Four Polk County Schools teachers, aided by a generous grant awarded by the Polk County Community Foundation, attended the National Association for Gifted Children Conference, held Nov. 9-12 in Charlotte.

Polk County Middle School seventh grade math teacher Shannon Harris, Sunny View media specialist Angela Hall, Polk Central first grade teacher Kelleigh Powell and AIG teacher Susie Walker attended the workshop, which had “Shining a Light on Gifted Children” as its theme.

Each day the teachers chose from sessions involving Social & Emotional Needs of the Gifted, Computers & Technology, Creativity, Global Awareness, Research & Evaluation, Curriculum Studies, Special Populations (Twice-Exceptional, Underrepresented Populations), STEM, Arts, Special Schools & Programs and Conceptual Foundations. These sessions were led by national and international experts, authors, program developers and researchers in gifted education.

At midday, general sessions occurred with speakers related to the theme. On the opening day, Duke University professor Dr. Angel Harris highlighted the central role education plays in social and economic well-being and understanding racial differences in achievement. Friday’s speaker, Tim Marzullo, neuroscientist and co-founder of Backyard Brains, enlightened the crowd on the finer points of teaching advanced scientific material to children.

On Saturday, Tom Flynn, screenwriter of the film Gifted, discussed the struggles of gifted children and their families. The closing session included five educators who shared their thoughts on the National Association for Gifted Children’s work and the role its members play in shaping the future of the field.

Between sessions, the teachers were able to network with gifted professionals, examine new materials, and speak with vendors, authors, and researchers. Each teacher came home with new ideas to inspire students and to energize colleagues in addressing the complex needs of the gifted and talented in Polk County Schools.