By Lauren Lavelle
With over 20 years of experience in the field of gifted education, professor of graduate education, Donald Ambrose, was honored with the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children’s (NJAGC) Hall of Fame Award on March 22.
“It was a nice surprise,” Ambrose said. “The most gratifying thing was the support that was received from [my colleagues] in the field.”
The NJAGC works statewide to advocate for programs and initiatives that meet the needs and advancements of gifted children, something Ambrose feels is often overlooked.
“The gifted tend to be hidden away,” he said. “Their needs aren’t met as much as the needs of others because they tend to do really well to begin with.”
According to Ambrose, his interest in gifted education was sparked in 1993 while attending graduate school at the University of Oregon. There, his advisor taught a class with a message he still carries with him today.
“I think I had always been interested in creativity and intelligence, but the big factor in pushing me in this direction was my graduate advisor,” Ambrose said. “She ran a class for graduate students [focused on] series of creativity. We had to read a couple hundred pages a week of research articles and then translate them into a drawing or a painting and explain the symbolism in the visual image to her and our peers. It was a ground-breaking experience for all of us and convinced me to go into this field.”
Ambrose joined Rider’s graduate education faculty a few years later to “try out” working in higher education. He planned on traveling to Western Canada to work in the public school system, but his vast array of students at Rider held him back.
“Working with great students has always been a motivator for me,” he said. “I find a lot of highly motivated, intelligent people in these programs. That’s actually the reason I stayed here.”
In addition to his work at Rider and with the NJAGC, Ambrose had several of his works published and edits The Roeper Review, an international research journal about gifted education.
“Anyone who does work on a publication like [The Roeper Review], their visibility is magnified,” he said. “The fact that I’m affiliated with Rider University puts Rider at the forefront of all of these publications.”
Sharon Sherman, dean of the college of education and human services, feels Ambrose is an asset to the Rider community and deserves the honor.
“He has been a gift to his students and colleagues at Rider for over 20 years,” she said. “He has brought national and international acclaim to Rider as a result of his publications, his speeches and, of course, his teaching. When people see Donald Ambrose, they immediately know Rider and that is just wonderful for us.”