ELP program can help gifted students to develop their potential

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recognized Tuesday, Jan. 27, as Gifted and Talented Day in the state.

?A gifted person is someone who shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression,? she said.

Substantiating what Sebelius said, Sherri Sells, extended learning program facilitator at Marion schools, added that as more focus is on science and technology in the future, everyone will need to step up to that challenge and ELP, which is provided by the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, can help.

Sometimes referred to as the gifted program, Sells said the myth that only the ?brightest? of students qualify is not true.

Sebelius also spoke about the misconceptions by educators, peers and other parents who don?t understand the special needs of these children sometimes leading to social/emotional difficulties or the feeling of ?just not fitting in.?

Anybody can recommend a student to the extended learning program, Sells said.

?Scout leaders, teachers, parents can suggest a child or students can be considered from assessment scores and grades.?

The idea is to challenge these students and develop their higher order thinking skills through enrichment opportunities they might not otherwise get in the classroom,? Sells said.

She also said it isn?t about one indicator either. A gifted student might not do well in a classroom setting, but excels in creating something technical.

As one gifted eighth grade student said in Sebelius? remarks, ?

I am made to feel like an outsider a lot from other students and by my teachers just because I am ?smart.? Sometimes I really wish I wasn?t labeled gifted. Sometimes I wish I could be just like everyone else.?

One of the Marion High School students needed a half credit in English after failing that class.

?He was intelligent, but he didn?t like to write,? Sells said.

In order to pass English, he needed to write four essays: narrative, technical, expository and persuasive.

Once she was able to see what interests this student had, it became clear to both of them ? he would use gaming to write his four essays.

Another student, a sixth grader, wanted to be an inventor.

?She had to learn how to sell her idea,? Sells said, ?and she had design challenges, but once she figured these things out, she came up with a timer ? a simple machine.?

Other projects Sells and her students have tackled included robotics, crime scene investigations, science and engineering.

?These young people need the flexibility which would allow them to work on something different than the rest of their class,? she said.

Sells added that these students, who are recognized for uniqueness, need the support of others to advocate for adequate services to help them in the public school system.

The extended learning program is for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

For questions about the program either call the Marion County Special Education Cooperative or either ELP facilitator.

In Marion, Goessel and Peabody-Burns school districts, call Sells and in Hillsboro and Centre, along with OASIS in Florence, contact Kaylene Mueller.

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