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Gifted and Talented Interventions: Going from Good to Great

September 20, 2013

by Amanda O’Neal-Brummitt

I’ll be honest.  When I first heard the plans Deana Harrell, CISD’s new Director of Advanced Academics, had for GT, I wanted to cry happy tears.  I wanted to hug Ms. Harrell.  I wanted to jump up and cheer.  I wanted to immediately tell the world how amazing our GT Services were about to be.  Instead, I opted for the more professional and socially acceptable response of simply thanking Ms. Harrell for her passion and planning.  I didn’t want her to think I was weird!

Don’t get me wrong.  Our GT Program has been good, very good.  It just hasn’t been great.  It’s not exactly a secret that our Elementary program is lacking. Though it gets much better in Middle School and High School, it is common knowledge that we struggle with GT Math in High School.  Our good program has also missed learners that slip through the cracks, like Twice Exceptional, those gifted in non-academic areas, the poor, and minorities.

That is all about to change. While a perfect education doesn’t exist, Ms. Harrell is bound and determined to get as close as she can.  She’s utilizing the GT Program Evaluation completed in spring of 2013, national best practices, and her vast experience to revamp our GT Program into a “service” rather than a “program.”  Gifted and Talented Interventions (GTi) will be an individualized intervention service, not a program that students would apply to.  It’s had a complete overhaul from assessment to curriculum to success measures.  A few of the exciting changes improving our GT Services:

  • Tiers of Service to better serve learners at the elementary level
  • Designing and articulating curriculum for any GT designated course at the secondary level
  • Integrating sophisticated products into course expectations at the secondary level
  • Crafting a menu of grouping and other strategies to differentiate for GT learners at NTH@C and CHS Academies

While ambitious and wonderful, these changes would all be lost without the support and dedication of our educators.  Ms. Harrell is implementing professional learning opportunities and requirements that will support educators at both the elementary and secondary level, including:

  • Unique blended 30 hour GT training course
  • Specific training at the district and campus level for cluster educators
  • Partnership with Intervention Services to provide training for educators working with twice-exceptional learners
  • Partnership with Hardin-Simmons University to offer masters level course work in Gifted Education in Coppell

With so much to share, this will be the first in a series of articles in Gifted Matters highlighting specific improvements to our GT services.  If you aren’t already a member, don’t hesitate to join CGA, as the remaining editions of Gifted Matters will only be available to members.  If you just can’t wait until the next newsletter, visit the CGA Blog or the CISD GT Services page. And, be sure to attend the GT Curriculum Night for elementary learners.

In the meantime, please support Ms. Harrell and our wonderful educators as they work through this transition to improve our services.  It will take time.  It will be hard.  There will be mistakes.  But, know that they are working every day to make our previously good GT Program, our great GT Intervention Services.


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