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Released December 3, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG --With a blend of humor and personal testimony, nationally renowned motivational speaker Jason Dorsey emphasized the importance of having educators like Dr. Frances Karnes help gifted and talented students realize their potential Thursday, during a banquet celebrating the 25th anniversary of The University of Southern Mississippi's Karnes Center for Gifted Studies.

Dorsey was the guest speaker at the banquet, held at the Hattiesburg Lake Terrace Convention Center. He has been featured on NBC's "Today Show," ABC's "The View," and the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series. "Being gifted is a blessing, but being gifted alone in no way guarantees success," Dorsey said. "Without the help of educators and the (Karnes) Center, that potential just stays potential."

"With the center's help, we can make that potential real."

The Center for Gifted Studies was established in 1979 and provides services for children and youth in grades kindergarten through 12, as well as support for teachers and undergraduate and graduate students. The center was renamed the Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies in 1999 in honor of Karnes, a longtime professor in the Southern Miss Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education and director of the center.

A variety of services are available through the center. Instructional programs on a wide range of topics are provided for intellectually gifted students in grades kindergarten through 12. A program to develop leadership concepts and skills is offered for students enrolled in grades six through 11, and teacher training and in-service education are provided for regular education personnel and for teachers who specialize in gifted education.

A conference for parents of gifted youth and other concerned adults is conducted on an annual basis, and research is conducted in rural and urban schools for a variety of purposes. For those persons with special interests in gifted students, the center will explore the potential to provide specific services designed to meet those interests.

More than 100 supporters of the center, including current and former students at the center, parents and others, turned out for the event.

Dr. Lara Otaigbe, whose daughter Florence, 10, has participated in the center's Summer Gifted Studies Program, said discovering the center after she and her family moved to Hattiesburg from Iowa two years ago was like "finding a diamond in the desert."

"She has learned so much. It (the Karnes Center) has really blessed our lives," Otaigbe said.


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January 19, 2005 3:36 PM