacher at the Episcopal School of Acadiana Lower School in Lafayette. She turns on her computers before she turns on the lights in her classroom!

Jann Leppien

Jann Leppien is an associate professor at the University of Great Falls in Great Falls, Montana, where she teaches course work in curriculum and instruction, gifted education, assessment and learning, educational research, and methods in social sciences. Additionally she teaches curriculum courses
and thinking skills courses online and in the Three Summers Program at the University of Connecticut. Before joining the faculty at the University of Great Falls, she worked as a research assistant for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT). She has been a classroom teacher, enrichment specialist, and coordinator of a gifted education program in Montana. She is the co-author of, The Multiple Menu Model: A Practical Guide for Developing Differentiated Curriculum, and The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop High Potential and Challenge High-Ability Students. She conducts workshops for teachers in the areas of differentiated instruction, curriculum design and assessment, thinking skills, and program development. She has served on the board of the National Association for Gifted Children and currently serves on the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS).



  Melinda Mangham

Melinda has taught English IV in the Lafayette High School Gifted Program for fourteen years; she is the college advisor / scholarship coordinator for the entire LHS senior class. In the last two years the LHS senior class members have won approximately $19,000,000 in scholarships and financial aid packages. These awards have included Presidential Scholars, Toyota Scholars, Horace Mann Scholars, Gates Millennium Scholars, Prudential Spirit of Community Scholars, and United States service academy appointments. Melinda says the key to success is to match the student to the right scholarship and college or university. Melinda goes above and beyond in her role as mentor to her students by maintaining contact with LHS graduates long after they have completed high school. Such continued contact with graduates enables her to evaluate the effectiveness of her college counseling program. Melinda completed her Master’s Degree in gifted and talented education at UL Lafayette. Melinda is the 2004 recipient of the Louisiana Association of Educators Teacher of the Year Award. She has twice been named White House Distinguished Teacher.

Rachel McAnallen

Known simply as “Ms. Math” to children across the country, Rachel McAnallen has devoted her life to sharing the joy and beauty of mathematics with learners of all ages. A professional educator for 45 years, she travels the globe teaching her subject at every grade level. In addition to her experience in the classroom, Rachel has served as a department chair, a school board member, and a high school administrator— she claims the latter position is responsible for the majority of her grey hairs! She has a passion for golf and mathematical modular origami, though not necessarily in that order. A life-long learner, Rachel approaches the world around her with a boundless curiosity and a playful sense of humor that is reflected in her teaching style.


Stuart Omdal

University of Northern Colorado



Andre Prejean

André is a geophysical supervisor for Fugro International. He is a popular presenter at teacher workshops. For fun, André enjoys geocaching, swimming, metalworking, and woodworking.




Louise Prejean

Louise Prejean is an instructor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, specializing in technology courses for pre-service teachers. While teaching middle school students, she developed a variety of learning activities that utilize science, math, and technology to encourage the student to question and reach beyond the basic concepts. Louise presented learning activities at the National Science Teacher Conference, LA Science Conference, Louisiana Environmental Education Conference, and was a co-presenter at the National Computer Educators’ Conference and Tel-Ed Conference. Louise has developed in-services for utilizing handhelds and sensors to collect environmental data. As an ESTEP trainer, Louise has guided Middle School Teachers to integrate technology into the Earth Science Curriculum. Louise designed and sponsored Madeleine, a Web-based project that encouraged a cultural, scientific, and historical exchange between third grade students. Her middle school students created web pages to teach other students about a variety of topics including an environmental science site that teaches concepts through the adventures of Congette, a green tree frog.


