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An Open Letter from the TAGT Executive Director . . .

September 9, 2014

CGA recently received the following letter from JJ Colburn, CAE, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Gifted & Talented (TAGT).  TAGT has been invaluable to CGA  in our mission to support gifted kids, their parents and educators in Coppell and beyond.  We encourage our parent members to consider joining TAGT as well as CGA.   The letter reads:


The Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT) strives to connect and empower parents and educators to meet the unique needs of gifted students.  As a statewide, purpose based organization, this concept drives our programs, services and attitudes.  We believe that fulfilling this mission is the best way to enhance the lives of gifted students.  Naturally, it is critical for TAGT to partner with and support the efforts of local organizations that align with the TAGT mission.  But, it’s incredibly exciting when an independent organization like the Coppell Gifted Association (CGA), which embodies a similar purpose, extends the TAGT message so effectively.  CGA is truly a model for how to connect and empower parents and educators and the positive results on gifted education that can occur.  The strategies, organizational structure and balanced focus of CGA is a prototype for effective advocacy and support of gifted learners and is a great example of mission in action.

Parent support groups like CGA provide great value to gifted children, their parents, to the school community, and to TAGT.  For parents, a unified group can be far more effective than any one individual. They can work together to become better advocates and to solve problems or concerns they may see in the services provided by the schools. They can also provide a place to learn about parenting their own gifted children more effectively.

For the school community, an effective and forward-thinking parent group can have a major impact on the quality of education.  Parent groups that look at the big picture recognize that their children do not exist in a vacuum and need opportunities to develop and mature socially, emotionally, as well as academically. They see the value in improving schools for all students, not just the gifted, and make a good partner, like other parent groups that support student activities and services.

For a state association like TAGT, parent groups provide another link in the chain that allows the advocacy and educational efforts of the association to be spread more widely.  When a parent group as successful as CGA exists, it also provides a statewide association like TAGT a model to extoll and encourage others to create around the state.  With a statewide platform, TAGT is connected to schools and communities all over and we are able to share ideas based on the CGA structure to affect the lives of many.  The work being done locally extends beyond the CGA community through a strong partnership with TAGT.

You might wonder exactly how CGA sets a standard for parent groups.  Effective parent groups require individuals to be knowledgeable, organized, define their goals and objectives, understand the organization and structure of the local school system, use existing local and state systems, be committed, and be persistent and patient. Those qualities aptly describe CGA.  Since its founding less than 10 years ago, it has had a profound impact on all of these groups.   These characteristics are likely going to be present in many successful parent groups.  So, what makes CGA unique?  It’s in the implementation of innovative strategies, balanced services and relevant partnerships that CGA truly shines.

First, CGA provides quality education and relevant information for parents by bringing in many speakers who share their knowledge and expertise.  Through the organizational structure, making resources available to parents is a priority.  Second, the partnership with teachers and commitment to teacher training is a key component of the work of CGA.  Parent efforts to fund many Coppell ISD teachers to receive additional professional development in the area of gifted education, supplementing the work of the district, strengthens the bond between these two groups and also ensures that children benefit in the classroom.  Third, CGA provides direct enrichment opportunities for students through the wildly successful Mosiac program.  Finally, CGA is committed to partnering with TAGT, strengthening both organizations’ capacity to meet common goals.  CGA has joined TAGT as an organization and encouraged hundreds of their own individual members to join TAGT, as well.   CGA recognizes that there is not only strength in numbers, but there is value in having their own members become more involved and connected to issues that may extend beyond their own community.   In addressing these four areas with such deliberate focus – parents, educators, students, and statewide advocacy – CGA has cultivated an ideal gifted education support group.

TAGT is proud to be connected to your efforts and we stand with you in shared passion for gifted youth.  Know that you are having tremendous impact at all levels – individual students, parents and educators, in classrooms on campuses, across your school district, in your region and even statewide.

JJ Colburn, CAE

Executive Director

Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented

Gifted Matters – September 2014

September 4, 2014

Welcome to the Septemer 2014 edition of Gifted Matters.  Summer has flown by,  and it’s hard to believe we’re all back to school!  We hope you had a great beginning of the school year.  Please take a few minutes to read and enjoy some of the articles we have put together in our newsletter. (If you are not already a CGA member this year, be sure to join CGA, as the future 2014-2015 editions of Gifted Matters will be only available to members).


