ITAG Parent Webinar Series October 2020: Helping Your Children Survive and Thrive

Thu, October 01 2020, 7:00 PM - Sat, October 31 2020, 8:00 PM [CST]

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ITAG Parent Webinar Series October 2020 PARTIAL APPROVAL - $100.00

The registration fee includes participation in all 5 Webinars live in October and access to all Webinars in recorded form through the end of the year (December 31, 2020). A complimentary ITAG Parent Membership for 2021, a $35 value, is included.

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Thu, October 01 2020, 7:00 PM - Sat, October 31 2020, 8:00 PM [CST]

Education and “doing school” in Fall 2020 has presented parents and gifted and talented students with circumstances that are unique and potentially overwhelming.

ITAG’s October Webinar Series gives parents time to hear from and interact with experts in social-emotional development, learning, and gifted education during COVID-19.  The sessions will provide parents with strategies for helping their gifted learners survive and thrive. Questions for the presenters can be submitted in the space provided in this registration form or at any time by emailing

The $100 registration includes participation in 5 Webinars, access to the recorded Webinars through the end of 2020. Up to 2 parents/primary caregivers may participate with one regsitration.  Complimentary Parent Membership in ITAG, a $35 value, is included with the registration.

Webinars are Thursdays in October: October 1, October 8, October 15, October 22, and October 29. Each session is from 7:00-8:00PM Central. Sessions will be held on Zoom. A Zoom link will be provided with the registration confirmation.



See more information about the presenters under the Speakers tab and on the ITAG website (

October 1

Dr. Debra Mishak, The Shelter of Each Other: COVID-19 and Gifted Families

COVID-19 has infiltrated every facet of global society --- including the world’s families.   In the current reality of Covid-19, gifted families face some challenges that are universal to the human experience, and others that are unique to them.  During this presentation the social and emotional needs of gifted children/adolescents and their families will be discussed in light of the pandemic, with remaining time for questions and comments from the audience.  Come share with each other, learn from each other, and support each other through this truly unprecedented and extraordinary time.

October 8

Dr. Shaun Vecera, Mindset, Metacognition, and Memory: The Three Ms of Effective Learning and Academic Success

Education often focuses on learning "what," or the content or names, dates, and other factual knowledge. In addition to content, students also need support in learning "how," or the skills required for effective learning. This session will address the question: What is the best way to learn? Psychological science has a wealth of knowledge about cognition, learning, memory, and motivation that can point to best practices to benefit students’ academic success. The session will discuss the psychological science of mindset, metacognition, and memory--the Three Ms--with a focus on empirical findings and practical use of those findings. We will discuss techniques that parents and students can use to support more effective learning, in both face-to-face and on-line contexts.

October 15

Evan Abbey, The Promise and Pitfalls of Online Education for Gifted and Talented Students

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  For years, online education has posed to gifted-and-talented students promising opportunities for individualized education, acceleration, passion-based learning, and the ability to connect with peers from around the world.  But before those could be fully reached, the COVID crisis has pushed all students back into a one-size-fits-all education, this time online.  Still, there is hope.  This session will focus on how parents can best advocate for their children to receive personalized, challenging learning opportunities in the online space.  We’ll look at what the online environment can offer students and what resources are available for you at home.

October 22

Linda Linn, Brea Burrack, and Hollie Weber, Advocacy- A Journey Not a Destination

Healthy and timely school and home communications are so important for children's academic and social/emotional growth. Reciprocal communications need to be based upon trust and respect.  Especially now, we know communication may be complicated.  This session will provide learning and discussions based upon how to be an advocate for your child in the school setting.  We will also offer strategies to assist you in your child's self-advocacy journey.

