Ricks Center faculty members are extraordinarily creative, passionate and gifted themselves. Ricks Center recruits and hires teachers who are certified professionals with special training, experience, or advanced degrees in gifted education. Many faculty members from the Early Childhood to the Upper School level hold advanced degrees in education or specialized content areas. Ricks Center employs content specialists in areas such as art, drama, foreign language, music, physical education, science and technology. Faculty members are active in both regional and national organizations for gifted education. They present at local, national, and international conferences and have received numerous awards for excellence in the field of gifted education, such as the National Association for Gifted Children Curriculum Studies Award for Outstanding Curriculum.
- Average of 14 years of teaching experience
- 72% hold or are pursuing master or doctoral degrees
- Over 25% are licensed as teachers of gifted education
In order to meet the needs of gifted students, the faculty and staff must understand the intellectual, social, and emotional needs of gifted children. Professional development and training are key elements in the successful fulfillment of the school's mission. Teachers understand the purpose and importance of using innovative, targeted approaches with learners. They are easily able to discuss and advocate for the varied learning needs of gifted students. These educators are firmly committed and dedicated to the school's philosophy and have a finely tuned understanding of the needs of gifted students.
Established in 2001 through a $1 million endowment gift, The Considine Excellence in Teaching Award is given to a teacher at Ricks who has shown exceptional performance, a commitment to Ricks Center, both in the past and future, and who has demonstrated a "how to think, not what to think" philosophy with students by engaging students in intellectual pursuits and who has demonstrated a capacity to learn and implement new knowledge. Considine awards have been used to gather and implement units related to Egypt, South America, and Alaska, as well as to develop the atelier model in Early Childhood.
About the Interim Director: Diana Howard, PhD
Beginning in January 2014, Dr. Diana Howard will assume the role of Interim Director for Ricks Center for Gifted Children. Dr. Howard earned her Master's degree in Library Science from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in Gifted Education and Administration from the University of Denver, where she worked during the early years of the Ricks Center.
Dr. Howard was a Fulbright scholar in Ghana and has served as a librarian and facilitator for advanced learners in private and public schools. Upon completing her doctorate, she accepted roles in opening and/or leading innovative schools: Challenge K-8 in Cherry Creek, Douglass Elementary in Boulder, Polaris at Ebert in Denver (NE Highly Gifted site), and Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy K-12 in SW Denver.
In addition to her extensive leadership experience, she has written and received many grants to benefit students, including two from the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts.
Dr. Howard has received numerous honors, including being recognized as the outstanding Elementary Principal for the State of Colorado with the Wright Way Award (2004), Colorado Art Education Association's Award for Distinguished Leadership in the Arts (2009) and the Gully Stanford Award for Arts Leadership (2011).
She currently teaches several college courses and lectures on Arts in Education, Young Gifted Children, Girls and Mathematics, Children's Literature and Curriculum Integration. Dr. Howard serves on the Boards of VSA/Access Gallery (serving youth with disabilities) and The Globeville Community Center, has written a blog for the Denver Art Museum's Creativity Resource website for teachers, and assisted with launching El Sistema Colorado at Garden Place Academy (an instrumental program for children living in poverty).