Teachers educating gifted students meet in Piedmont
by Laura Gaddy
lbgaddy@annistonstar.com
Nov 01, 2013 | 3987 views |  0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Teachers Angela York and Susan Brewer take notes at the Gifted Share Fair at Piedmont High School Friday.  Photo by Laura Gaddy.
Teachers Angela York and Susan Brewer take notes at the Gifted Share Fair at Piedmont High School Friday. Photo by Laura Gaddy.
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PIEDMONT – Twenty-seven teachers of gifted students from across northeastern Alabama crowded into a cinder-block room at Piedmont High School on Friday to swap teaching tips.

The annual meeting, known as the Gifted Share Fair, is an informal gathering for teachers who work with students who excel in scholastics, leadership or the arts. Teachers began the Fair Share about 20 years ago and today the meeting serves as one of few professional development opportunities for gifted instruction in Alabama, the educators said.

“It’s just nice to be around other people who understand what you do,” said Cindy Lynch, a teacher of gifted students at C. E. Hanna Elementary School in Oxford.

Some instructors of the gifted work alone in a school system, traveling from school to school to work with children. Others work alone in a school, teaching children in various grades. Some work in small teams.

“I don’t have other teachers to bounce ideas off of,” said Dianna Hardy, a Cleburne County educator. “This helps me tremendously.”

This year a Piedmont teacher co-hosted the event with a teacher from Oneonta City Schools. The Oneonta teacher collected the $25 fee for attending, and helped administer the funds for the event.

During the day-long session, each of the teachers presented one lesson from the school year, and provided demonstrations and handouts. The handouts were collected, placed into binders and given to teachers.

“If I didn’t have them to give me ideas, I would try to do everything around what I like,” said Christy Crosson, a Piedmont teacher who helped organize the event.

In addition, instructors of gifted students don’t have a curriculum to follow, which gives them flexibility. In turn, it puts the onus on them to come up with creative lessons that supplement typical instruction.

“Gifted, that’s where it’s at,” said John Moore, the lone male in the group of educators. “That’s where you can actually do some teaching.”

Moore, a teacher of gifted students in Calhoun County, shared how he uses small Lego kits to teach third-graders the simple mechanics of robotics. The $50 kits were paid for in part by funding from donorschoose.org, he said.

The Share Fair is different from formal professional development opportunities because it is not sponsored by the Alabama Department of Education and because organizers don’t invite guest speakers to attend. But, it’s an event several of the teachers said they look forward to each year.

Some drove more than two hours to attend and some also used personal leave days to attend the training.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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