AAGC Conference Schedule

Download the AAGC conference schedule here: AAGC Program 2014


AAGC Conference News


The 2014 AAGC conference is quickly approaching and I wanted to send you a few quick reminders:

1. AAGC Election-

There will be an election held at the AAGC business meeting during the conference for the board positions listed. Please read the following bios submitted for consideration. Ballots will be handed out at the meeting and you must be a member who is in good standing and present to vote.

Candidates for AAGC Board
September-2014 Term


Dr. Dylan Ferniany is the coordinator for gifted education in Birmingham City Schools.
Dylan taught gifted education at the elementary and middle school levels in Homewood
City Schools for seven years. Dr. Ferniany earned an Ed.D. in Leadership, Policy, and
Organizations from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College where she gained an
understanding of gifted education in a broader policy context. Dylan is involved in a
number of extracurricular civic organizations. She founded and led Young Education
Professionals-Birmingham and now serves as the Vice President of Development. In
addition, she serves on the production team at TEDxBirmingham as the K12 Relations
Coordinator. Dylan is passionate about identifying and nourishing talent of both students and teachers in Alabama.

Vice President

LaRita Giles is a graduate of Birmingham Southern college and received a Masters of
Gifted Education from Samford University in 2013. She is a National Board Certified
Teacher and a school based volunteer mentor for National Board candidates. LaRita
served as a BEA representative for her school for six years and is presently initiating a
community based outreach program for Women in the Woodlawn Community (Women
Wellness) and volunteers her services for Kairos Outside Ministries. Other professional
accomplishments include National Writing Project Fellow (2010), member of Central
Park Elementary Literacy Team, and published author (“101 ways to use Time” for Kids Magazine). She continues to write and respond to various professional publications and is researching board and meeting policies to gain insight into meeting procedures and organizational setups for success. She is interested in working to provide more
opportunities and to augment the programs made available to the gifted students of

Rita Sparks is a veteran gifted specialist of eight years. A wife and the mother to two
gifted young adults, she is currently employed at Thompson Intermediate School in
Shelby County, where she teaches gifted students in Grades 4 and 5. After ten years as a
general education teacher, she found her life’s purpose when she began teaching 4th and
5th grade gifted education classes. She received her gifted education certification from
Samford University in 2008. Having two gifted children inspired Rita not only to
challenge the well-adjusted gifted child, but also to provide support to gifted students
who struggle academically and social-emotionally. Rita is loyal, dedicated and hard
working. She embraces challenge and is always ready to learn something new!


Debbie Dumais has taught gifted education classes at Fultondale Elementary School for
nine years, previously teaching fifth grade science for nine years. She was also
Laboratory Supervisor at UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hematology
Laboratory Instructor for the Medical School before her public education positions. She
is a graduate of UAB, BS and MA, and received her gifted certification from Samford
University. She is a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), one of only eight statewide. She currently serves as AAGC By-Laws Chairperson. She also is FES Science Olympiad Coach, Jefferson County Master Gardener, North Arts Council, National Science Teacher Association (NSTA), Birmingham Audubon Society, Environmental Educator Association of Alabama; to name a few. She is a published author of over twenty professional genealogical articles and six professional medical abstracts in Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). She has received over $10,000 in educational grant monies and various awards, such as UAB’s Outstanding Alumni Award and Boy Scouts of America’s “Outstanding Scouter Award” for volunteerism. As a gifted child, parent of gifted children, and gifted specialist, Debbie is passionate about gifted education and driven to help others across the state of Alabama who inspire future generations and to create a collaborative effort to “unfold” the gifts and talents of gifted students, enabling them to reach their potentials.

Teresa Lucas, a graduate of TR Miller High School located in Brewton. AL, attended
Jefferson Davis Community College, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Auburn at Montgomery with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, earned a Master’s
degree in Gifted Education from the University of South Alabama. She currently serves
as the enrichment teacher in the Brewton City School where she is also Coach of the Scholars’ Bowl, Gifted Network Secretary, and serves as the Historian and President of Alpha Delta Kappa. Having been the Secretary of the Gifted Network for four years, Teresa feels that this experience would provide an avenue to promote common goals, share varied experiences, and voice statewide concerns with a group dedicated to meeting the needs of gifted students.

