NJ Association for Gifted Children

New Jersey Association for Gifted Children

Contests and Awards

2024 Annual Awards

You do not have to be an NJAGC member to make a nomination or to receive an award.
The deadline for submitting nominations is 11:59 PM on December 15, 2023.
For further information, contact awards@njagc.org

Adult Winner

Teacher of the Year

Julia Parada

Julia Parada is a passionate and progressive Special Education teacher and advocate for gifted and twice-exceptional students. Julia has been an educator for neurodivergent learners for over ten years. Since 2014, Julia has used a Growth Mindset, student first language, and multisensory approach to learning. She is inspired by educational leaders making positive changes to our education system such as John Dewey and Carol Dweck. Students are valued, heard, and accepted for their learning differences in her classroom. As a Renzulli-trained teacher of twice-exceptional students, Julia has used student interests to lead the focus for project-based learning opportunities. Julia holds bachelor’s degrees from Rider University in Elementary Education and Psychology with a focus in Special Education. She is currently working on her Masters of Educational Leadership M.A.Ed. at The College of New Jersey.

Adult Winner

Administrator of the Year

Karen Cristalli

Karen Cristalli, M.Ed., is a dedicated educator who leads the K-12 Gifted and Talented program in Harrison, NJ. Currently pursuing her doctorate, Karen focuses on the journey of gifted students post-K-12 education, striving to enhance their transition to higher education in New Jersey. Karen’s expertise extends beyond the classroom. She has conducted numerous professional development workshops and delivered local, state, and national presentations. As the co-president of the Hudson County Gifted and Talented Consortium, Karen plays a pivotal role in shaping gifted education initiatives. She also chairs the Intersectionality of Cognitive and Affective Needs Subcommittee for the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Act Committee.

Distinguished Student

Academics and Leadership (Grades 3-5)

Ria Blunt

Ria picture

Ria Blunt is a dedicated and motivated student passionate about mathematics, programming, and computer hardware. Ria started reading and mastering math at a very early age. She quickly advanced in math and simultaneously became interested in computer hardware and software. When nine years old, Ria became the youngest person in Burlington County, New Jersey, to earn college credits. A self‐directed learner, Ria successfully prepared for and passed the College Algebra CLEP (College‐Level Examination Program), a testament to her exceptional dedication and hard work.

In addition to her achievements in mathematics, Ria is a skilled programmer and is also adept at building hardware components and debugging hardware issues. She has independently created projects involving electrical circuits, microcontrollers, JavaScript, and, most recently, C++. Ria has devoted over 100 hours as a lab assistant at the Evesham Township Elementary after-school coding clubs and the Evesham Library Kids Tech Club. For her service hours, Ria has earned a Gold Medal from the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Beyond her academic and technological achievements, Ria is an avid reader of biographies and folk tales. In her free time, Ria loves making her versions of Disney princess movies. After editing the videos, she previews the movies for her friends.

In the future, Ria wants to pursue a law degree and leverage technical expertise to contribute to the intersection of technology and law, ensuring the protection and advancement of innovative ideas.

Distinguished Student

Academics and Leadership (Grades 6-8)

Pearce Lowdon

Pearce Lowdon Pic

Meet Pearce Lowdon, an eighth-grade student at Readington Middle School with a strong love for environmental science. Outside of school, Pearce enjoys chess and paddle boarding, and values traveling and spending time with his family. His favorite subjects are Math and Science.

Pearce has consistently excelled in Science and Math, while earning several Valuable Viking Awards. He actively participates in clubs like EcoAmbassadors, the Gaming Club, Junior Librarian, Model UN, and Youth & Government. Recently, he represented his school in a Taiwan delegation and spoke as a keynote at the district’s parent academy night.

Looking ahead, Pearce aims to contribute to environmental protection and education. Currently, he’s focused on improving his skills in coding Arduino boards. At home, Pearce has four pets: three cats (Thor, Maddie, and Margaret) and one dog (Diana). Pearce is also proudly a first-generation British-American. He is incredibly excited about the journey through eighth grade and beyond!

NJAGC Annual Adult Awards

Each year, NJAGC presents awards as a way of thanking and honoring individuals who stand out among their peers in their commitment to gifted children and gifted education in New Jersey.

NJAGC Adult Awards categories include:

  • Hall of Fame
  • Administrator of the Year
  • Teacher of the Year
  • Parent of the Year
  • Developing Minds Award
    (for entrepreneurs who developed businesses with a focus on gifted children.)

NJAGC Distinguished Student Awards

The Distinguished Student Awards were developed to recognize students with exceptional ability and achievements in:

  • Academics
  • Leadership
  • Visual, Literary, or the Performing Arts


Awards may be given in the Grades (K-2), (3-5), (6-8), or (9-12) grade level divisions.

2024 Art, Writing, Video & Music Composition

For students in grades pre-K–12

Click the images to download pdf copies of the contest rules and parental permission forms for the contests your students plan to enter.

​ Once students complete their entries, click the links to access the submission forms for the contest(s) they are entering.

2024 Contest winners

Congratulations to all of the 2024 winners!

2024 Art Contest Winners
2024 Writing Contest Winners

Instructional Mini-Grants

A Member-only Benifit

Are you looking for funding to support that “special project” for your gifted learners? NJAGC funds competitive awards of up to $500 for eligible proposals for NJAGC members. These mini-grants enable teachers to develop projects that enhance their G/T programs, services, and curriculum. Read more for Mini-Grant details and application forms. Applications are due by January 15, 2024.

Submissions are now closed.

Student Scholarships

A member-ONLY benefit

The Barbara Swicord Scholarship

Provides discretionary funds for tuition assistance to current NJAGC members’ children who are currently in grades K-12. These funds are to be used for programs and educational opportunities outside of regular school attendance for the purpose of enhancing, developing or supplementing skills, talents and/or abilities of the applicant.  Award amounts would range up to $250, but not exceed 75% of the total tuition amount. One submission per family will be accepted.

The Lisa A. DeMarzo-Rabke Parent-Child Scholarship

Created in memory of Lisa DeMarzo-Rabke, a former NJAGC trustee. This scholarship will be presented to a family whose child is in a G&T program in their school district, grades K-6. It will provide a family who may not otherwise be able to afford it, the opportunity to take part in NJAGC’s REACH. Recommendations must come through school principals, counselors or teachers. Multiple scholarships will be available for REACH 2018.