NAGC Convention Recap – Attendance Record Set

I want to share with you what an amazing, important week I had in mid-November. I’ve been highly involved in the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) Convention and Exhibition, which was held Nov. 15-18 at the Colorado Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency hotel, both in downtown Denver.

The convention went extraordinarily well.  From one event to the next, it all was amazing! This was the 59th annual NAGC conference, and Denver broke the record for biggest attendance ever. The exact numbers haven’t been tallied yet, but we know it was over 3,100. The previous highest attendance was 3,000 in Minneapolis. Every state was represented at this year’s NAGC Convention, along with people from 10 countries. The home state always has the biggest contingent but it was surprising to all organizers that about 1,200 people were from Colorado. That’s massive!

I’ve been on the state planning committee this year as we prepared to host the NAGC Convention in Colorado. I’ve been at frequent planning committee meetings, and was on monthly calls with the NAGC folks in Washington D.C. to get many details organized.

Since I’m the co-chair of the state affiliate outreach for the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented (CAGT), I was in frequent communication with all the state affiliates informing them of updates and information about the upcoming convention so they could spread news throughout their local communities about the many opportunities offered at the NAGC Convention for teachers, administrations, parents – everyone interested in gifted.

In addition to the 3,100 at the 4-day NAGC Convention, 270 parents came to the single day Parent Day (put on by CAGT) and a Leadership Event drew 140 administrators, superintendents and school leaders.

I was excited when I was told that Boulder had more parents attend Parent Day than any other district. Plus, the principal from the high school where I work, Don Stensrud at Fairview, and the Superintendent from Boulder Valley School District, Dr. Bruce Messinger, were both at the Leadership event. Strong attendance by Boulderites at these events and sessions show again that the Boulder community has a keen interest in, and values, gifted education.

I contacted the Education Specialist at the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, Amy Bounds, to share information about the conference.  Amy wrote a nice article – maybe that helped boost Parent Day attendance. Read it here.

We also publicized the NAGC Convention and Parent Day often in the local gifted advocacy group where I’m president – Boulder Valley Gifted and Talented. It was all over our BVGT web site, in our emails, and talked about at our local events for months.

One NAGC Convention week highlight for me came at the end. For months I pushed NAGC to consider getting Jonathan Mooney to be a keynote speaker. I had gotten Mooney to speak at a BVGT event in Boulder last spring (where he wowed the crowd with his ideas of rethinking education) and knew he’d be tremendous for the national event.

Mooney was booked as the closing keynote. He spoke passionately about celebrating cognitive diversity, and reframing education. He was amazing! He got a rousing standing ovation. People stood in line for 90 minutes afterward to buy his books, meet him and get his autograph. The only downside was that since it was the keynote on the final morning, many people had already left the convention to catch flights and missed Mooney speak. But those who stayed left inspired! Bonus: Mooney gave “his Boulder friends” a shout-out at the end of his presentation!

It’s been 10 years since Denver hosted the NAGC Convention. Second time around was even better than the first (no snow storm this year!) It was in New Orleans in 2011 and will be in Indianapolis in 2013. Thank you to everyone who attended, worked or performed at the NAGC Convention and Parent Day. See you in Indiana next year!


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