2. Contests, Awards & Grants

Just a reminder to be mindful of approaching deadlines for several contests! For more information please visit www.alabamagifted.org. If you know a teacher, administrator, coordinator or student who needs to be recognized please read the nomination instructions on our website. Thanks to all who submitted grant proposals and awards so far!

3. Tutwiler Hotel

Do you need to book a room for the conference? The Tutwiler is the official conference hotel that has plenty of rooms reserved for the conference! Please call Roxanne for more information!

4. Parent Day

Please invite parents of gifted children on Friday, September 19th because we will be celebrating Parent Day during the conference! There will be special sessions and activities dedicated for parents!

5. Door Prizes

Fabulous door prizes will be given away each day of the conference! You must be present to win with a matching ticket. Cameras, I Pads, and more to be given away!

I look forward to hearing informative keynote speakers, special guests, and Dr. Bice at the conference! If you haven’t gotten your registration form and payment submitted… hurry! The conference will be here before you know it!


Amy Waine
AAGC President
@sniarb onTwitter


2014 AAGC Board Nominations

AAGC BALLOT September, 2014

Candidates for AAGC Board – September 2014 Term


AAGC 2014 Conference Program Agenda

Please use the agenda listed below with your professional leave requests for your school system. We have outstanding sessions with diverse topics! See you at the conference!

Alabama Association for Gifted Children McWane Science Center
2014 Program Schedule (Draft)

Wednesday September 17, 2014 - 7:30am-4pm
Morning Keynote Speaker: Jerome Morris, PhD: Gifted Youth from Minority Populations Afternoon

Breakout Sessions:

  1. Zentangle: Beginners and Advanced Workshops (Debbie Dumais)
  2. Team Building for Gifted Students (Maggie Johnston, McDowell Educational Programs)
  3. Infographics Tell It All! (Shirley Farrell)
  4. Cultures Around the World (Amy Waine)
  5. Surviving Your First Year as a Gifted Teacher (Traci Ingleright)

Thursday September 18, 2014  7:30am-4pm
Morning Keynote Speaker: Brian Housand, PhD: The Geeks Have Inherited the Earth Breakout Sessions:

  1. The Top 40 Tech Tools Countdown (Brian Housand)
  2. Coding: It May Be the Closest Thing We Have to a Superpower (Brian Housand)
  3. Overcoming the Plateau Effect in Gifted Adolescents (Jason Mayfield)
  4. Creativity x 4 (Carolyn Coil)
  5. Using Common Core Standards with Gifted Students (Carolyn Coil)
  6. Identifying Gifted English Learners (Kathy Nichol)
  7. Measuring Student’s Ability, Performance, and Growth: Using CogAT for Student Achievement (Dr. Dash W/Jinny Hurdle)
  8. Stock Market Game: Virtual Learning, Real Results (Wanda McAbee)
  9. Quirkles: Science Plus Literacy Equals Fun (Lynn Hawking)
  10. Mastering the Matrix: IQ Testing, Screeners and the Bell Curve (Kathy VanFleet/Kathryn Ratley)
  11. Move Over Zombies, Here Come the Mummies! (Teresa Zimmer)
  12. Chess: Engaging Students in Critical Thinking (Jerry Nash)
  13. Muggins Math: Aerobics for the Mind (Sue Schuler)
  14. Duke University Talent Identification Program (Traci Guidry)
  15. Creating Public Service Announcements in the Gifted Education Classroom (Kevin Besnoy)
  16. Funding Your Program: Applying for Grants and Other Fundraising Techniques (Hilary McKinney)
  17. Think Like a Scientist Through Real-World Projects (Shirley Farrell)
  18. “Mutts on a Mission” Inspire Life Lesson and Life Skills (Patti Wood/Dianne Burch)
  19. Learning with Usborne and Kane/Miller Books (Karen Baize)
  20. Farm to Classroom (John Nee, McDowell Farm School)
  21. Creative Dramatics (Shelley Patterson/Keller Davis)
  22. Creating Concept-Based Units from Topic to Evaluation (Jane Newman)
  23. Powerful Strategies for Improving Critical Thinking and Writing (Nathan Levy)
  24. Edmodo:WhereLearningCanHappen24/7(SheilaMostafavi/SueAusman)
  25. Surviving Your First Year as a Gifted Teacher (Traci Ingleright)

