Episode 57: Nurturing Giftedness and Overexcitabilities in the Classroom

Chris Wells and Emma Nicholson with guest Summer Cowick

Release date: April 30, 2024

In episode 57, Chris and Emma talked with Summer Cowick, an educator with over 15 years of classroom experience specializing in gifted education in Kansas City. Through her coaching organization, Brilliant And Then Some, Summer strives to empower gifted and talented children and their families, guiding them through individual circumstances to unlock their full potential and achieve lasting happiness.

For educators and parents, this episode offers practical insights and strategies for supporting overexcitable and gifted students. This is the first time we explicitly address the issue of overexcitability in the classroom. We discussed the impact of Dabrowski’s theory in educational settings, and how understanding overexcitabilities can transform teaching and learning experiences.

Our discussion covered a wide range of topics, from applying Dabrowski's theory in the classroom to understanding giftedness beyond the stereotypical traits and the crucial role authenticity plays in education. Summer shared some challenges and strategies for recognizing and nurturing giftedness in students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds. We talk about the crucial role of authenticity for both students and teachers, including how it influences educational outcomes and personal development.

We all shared personal anecdotes about giftedness and overexcitabilities at school. We hope this conversation will help illuminate the complexities of navigating education, including the challenges of sensory overloads, and maintaining personal autonomy and authenticity in overwhelming environments.

Summer’s experiences and insights remind us of the power of understanding and leveraging psychological theories like Dabrowski’s to enhance educational practices and support students’ unique needs. Whether you are a teacher, parent, or someone interested in the psychology of education, this episode provides valuable perspectives on making education a more inclusive and transformative experience.

Make sure you listen to the end so you can enjoy our hilarious outtakes!

Bio: A St. Louis native, Summer Cowick is an educator with over 15 years in the classroom, over half of that  time specifically working with gifted students in Fort Bragg, North Carolina and the Kansas City Metropolitan area. With a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from University of Central Missouri and a Master’s degree in Gifted Education, from Emporia State University, she has worked, exclusively in low-income and Title 1 schools serving students in suburban and urban settings.  Her expertise lies in the areas of identification-particularly of underrepresented populations such as Hispanic and African-American students– and Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration. As an educator she sees areas in need of support of high achievers, their needs and how to meet them, Summer focuses on quick and simple take-aways by giving information that can be applied immediately to everyday teaching strategies and philosophies in all settings.  

Resources from this episode

Brilliant and Then Some (Summer’s website)

2024 Dabrowski Congress info page. Summer’s session is “The Real Deal—OEs in the Classroom.” Click here to register.

“Mellow Out,” They say. If I Only Could: Intensities and Sensitivities of the Young and Bright” by Michael M. Piechowski

Living with Intensity by Susan Daniels and Michael M. Piechowski (Eds.)

Sneaky Stimming video by Emma

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