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Gifted Education Month

Raelynn Sheets is excited to create a biodegradable ball. Photo submitted.

Metcalfe’s gifted programs engage in real-world learning

Allyson Dix

Jobe Publishing, Inc.


February is designated as Gifted Education Month in Kentucky.

On Feb. 1, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed a Gifted and Talented Month Proclamation in a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort recognizing the extra needs for some students to reach their highest potential.

Metcalfe County School District offers over 160 gifted and high-potential students across the district in kindergarten through grade 12 by providing various programming options.

One of those services is called the TAG Team, or the Talented and Gifted Team, and is tailored specifically to grades 4 through 8.

Ms. Autumn Shirley is Metcalfe County Schools’ Gifted Coordinator and she serves students in all grade levels in the county. Students in grades 1 through 5 attend Shirley’s classroom weekly and engage in Project Based Learning.

“Some of the projects completed this year in Projects Based Learning include a writing project where students act as photojournalists, a tiny house project where students are architects designing tiny homes for their clients, and an engineering project where students explored the history of space travel and the science of Mars exploration,” said Shirley.

For the Mars exploration, Shirley explained students used the engineering design process to identify problems in the exploration before designing inventions that helped to solve those problems.

As for the TAG Team, students meet at the local extension office for a full day of learning. Recently, TAG students in grades 6 and 7 attended the Metcalfe County Fiscal Court meeting.

Before attending the fiscal court meeting, which included a lengthy agenda for county magistrates and the judge/executive to discuss that day, they had been engaging in related studies.

“We had previously learned how to run a business meeting, the roles in city and county government, and they had their own TAG election,” Shirley said.

Allee Decker gives a campaign speech during the TAG officer elections. Also pictured at right is TAG instructor Autumn Shirley. Photo submitted.

Shirley works in collaboration for TAG with Amy Branstetter the Metcalfe County Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development. The two work together to plan learning experiences where students are given the opportunities to expand their knowledge and work together with their peers. Branstetter said, “We want the students to learn real-world experiences and tie that into the core content they’re learning.”

Metcalfe County Superintendent Josh Hurt said, “Metcalfe County has long valued Gifted and Talented students and has worked hard to provide options and opportunities for young folks who are advanced and looking to explore accelerated opportunities.”

He added, “Ms. Shirley has taken the program over this year and is doing a great job in trying to continue to find different ways to serve our students who have talents beyond normal scope.”

“Our gifted and talented children have special needs that we must meet in order for them to reach their potential academically, socially, and emotionally,” Associate Commissioner Gretta Hylton of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Special Education and Early Learning said in the proclamation ceremony in Frankfort, “Providing gifted students with appropriate services maintains their engagement in learning, allows them to reach mastery of the content, and provides more opportunities for enrichment and acceleration.”

There are statewide gifted regulations that define how students are identified. Kentucky offers gifted education services for identified students across all grade levels. Primary students are screened and selected as high-potential learners.

Students in grades 4 through 12 are formally identified for services in one or more of the following areas according to KDE:  general intellectual aptitude, specific academic aptitude, creative or divergent thinking, psychosocial or leadership skills, and visual or performing arts.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signs a proclamation on Feb. 1 designating February as Gifted Education Month at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort. Photo courtesy of The Center for Gifted Studies

Abby Shirley and HarperAnn Hurt prepare to speak to business leaders about future career opportunities. Photo submitted.

Hadley Blaydes and Zee Bauer set up an experiment to learn more about greenhouse gases. Photo submitted.

Sarah Gilley and Rory Bragg display a Ferris wheel prototype they constructed as part of a project-based learning unit. Photo submitted.





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