Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude

By Jennifer Kennedy

Jennifer is IEA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. She has been working to spread the word about IEA and the needs of gifted children for the past three years and, in the process, has learned a great deal about herself and the gifted children in her life.

gratitudeAs many of you did, I spent Thanksgiving week thinking a great deal about gratitude. There are a multitude of things for which I am truly grateful – my family, friends, my wonderful job, and the comfort in which I am able to live – but they seem to fall into the category of Thanksgiving clichés. This, of course, does not render my objects of gratitude unimportant, but after decades of pondering thankfulness, my story hasn’t changed much. This year, though, I began thinking about gratitude a little differently.

The day before Thanksgiving, I took a yoga class. When the session had ended, the teacher encouraged us to think about things we were grateful for within ourselves. My mind quickly began to reel. I am grateful for my determination and hard work, I thought. I am grateful for the love I show my family and friends. I am grateful for my mind. I am grateful for my commitment to causes I believe in.

This exercise helped me to think about gratitude more deeply. Not only am I grateful for my niece and nephew who bring endless joy and love into my life, but I am grateful for the way my niece clings to me when she is tired or scared or sick – she feels safe with me. I am grateful for the smile on my nephew’s face when I walk into his house, and I even cherish the tears that pool in his eyes when I must leave, because I know he loves me and does not want to watch me go.

Read more of Jennifer’s reflections on gratitude.


IEA Autumn Benefit 2014

On Thursday, November 20, IEA welcomed fifty guests to The Barder House in Pasadena, California, for our Autumn Benefit. The heartwarming sense of community along with an intellectually stimulating lecture created an amazing evening. Thank you to all who joined us. Here are a few of the event highlights.

After an opening reception featuring cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres catered by Matt Roman, attendees enjoyed a guest lecture by IEA parent and friend Dr. Steve Hindle. Dr. Hindle presented a comparative talk on the English and American Civil Wars, making parallels between the takeover of the British monarchy by Oliver Cromwell and the leadership of the confederacy under Jefferson Davis. Most interestingly, Dr. Hindle contrasted the memorialization of these national figures, noting the immense differences in which these notorious historical leaders have been remembered in their respective native lands. As a social and economic historian particularly interested in micro histories, Dr. Hindle was adept at keeping his audience interested and laughing while probing beneath the surface of any layman’s general knowledge of historical events. IEA is grateful to have like-minded individuals like Dr. Hindle, who are eager to promote learning for the sake and love of learning, as members of our community.

IEA President Elizabeth Jones with guest speaker Dr. Steve Hindle and IEA Academy Coordinator Louise Hindle

IEA President Elizabeth Jones (center) with guest speaker Dr. Steve Hindle (left) and IEA Academy Coordinator Louise Hindle (right)

We would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to the volunteers who helped make this evening possible: Dr. Steve Hindle, for his fascinating lecture; CDB Scholar Michelle for her musical performance on flute during the reception; CDB Scholar Jarett and Apprenticeship Alumnus James for their help throughout the event; Matt Roman for the wonderful hors d’oeuvres; and Kevin Malone for the excellent bar service.

IEA program participants volunteered at the event and were a delight to have with us

IEA program participants volunteered at the event and were a delight to have with us

Michelle played flute for guests during the opening reception

Michelle played flute for guests during the opening reception

If you were unable to attend the event but are interested in supporting the social, emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual growth of gifted youth, please consider making a donation to IEA today. Your support will provide opportunities for more bright young minds to flourish and grow.


Thank you again to all of our donors, guests, and volunteers. Your participation in this event has played an integral part in our fundraising efforts for this year to help us continue to provide unique and valuable programs and services to bright young minds. We couldn’t do it without you!

College Expectations and Aspirations: From the Mouths of Gifted Students

By Min-Ling Li

Min-Ling is a Program Coordinator at IEA and works most closely with our high school Apprenticeship Program, through which she meets and interacts with many gifted high school students. Before coming to IEA, she was a high school mathematics teacher.

ElonGoing off to college is probably one of my best and most anxious memories. At that point in time, it seemed that all of my prior education was in preparation for this milestone. As a first-generation college student, the plethora of tasks to complete for college applications was overwhelming. I recall that my mom, who completed 6th grade in China before immediately beginning to work, advised me that I had completed all the hard work and all that was left was to communicate my story to people whose actions and opinions we had no control over. My dad, who graduated with a Master’s Degree from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, simply gave me a stern look, smile and nod of encouragement when the subject of college was spoken of. Needless to note, “vini, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), and tada!

That was 10 years ago, and I was curious about how students in our IEA community view higher education now. I have the privilege of working with highly gifted and mature youngsters, and with their help I compiled some of their thoughts, expectations, anxieties, and aspirations about higher education. By sharing this data, I hope to provide information and comfort, tell their stories and compel higher education and the world to prepare for this creative, curious and free-natured group of young adults. I asked students ages 13 through 18 amongst our community of Caroline D. Bradley Scholars, Apprentices and Yunasa Emerging Leaders and Counselors in Training about their outlook on higher education. The data from the 40 respondents is featured below. Thank you to all those who contributed!