October 29

Lora Duffy Danker, Susan Wouters, & Amanda Freese, The State of Gifted: The Power of Parent Groups

The session with ITAG President Lora Danker, ITAG Past-President Susan Wouters, and ITAG parent volunteer Amanda Freese focuses on the power of parent groups to grow partnerships with home, school, and community to bring change for gifted children. Forming a parent group does not have to be overwhelming. This presentation will share how parent groups can be organized and sustained through engagement, communication, and networking.






Cancellation policy

Cancellations will be accepted through September 24. Sessions will be recorded. Registered attendees will receive access to the recorded sessions through December 31, 2020.

Iowa Talented and Gifted Association

The Iowa Talented and Gifted Association recognizes, supports, and respects the unique and diverse needs of talented and gifted learners through advocacy, education, and networking. ITAG promotes advocacy at the national, state and local levels, pre-service and in-service training in gifted education, and parent/community awareness, education and involvement. ITAG is comprised of parents, educators, other professionals, and community leaders who share an interest in the growth and development of gifted and talented individuals in Iowa. ITAG is a 501(c)3 organization which was organized more than 40 years ago with a vision that gifted and talented children in the State of Iowa should receive an education commensurate with their abilities and needs. ITAG is an affiliate of the National Association for Gifted Children.

Contact the Organizer View other events

Debra Mishak
Clinical Professor of Education at Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota

Debra Mishak, Ph.D., is a Clinical Professor of Education at Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota. During her 45-year educational career, Dr. Mishak has served as a music teacher, professional school counselor, gifted consultant, district administrator, non-profit director and professor of counselor and teacher education in the United States and Australia. Her work in gifted education began in 1986 with Dr. Barbara Kerr and Dr. Nicholas Colangelo and continues to this day in her passion areas of social and emotional needs of the gifted and educator workplace stress and well-being.

About Debra

Clinical Professor of Education at Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota
Shaun Vecera
Professor and Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa

Shaun Vecera earned his PhD in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 1995 and joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1998. He studies visual attention and perception and is the author of more than 80 journal articles, book chapters, and other publications on his research. Professor Vecera is very involved with and committed to undergraduate education. In 2016, he was appointed as the Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair for leadership in undergraduate education, and he received the 2017-18 President and Provost Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence. He has also been recognized with the Honors Program Teaching Award in 2019 and the Award for Outstanding First-Generation Student Advocacy in 2019. Professor Vecera serves on several university committees that support undergraduate education and first-generation college students. Professor Vecera teaches classes of all sizes, from large lecture classes—teaching more than 12,000 students to date in Elementary Psychology (PSY:1001)—to a popular first-year seminar titled “How Psychology Can Save the Planet," and an on-line course titled "Learning About Learning" that supports students' academic success.

About Shaun

Professor and Herman J. and Eileen S. Schmidt Chair, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa
Evan Abbey
Project Director of AEA Learning Online

Evan Abbey is currently the Director of AEA Learning Online and the developer and instructor of the OLLIE series of online pedagogy courses for teachers. He is a former middle school/high school language arts and talented-and-gifted teacher, as well as high school principal.

About Evan

Project Director of AEA Learning Online
Linda Linn
Retired AEA Consultant in School Counseling and Gifted

Linda Linn has a passion for family engagement in education. She retired from 34 years in education with experience in Pre-K - 12th grades. She earned a teaching endorsement in secondary social studies and a Masters in School Counseling. She held positions in an alternative school, MS/HS Counselor and elementary school counselor. She then became an Instructional Consultant for Prairie Lakes AEA and worked in the areas of: school counseling, gifted/talented, social studies, equity, anti-bullying, fine arts, and several other content areas. She is a proud wife, mother of 3 gifted adult women and grandmother to 10 amazing grandchildren.

About Linda

Retired AEA Consultant in School Counseling and Gifted
Brea Burrack
K-5 ELP teacher at Radiant Elementary in Waukee Schools

Brea Burrack is K-5 ELP teacher at Radiant Elementary in Waukee Schools. Brea works collaboratively with general education teachers, AEA staff, administration and parents to facilitate communication as well as ensure gifted students’ needs and supports are understood and implemented. Brea chaired the 2019 ITAG conference and presented at many ITAG break out sessions. Brea has planned and implemented professional development to K-12 staff on social/emotional, twice-exceptionality, and intellectual needs of gifted students.

