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.
Norma Lu Hafenstein
- Director, Ricks Center for Gifted Children
- Director, The Institute for the Development of Gifted Education
- Professor, Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver
- B.S., Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Piano Performance, Emporia State University
- M.S., Special Education, Gifted and Talented, Emotionally Disturbed, Kansas State University
- Ph.D., School Administration, Gifted and Talented Education, Speech Communication, University of Denver
Norma is the Founder and Director of Ricks Center for Gifted Children. In 1984, during her graduate work, Norma founded the University Center for Gifted Young Children, which subsequently became Ricks Center for Gifted Children. She has presented at over 150 state, regional, national, and international conferences on gifted education and educational research. Her research in the areas of Primary and Early Childhood Curriculum for gifted children has been published in Roeper Review and Gifted Child Quarterly, and she has contributed a chapter, "Young Children," to the book Smarter Kids: At Home and School. In 1998, she established The Institute for the Development of Gifted Education through a grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. The Institute conducts and publishes research, publishes curriculum units and educational monographs and organizes outreach programs to augment resources available for educating young gifted children. Her duties as an Assistant Professor with the University's Morgridge College of Education include serving on the Dean's Council, advising Master's and Doctoral degree students in Education of the Gifted, and teaching graduate courses in gifted education resulting in a Graduate Academic Certificate for Gifted Education Specialists leading to a state endorsement in gifted education. In 2004, Norma received the Founders Day Award for Distinguished Service to the University in honor of her commitment and tireless work on behalf of gifted children and in 2006 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Gifted and Talented Association.