Friday September 19, 2014 (Sessions designated for Parents are asterisked)  7:30am-4pm

Morning Keynote Speaker: Carolyn Coil, EdD: Encouraging Achievement: Igniting a Passion for Learning*

Breakout Sessions:

  1. Stock Market Game: Virtual Learning, Real Results (Wanda McAbee)
  2. Happy Brains: Personalizing Environments for Optimal Brain Function (Laurie Sherrill)*
  3. Tie a Green Ribbon ‘Round the School’ (Shirley Farrell)
  4. Gifted Education Advocacy, Networking, & PD…21st Century Style (April Coleman)
  5. Parent/Student Advocacy: Getting the Gifted Message Out to State Legislators (Wendy Tibbs)*
  6. Beautiful Minds: Insights on Secondary Gifted Education (Barbara Romey)
  7. Thinking about Feelings, Feelings about Thinking: Counseling Skills for Teachers (Elizabeth Romey)
  8. Teacher Pleasers, Teacher Freezers: Making the Most of the TABs (Elizabeth Romey)
  9. Educating Gifted Students for a Sustainable World (Melinda Staubs)
  10. Hydraulics + Simple Machines = Fun While Learning! (Michael Hallman)
  11. Computer Science Principles: Promoting Diversity and Creativity in Computer Science (Carol Yarbrough)
  12. LiteraryNonfiction:PassporttoNewAdventuresinWritingandReading(KayeHagler/LaraWeeks)
  13. Stuff Not Fluff: Strategic Teaching and Best Practices in the Gifted Classroom (Shannon Colburn)
  14. Hook, Line and Sinker: The Importance of Tapping into Student Interests (Shannon Colburn)
  15. Peeps in Peril: Unpacking NASA’s Museum in a Box (Jennifer Kennedy)
  16. Adventure is Out There! My Time as an Einstein Fellow (Jennifer Kennedy)
  17. Simple Steps to Conference Presentations (Bette Kersting Bell)
  18. Kinetic Creativity with Flow Arts (Hilary McKinney)
  19. How to Conduct a Night Sky Observation Session for Children (Elizabeth Bero)
  20. Creating Community Connections (Rita Sparks/Susan Mitchell/Nicole Naro)*
  21. Advocating for Gifted Kids: It’s Elementary! (Wendy Tibbs/Dylan Harbour/Kathryn Harbour)
  22. Ductivity…A Student’s Spin on Creativity (Susan Mitchell/Rita Sparks/Nicole Naro/Marlee Roach)
  23. Powerful Strategies to Reach Gifted and Highly Capable Students (Nathan Levy)

The 2014 AAGC Gifted Conference Expands

What is exciting, expanding, and is just for you? The AAGC conference of course! The 2014 conference will be an exciting time as we expand the conference from two days to three days of training at the McWane Center in Birmingham, Alabama! By expanding the conference, this will provide more training opportunities for our members.

The theme of the conference focuses on “Gifted in Living Color” that celebrates diversity and creativity within gifted students. We will have internationally known keynote speakers for all three days! Dr. Jerome Morris will present on Wednesday, Dr. Brian Housand on Thursday and Dr. Carolyn Coil on Friday. Each speaker will share their area of expertise on dynamic issues pertinent for teachers, gifted specialists, gifted coordinators, parents, and administrators in education today. The conference encompasses informative sessions concerning a variety of topics. For registration forms, hotel arrangements, or any other conference information, visit the 2014 conference tab on our website.

Another key feature of the conference will include contests, awards, and grants! AAGC’s video and artwork contests challenge students to think outside the box as they express their creativity. Awards will be given to individuals who are nominated for excellence in the areas listed under the awards section on our website. Grant recipients will be recognized at the conference for nominating outstanding learning opportunities they would like to see implemented at their schools. Please visit our www.alabamagifted.org for more information about each of these key features and conference information.

