GATEway To Growth

2015 Fall Semester Review

Dr. Quail T. Arnold, The New Gift in Gifted

The Office of Gifted and Talented Education has been under the leadership of a new Gifted Coordinator since August, 2015. Dr. Quail T. Arnold is a 2012 graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she earned her Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership. She earned her Master of Education at Mercer University and her Bachelor of Science in English Education at Georgia Southern University.

Prior to assuming the Gifted Coordinator role in APS, Dr. Arnold served as a High School Support Teacher for Gifted and Talented Education. This position provided her with the opportunity to support teachers and students through professional, curricular, and strategic development. While in this role, Dr. Arnold coordinated and facilitated several academic enrichment opportunities for gifted high school students such as Georgia Academic Decathlon, The Mary Frazier STEM Conference at the University of Georgia, and XANADU Arts & Sciences Academy. She was also provided with the opportunity to train teachers who are seeking to become gifted-endorsed. Additionally, she was instrumental in redesigning the high school gifted delivery model offerings, proving that gifted students need more than just Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate to meet their social, emotional, and academic needs.

Throughout her 11-year career, Dr. Arnold has served in several roles such as curriculum writer, test developer, trainer, instructor, and department chair. She is an advocate for Advanced Academics and believes that all students should have exposure to advanced learning opportunities despite whatever outside challenges they may face. It is this belief that drives her work in gifted and urban education.

Welcome aboard, Coordinator Arnold!

What is ESSA All About?

On December 10, 2015 President Obama signed The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); this legislation, a successor to No Child Left Behind, is a bipartisan measure revising and reauthorizing the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESSA/ESEA serves as the source of most federal K-12 education initiatives including Title I schools, accountability for student achievement, programs for English language learners, math-science partnerships, and Title II professional development. For the first time since 1998 (when the Javits Act was added to ESEA), the federal law addresses the needs of gifted and talented learners.

Specifically related to gifted and talented education, ESSA addresses the following:

  • Javits Act, which focuses grant funds on identifying students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented education programs, was retained; however, the funding must be provided for the Javits program each year by Congress.
  • ESSA allows that districts may use Title I funds to identify and serve gifted and talented students. This is the first time this has been specifically noted.
  • Student achievement data at each achievement level must be collected, disaggregated, and reported at both the state and local level. This includes students achieving at the advanced level. Previously, states were required to provide disaggregated information by subgroup for students who performed at or below the proficient level only.
  • Specifications on Title II professional development funds explicitly include the learning needs of gifted and talented students. States must now include information about how they plan to improve the skills of teachers and other school leaders that will enable them to identify gifted and talented students and provide instruction based on the students’ needs when applying for Title II funds. Districts the receive Title II professional development funds must use the money to address the learning needs of all students; ESSA specifically states gifted and talented students are included in “all students.” Funding may support training on gifted education-specific instructional practices, such as enrichment, acceleration, and curriculum compacting.
  • States are allowed to use computer adaptive assessments as the format for state assessments, being used for accountability purposes. ESSA authorizes grant funding to states to develop such assessments.

For more information on ESSA and its impact on gifted education, including ways to get involved, visit the NAGC site

What's Your ETA?

Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, the professional learning for gifted and talented education teachers has focused on “Effecting the Affective” and looking specifically at the Social and Emotional needs of the gifted learner. Teachers have engaged with topics such as Asynchronous Development, Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities, Imposter Syndrome, and Relationships. During the December meeting, gifted teachers culminated their first semester learning and set the stage for more in-depth cluster professional learning with a gingerbread house building competition. Grouped by clusters, teachers were asked to imagine the possibilities of the gifted program in their cluster within their newly adopted cluster model. Teachers were challenged to design a model of what their ideal classroom, school or program would look like, considering all aspects of the gifted learner and gifted program. In addition to their model, teachers showed off their creativity through presentations of their vision as they advocated for their solution to stakeholders. The products and presentations were truly inspiring with their positive implications for the future of gifted education!

Dreaming of a Gifted Cluster

Bringing School to the Parents

Over 80 participants came to Sutton Middle School on October 22 for the Office of Gifted and Talented Education’s semi-annual Parent University event. The theme of this year’s event was “Parents as Partners: Nurturing the Gifts of Our Students” and included offerings on activities that parents could do at home with their children that focused on Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) and would enhance students' critical and creative thinking (CCT), and social emotional learning (SEL) and well-being. Volunteer presenters included many of our gifted and talented teachers: Sonya Walston, Erica Donerlson, Tanya Barrett, Chiesa Carter, Vickie Crockett, Zsa Boykin, Andrew Nichols, and Jestine Taylor. Parents were greatly pleased with strategies, skills, and information they were able to take home to use with their children.

