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Celebration of Talent 2019 Presenters

Meet Our Presenters
2019 Celebration of Talent Conference
Saturday, September 28
Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

~ In Alphabetical Order ~


Marcella Appel –  Marcella Appel, M.S. works as a limnologist in West Richland, WA where she lives with her husband and two children. She became involved in gifted advocacy in 2013 after a three-year journey of intensively researching and synthesizing information pertaining to the needs of gifted, twice-exceptional (2e) children. Her gifted research has taken her to both Colorado and California to meet with gifted experts and learn to identify how to best support and advocate for her own 2e children. Armed with knowledge and an enthusiasm for all gifted/2e children, she joined the Northwest Gifted Child Association (NWGCA) Board in 2015 to work with families and parent organizations across the state as their Parent Group Chair. Marcella is passionate about parent groups and the powerful role they have in their community.  She is co-founder of Mid-Columbia 2e (MC 2e), a parent advocacy and support group for families of twice exceptional children. She is also passionate about working with mental health and healthcare providers in Washington State for improved care of gifted/2e children. Marcella is also a trained SENG-Model Parent Group Facilitator. Twice-Exceptional: Recognizing and Supporting Duality


Betty Burley-Wolf – Betty Burley-Wolf, founding director of Pioneer School, a private school for gifted and talented students in the Spokane valley, taught for over 40 years, masters in gifted ed from Whitworth. Betty has 2 grown daughters, one teaching in Hayden, Idaho, and one in graduate school at Univ. of Utah. Her husband Gary is a retired college chemistry teacher.  Making the World More Beautiful


Trisha Chambers – Trisha Chambers is a Spanish teacher at Liberty High School and also teaches upper-level Spanish courses for Eastern Washington University.  She is Liberty's National Honor Society advisor and has also been the Highly Capable coordinator and teacher in her district for the past five years.  In her spare time, Mrs. Chambers loves to participate in her two children's swim club as a USA Swimming Official and also frequently travels with students to Europe and Costa Rica. Create Your Culture


Dr. Emily Cox – Emily Cox, PhD, is a Scientific Writer and a Project Manager for Providence Health & Services. Her role includes writing manuscripts and technical documents, creating graphic illustrations, writing programs in the SAS programming language, and working as a project manager. How to Talk to a Computer


Roger Fisher – Roger Fisher has worked on behalf of gifted children for nearly 30 years as a teacher, staff developer, speaker, and consultant.  He currently serves a Highly Capable Program Coordinator for the Ridgefield School District in SW Washington.  Keynote Sundials in the Shade: Nurturing Potential and Possibility for Children with Gifts and Talents”, “Using Picture Books to Engage Children in Critical Thinking and Creative Production”, and “Nurturing Creativity: Engaging Children With Inquiry”.


Dr. Samantha Gizerian – Dr. Samantha Gizerian is a Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies in the Program in Neuroscience at WSU.  Dr. Gizerian earned a B.S. from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and a Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her current research interests include science communication and program/curriculum development.   Noon Entertainment “Spark Your Interest in Neuroscience” and “Meet Your Brain!


Miranda Leigh Hein – Miranda Leigh Hein earned her undergraduate degrees in Music Education and English from Whitworth University in 2002, and she earned her National Board certification in Adult/Young Adult English Language Arts in 2008.  In 2013, she earned her Masters in Secondary Education with a special focus in Gifted and Talented education. All the while, she has taught throughout the Spokane area in ELA and the performance arts, and she is currently an Education Field Supervisor at Eastern Washington University. Miranda also speaks regularly at conferences as an advocate for arts integration, differentiated instruction, gifted education, and teacher mentorship. Hi Cap in High School


Molly Johnson  –  Molly Johnson has taught in both Indiana and Washington, in a traditional high school, an alternative high school, and at Whitworth University. She has an undergraduate degree in English Education and a master’s degree in Secondary Education with a Gifted Education endorsement. Molly was drawn to the field of gifted education to learn more about helping gifted underachievers and twice exceptional learners. Molly is the mother of two highly capable boys. She is also a trained co-facilitator of the Prodigy Northwest Model Parent Support Group. Problem Solving with Art” and “Just Too Intense??


