When Evans High School senior Whitney Bryant failed the test that is the gateway to the gifted program three times, she made it her mission to find out why.
It became the subject of her senior project this year.
"I've had a stigma against the gifted program for years," said Whitney, 17, the daughter of Jesse and Carol Bryant. "I thought what a good opportunity for me to research something that has bothered me so long. The problem is not so much with the test. The test emphasizes gifted thought. But there is a missing link in the program."
The missing link, she said, is that students like her who are highly motivated achievers are missing out on more challenging classes that would prepare them for high school advanced placement courses.
During her senior project, she had the opportunity to serve as a student representative on the Middle School Gifted Education Committee.
Whitney Bryant presented her senior project on gifted education to a class at Evans High School. The Columbia County Board of Education plans to implement her ideas in the 2005 school year.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"She did have some valuable input as a student as a result of some of the research she had done and also as a student who had been in some of the classes in the system," said Director of Middle School Program Mike Lindsey. "She was a valuable member of the committee."
The committee has proposed changes in the program that would open it up to students like Whitney. The committee recommended a plan to the school board Tuesday night where middle school gifted and high achievers could take math all three years, take social studies in sixth grade, science in seventh and language arts in eighth grade.
Whitney also job shadowed a gifted teacher for eight hours at Westmont Elementary School and served on the committee. It was enough for her to learn that she would not likely pursue a career as a gifted teacher.
"Definitely not," she said. "My patience level is extremely low. I've always taken for granted the patience of my teachers. It makes you appreciate their ability to deal with a wide variety of students. I think I am interested in the reform aspect of education."
Whitney said serving on the committee and giving her input to formulate the proposed changes makes up for her years of frustration.
"I'm extremely glad I did it," she said. "I was able to turn something negative into something positive."
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