CGA Speaker Series:  Join us for an informative session with CISD’s director of Advanced Academics, Deana Harrell.   The topic of her session will be “The State of Gifted Education and Advanced Academics in CISD” and it will be held on September 18, 2014  at 6:30 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at Coppell High School.  This session is open to everyone, and there is no admission fee.

Parent Memberships:  Whether you are new to CGA or have been a past member, it’s time to join CGA for the 2014-2015 school year.  To learn more about our membership options, click here.  Why join the CGA? The benefits are plenty, including (but not limited to) access to our monthly newsletter, podcasts, the CGA lending library, free admission to CGA speaker programs, early registration discounts and priority access to Mosaic enrichment programs. Most importantly, the CGA provides a platform, an opportunity for YOU, as a parent, to be heard. Join CGA now (early bird pricing effective until Oct 15, 2014) and make the most of your annual membership.

CISD Educators:  CISD Educators can join CGA for FREE until October 15, 2014.  As an educator and CGA member, you could be eligible for scholarships to conferences and training throughout the year, receive regular information about gifted education and additional resources targeted specifically to educators, plus enjoy all the other membership benefits. Click here to find out more.

Scholarships:  CGA offers the opportunity for CISD educators to apply for scholarships to attend the TAGT  (Texas Association of Gifted and Talented) Conference this year (being held December 3rd-5th in Fort Worth).   Click here to find out more.

Creative Writing:  It’s never too early for your child to begin writing for our Annual Creative Writing Competition. The competition, in its 7th year, is open to all students grades 3-12. Students can submit entries in 3 categories- fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The deadline for entries is December 4, 2014. For more information on the competition, click on the Competitions tab above. Please note that the process for submission is different than in previous years. We also have a new FAQ section.

SED:  Have you heard about Science Entertainment and Design?  This science enrichment for kids is  located in Coppell.  Click here for more information.

We hope that you will enjoy the information included in this newsletter and find it useful. We’d love to have your feedback on how we are doing, and what you’d like to read about in the future. Email us, comment on the blog or Facebook, or contact your campus rep; we’d love to hear from you.



Science Enrichment with SED: Science After School and evening classes

September 4, 2014


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“There will always be something that will make the kids go ‘whoa, that’s cool.’ That’s the moment that we are looking for.” – Dr. Eric Archer, SED

Science has the potential to inspire, challenge and develop higher-level thinking. Science Entertainment and Design (SED) offers a hands-on, collaborative, real science program for children in grades K-12.


At the elementary level (grades K-5), CISD students can participate in Science After School. Each semester is divided into 3-week modules focused on life sciences, physical sciences, and applied sciences. Science After School is held at Austin Elementary, Wilson Elementary, and Lakeside Elementary.

At the main SED location, students in grades K-4 participate in EXPLORER PODS which involve a general exploration of science. These classes are offered on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Students in 5th grade can select from the FOCUS PODS for middle school students.


At the middle school level (grades 5-8), students participate in FOCUS PODS which concentrate on a specific field of study: Applied Chemistry, Physics & Engineering, Life Science, Health and Medicine, Green Energy, Rocketry, Robotics & Electronics. Kids combine their unique interests to investigate broad areas of science.

Dr. Archer explains the SED vision: “We want to start building a culture and the collaborations and the opportunity to work in a team where you have different interests coming together. We picked the topics that we did to keep them open-ended. So, for example, with hydroponics, you could come to that from a botany side — what demands needed in the roots, what kind of bacteria needed, nitrogen needed; from an engineering standpoint — what kind of pump do you need, how to build a correct siphon; from a micro biology view — looking at organisms converting fish waste into the plants, look at the fish. The whole idea is that we want to have that collaboration happen. When people look at it from different sides, that is where cool stuff happen.”

(and students who want independent research opportunities)

For students in grades 9-12 (and students who are “laser-beam focused”), SED offers real independent research opportunities. Students submit a topic proposal to assign a project mentor and secure the necessary resources. SED has contacts with other industry experts to provide the guidance that students need to break new ground.

Here is a sample of some of the current SED high school student projects:

        • learning about quorum sensing bacteria
        • using nanoparticles as an anti-cancer agent

More about SED

SED founder Dr. Devanjan Sikder, along with core mentors Dr. Eric Archer, Jason Dixon, and Briana Rodriguez, use zeal, the unique program design, and emphasis on real experiences to get students interested and enthusiastic about science. Each of the SED mentors are scientists — educational backgrounds include endocrinology, biology, nature, engineering and epidemiology. They are focused on bringing science to kids, not as a tutorial program, but instead as an opportunity to explore and develop passions. “We want not to just make incremental improvement in knowledge,” according to Dr. Sikder, “instead our focus is on creating something that kids can own.”

The SED approach is quite different from the traditional method of learning science. Dr. Archer describes the comparison to his early science experiences: “When I was a kid, science was memorization. We were doing experiments when I already knew what would happen. There was no moment of anticipation.” SED wants to bring the anticipation, the moment of unlimited possibility, back to the study of science.

“At the beginning of every experiment, there is uncertainty. I am about to mix those things together; I am about to put power in the circuit; I am about to light that on fire — what is it going to do? I have no idea. There is the potential for everything to go right and everything to go wrong. This is really the natural high that scientists are chasing: that moment of possibility.” – Dr. Eric Archer

Facing the unknown is something that each of the mentors has done in real life, and an experience that they bring to the students. “We might start with a kit,” explains Jason Dixon, “but we do not ever stop there. Instead, we work on taking extra steps with new ideas. We allow the kids to answer ‘what should we do next.’ What we are doing is teaching them to think like a scientist.”

So, how do students learn to think like a scientist? SED emphasizes having the students figure out what they know, understand what they don’t know, and investigate how to learn the things they don’t know.

Of course, there is inherent value in studying science. “We have to be competent in sciences as a community,” emphasizes Dr. Sikder, “if we don’t invest in our kids, they won’t be in the forefront of changing the future for us.”

Also, an appreciation and understanding of the scientific process helps everyone, even those who choose not to pursue science as a career. Dr. Archer explains how science is really just “a process of thinking — of looking at the data. There are implications beyond science. There are implications in politics, and personal choices throughout life — regardless of what you do in life, that ability to look at the information in front of you and use that process of troubleshooting — it is setting up a method of thinking. Let’s make some observations, let’s try to figure out how it is working, let’s test it, and then figure out whether we were right.”

Ultimately, scientific exploration is a path of self-discovery.

“The scientific process teaches you that you can’t be rigid in your beliefs. You have to be willing to evolve. Whatever your thought processes are — you become more pliable to other options and other possibilities. This experience really evolves you as a person.” – Dr. Sikder

SED builds ingenuity, creativity and imagination into all of their programs with an emphasis on problem solving and collaboration. Students are encouraged to try new ideas, work together, and improve on the successes of other students. “We end up with convergent designs,” according to Dr. Archer, “When a team comes up with the best design, everyone jumps on it and continues to improve it with the next idea. So, we end up with some really great designs and you see little pieces of what everyone has contributed.”

Incorporating design solutions are important in scientific exploration and demonstration of knowledge. At SED, each student is encouraged to develop a product, a prototype, or something tangible at the end of their research period. Students present their unique solutions in regular “SEDtalks” which provide an opportunity to work on their presentation skills and share pride in their accomplishments.

Of course, learning isn’t supposed to be easy, but it can be fun. In fact, pushing students outside of their comfort zone is an important part of the SED program. “That’s where all the cool stuff happens,” explains Dr. Archer. “We constantly tell them to get out of their comfort zone — ‘go do something hard’.” The mentors don’t anticipate the results, instead they encourage the students to think beyond current knowledge, to “correct the doctor,” and above all, to remember: “science is messy.”

We welcome them to Coppell.

“SED is a great addition to the community.  The focus on STEM by industry and education at the national and state level makes SED a nice fit for the community to enhance the level of interest in a supportive learning environment for science. It provides an opportunity for young people to explore a variety of topics in science K-12.   They have a lot of resources at their disposal which can identify new areas of science young people may not be aware of and grow the depth of interest of young people in science, especially girls.”  — Anthony Hill, CISD Trustee

For more information, please visit their website:

CGA Membership Options for 2014-2015

September 4, 2014

Special early bird discounts!

Join or renew your annual CGA membership with a GREAT deal!  CGA is offering a fantastic opportunity to join BOTH active gifted associations, CGA and TAGT.  We are one of a very select parent affiliate groups in Texas that is allowed to offer this opportunity so we hope you’ll take advantage of it.  Please see below for the amazing benefits you’ll receive, and more importantly, by joining both associations, you are providing a bigger, stronger voice for gifted education in Coppell, Texas, and the United States.

Want to know more about the benefits of joining CGA?  Click the “join” tab above.