Jay Lake  – Jay graduated from the University of Denver with degrees covering economics and political science. He has over 30 years of experience in the investment industry, including over 10 years as an Independent Registered Investment Advisor, 5 years with a leading Wall Street Brokerage Firm and 4 years in the legal review department with Oppenheimer Mutual funds Shareholder Services, Inc. Jay has been actively involved in both the American Society of Pension Actuaries and the National Institute of Pension Administrators. He has completed the Advanced Estate Planning course from the College for Financial Planning Master's Degree Program. The True Cost of College


Dr. Jann Leppien  – Dr. Jann Leppien is the Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education and Professor in the Graduate Studies in Education at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA. Whitworth's Center for Gifted Education supports and develops policies and practices that encourage the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups and offers educators a specialty endorsement and master’s degrees in gifted education. Prior to this position, she taught courses at the University of Great Falls in Montana in curriculum and assessment, gifted education, and educational research. 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) at the University of Connecticut, where she obtained a master’s and Ph.D. in gifted education. 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 and numerous articles in designing high quality curriculum for advanced students. She conducts workshops for teachers in the areas of differentiated instruction, curriculum design and assessment, thinking skills, and gifted program development. She has served on the board of the National Association for Gifted Children and currently serves on the Diversity Committee.  She is also a board member of the Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students (AEGUS) and serves on the advisory board of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development located on the campus of Bridges Academy, a school for twice-exceptional students ( She is also President of Edufest, a summer teaching and learning institute in gifted education held in Boise, Idaho ( Her current interest is in assisting schools in designing comprehensive services for highly capable students. The Social and Emotional Development of Giftedness: What Do We Know?


Dr. Lisa Masiello  – Lisa Masiello, PhD, CCRP, RAC is a member of the Prodigy Northwest Board

of Directors and is the Founder of Spokane’s Twice Exceptional Network, a program of Prodigy

Northwest. Lisa’s interest in twice exceptional students comes from personal experience with

her son who has been identified as Highly Capable and also has an Individualized Education

Program (IEP) for a disability. Through advocating for her son, Lisa has developed an interest in

strength-based educational practices to address both giftedness and disability in the same child.

Lisa is passionate about nurturing the strengths and interests of twice exceptional children in

our community and fostering their development toward an independent and fulfilled

adulthood. Professionally, Lisa holds a BS in Chemistry and a PhD in Bioengineering. She has

over 10 years of experience in clinical research administration, is a Certified Clinical Research

Professional, and holds a Regulatory Affairs Certification.  Educator Panel: Successful Strategies for Teaching Twice-Exceptional Students” and “2e Parent Coffee


Katherine Merck  – Katherine is a Spokane native and District 81 alumni. Since graduating from the University of Notre Dame and Gonzaga Law, Katherine has worked as an attorney in Coeur d'Alene and continues to be passionate about providing educational opportunities to our youth.  Motivation and Support: A Student’s Perspective


Dr. Rebecca O'Brien  – Dr. Rebecca L. O’Brien received her Ph.D. with a concentration in Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development. She comes to Whitworth from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette where she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and the Interim Director of Children’s Program for the Center for Gifted Education. Before receiving her doctorate, she taught science, math, and robotics at a middle school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   Capturing and Supporting Creative Thinking in the Classroom


April Payne – April Payne is a life-long educator with twenty-three years of experience, teaching students of all ages in myriad settings. She holds a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Brigham Young University, a master’s in Instructional and Curricular Studies from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and a Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement from Whitworth University. Additionally, she has completed doctoral work in Special Education-Gifted and Talented Education through the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher.  April is currently teaching fifth graders in the gifted Odyssey program in Spokane Public Schools. She has also been happily married for twenty-two years and is the mother of seven children. In her free time, April loves to spend time with family and friends, hike, exercise, travel, read, play the piano, bake, and joyfully relax. Growth Mindset and Giftedness


Rachel Peters –  Rachel Peters is a Library Information Technology Specialist in the Mead School District.  She's taught elementary and middle school students for 23 years. Code Switch: Moving from the Role of Instructor to Constructor


Dr. Kathryn Picanco –  Kathryn Picanco, Ed.D is an associate professor of education at Whitworth University. She is an experienced classroom teacher, district gifted and talented program coordinator, consultant and instructor in the areas of differentiation, gifted education, and inquiry-based instruction. Picanco currently teaches in the teacher preparation programs at Whitworth and directs their Master of Education in Montessori program.   Inquiry, Creativity and a Pinch of Standards: A Recipe for an Invigorating Classroom


Celeste Simone  – Celeste Simone teaches third grade and is doing her principal administrative internship at Prairie View Elementary School right here in Mead. In her spare time she hangs out with her husband and three daughters kayaking, camping, farming, and cooking.   Code Switch: Moving from the Role of Instructor to Constructor


Many thanks for the support Celebration of Talent has received from: