MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 19, 2008

Top pupils need more

Stakeholders say gifted, talented program needs support

Sadler Arts Academy students found all sorts of neat stuff digging around the mud earlier this month.

“I found this rock that has 10 layers in it, and the layers get lighter as they get out to the end,” said seventh-grader Kyrie Thompson.

“I found seashells in my rock,” classmate Zoe Skaggs said.

“I found rocks that looked like screws and washers,” said classmate Ashleigh Harrell. “But they used to be plants in the ocean.”

Just like the rocks, these students have something special to show. They are among several hundred students involved with the various gifted and talented programs at Muskogee Public Schools.

However, with time and budget constraints, along with a rising number of gifted and talented students, schools face a challenge giving the students the attention they need.

“A gifted student needs something beyond the classroom,” said Sadler gifted and talented teacher Margaret Wagner, who took about 30 students to dig for fossils and study rock formations at an excavation site north of Shawnee Bypass along 12th Street. Wagner said a vein of coal and numerous fossils were unearthed on the property, which is owned by a relative of one of the students.

Jennifer Crotty, who has two children in Sadler’s program, said the school has a “phenomenal program,” mainly because of the extra effort Wagner puts into it. However, as a member of the district’s gifted and talented advisory committee, Crotty said she is concerned that the program is not getting the funding and support it deserves and that communication with parents must improve.

Melony Carey, who coordinates gifted and talented programs at Muskogee Public Schools, said teachers get a stipend for working with gifted and talented kids and that it has not changed since last year. She said the district is seeking more teachers “to relieve the load of the teachers with programs having 50 or more students identified as gifted and talented.” Schools include Creek, Grant Foreman, Irving, Pershing and Tony Goetz elementaries, and Sadler Arts and Ben Franklin Science academies.

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