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Educators get smarter about teaching smartest students

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More than a hundred specialists in the education of academically or intellectually gifted (AIG) students brushed up on their skills Friday during a regional workshop hosted by Lenoir County Public Schools at Teachers Memorial Training Center.

Most of the attendees, who advise and assist teachers of AIG classes, hailed from the 12 counties in the state’s Southeast Region of public school districts, although some came from counties that neighbor the region, such as Johnston.

One of them, Lee Hudson, a gifted program specialist in the AIG Department of Johnston County Schools, was at the workshop to accumulate information, “particularly data from the (N.C.) Department of Public Instruction and information on current trends,” he said.

An assistant principal for eight years before he moved into his current role in August, Hudson said he expected to leave the sessions “better prepared to help teachers in our district help our AIG students.”

Stacy Cauley, LCPS’s AIG coordinator, planned the event with other AIG coordinators from the region and on Friday kept everything running smoothly. The Teachers Memorial Training Center was chosen by her colleagues for the workshop because it was equipped to handle a crowd, she said.

“We could handle the parking, we could handle having a mini-conference set up with concurrent sessions running, we have all the technology and we have the large meeting area,” she said. “When the AIG coordinators met to discuss where we would hold this, it was obvious Lenoir County had the best facility.”

Educators had the opportunity to choose four of 16 sessions offered during the day. The schedule included workshops in assessing data, serving intellectually gifted students, working as coaches with the classroom teacher and advocating for gifted students.

Consultants from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and AIG coordinators and specialists from the region led the sessions.

In her presentation, Angela Jeffrey, a high school gifted specialist with New Hanover County Schools, hoped to give colleagues working with high school programs the benefit of her district’s experience.

“A lot of counties don’t have a high school gifted program in place yet, and this is our third year in New Hanover,” she said. “I will be talking about what our gifted program looks like at the high school level, as well as what I do, how I work with the kids as a gifted specialist.”

Fellow New Hanover educator Brandy Townsend had just finished an information-packed session on coaching assessments. “I learned I need to revisit my coaching notes,” said Townsend, who works with AIG teachers and students at Williston Middle School. “That session reminded me of what I knew but haven’t necessarily practiced recently.”