Category Archives: About IEA

Yunasa 2013!

By Jessica Houben

IEA’s pioneering Yunasa summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives.

“Know Thyself” was at the core of all of IEA’s programs this year, and particularly for Yunasa, as this theme tied into each activity throughout the week. Yunasa is the Lakota word for “balance”, and finding balance within as a means of gaining self-knowledge is the focus of camp. From July 21-28 at Camp Copneconic in Fenton, Michigan, campers explored themselves more deeply and learned integration strategies for the five domains of self: social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual. For many returning campers, Yunasa is a place where they rejoin their family each year, building their existing connections and extending themselves to make new ones. What was most unique about camp this year was the number of new campers who were accepted into the Yunasa family with open arms.

Call in the Directions

Call in the Directions

Check out more highlights from camp!

IEA Summer Spotlight 2013

115 students, parents and supporters of gifted education gathered at USC on July 9 for IEA’s Summer Spotlight 2013, an event designed to showcase gifted students and the programs we offer to meet their needs. The evening was a huge success, and we wanted to share some of the highlights with those of you who were not able to attend.

IMG_4588 L1000861 L1000923

See some of the evening’s highlights.

Yunasa West 2013!

IEA’s pioneering Yunasa and Yunasa West summer camps unite highly able youngsters with experts in the social and emotional development of gifted children. Campers explore and grow the intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical aspects of their lives. 2013 was the 2nd year for Yunasa West, which took place June 9-16 at YMCA Camp Shady Brook in Sedalia, Colorado.

2013 Yunasa West campers and staff

2013 Yunasa West campers and staff

Twenty-four kids from across the country joined us for Yunasa West 2013. This was the second year of Yunasa West, and it proved to be yet another memorable and magical year!

Campers explored all five aspects of Self – intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual – and learned how to work towards achieving balance across these five areas of their lives.

Every day contained at least one activity to help campers embrace each of the five aspects of Self. In just one day, a camper could go rock climbing (physical), talk with all of the other campers during activities and at meals (social), learn about the different aspects of emotional intelligence in a special workshop (emotional and intellectual), and do yoga (spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual).

See what the campers did at Yunasa West!

Spring 2013 Academy Highlights!

By Jen Mounday, Academy Program Coordinator

Spring Academy classes ran for eight weeks from April 1 to May 25. Classes included two new offerings: Explorations in Literature and Chemistry Lab. Some Academy classics were also held: Organic Chemistry, Primary Advanced Math, Neuro-Energy I and II, Molecular Biology, and Astronomy. Our student attendance was the fullest it’s been and included ten new students from local public and private schools.

Chemistry Lab, taught by Dr. Rosemary Rohde and Ronnie Bryan, was a hit with its hands-on curriculum. Dr. Rose took concepts from Chemistry I and II and expanded on them by conducting correlating experiments for each of the eight weeks. Some lab topics were rates of reaction, electrochemistry and chemical equilibrium. Proper safety precautions were taught with the use of chemicals—information most students don’t usually cover until they take a high school chemistry course.

Chemistry lab class

The new Chemistry Lab class with tons of hands-on experiments was a big hit!

Take a look at more Spring Academy highlights!

2013 Bradley Seminar: Know Thyself

CDB Scholars spent the weekend learning about themselves, making connections, and exploring San Jose!

Caroline D. Bradley Scholars spent the weekend learning about themselves, making connections, and exploring San Jose!

On February 22-24, 2013, we hosted the 10th annual Bradley Seminar in San Jose, California. The event, funded by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, provides an amazing opportunity for the Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, their parents, and alumni to come together each year for a three-day conference to discuss issues of global importance and personal relevance.

Read more about what happened at the seminar here!

Gifted kindergartners through eighth-graders to learn from local specialists this winter

Institute for Educational Advancement welcomes highly able students to the Academy


SOUTH PASADENA, Calif.—Los Angeles-area kindergarten through eighth-grade gifted and talented students are stepping out of the traditional classroom to engage in advanced classes that explore disciplines such as chemistry, astronomy and humanities. Academy classes, taught by local specialists who hold doctorates in their fields, college professors and professionals, inspire Los Angeles’s brightest youth to grow socially and intellectually.

The Academy was created by South Pasadena-based Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA). IEA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs that help gifted children balance intellectual ability with social, emotional, physical and spiritual growth. Independent of government funding, IEA gives students the tools to work toward actualizing their full intellectual and personal potential in supportive environments such as the Academy.

