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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


UH professor wins prestigious award

The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented awarded UH professor and Director of the Urban-Talent Research Institute Richard Olenchak with its 2009 Legacy Book Award.

Olenchak co-authored the book Social-Emotional Curriculum with Gifted and Talented Students with Joyce VanTassel-Baska and Tracy L. Cross. The book is a guide to providing ways to help gifted children in the classroom.

‘This book combines research and experience from leading scholars in the field of the effective needs of gifted students in a convenient guide for teachers, school leaders, education program directors, psychologists, and researchers,’ Olenchak said.

Olenchak also said that the book touches on theories to guide effective curricula, the needs of minority students, models to develop social-emotional curricula, tips for counseling gifted students, and strategies to promote the social-emotional needs of gifted students.

‘This handy guide to developing social-emotional curricula for gifted students is a necessity for anyone serving and working with this population, as well as for those involved in research about improving schools,’ Olenchak said.

Although he was happy his work garnered national attention, Olenchak said he didn’t expect the book to receive such a profound reception.

‘I was completely surprised that the book won an award,’ Olenchak said. ‘It spurs me on to persist in the dozen or so research studies that the Urban-Talent Research Institute here at UH continues to shepherd not only in Texas, but in several locations in the USA and also internationally.”

Olenchak said helping others complete their work and how teachers treat students is the philosophical foundation of UH President Renu Khator’s flagship status initiative for UH.

‘When a university refuses to accept anything but the best from students and faculty by ensuring that the resources and other supports necessary for such achievements are in place, then it is more than likely that such a university will itself achieve its best work overall,’ Olenchak said.

Dean of the College of Education Robert Wimpelberg said professor Olenchak’s award achieves the ‘progress card’ award the Board of Regents has adopted to mark the movement toward flagship status.’ One of the categories on that card is ‘recognition’ -local, state, national and international.

‘Dr. Olenchak’s award will add to the University’s state recognition,’ Wimpelberg said. ‘In addition, it elevates him in the state and national arenas related to the education of gifted and talented children and youth.”

David Estlund, of the marketing and communications department at TAGT, said the association is an organization of educators and parents dedicated to meeting the unique needs of gifted and talented students.

‘ ‘TAGT promotes the awareness of the unique social, emotional and intellectual needs of gifted and talented students in an effort to ensure that they are provided appropriate educational services,’ Estlund said.

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