Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Saving NC Governor's School

Word on the street is that the budget for NC Governor's School, one of NC's premier programs for gifted students, is about to be cut in half. Even with all the talk of preserving the education budget by our governor, it's come down to this: some education programs have got to be trimmed.

As a gifted child growing up in a rural part of NC, there weren't always the same opportunities that you might find in a larger city. That's not to say that my parents didn't work to provide those opportunities -- piano lessons, summer camp, attending the symphonies and plays -- but the public schools were not on the academic cutting edge to provide for some of their best and brightest. I remind myself that this was almost 25 years ago, and perhaps the better integration of instructional technology and the proliferation of online courses and the access to NC Virtual Public School will improve the situation for those gifted children coming through the public schools today.

But unfortunately the general concensus is often this: those smart kids will "get it" (whatever it is) no matter what.

Well, guess what people?! I don't want other gifted children coming through the system to just have to "get it". I want them to be exposed to incredible educators who challenge their thinking skills, who push them just a little bit harder through the process, who ask the essential questions to get those gifted children motivated to explore, to create, to learn, to challenge themselves.

I want gifted children in North Carolina to have the opportunity to experience NC Governor's School.

For me, the six week summer experience introduced me to thought processes and mathematical theories and skills that I had never been exposed to and don't know that I would have been exposed to at my high school. I was put in a setting with other intelligent and talented teenagers who for the most part had the same wants and desires about owning their education, being challenged by others. For many attendees, attending Governor's School can be the first time that they feel like they are with their true peers, other gifted individuals who are not picked on and put upon just because their IQs are a certain number and their grade point averages are at the top and they use those big fifty-cent words!

Through the years, there have been articles, essays, and letters written both disparging and supporting the program. On the homepage of the NCGS website, the philosophy of the program is stated as a program

"... where students who are among the best and brightest gather for the love of learning and the joy of creativity
... where teachers and students form a community while searching together for answers to challenging questions
... where there are no grades or tests
... where a synergy of intellectual curiosity fuels the exploration of the latest ideas in various disciplines"

Ultimately for me, NC Governor's School met my expectations. I just want other gifted students in NC to have the same opportunity.

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