Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Frances Karnes had a vision for advancing
opportunities for gifted youth.
University of Southern Mississippi gifted education professor shows
no signs of slowing down in pursuit of that vision through her work
as director of The Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Education,
which celebrates its silver anniversary of providing a wide range
of specialized instructional programs for the intellectually gifted,
the academically talented and for young people with leadership potential.
been a wonderful opportunity to serve students, their parents, teachers,
counselors and special education program developers," Karnes
said of her time as director of the center.
of two important events orchestrated by Karnes prior to the initiation
of the center helping to pave the way for its accomplishments should
Mississippi Legislature, responding to the needs of gifted children,
amended the law to provide a legal basis for funding gifted education
programs and subsequently appropriating funds for that purpose.
Second, parents of the gifted, teachers, and other interested citizens
from throughout the state also responded by uniting as active members
of a new advocacy organization, the Mississippi Association for
Gifted Children, of which Karnes was the founder and first president.
Lee Jarrell Davis of Hattiesburg said Karnes has been an invaluable
asset in sharing her experience and expertise with him and other
legislators on issues concerning gifted education.
is a tremendous asset to (Southern Miss) and Mississippi regarding
gifted education," he said. "She's been very helpful in
informing me about the state's needs regarding legislation affecting
he has participated as a guest speaker at the center's summer leadership
workshops, and described the programs as excellent opportunities
for young people. "Not only in Mississippi, but in different
states across the country, I hear people talking about the work
they do at the center," Davis said. "They've been very
impressed, and it just tickles me to hear when they say they want
to send their kids back to participate in the center's programs."
The work of
the center has encompassed a wide array of initiatives. The first
task undertaken by the faculty and staff was the design, implementation,
and evaluation of specialized instructional programs for the intellectually
gifted, the academically talented, and for all youth with leadership
potential. As a result of continuing efforts, the innovative and
challenging programs developed and validated have been replicated
at other colleges and universities and in public schools across
the state and nation.
has also been responsive to the critical need for highly qualified
teachers of the gifted in public and private schools and for college
and university faculty with strong preparation at the advanced graduate
level. The University of Southern Mississippi is one of a select
few institutions in the country to offer master's, specialist, and
doctoral degrees with an emphasis in gifted education. Many former
graduate students have become instructional leaders in elementary
and secondary schools. Doctoral students have readily obtained excellent
positions in colleges and universities throughout the United States
academic year, teachers of the gifted in public and private schools
of Mississippi and adjoining states meet on the Southern Miss campus
for intensive workshops devoted to developing strategies for meeting
the unique needs of gifted and talented youth. Additionally, the
annual Parenting Gifted Children Conference, held for the past 20
years has attracted parents, grandparents, teachers, counselors,
and other advocates for the gifted from throughout the region.
Dr. Lance Faler,
a Hattiesburg radiologist, who took part in the center's summer
and Saturday Gifted Education programs, and says his participation
was a valuable addition to his academic experience as a young man.
I liked the programs was they offered things you didn't get in school
at that time, such as computer programming," he said. "They
also offered opportunities to study things that were not considered
mainstream subjects at my age level, and that's what was different.
I was around people interested in the same things that I was."
programs offer academically talented students a chance to accelerate
their learning in ways they may not have access to in their own
school, Faler said. "I think these programs are important for
the children of Mississippi," he said. "It promotes the
education of our future leaders, our doctors, attorneys and writers
it's an important thing for our state."
Karnes for her devotion to the needs of the gifted and for her contributions
to research in the field. "She's just a wonderful person,"
he said. "That's the best way to sum it up. She has absolutely
devoted her life to these kids, and the research she has done has
conducted by the center personnel has been widely reported in numerous
journals. These publications have provided a broad audience with
a better understanding of gifted and talented children and their
distinguishing characteristics. Such research and publications have
benefitted professionals who plan and conduct challenging programs
to meet the unique needs of the gifted. The extensive investigation
of legal issues and the gifted, reported in the only three books
ever published on this subject, has helped influence public policy
pertaining to the gifted.
to date can be attributed in large part to the many outstanding
graduate students and other capable and dedicated people who have
worked in the center during the past 25 years," Karnes said.
"Credit is also due to continuing support provided by administrators
and by the many colleagues from academic and service departments
who have collaborated with the center or rendered assistance, and
a great deal of gratitude is extended for the valuable time contributed
and the fiscal support provided by the many individuals from the
public and private sectors."
Pierce, interim dean of the Southern Miss College of Education and
Psychology, said, "We're looking forward to celebrating the
center's 25 years, especially the outstanding work of Dr. Karnes."
For more information
about the center and its programs, and for information about events
related to this year's 25th anniversary, call (601) 266-5236.