- Cullman, Alabama


February 2, 2013

Officials: Gifted student underserved in Alabama

DOTHAN, Ala. — Lisa Weston spends her morning teaching her fourth grade students about the difference between Renaissance artists and Impressionist artists. At some point, the word "chiaroscuro" is used, and later students work to make their own reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

Weston's classroom isn't an average elementary school classroom and her students aren't average students.

Weston is the LinC teacher for Kelly Springs. LinC, or learning in consultation, serves as the gifted program for local schools. To get in the program, students must have an A-B average and above average scores on the ARMT and other achievement tests, and satisfy other entrance requirements.

In the LinC program, students in grades 3-5 spend about three hours a week receiving more challenging supplemental education from teachers like Weston.

"It's more fun than regular class and makes me feel more excited about school," 10-year-old Eric Mendez said.

Weston said Kelly Springs and other Dothan City Schools are lucky to have the LinC program, as many school systems throughout the state struggle to provide programs for gifted students.

"There are some school systems with only one gifted education teacher for the whole county," said Amy Waine, a Birmingham-area gifted education teacher and head of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children.

Alabama has nearly 53,000 gifted students. The state spent $1 million on gifted students in 2012, the first time state funds had been allocated to gifted programs since 2008. The amount Alabama spends on gifted students is dwarfed by that of neighboring states. According to Waine, Georgia spends $300 million on gifted students, while Florida spends $267 million.

The bulk of funding for special education programs comes from local school systems. State officials estimate local systems throughout the state spent about $32-33 million on gifted programs last year.

For poor systems, finding funding for gifted education can be a challenge. Shirley Farrell, distance-education specialist, said rural systems struggle to find gifted education teachers. According to Waine, the state needs 620 gifted education teachers and has only about 414.

Waine said common misconceptions about gifted students may play into why gifted programs are underfunded in Alabama. Waine said many people think that because students are gifted, they don't need any extra support because they'll master the curriculum on their own. Waine said gifted students often need extra attention because of their proficiency, and if not adequately challenged they run a risk of tuning out in class and performing poorly in school.

"By fourth grade, about 40 percent of gifted students are already underachieving," Farrell said. "They don't see the relevance."

Farrell said parents of special needs students have gotten better funding for their children by pressuring federal and state lawmakers.

This year, education officials are requesting $6.2 million for the upcoming fiscal year. Waine said some needed improvements to Alabama programs for gifted education include providing more individualized instruction and increasing the number of gifted education teachers.


Text Only
  • WSCC patient care specialist BOOST program offers certification as Patient Care Specialist in one year

    Starting this fall, Wallace State Community College will offer a new health program aimed at helping individuals who are looking for entry into the medical field, or to change gears after spending time out of the workforce, whether from losing their jobs due to the economy, downsizing or other factors.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • WSCC HILL.jpg Hill hits the ground running at Wallace State

    Marcie Hill of Double Springs likes taking on new challenges. As an 18-year veteran of the education system, Hill has taught first grade, sixth grade and served as a reading coach to students and teachers in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Barnes enjoy Samford's governor's school.jpg Area residents enjoy Samford’s Alabama Governor’s School

    Students from two area high schools were chosen to attend Alabama Governor’s School at Samford University June 15-27. They were among 91 outstanding rising high school seniors from 24 counties who were selected for the two-week honors program.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • University of Memphis Reduces Tuition for Out-of-State Students

    The Tennessee Board of Regents has approved a proposal that will significantly reduce the amount of tuition that out-of-state students pay to attend the University of Memphis.

    Under the new 250-R program, full-time undergraduates who graduated from a high school within 250 miles of Memphis will now pay $12,456 a year, an almost $10,000 reduction from last year’s amount of $21,768.

    June 20, 2014

  • WSCC students SkillsUSA comp 1.jpg Four Wallace State students set to compete this month at the 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference

    Wallace State’s Technical Division has made it an annual tradition to send multiple students to the SkillsUSA national competition. This year is no different.

    June 11, 2014 3 Photos

  • Dickerson chosen Boys State.jpg Dickerson chosen to attend Boys State

    Davis Dickerson, a student at Good Hope High School, son of Bruce and Jennifer Dickerson, received the American Legion Boys’ State award for 2014 from American Legion Post 4 Adjutant Don Reid.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Am. Legion Girls State.jpg Southern chosen for Girls State

    Miranda Southern, a student at Good Hope High School, daughter of Douglas Southern, received the American Legion Auxiliary 2014 Girls’ State award of $200 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 4 Secretary-Treasurer Mary Reid.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cullman students earn Martin Methodist College honors

    Two residents of Cullman County received academic honors during the spring semester at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn.
    Brandie Overton and Darcie Wilson, both of Cullman, were named to the Dean’s List with a semester grade point average of 3.5 to 3.9.

    May 30, 2014

  • Crisologo earns degree.jpg Crisologo earns D.P.M. degree from Des Moines University

    Des Moines University granted 539 degrees at its 2014 Commencement Ceremony, the 114th in the university's history, on Saturday, May 24, at 10 a.m. at Hy-Vee Hall in the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The dean from each of the three DMU colleges presented their classes and DMU President Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., conferred degrees.

    May 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moon graduates from Southeastern Bible College

    John Clint Moon of Empire was awarded an associate of arts degree in leadership ministries from Southeastern Bible College Friday, May 9, 2014.

    May 29, 2014