In addition to attending selected courses, parents also had the opportunity to visit vendor tables to gather information about gifted resources and program offerings from community organizations and other supporters of gifted education. Parents were able to learn about offerings from the Woodruff Arts Center, the Alliance Theater, the High Museum, the Gifted Education Center, the Summer Institute for the Gifted at Emory University, the Rosen Foundation for Financial Literacy, the Hour of Code, and our very own Xanadu Summer Program for Gifted and High Ability Learners. Many of the vendors also offered door prizes that were distributed during a drawing at the end of the event. The parents were very excited and complimentary of this year’s learning opportunities.

The next Parent University event is scheduled for March 17, 2016 at Slater Elementary School. Any GATE teacher interested in presenting should reach out to the Gifted Office.

Pipeline to Careers

At what point do you begin to think about your career? September 22nd offered gifted sophomores the opportunity with the Gifted Mentorship Advisory Pipeline Program, “MAPP Your Route to Career Success.” The Gifted Internship Advisory Council is composed of business and university members from The Coca- Cola Company, Georgia Institute of Technology (GA TECH), Georgia State University, Spelman College, United Parcel Service (UPS) and Atlanta Public Schools. The council found that it was necessary for students to be introduced to college and career experiences before their junior and senior year. “It was time for students to prepare for their internship experience as early as possible, “stated Tracy Rivers from the Coca-Cola Company. One hundred students were transported to Marcus Nanotechnology building on the beautiful campus of GA TECH. Students rotated through various seminars that focused on Peer Pressure, Soft Skills, SAT and ACT Testing, and nontraditional scientific careers. A college fair was also held that included representatives from eight universities. This allowed the students to discern the requirements needed for the universities that they plan to attend. “We feel that the ninth and tenth grade students need the exposure”, stated council member Diana Palma from Georgia Institute of Technology. “I sent my mom a text and told her that this was awesome!” stated a student from Mays High School. A pipeline program is scheduled for ninth grade students in February 2016.

A Spoonful of Knowledge - Middle School Academic Bowl

The Office of Gifted and Talented Education hosted the annual Middle School Academic Bowl on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at the Campbell Building. Students representing 14 different schools (including all twelve traditional schools and two charter schools) answered questions on subjects ranging from literature and history to mathematics, science and the performing arts. The goal of the academic bowl is to inspire students to excel academically, increase their self-confidence and self-esteem, and demonstrate a healthy competitive and team spirit.

Congratulations are in order to all teams for their participation in the 2015 competition! The top six teams from APS have the opportunity to participate in the PAGE Foundation’s regional competition. Good luck to the following schools who placed in our district competition:

1st Place – Inman Middle School

2nd Place – KIPP Strive

3rd Place – CSK Middle School

4th Place – Sutton Middle School

5th Place – Bunche Middle School

6th Place – Young Middle School

It was a wonderful experience watching APS students engage through enrichment! Special thanks goes to all the coaches, sponsors, and volunteers who made the event possible!

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Integrating Technology at Toomer Elementary

Jennifer Kraften, gifted teacher at Toomer Elementary, recently received a grant that enabled her to purchase 6 new iPads for her classroom. Her students utilized iMovie to create, edit, and upload movies that demonstrated their knowledge and understanding of the concepts covered in the “Ch-Changes” unit. She also integrates the use of other technology, such as her SmartBoard and desktop and laptop computers. In addition, she collaborates with media specialist at her school to identify age-appropriate software and web-based resources that fit into her unit design as well as extension activities such as “Hour of Code.”

Use Your Gift to Apply for Atlanta Families' Awards for Excellence in Education!

The Office of Gifted and Talented Education would like to encourage all of our outstanding teachers to apply for the Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education (AFAEE)! AFAEE is a program that understands how critical teacher and leader quality are in ensuring that every child receives an excellent education.

The Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education was conceived as a way to recognize the “best of the best” in Atlanta education. By recognizing excellent educators each year, the Atlanta Families’ Awards for Excellence in Education hopes to retain excellent teachers and school leaders, inspire other educators to transform their craft, and increase the public’s awareness of educator and student success across metro-Atlanta.

Educators in metro- Atlanta receive this award by demonstrating excellence in three areas:
• Raising student achievement
• Enhancing students’ self-esteem
• Collaboration with multiple stakeholders for the benefit of students.

Each teacher and school leader winner is awarded $7,500 that includes funding for a school project of the winner’s choice ($3,500), funding for a professional development opportunity to increase the winner’s effectiveness in the school or classroom ($1,500), and a personal stipend ($2,500).

We encourage you to visit the AFAEE website at for more information and to start your application today! Nominations are accepted until January 22 and the deadline for completing applications is February 5. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Amanda Lynch at

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Contributing Writers:

Dr. Yolanda Cobb, Tracy Joyner and Amanda Lynch