IEA is meeting a need in the community by serving a demographic that often struggles with a lack of challenge in the mainstream classroom. Academy students are given work at a level appropriate for them, develop community with like-minded peers and bond with instructors who can relate to their special needs. For the students IEA serves, weekly classes at the Academy are essential in fueling and satisfying their quest to know more. “I would recommend Academy classes to anyone who enjoys learning!” says Ariane Watkins, an Academy student who completed a Neuro-Energy course last term.

The program links a broad range of students from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds with instructors who’ve been trained to teach advanced, college and high school material in a kid-friendly fashion. Winter 2013 classes include self-paced math, calculus, chemistry, ecology, humanities and astronomy. With an average class size of five students, Academy classes are a hands-on, inquiry-based and student-driven approach to learning. In Rocket to Calculus, for example, students make use of actual rockets to learn the basics of algebra, geometry and pre-calculus; in the final class, calculations are brought to life with a real rocket launch.

Scholarships for local Pasadena youth have been made possible by generous grants from the Ann Peppers Foundation and the Avery Dennison Foundation. “Due to the scholarships we provide, gifted students in our community grow. Not only do we fan the flame of life-long learning in youngsters from all backgrounds, but they become stronger representatives of the schools they attend and are better able to contribute to their communities,” says Jen Mounday, IEA Academy program coordinator.

The Academy runs year-round, with the winter 2013 session running Jan. 12 to March 14. Classes are held at the IEA offices in South Pasadena, Calif. Classes meet once a week for eight weeks and are offered after school on weekdays and during the day on Saturdays. For a full schedule of classes and to download an application, please visit the Academy page of IEA’s website or contact Jen Mounday at or 626-403-8900.

Why Give?

By Zadra Ibanez

Giving back

IEA held its annual fundraiser Thursday night, and we were thrilled with the event. It was a great success! Nita Millstein, the owner of The Peach Café in Monrovia, California, generously donated the space for our event, which included a plated dinner and silent auction. Among the attendees were IEA Board Members Ken Merchant, Jeff Hudson, Donna Ford and Jonathan Shintaku. The entire IEA Staff attended as did many parents of program participants. Through the silent auction alone, we raised over $2,000, with items donated entirely by the IEA staff. We are also pleased to announce that 100% of the auction proceeds will go directly towards supporting the children and families we serve.

The feedback and support we received on Thursday reaffirmed our belief that IEA’s dedication to creating programs honoring and nurturing the whole gifted child is valuable and important to many people. To further demonstrate this fact, 100% of the IEA staff had contributed a monetary gift to IEA before the end of October, and 100% of the IEA Board has contributed, as well.

When looking at donor trends as reported by Charity Navigator, we see that, on average, most donors intend to give roughly the same amounts in 2012 as they did in 2011. However, those donors who reported that they expect to give less than they did in 2011 expect to give significantly less in 2012, while those donors who anticipate contributing more generously than they did last year only expect to give slightly more in 2012.

What does this mean for IEA? It means that we are relying on a greater number of donors giving small amounts to help the kids we serve in the same way that a few donors giving larger amounts can. No gift is too small. Every gift matters.

This leads us to consider: Why do people give? What compels a person to donate and to donate to a specific organization? IEA believes in giving back to our community and encourages the staff to support charities including, but not limited to, IEA. For example, we are collecting canned goods for the local senior services center in South Pasadena, a project started by our own Kate Williams.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I give, personally (in no particular order):

1. To show my support for a friend or an organization I believe in.

Many of my friends work with projects that provide a great service to the community. This can range from arts/culture/humanities to animal rescues to human services-based programs. I enjoy supporting the work of my friends by contributing to these causes.

Of course, I don’t think I’ve ever given a donation to an organization that didn’t ask. Often, I will be searching for information on a website and there will be a request for financial gifts or in-kind donations directly on the page. While no one called and asked me specifically to give, seeing the organization’s need sparks my altruistic intentions.

2. To help change the world or to give others a chance that I didn’t have.

Many contributors want to feel like they are helping to change someone’s life. Many of the organizations they give to provide programs that focus on helping individuals take care of themselves, such as Heifer International or the Boys and Girls Club of America.

3. Wanting to be connected to a community – to be part of the crowd.

Schools often employ this with their alumni programs. At IEA, we encourage a friendly spirit of competition among our programs and encourage parents from each of our programs to give. In some cases, the alumni have even set up contests to see which class can contribute the most! It is all in good fun and supports a worthy cause.

4. Feeling fortunate or guilty.

Sometimes people give because they feel a wealth and want to share with others less fortunate or just to demonstrate gratitude for something beneficial. I feel this way when visiting museums or the Botanic Gardens. Other times, as in the cases of food drives, I want others to have what I have.

