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Waco ISD Seeking To Increase Services To Gifted Students

July 5, 2011

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Dr. Cecilia Boswell gave up setting her own hours, working from home, and picking which problems to tackle to come to Waco. As a self-employed consultant, she was in charge. But the call to come to Waco was strong enough in May to persuade her to give that up. And the self-described workaholic is diving right in to the tasks incumbent with being the district's new advanced academics director.

Dr. Boswell is one of the first major hires under superintendent Bonny Cain, who saw a need in Waco ISD to better serve gifted and talented students. Dr. Boswell, who was running her organization, Austin Creek Education Systems, applied to come to Waco and find ways to keep students with special abilities from slipping through the cracks. As past president of the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented, she's worked closely with many districts across the state and shares Dr. Cain's goal of better serving gifted and talented students in the district. The first way to start that service, says Dr. Boswell, is to identify them beyond elementary school.

Clarence Simmons is the principal of Waco High School. He and Boswell have worked closely in the weeks since her arrival. Simmons echoes Boswell's desire to see these students identified, and believes it's a way to better maximize the school's resources for their students.

There are many students, says Simmons, who are late bloomers, and it's these students that would stand to most benefit from an increase in identification. Many can remember a teacher who demystified a subject well beyond fifth grade. And long before he was a principal, Simmons was a student struggling with math. He gives a personal example as to why this is an important issue.

So if a teacher unlocks a subject and helps a student tap into his or her potential past eighth grade, that student currently cannot move into the program. It's not a problem only here in Waco ISD, but one that Dr. Boswell stresses is about to change here.

We'll continue to look at this story tomorrow and Friday on 103.3 FM, examining some ways that Dr. Boswell will begin the process of change. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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