Nebraska Association for the Gifted Spring Conference  

May 12, 2015
On February 26th & 27th the Nebraska Association for the Gifted (NAG) Conference convened in Omaha with over 300 participants for it’s 57th annual event serving Nebraska educators, students and community. Conference presentations were designed to motivate educators and community members with ideas and classroom experiences to engage, challenge and motivate gifted students. There was an emphasis on STEAM topics, social/emotional issues, Gifted and Talented 101 procedures, technology driven creativity, authentic assessment and best practices working with high ability students. Two national presenters were brought in to provide innovative, proven, creative professional learning experiences that can be transferred and replicated by NAG’s conference attendees. The presenters this year were Dr. Del Siegle Department Head of Educational Psychology Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut as well as Dr. Jann Leppien, Associate Professor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. It was a great conference to be around those who have the common goal of improving teaching and learning for students who are considered high ability.

High Ability Learners (HAL) have also been the topic of discussion among legislators. The Nebraska Lottery Fund has been used for the last several years to provide $2.3 million dollars per year to Nebraska schools to support high ability students. The NE Lottery Funds will be available for HAL students for one more year. The Education Committee is recommending that future funds come from the general fund. The Appropriations Committee has recently provided the preliminary budget report. The report provides $0.00 in the general fund for HAL. This means, no funding to support high ability students. The Nebraska Association For the Gifted testified “neutral” on this recommendation on March 2, 2015 and strongly urged Senators to talk with the Appropriations Committee to recommend that they include HAL in the budget. On March 9, 2015 NAG and the Nebraska Department of Education testified in support of the including HAL funding in the appropriations budget. It is believed that the Appropriation Committee will include HAL funding in the proposed budget. How it moves from the proposal to a passed budget is not known at this time. The NAG board will continue to work closely with lawmakers to follow this very important matter so that students in HAL programs across the state will continue to receive the support they deserve.

-by Jami Schaffnitt, Teaching & Learning Coordinator