But sometimes, I feel powerless to undo a past wrong and want to make up for it somehow. Once, I ran over a raccoon. It was dark; it was raining; and I didn’t see it. I felt horrible! When I got home, I researched what to do in case of an animal emergency and the Greenwood Nature Center of Colorado had a list of what to do. I sent a donation to Greenwood in memory of Rocky Raccoon. I couldn’t undo the past, and I don’t believe money will buy me peace of mind, but I do feel that I am making a difference to other animals, even if I couldn’t help that one.

5. Tax write-offs.

Yes, this is a major motivating factor for some and is one reason many gifts are received at year end. Another reason is that the holidays inspire giving. For me, sometimes I just forget to give until the last minute. : p

Whatever your motivations for giving, this is the perfect time to support and donate to worthy causes, especially if you feel that they provide value to your day—or to the day of others. To contribute to IEA, please visit our website.

Why do you give? Please share with us in the comment section below.

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Gifted Child Parent Support Groups

Click here for 2013-2014 Parent Meetings.

Gifted children have a variety of unique gifts, as well as a variety of unique needs and challenges. Join the Institute for Educational Advancement as we explore ways to meet our gifted children’s particular needs and learn more about this extraordinary group of young people. These monthly meetings are intended for parents of gifted children to provide support and community in the midst of the joys and challenges of raising a gifted child.

2012-2013 Parent Meetings:

Speaker: Elizabeth D. Jones
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Special Guest Speaker:
Dr. Patricia Gatto-Walden
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
6:30 pm—7:30 pm

South Pasadena Public Library – Community Room*
1115 El Centro Street
South Pasadena, CA 91030

College Admissions
Speaker: Kate Duey
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Summer Programs
Thursday, March 7, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Gifted Children at Home and in the Classroom
Speaker: Sharon Duncan

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

My Child is Gifted. Now What?
Speaker: Elizabeth Jones, IEA President
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
6:30 pm—8:00 pm

IEA Learning Center
625 Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 288
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Please RSVP to If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Please invite parents that you feel would be interested.

Dates and topics later in the season may change. Please contact IEA for an updated schedule.

*This activity is not sponsored by the City of South Pasadena or the South Pasadena Public Library.

Want to stay updated on future parent meetings in the Los Angeles area? Sign up for our email newsletters and be sure to fill in your zip code!

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Enriching the Hearts and Minds of Gifted Youth: IEA Academy

By Jen Mounday

Jen Mounday is the Program Coordinator for IEA’s Academy program. Academy provides young gifted students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and the application of knowledge.

Academy students and instructors dressed up for Halloween – Nico made his own robot costume!

I was a classroom teacher before coming to IEA to be a Program Coordinator. From my years teaching, I naturally developed a mental catalogue of gifted students and the impressions they made on me over time. My experience in the classroom left me well acquainted with the gifted child: the voracious reader, the classical music lover, the Spanish speaking whiz, the student who challenges, the one who ponders—the child who has the uncanny power to shape you through their own quest for answers and truth. The memories I have working alongside gifted and talented kids are ever in my mind’s eye as I coordinate enrichment programs for this demographic.

IEA’s Academy welcomes kindergarten through eighth grade students into classrooms of like-minded peers. As much as I grouped students homogeneously when I was a classroom teacher, I have realized that there is nothing like an Academy classroom. Observe and you will see astronomy PhDs teaching astrophysics to a group of eleven-year-olds; the students are engaged, asking questions and driving the lesson deeper. It’s the power of the Academy classroom that is meeting a need in our community—drawing highly able students beyond the mainstream classroom framework and up a bit higher.

The 2012 fall quarter for Academy included multiple levels of chemistry and neuro-energy. Students worked with molecular model kits to identify molecular make up. In Neuro-Energy II: Intro to Computer Programming, students learned the basics of Java Script to build a website. I watched in one class as a second grader stood transfixed, looking at the projector screen as the instructor demonstrated how to create digital clocks using code. The student was grinning, captivated, bouncing up and down on his heels, like he’d just seen Santa.

Our classes are unique, much like the students and the instructors themselves. Sometimes the novelty of the program is all it takes to get students excited about the classes. In Academy, there are no limits. Instructors, specialists in their field, encourage as many questions as can be asked and are willing to go off on a tangent or two to satisfy interest. Our students can come, just as they are, to talk literature, chemistry, robotics, or math and be heard, embraced, and understood. And naturally, by the end of each quarter, Academy students build relationships through a process of discovery. Over the course of grappling with content that is typically off limits to their peer group, they become a community.

We do our best to extend this community beyond the classes as well. Last week, we held Academy Family Night here at the IEA office. It was an evening for the families to get to know each other and parents to hear from our president, Elizabeth Jones, on the social and emotional needs of gifted youth. It was an evening of learning and togetherness. Parents shared their experiences of raising gifted children, found support in each other and offered their gratitude for our programs. We will continue to hold parent nights each month through May.

