Facebook Pixel The Berta Seminar | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content

The Berta Seminar



The social and emotional development of children who are gifted and talented is just as important as their cognitive development, but oftentimes the parents and educators of gifted children lack the resources to address the issues these young people face. The Center for Gifted Studies offers the Berta Seminar to empower parents and educators with tools needed to better meet the social and emotional needs of these students. 

In late 2001, Bowling Green residents Vince and Kathleen Berta made a generous donation to The Center for Gifted Studies to establish The Berta Fund for Excellence (see sidebar). From this gift, in 2004 The Center established the Berta Seminars, where nationally- and internationally-known experts provide evening sessions to parents of gifted children and daylong professional learning to educators and other interested parties to learn how to better address the social and emotional needs of gifted young people in and out of the classroom.

All events are free to participants. Although sessions are designated as being targeted toward either parents or educators, all are welcome at both sessions. EILA credit is typically available for those needing it.

The 2020 Berta Seminar was presented online October 16 by Dr. Thomas Hébert. To receive information about the 2021 seminar, click the button above.


Online Resources for the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted and Talented Youth

(click on name to link to webpage)

Nurturing Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children, a position statement published by The National Association for Gifted Children 

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page: The all-things-gifted page.

SENG: SENG’s mission is to empower families and communities to guide gifted and talented individuals to reach their goals: intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Davidson Institute: Our mission is to recognize, nurture and support profoundly intelligent young people and to provide opportunities for them to develop their talents to make a positive difference.

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): CASEL defined social and emotional learning more than two decades ago. Today, it collaborates with leading experts and support districts, schools, and states nationwide to drive research, guide practice, and inform policy.


Ideas and Information from Past Berta Seminars


Speaker: Dr. Thomas Hébert

Parent/Educator Session: Supporting the Emotional Well-Being of Gifted Students in Complex Times

Read his 2011 Legacy Award-winning book  Understanding the Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Students (Prufrock Press, 2010)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Supporting the Emotional Well-Being of Gifted Students in Complex Times" (Challenge 50) 



Speaker: Dr. Sylvia Rimm

Read her book Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades -- And What You Can Do About It  (Great Potential Press, 2008)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge:  "Solving the Mysterious Underachievement Problem" (Challenge 48)



Speaker: Lisa Van Gemert

Parent/Educator Session: Identifying and Addressing the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted Students

Highlights: Lisa recommended several books on perfectionism:

  • Letting Go of Perfect: Overcoming Perfectionism in Kids and Teens by Jill Adelson Ph.D. and Hope WIlson Ph.D. 
  • Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Jeannette Dewyze and Allan E. Mallinger
  • What to Do When Good Enough Isn't Good Enough: The Real Deal on Perfectionism: A Guide for Kids by Thomas S. Greenspon Ph.D.
  • Freeing Our Families From Perfectionism by Thomas S. Greenspon. Ph.D. 

Read her book Perfectionism: A Practical Guide to Managing “Never Good Enough  (Great Potential Press, 2017).

Visit her website, giftedguru.com.

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Berta Seminar Speaker Shares Practical Tips on Emotionally Empowering Gifted Students" (Challenge 46)



Speaker: Dr. Steven Pfeiffer

Parent Session: The Wellbeing of Gifted Students

Educator Session: Strengths of the Heart: Building Positive Psychological Functioning and Wellbeing of Gifted Students


There are seven signature character strengths for predicting success in later life for gifted children:

  • humility
  • persistence/self-discipline
  • empathy
  • kindness/compassion
  • gratitude,
  • enthusiasm
  • team work

Three key ideas to maintain balance for your gifted child:

  • resist the temptation to focus on your child’s gifts at the expense of his/her other developmental experiences
  • normalize your child’s experience
  • set and enforce limits.

Read his book The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know?  (Prufrock, 2002)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Balancing Head and Heart Strengths Necessary for Success" (Challenge 41)



Speaker: Dr. Ed Amend

Parent Session: The Social and Emotional Aspects of Growing Up Gifted

Educator Session: Addressing the Affective Needs of Gifted Learners


"One of the big things is to get kids to stretch themselves and attempt things that they may not think they can accomplish. That does not mean pushing them to the point of exhaustion or anything like that, but it means giving them the opportunity to stretch in an engaging, challenging curriculum so that they can continue to learn rather than doing the same things over and over again."