When asked, “In what ways do you hope learning as a young adult will be different from high school?”, 80% of students used the words “free,” “freedom” and “autonomy”:

  • “I hope that there will be more freedom involved. I like to believe that I am a very independent and intellectually bold thinker, and I know that I apply myself better to long-term projects than busy work. So, I hope that there will be less busy work and more projects/papers to engage with.”
  • 82% of students responded similarly to this student, yearning for greater depth and relation to solving problems that affect the world: “I hope that as a young adult I will be able to learn more about the things that matter to me. In high school we often talk about topics that do not interest me, or we talk about topics too shallowly. I hope to be able to learn with greater understanding and purpose.”
  • Students also expressed a need to learn based on their pace: “I hope to have more freedom to choose what I learn and to be able to make my own choices regarding the course material and pace as opposed to having to follow strict guidelines.”

See more of the results from Min-Ling’s survey!

“Parent Etiquette” During the High School and College Application Process

By Bonnie Raskin

Bonnie is the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship Program Coordinator at IEA. She has extensive experience working with gifted students and supporting them through the high school and college application process.

Applying to high schools and colleges

In an attempt to be supportive and helpful, many parents are too involved in their child’s application process, doing much of the work themselves.

As the program coordinator for the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, I have been fortunate to get to know, work with and be guided by the experiences and expertise of independent school, college and university admissions deans and directors throughout the United States. This blog is a composite of what I have learned from dialoguing with them.

Last April, a few weeks after sending the acceptance and rejection letters to college applicants, a dean of admissions at one of America’s most selective universities told me the following story:

“Two days after we announced our incoming freshman class, I received a reply from an applicant’s father. It was curt and written on his corporate letterhead: ‘You rejected my son, he’s devastated. See you in court.’ The very next day, I received another letter, but this time from the man’s son. It read: ‘Thank you for not admitting me. This is the best day of my life.’”

All threats aside, receiving a letter like this never warms the hearts of anyone in admissions. It is the consensus of admissions professionals from preschool through college that more and more, today’s parents are getting too involved in their child’s school admissions process – and not merely at the college level. High school and middle school admissions staff have expressed horror stories about parental actions and involvement so completely out of hand that it seems impossible and implausible for otherwise rational people to behave in such off-putting ways. And this behavior never serves the applicant in obtaining the desired positive outcome.

The increasingly bad “parent etiquette” that admissions officers are seeing right now comes from a confluence of several characteristics of our boomer generation: our sense of entitlement, our suspicion of authority and our bad habit of sometimes living too vicariously through our children. It all adds up to some pretty ugly parental behavior often played out in front of our children. A college admissions dean told me, “Today, parents call the admissions office more than the student applicants, often faxing us daily updates on their children’s lives or asking us to return an application already in process so the parent can double-check his/her child’s spelling.” A high school admissions counselor noted a parent who asked whether they should use their official letterhead when writing a letter of recommendation for their own child. It’s not unusual to know parents who openly write their kids’ essays and even attempt to attend their interviews. They make excuses for less than stellar grades or tout athletic promise as “Olympic team potential.”

Read Bonnie’s tips for being supportive and helpful, not over-involved, during the application process.

Turning to Pen and Paper

By Zadra Rose Ibañez

Journaling for stress reliefOne of the questions we routinely ask applicants during an interview for a position with IEA is: “How do you deal with stress?”

If one were to ask me that, I would have several answers—take deep breaths, go for a walk, or listen to music, for example—but the answer that would describe the tactic that is first and most effective for me would be, “Journal about the situation.”

My good friend’s father is a very wise, very prominent businessman. One piece of advice I will always remember from him is, “If you are mad, write a letter. Don’t mail it. Put it in your desk drawer and sleep on it. If you are still mad the next day, then you can mail it, but usually by then, you won’t want to.”

Writing things down is a way to get situations and feelings out and to express them, to see them in a new light. The very act of writing is cathartic. In an article in the New York Times, Mary Gordon says:

Writing by hand is laborious, and that is why typewriters were invented. But I believe that the labor has virtue, because of its very physicality. For one thing it involves flesh, blood and the thingness of pen and paper, those anchors that remind us that, however thoroughly we lose ourselves in the vortex of our invention, we inhabit a corporeal world.

There are many ways to journal; travel-writing, write on a topic, describe yesterday, scribble thoughts of your future goals, aspirations, hopes and fears. One of the most effective ways for me to journal is free-writing. One example of this is the Morning Pages, made popular by Julia Cameron in her seminal book, The Artist’s Way (1992). In it, she says, “Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly steam-of-consciousness: ‘Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah-blah-blah…’”

Cameron assures us, “There is no wrong way to do morning pages. These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing. I stress that point to reassure the nonwriters…Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”

One key to getting the most out of Morning Pages is that they do not need to “sound smart”, and they are not meant to be read. By anyone. Including you. You shouldn’t read them yourself for at least two months, if ever. The point is to get the thoughts out, not to analyze them.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a writer or a carpenter, there is something useful in journaling. As Brenda Ueland said, “writing is talking, thinking, on paper. And the more impulsive and immediate the writing the closer it is to the thinking, which it should be….It has shown me more and more what I am – what to discard in myself and what to respect and love” (If You Want to Write, 1938).