About Brea

K-5 ELP teacher at Radiant Elementary in Waukee Schools
Hollie Weber
TAG teacher, Central Lee Community School District

Hollie Weber has worked with TAG students throughout her 18-year teaching career as a middle school classroom teacher for TAG cluster groups in an urban school and as a program coordinator and single-practitioner in a rural school. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa in elementary and middle school education. She completed her TAG endorsement through courses at the Belin-Blank Center and Drake University while also earning her Master’s degree through Viterbo. She returned to her “home” district 11 years ago to serve in the same program she once participated in. She hopes to provide students at Central Lee with opportunities that will enrich, empower, and connect them with a sense of purpose. She resides with her husband and three school-aged children on their family century-farm.

About Hollie

TAG teacher, Central Lee Community School District
Susan Wouters
ITAG Past-President

ITAG Past-president Susan Wouters has been an educator with the Waukee Community School District for 23 years, working with gifted children and their families for the last 20 years as an Extended Learning Program (ELP) teacher. She has taught and facilitated gifted and talented programming at both the elementary and secondary levels, planned and implemented professional development pertaining to gifted education for K-9 staff and has served as ELP Coordinator for the district. Susan co-founded the Waukee ELP Parent Group, has presented at ITAG conferences, is a trained SENG facilitator, and teaches TAG Endorsement courses for Drake University as an adjunct instructor. She has served on the ITAG Board of Directors since 2010, co-chaired the 2012 ITAG conference, and has served on Membership, Awards, and Educator Outreach committees. Susan received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Graceland University, TAG endorsement from University of Iowa, and Masters of Science in Education, Curriculum Leadership, from Drake University.

About Susan

ITAG Past-President
Lora Duffy Danker
ITAG President

ITAG President Lora Danker is a newly retired educator of thirty-seven years in education, most of which were focused on serving gifted children and their families in the College Community School District, commonly known as Cedar Rapids Prairie. While at Prairie, Lora helped create and implement annual, district-wide professional development opportunities focused on gifted initiatives in face to face, remote, and blended learning formats; helped form and facilitate the parent Advisory Council on Gifted Education; and facilitated the Student Services team composed of administration, counselors, and several other professionals who, among other initiatives, worked together to build and implement a college and career readiness model of service. Lora holds a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from The University of Iowa; a Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist from the former Marycrest College; a Gifted Endorsement through the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa; and a Masters of Science in Education Leadership from Drake University, which includes evaluation of special education programs. Lora is a trained in-person and online facilitator for SMPGs, Seng Model Parent Groups. She serves as an adjunct lecturer for the Gifted Endorsement program through the Belin-Blank Center at The University of Iowa. Lora is in her third term with the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association’s Board of Directors, previously serving as the Newsletter Editor and Finance Committee Chair. Lora is married, and a parent of young, gifted adults. Lora Danker can be reached at

About Lora

ITAG President
Amanda Freese
Founder, I-380 Corridor 2e Parent Network and Music Teacher

Amanda Freese joined ITAG in 2016 while seeking out information on parenting a twice-exceptional child. Mrs. Freese founded the I-380 Corridor 2e Parent Network to connect parents with peers and resources in the state to advocate and support the unique needs of students who are both gifted and have a learning challenge in 2017. In addition to raising two boys, Mrs. Freese teaches 3rd and 4th grade general music in the Marion Independent School District. In May 2020, she graduated with her Masters in Teaching, Leadership, and Cultural Competency from The University of Iowa where she is also completing her endorsement in gifted education.

About Amanda

Founder, I-380 Corridor 2e Parent Network and Music Teacher