If you would like to purchase a conference t-shirt, you must complete the online t-shirt order form and mail it with your payment by August 15th to the address provided on the t-shirt order form. Late orders will not be accepted. Many educational vendors, colleges, and exhibitors will be there for you to shop and talk to you about any educational needs. The AAGC Store will be selling a few selected items, so please drop by to see the bargains we will have in store for you!

Parent Day will be held on Friday with many special events. Please invite parents and teachers to the conference! What a wonderful idea to help parents meet the needs of their children through training opportunities at AAGC!

AAGC will also be giving away fabulous door prizes and a grand prize for a lucky winner! In order to win a prize, you must be present!

I am excited about the new changes and look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Amy Waine
AAGC President
@snairb on Twitter


Please note

If you received an email from our AAGC president, Amy Waine, today, please know that her email was hacked.  She is NOT in the Phillipines.  She is working to get this straightened out.


Our state and nation must stop neglecting our most talented students Op Ed piece published

cutCheck out this great opinion piece published by the Birmingham News and AL.com from Amy Waine, President of AAGC.   and Tracy Cross, President of NAGC.


By Amy Waine and Tracy L. Cross

Talent is a terrible thing to waste, but it is being squandered in schools throughout Alabama.

Students who excel in one or more subjects or who have the potential to excel have for too long been overlooked or unchallenged, primarily due to a lack of state funding.

Over the past couple of years, however, Alabama legislators have taken action to reverse this slight by allocating $1.1 million to support our estimated 58,000 gifted students, even managing a modest increase for Fiscal Year 2015.

While more significant funding would have been ideal, it is heartening to see state lawmakers in Montgomery begin a commitment to these students, one we hope provides a foundation for the future.

Nationally, the situation has been about as bleak, but with a similarly modest bright spot. The sole federal initiative for high-achieving students, the Jacob Javits Act, is an applied research program that develops practices to help teachers identify and serve high-ability students from under-represented populations.

Over the years, Javits research has yielded identification and instructional strategies for disadvantaged students and others who have been underrepresented in gifted and talented education programs, strategies that have also been applied to the general student population.  Many of these strategies could be helpful to school districts in Alabama that serve large numbers of low-income students.

Despite this record of success, in 2011, Congress eliminated funding for the Javits program, though it allocated $5 million earlier this year to partially revive it.

Similar to the situation in Alabama, the funding, while welcome, is woefully inadequate to address the needs of all high-ability students across the country. While the Alabama budget for next year is set, lawmakers in Washington could build upon these recent gains and move us toward a long-overdue national commitment to develop our talent.

A half-century ago, our nation recognized that a rigorous commitment to develop our talent was imperative. Concerned about the threat of Soviet dominance in space and technology, the United States created and supported a number of programs intended to innovate our way to success.

This effort paid off. But over time, we took our foot off the gas just as developing nations began investing in talent development. This has resulted in a perfect storm that has seen our own competitiveness plummet while other countries are on an upward march.

The ramifications of our decline can be seen in multiple indicators: declining test scores of our students, a declining percentage of our students scoring at the highest levels compared to those in other nations, a dearth of students interested in and able to study the demanding science and mathematical fields and shortages of qualified workers to hold needed and well-paying jobs.

An effective solution to our talent shortfall requires a renewed national commitment to supporting and developing high levels of talent. This commitment requires the involvement of the public and private sectors and the support of public officials from Washington to the local school district.

At the federal level, lawmakers must build upon the restoration of funding for the Javits program to fully fund it in Fiscal Year 2015. Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, plays a leading role in setting such priorities and should be urged to do so.

Beyond funding, as Congress works to modify the national K-12 education law, it must update reporting and accountability programs to include reporting on the progress of our top performers so the public can see what progress is being made, and must ensure teacher training dollars can be used to train educators to work with gifted learners.