Read his book  A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children (Great Potential Press, 2007)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Exploring Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted Children" (Challenge 38)



Speaker: Dr. Sylvia Rimm

Parent Session: Understanding the Social Emotional Issues that Lead to Gifted Achievement

Educator Session: Understanding the Social Emotional Issues that Lead to Gifted Achievement


Rimm’s Laws of Achievement:

  1. Children are more likely to be achievers if their parents join together to give the same clear and positive message about school effort and expectations.
  2. Children can learn appropriate behaviors more easily if they have models to imitate.
  3. Communication about a child between adults (referential speaking) within the child’s hearing dramatically affects children’s behaviors and self-perception.
  4. Overreaction by parents to children’s successes and failures leads them to feel either intense pressure to succeed or despair and discouragement in dealing with failure.
  5. Children feel more tension when they are worrying about their work than when they are doing that work.
  6. Children develop self-confidence through struggle.
  7. Deprivation and excess frequently exhibit the same symptoms.
  8. Children develop confidence and an internal sense of control if power is given to them in gradually increasing increments as they show maturity and responsibility.
  9. Children become oppositional if one adult allies with them against a parent or a teacher, making them more powerful than the adult.
  10. Adults should avoid confrontations with children unless they are sure they can control the outcomes.
  11. Children will become achievers only if they learn to function in competition.
  12. Children will continue to achieve if they usually see the relationship between the learning process and its outcomes.

Read her book How to Parent So Children Will Learn (Great Potential Press, 1989)

Link to article  on this seminar in The Challenge: "Achievement the Focus of 2014 Berta Seminar" (Challenge 34)



Speaker:  Dr. Tracy Cross

Parent/Educator Session: Maximizing Outcomes for Twice-Exceptional Children: What Educators and Parents Need to Understand and Be Able To Do


Recommendations for parents and educators of gifted students who need social and emotional support to accompany an appropriately challenging learning environment:

  • Kids are kids first and gifted second.
  • Don’t treat your children as their gift.
  • Make sure they have time to spend together with other gifted kids.
  • Consider some sort of residential option for the child in the summer, if not year round, but it really helps gifted kids not feel so different from the general population.
  • If you have the opportunity to spend some time at your child’s school, do. Get a sense of the social venue to see if it is intellectually supportive or not.
  • Encourage your kid to do things other than academics, but don’t discourage them from doing things they have passions for. Letting them pursue their passions can be very helpful.

Read his book Handbook for Counselors Serving Students with Gifts and Talents (Prufrock Press, 2011)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Berta Workshop Shines Light on Social and Emotional Needs" (Challenge 30) 



Speaker: Dr. Thomas Hébert

Parent Session: Parents Celebrating the Social and Emotional Lives of Their Gifted Children

Educator Session: Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students


"When considering what is important in friendship formation for gifted young people, educators, counselors, and parents need to realize that bringing together intelligent children who share the same interests will enable them to develop relationships with others who appreciate their passions.”

Read his 2011 Legacy Award-winning book Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students (Prufrock Press, 2010)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Berta Seminar Focuses on Social-Emotional Needs of Gifted Young People" (Challenge 28) 



Speaker: Dr. Jean Peterson

Parent Session: Giftedness as Both Asset and Burden: A Parent’s Perspective

Educator Session: Giftedness as Both Asset and Burden: An Educator’s Perspective


Behaviors parents should exhibit with gifted children to encourage growth and autonomy:

  • Giving Permission (to play, be imperfect, take risks)
  • Focus on Strengths (“You’re a good problem solver; I know you’ll find the answer”)
  • Avoid Self Disclosure (focus on listening instead of sharing what it was like for you growing up)
  • Express Optimism (“You’re stronger than you think”)
  • Process (“What was that like for you?”)

Read her book  Gifted at Risk: Poetic Profiles and The Essential Guide to Talking with Gifted Teens (Free Spirit Publishing 2007)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Is It a Burden or an Asset To Be Gifted?" (Challenge 26) 



Speaker:  Dr. Virginia H. Burney and Dr. Kristie Speirs Neumeister

Parent Session: Social and Emotional Characteristics and Issues of High Ability Children

Educator Session: Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted in School


"High ability students are likely to be more sensitive to their environment, causing social and emotional issues related to school."

Read their book  Gifted Program Evaluation: A Handbook for Administrators and Coordinators

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Addressing the Emotional Needs of the Gifted at School" (Challenge 24) 



Speaker:  Dr. Bonnie Cramond

Parent Session: Creativity: Glorious Gift or Awful Affliction?