So, as a method of meditation or stress-management or introspection, I invite you to write. As Julia says, “Just write three pages, and stick them into an envelope. Or write three pages in a spiral notebook and don’t leaf back through. Just write three pages…and write three more pages the next day.” And please, let me know as it helps you create peace in your day.

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blog_hop_nov14_gifted_self_careThis post is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page November Blog Hop on Gifted Self-Care. Check out all of the other great blogs participating in Hoagies’ November Blog Hop!

Three Days of Celebration, Many Ways to Celebrate

By Zadra Rose Ibañez

Many of us think of October 31 as Halloween, but the period from October 31 to November 2 is celebrated in many different ways around the world.

Many of us think of October 31 as Halloween, prominently featuring costumes and candy, but the period from October 31 to November 2 is also celebrated in many other ways around the world and in different cultures.

All over the world, the upcoming three-day window of time from October 31 – November 2 is celebrated in many different ways by different cultures.

Samhein is a Celtic Festival that happens at sunset on October 31 and continues through November 1. The holiday signaled the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter and was a time for introspection. For this reason, many considered it to be the Celtic New Year.

This was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. Bonfires, thought to have protective and cleansing powers, were lit and celebrations occurred around them. Samhein was seen as the time when “the veil” between our world and the spirit world was thinnest and most easily crossed by pagan gods and nature spirits. It was thought that the souls if the dead would visit their homes during this time. These souls of the dead relatives were called to feasts and a place was set at the table for them.

“Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the spirits.” (Hutton)

Mumming and guising can clearly be seen in the tradition of Halloween. “All Hallows’ Evening” is the day before the Christian holiday of All Hallows’ Day or All Saints Day. All Saints Day is “a time for remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs and all the faithful departed.” (Davis) Halloween is often celebrated with dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, attending parties, decorating pumpkins as jack-o’-lanterns, eating candy and watching scary movies or visiting haunted houses.

All Saints Day, also known as All Souls Day, is celebrated in some countries as the Day of the Dead or, Dia de los Muertos. Many of the same customs and traditions from Samhein can be seen in Dia de los Muertos, such as laying out a feast for the departed. In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a bank holiday. Those celebrating the holiday build ofrendas, or private altars with foods, sugar skulls, marigolds and possessions to honor the deceased. This holiday can be traced back to the time of the Aztecs.

Similar celebrations, though at different times of the year, can also be found in China with the Ghost Festival and Japan with the Bon Festival.

Personally, I spend this time period thinking of the past year and planning for the future. It is a combination of Thanksgiving – gratitude for all that I have been given, recognition of all that I have accomplished and appreciation for all that I have shared – and New Year’s. What do I want the next few years of my life to be like? What values, goals and responsibilities do I want to grow into? Who do I want to spend my time with in the next few years and what difference will I choose to make in the coming year?

However you choose to spend this coming weekend, know that you are not alone in your tradition and that people all over the world are celebrating with you!


O’Driscoll, Robert (ed.) (1981) The Celtic Consciousness. New York, Braziller ISBN 0-8076-1136-0, pp.197–216: Ross, Anne “Material Culture, Myth and Folk Memory”; pp.217–242: Danaher, Kevin “Irish Folk Tradition and the Celtic Calendar”

Hutton, Ronald (1996) Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford, Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-288045-4, p. 363.

Davis, Kenneth. Don’t Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned, HarperCollins, page 231.

Is Grit More Important Than Intelligence?: How to Make Sure Our Children Have Both

By Mark Erlandson

Mark Erlandson, the parent of a gifted student who presently attends a boarding school out East, is a former lawyer and public high school English teacher from Wisconsin starting a new business as a legal writing consultant.

Grit versus intelligenceGrit. I’ll admit I didn’t have it. Twice now I have put this blog down and stopped writing because I felt uninspired and bored. Weeks have gone by, and too many times to count I have ignored that voice telling me the deadline was approaching and I needed to get finished. So how essential is grit to success, and more importantly, how do we teach our children to get it?

“Grit,” otherwise known as persistence or determination, is currently a passion (some would call it a fad) in certain educational circles today. Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, is a leading advocate of the importance of tenacity in life. Watch her TED Talk here for a fascinating explanation of the results of her research in the area. Basically, she concludes, based, among other things, on her research of West Point graduates and National Spelling Bee contestants, that what correlates with success most is grit, not intelligence. Similarly, in the area of gifted students, the most famous study, conducted by University of Connecticut psychologist Joseph Renzuli, director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, concluded that “task commitment,” together with ability and creativity, was, indeed, one of the three essential components of giftedness.

Read more about grit and intelligence!