We know that enrichment programs like Academy are often the bright spark in the gifted child’s week. We at the Institute for Educational Advancement are happy to provide that spark for our local community and beyond.

The Winter Session of Academy will run from January 12 to March 7. The schedule and applications are available on the Academy page of our website. Enroll your child today!

What enrichment programs have you found to inspire your son or daughter? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Parents, Please Take a Seat at Our Table

By Elizabeth Jones, IEA President and Co-Founder

Parents of gifted children, please take a seat at our tableIn reading the article “Is There a Place at the Table for Parents” a few days ago, I began to reflect on and evaluate how we at IEA invite parents to take a seat at the table.

I decided to discuss the topic with our staff. Kate Duey, a parent of 3 gifted daughters and a consultant for IEA, was in the office and had a few compelling comments about how she felt as the mother of gifted children.

She said that she did not feel particularly “included” in most of the past gifted organizations in which her daughters participated. “At one large summer program for gifted kids, I dropped my daughter off at the dorms, and that was pretty much it,” Kate recalled. “No one who administered the program was available for me to talk to. I got to talk to her dorm advisor for a few minutes that day, but that was it. When the program was over, I was to just pick her up and take her home, nothing more. I had no opportunity to speak with anyone running the program nor a way to learn about what happened while she was in attendance. I was a means of transportation more than anything.” That was disconcerting for her, and this was not an isolated incident.

I wanted to see what she would say about us – after all, she is a consultant here to assist our organization. She said, “At IEA, the parents are included in everything from the Apprenticeship presentations, to the Bradley Seminar, to talking with the staff and Fellows at Yunasa, to parent support groups, and parents are even on the Board of Directors. I even have been here when you call a parent to see how class went on Saturday or to see how a child was doing in school that week.”

At IEA, we support the whole gifted child – intellectually, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Parent input is crucial. The folks that live with these darling, amazing, and sometimes frustrating little guys have ideas and questions! We know that these children do not operate in a vacuum and that their parents are the life-line to their success.

We want parents to take a seat at the table. We want them to feel involved in our organization and the ways in which we serve their children.

We know that parenting a gifted child is not easy. Other parents, and often even teachers, don’t understand what you are going through. It is difficult to find information, resources, and support to help you raise your gifted child. Your child needs support, but so do you.

Because of this, every program at IEA has some parent component. For example:

  • On the first day of Yunasa, parents get to meet and learn from the Fellows, renowned professionals in the social and emotional development of gifted children.
  • Parents of high school Apprentices are invited to attend the Apprentices’ final presentations, in which all participants share what they have accomplished while working with their Mentor over the course of the program. A closing picnic for all hosted by IEA staff members follows.
  • Academy families are encouraged to speak with staff before or after classes. We are starting Academy Family Nights, where families have the opportunity to connect and build community. We are also using parent feedback to create new classes – parents asked for a young girls’ book club, so we are going to start one this winter.
  • Parents of Caroline D. Bradley Scholars attend the annual Bradley Seminar, a weekend of community and learning.
  • All of our programs solicit feedback from students and their parents. Information gleaned in these evaluations has assisted us in honing our services to better meet the changing needs of our constituency.
  • IEA staff members frequently speak with parents regarding their individual child, even if that family has not participated in one of our offerings.

But are we doing enough? Probably not.

We try to be an open resource for parents looking for support for their gifted child. We offer consulting services. We host several parent support groups throughout the year to provide support, community, and information on topics of interest to parents of gifted children. We have asked Stephanie Tolan, a Senior Fellow, to speak about her experience parenting a gifted child. We have an active social media presence – here on our blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook – all of which provide an open forum for discussion and questions.

Yet children and their parents still go unheard in the gifted community.

We want to learn, we want to help, we want each parent to feel heard and hopefully helped.

Parents of gifted children often contribute to this blog to offer parent perspectives on raising gifted children. A parent of one of our program participants is currently helping with our strategic planning. We ask for parent input, and we take it seriously.

At IEA, we do advocate for gifted children in a way similar to what Lisa describes in the article, but we do our best to bring parent feedback into it. We often provide educators and other organizations with tools to serve gifted children. We do involve parents in our organization, and we believe we are supporting their needs. Our table maybe small, but it is well built.

Please know that you can always come to IEA for support, guidance, information, and resources. We want you to have a seat at the table. We can always build a bigger table.

As an organization that dedicates itself to connecting bright minds and nurturing intellectual and personal growth, we know that parents of these bright minds are integral in this process. Please take a seat at our table.

Do you feel that parents have a seat at the table in the gifted community? Please share with us in the comment section below.

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