Educator Session: Infusing Creativity and Critical Thinking into the Content


“When we touch on people’s creativity, we enable them to really be engaged in the world in whatever they’re doing. Our creativity is our individuality. It is our essence …  So as we teach our children to think creatively and to be innovative and resourceful, we prepare them to meet whatever challenges they have. What three key things could teachers do to really make a difference in nurturing creativity in their students?

  • Provide a psychologically safe environment in their classrooms ... If students come up with an idea and it fails, it’s not the end of the world. People won’t make fun of them.
  • Help students find their strengths, find their passion -- what they really love to do.
  • Listen and see things from the student’s point of view.

If you’re really providing a safe place and you’re enabling kids to find things they love and you’re listening to them, then you will enable people to develop in all areas."

Read her chapter on "Cultivating Creative Thinking" in Methods and
Materials for Teaching the Gifted (Prufrock Press 2014)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Creativity 101" (Challenge 22)



Speaker:  Dr. George Betts

Parent Session: Learning to Fly: The Facilitation of Our Gifted at Home

Educator Session:  Autonomous Learner Model for Teaching and Learning


Gifted young people tend to fall into one of six profiles:

  • The Successful (who know how to play the learning game yet lose their creativity in doing so)
  • The Challenging (who are frustrated with the system and are unaccepted by teachers),
  • The Underground (who would rather belong socially so they underplay their talents)
  • The At-Risk Learner (who is resentful and angry)
  • The Twice-Exceptional (whose weaknesses are the focus instead of the strengths)
  • Life-Long or Autonomous (who
    • has a positive self-concept/esteem
    • is accepting of others
    • is perceptive and understanding
    • interacts effectively
    • has problem-finding & problem-solving abilities
    • is creative & independent
    • discovers & develops passions
    • wants to impact the world in a positive way
    • sees learning as a life-long journey)

Read his book  Autonomous Learner Model Resource Book (Prufrock, 2016)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Berta Excellence in Education Series Brings Dr. George Betts to WKU" (Challenge 20)



Speaker:  Dr. Del Siegle

Parent Session: Understanding and Talking with Your Children about Their Giftedness

Educator Session: Understanding Motivation and Gifted Children Who Underachieve


When gifted young people are performance-oriented, every difficult task is a challenge to their giftedness. Some refuse to play the game. Underachievement can readily be the result.

“In the largest longitudinal study of underachievers conducted to date, McCall, Evahn, and Kratzer (1992) found that 13 years after high school, the educational and occupational status of high school underachievers paralleled their grades in high school, rather than their abilities.”

Read his book Motivating Gifted Students (Prufrock Press, 2012)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "Del Siegle Understands Motivation and Gifted Students Who Underachieve" (Challenge 18)



Speaker:  Dr. Sylvia Rimm

Parent Session: Underachievement in Gifted Children

Educator Session: Growing Up Too Fast: The Rimm Report on the Secret Lives of America’s Middle Schoolers

Read her book  Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades and What You Can Do about It (Great Potential Press, 2008)

Link to article on this seminar in The Challenge: "The Epidemic of Underachievement" (Challenge 16)



Speaker: Ms. Jill VonGruben

Parent Session: College Countdown: The Parent’s and Student’s Survival Kit for the College Application Process

Educator Session: Strategies to Assist the College-Bound Gifted Student

The advice she gives helps all students reach their college goals. Her mantra? Start early!

Read her book  College Countdown: The Parent’s and Student’s Survival Kit for the College Admissions Process (McGraw-Hill, 1999)

Donor Spotlight

Vince and Kathleen Berta

In 2001, Bowling Green residents Vince and Kathleen Berta made a generous donation to The Center for Gifted Studies to establish The Berta Fund for Excellence. They explain their gift in this way: “It is often said but easily forgotten that the future is our youth. The Center for Gifted Studies provides the gifted youth the training, education, and environment with which to maximize their skills. By establishing the Berta Fund for Excellence in Gifted Studies, we are doing our small part of investing in the future of our youth, Western Kentucky University, and our community.”

The Bertas understand that the social and emotional needs of gifted children often go unaddressed and that meeting those needs requires both parents and teachers. Through the Berta Seminar, The Berta Fund for Excellence brings in experts in the field of education to conduct seminars and presentations designed specifically for parents, counselors, and classroom teachers, as well as teachers in special areas, to learn how to better meet the needs of gifted young people. It is thanks to the generosity of Vince and Kathleen Berta that these events are free and open to the public.

Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 3/18/21