Jeanne Purcell

Jeanne H. Purcell is the consultant to the Connecticut State Department of Education for gifted and talented education. Prior to her work at the State Department of Education, she was an administrator for Rocky Hill Public Schools, where she coordinated a staff development initiative on curriculum differentiation; a program specialist with the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, where she worked collaboratively with other researchers on national issues related to high-achieving young people; an instructor of Teaching the Talented, a graduate-level program in gifted education; and a staff developer to school districts across the country and Canada. She has been an English teacher, community service coordinator, and teacher of the gifted, K-12, for eighteen years in Connecticut school districts. She is the author of two books and has published many articles that have appeared in Educational Leadership, Gifted Child Quarterly, Roeper Review, Educational and Psychological Measurement, National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Bulletin, Our Children: The National PTA Magazine, Parenting for High Potential, and Journal for the Education of the Gifted. Dr. Purcell is active in her local community and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) as a member of the Executive Board and Board of Directors. She serves on the Awards Committee, the Education Commission, the Governance Task Force, and the Curriculum Committee where she co-chaired the annual Curriculum Awards Competition.

Susannah Richards

Susannah Richards is an assistant professor at the College of New Rochelle
in New York. While completed her doctoral degree and served as a research assistant in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include the needs of talented readers and curriculum for gifted and talented students. She recently collected data on reading classroom practices for talented readers as part of a study for the National Research Center on Gifted and Talented. She regularly collects, reviews, and presents on children’s and young adult books and her recent home purchase necessitates that she learn how to turn books into furniture. Before entering the doctoral program at UConn, she taught in both public and private schools for 11 years.

Joseph S. Renzulli

Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut, where he also serves as director of The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. His research has focused on the identification and development of creativity and giftedness in young people, and on organizational models and curricular strategies for total school improvement. A focus of his work has been on applying the strategies of gifted education to the improvement of learning for all students.
Dr. Renzulli is Fellow in the American Psychological Association and he was a consultant to the White House Task Force on Education of the Gifted and Talented. He was recently designated a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at the University of Connecticut. Although Dr. Renzulli has obtained more than $20 million in research grants, he lists as his proudest professional accomplishments the UConn Mentor Connection program for gifted young students and the summer Confratute program at UConn, which began in 1978, and has served thousands of teachers and administrators from around the world.

Donald J. Treffinger

Dr. Treffinger, President of the Center for Creative Learning, is an internationally-known researcher, writer, teacher, and presenter in the area of creativity and CPS, as well as in the area of gifted and talented education. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 books and monographs, including Creative Problem Solving: An Introduction and Creative Approaches to Problem Solving, and more than 250 articles. Dr. Treffinger has served as a member of the faculty of many colleges and universities, including Purdue University, the University of Kansas, and as director of the graduate program of the Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College. He has been the recipient of the National Association for Gifted Children's Distinguished Service Award and the E. Paul Torrance Creativity Award. Dr. Treffinger has served as a reviewer for many professional journals and as editor of the Gifted Child Quarterly. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of Parenting for High Potential, NAGC’s quarterly magazine for parents.

Jim Whelan

Dr. Jim Whelan is an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He is a National Board Certified Teacher (Early Adolescent Science, 2000). He has spent eighteen years teaching in Louisiana schools and fifteen years as an informal science educator and museum director. His approach to learning is that it is often a muddy and dirty process with frequent piles of goo, slime, and other stimulating materials encountered along the way.



Cissy Whipp

Cissy Whipp is a John F. Kennedy Center national consultant on integrating
dance into the curriculum. She has been working as performer, choreographer, and dance educator for more than twenty-five years. She received her BFA in Choreographic Design from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her MA in Performing Arts: Dance from the American University in Washington, D.C. She founded Louisiana’s first professional modern dance company, Moving South Dance, Inc. and has taught in college dance programs at SUNY: Potsdam and UL Lafayette. Ms. Whipp has served on the Louisiana Department of Education committee for developing arts assessment standards and for the revision of the state arts content standards and benchmarks. She is currently teaching creative movement and dance at the J. W. James Elementary Arts & Technology Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana.

© 2005, Center for Gifted Education, College of Education, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
PO Box 43251, Lafayette, LA 70504,, 337-482-1073