Alabama legislators must build upon the funding of recent years and commit to a multi-year effort to more fully address the needs in the state. Doing so would help ensure that enough specially trained teachers and resources are available across Alabama to support students from all backgrounds and economic circumstances who have the potential to achieve at high levels.  The state must also continue supporting opportunities for excellence, including the residential public math and science high school, open to students across the state.

Leaders of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children have met with staff in the governor’s office and with many legislators and other stakeholders to address the needs of the state’s brightest students and their teachers. In these discussions, we have respectfully noted that neighboring states provide far more funding for their gifted programs, placing our students and our state at a disadvantage regionally.

Alabama officials must continue to realize that investing in gifted children is investing in Alabama’s economic future.

Reversing decades of neglect of our high-ability and high-potential students will not happen overnight. But it must begin to happen in a meaningful way if we are serious about regaining our competitive edge.

(Amy Waine is president of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children. Tracy L. Cross is president of the National Association for Gifted as well as the Jody & Layton Smith Professor of Psychology and Gifted Education in the School of Education and executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William & Mary.)



West Madison Elementary Gifted Student Lobby

madisonpicBe sure to read this great article from AL.com.  The gifted students at West Madison Elementary School spend an hour each week in the school’s gifted program, but they don’t think that hour is enough. They have set out to do something about it.

Read the article here.  This is their resolution presented:

Madison City Resolution

These students know how advocate.  What can you do to help?


AAGC Update

So many wonderful things have taken place this year for gifted education! Gifted Education Month was amazing that involved many events throughout Alabama emphasizing the importance of helping gifted students reach their fullest potential in gifted education! Several parent groups have held informative meeting across the state and invited senators and special guests to discuss current topics in gifted education! Then Alabama legislators raised the budget for the Gifted Student Program budget again! This marks a historical significance because gifted education has NEVER received funding for three years in a row in Alabama! I would like to say a special thanks to everyone who worked so hard towards making this event possible! We could not have made it happen without your help!

AAGC’s fall conference will be here before you know it! The conference will be held on September 17, 18, & 19 at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama. The theme of the conference will be “Gifted in Living Color”. Carolyn Coil and Brian Housand will be the dynamic keynote speakers for this conference! We changed the conference schedule to add an extra day of training opportunities for you! AAGC wanted to offer more quality sessions that encompass concept-based instruction and information for superintendents, administrators, teachers, gifted specialists, counselors, and parents. So please share the conference information at your school and district! I would like for them to gain a deeper understanding about gifted education in Alabama!

I would like to invite you to visit the AAGC website (www.alabamagifted.org) and click on the 2014 Conference Tab at the top. Under the tab, you will see detailed information concerning registration, hotel reservations, awards, grants, contests, and so much more! Please begin registering for the conference NOW! AAGC contests challenge students to think outside the box utilizing depth, complexity, and rigor as they express their selves! I encourage each of you to get involved with the AAGC grant funding opportunities! Throughout the years, AAGC has funded many excellent projects that promote creativity and concepts through project-based learning! So check out all the best that AAGC has to offer through contests, awards, and grants today because deadlines are posted!

Amy Waine, President


Your Voice Is Needed Now!

faucetParents, grandparents, teachers, and friends of gifted education, your voice is needed during the next week to help legislators know that $1.1M for the Gifted Student Program budget needs to be raised to $2M!  I have enclosed the Senate Educational Trust Fund appropriations summary for 2015 – SB 184 that was released today. The $1.1M will afford each identified gifted child in Alabama about $3.00 per year!

This budget will go to the House of Representatives next week for further changes. I need you to call, text, or Tweet your legislators in the House of Representatives for the next two weeks!  If you need to locate your legislator’s number I have included a link that can help. A telephone call would make the biggest impact!  You may not reach her/him but you will reach their secretary and they will get your message.

What is at risk? Alabama public schools gifted education programs are at risk!  Please help us create a loud voice in Alabama that supports gifted education for generations to come!

Senate ETF budget-

www.lfo.state.al.us/pdfs/FY 2015 Spreadsheets/ETF/ETF – FY 2015 FT-E Committee Substitute.pdf 

Locate your House of Representative rep -



Amy Waine

AAGC President


@sniarb on Twitter