Membership period: August 15, 2014 – August 14, 2015

Educators, click the following links to register:

EDUCATOR Membership Options Thru 10/15/14 After 10/15/14
Coppell Gifted Association only-

  • Free admission to CGA Speaker Series
  • Program and event notices
  • Advance copy of CGA newsletters
  • MOSAIC early registration discounts
  FREE   $20
CGA plus TAGT(Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented)

  • Includes discount on registration for Professional Conference: Fort Worth, December 3-5, 2014
  $50   $70

Parents, click here to register.  

Parent membership registration opens August 15, 2013.

PARENT Membership Options Thru 10/15/14 After 10/15/14
Coppell Gifted Association only- Support gifted education in Coppell.

  • Free admission to CGA Speaker Series
  • Program and event notices
  • Advance copy of CGA newsletters
  • MOSAIC early registration discounts
  $15   $20
CGA plus TAGT(Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented)

  • Includes subscriptions to TAGT’s magazineTempo
  • TAGT lobbies the Texas and national legislatures to provide funding for GT programs and to enforce GT training and GT education rules.
  • Includes discount on registration for Parent Conference in Fort Worth, December 5, 2014
  $35   $40

Don’t miss out on this GREAT deal.  Renew online by clicking here.

If you have questions regarding membership, please contact our membership chair,
Aanchal Prakash.

If you have difficulties with registering online, please contact Carrie Clark.

CGA Speaker Series: The State of Gifted Education and Advanced Academics in CISD

September 3, 2014

CGA Speaker Series: 

The State of Gifted Education and Advanced Academics in Coppell ISD

Thursday, September 18th

6:30 p.m.

Coppell High School – Lecture Hall

Everyone is welcome, and admission is free.

Presented by Deana Harrell, CISD Director of Advanced Academics


We invite you to come hear Deana Harrell, CISD’s Director of Advanced Academics discuss our GT and Advanced Academic programs.   Following a comprehensive program audit in 2013, the CISD Gifted and Talented Program continues its transformation into the more collective, GTi Services program, geared toward identifying and servicing the unique needs of every gifted learner.  Deana Harrell will once again share the advancements that are shaping the face of Gifted Education as it continues to grow and develop in CISD for the 2014-2015 school year.



FREE CGA Educator Memberships (for a limited time only)

September 3, 2014

CISD Educators can join CGA for FREE for a limited time!

This opportunity is only available until October 15th.  (Click here to join)  After that time, the rate will be $20.  Join now to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Why should you join now?

  • Eligible for scholarships to conferences and training throughout the year.
    • CGA awarded over $12,000 in scholarships during the 2013-2014 school year to conferences like TAGT and  NAGC.
    • TAGT professional membership   – Professional membership in TAGT includes discounted rates for TAGT’s conferences and a subscription to TEMPO magazine.  (You must be a TAGT professional member to apply for a CGA scholarship to TAGT’s conference in Fort Worth, December 3-5, 2014). Click HERE to apply for a professional membership through Oct 15, 2014 for a discount.  Join CGA and TAGT for only $50 through Oct 15 (will be $70 after Oct. 15th.)
  • Receive regular information about gifted education and additional resources specifically targeted to educators.
  • Plus, enjoy all of the benefits offered to our general membership:
    • CGA programs, speakers & event notices
    • Add to the voice of gifted education
    • Support CGA competitions: Creative Writing Competition
    • Receive CGA digital newsletter about gifted matters and education
    • Discount on MOSAIC classes and early registration
    • FREE access to Podcasts of CGA speaker series
    • FREE CGA Lending Library containing books on gifted matters and videos
    • Invitations to CGA social events
    • Connection to a CGA Campus Rep

It takes less than 1 minute to join, and it is FREE (save $20).   Click here to join.

If you have any questions, please contact the CGA Membership Chair, Aanchal Prakash.

Fall 2014 Scholarship Opportunity for CISD Educators and Administrators

September 2, 2014

Are you a CISD educator or administrator interested in gaining additional gifted education training and enrichment?

CGA is offering scholarship opportunities for attendance to the TAGT Annual Conference being held in Ft. Worth from December 3rd-5th, 2014.
The 2014 TAGT Annual Conference will join together nearly 2,000 educators and parents who share a passion for gifted education.  This unique experience features over 150 training sessions in 15 strands of designated subjects.  TAGT is an approved provider of CE credit for educators, counselors, psychologists and school board members.’
Parents, please feel free to forward this to your teachers ~ By enriching and supporting our amazing educators and administrators, we improve the educational experiences for everyone.
2014 TAGT Scholarship Application For Educators and Administrators
Note:  Application is for both Educators and Administrators
(Administrators please complete page 1 only).
DEADLINE to apply is October 1st, 2014