Without a trace of nervousness, Coggin Elementary School fourth-grader Alden Cecil stood near the front of a classroom and faced about eight classmates seated at tables.
“Well hello, GT classmates,” a smiling Alden called out with a degree of gusto. Alden and the other students in the class are members of the gifted and talented program that operates in grades kindergarten-through-fourth in the Brownwood school district.
Alden offered a big, friendly wave. “How are you today?” he asked his classmates.
With that introduction, Alden went on to explain the concept of the project he thought up: a hologram phone. Alden didn’t actually have one, but he explained what it would do and how it would work, and he took questions from his tech-savvy and market-savvy classmates including “how do you play games on it? Does it come in full color?” “You’re going to have to buy that update,” Alden replied to the latter question.
Great questions, GT coordinator Angela Fabbiani said, raising her hand along with students until Alden called on her to ask a question.
Fabbiani, a 19-year teaching veteran and a graduate of Early High School, is in her first year as the GT coordinator. Fabbiani previously taught third grade for six years at Northwest Elementary School, and previous districts where she’s worked include Mineral Wells.
“I’ve always loved gifted students,” Fabbiani said, acknowledging she has some “big shoes to fill” in following longtime GT coordinator Nancy Anderson, who retired last year.
Fabbiani has about 90 GT students spread among the district’s elementary schools, and she travels to the campuses to pull groups of students for once-a-week class sessions.
Fabbiani, who has a master’s degree in curriculum instructional design, said she loves the “unique personalities” of GT students and enjoys challenging them.
Fabbiani said she’s working on making some additions and changes to the GT program, and she’s getting her students ready to present their projects at a GT showcase. The come-and-go showcase will be April 24 at the school district’s Central Office.
“We do lots of projects, and they get to put their own spin on it,” Fabbiani said.
Fabbiani said she sees GT classes as an opportunity for socialization as well as “acceleration” in their learning. Participating in GT builds the students’ confidence, Fabbiani said.
Fabbiani gave some specific observations about GT students:
• They love learning new things.
• They think creatively.
• They use flexible thinking often and think outside the box.
• They love a challenge.
• “They inspire me every day!” Fabbiani said.
At the beginning of the GT class period, Fabbiani asked her students to repeat the four “P’s” of making a presentation: posture, polite, prepared, projection.
GT student Peyton Cox went first, describing her concept of sunblock screen for drivers. Peyton took questions from her classmates: “How much will it cost? Does it soak up heat? Does it get dirty? Can you use it at night?”
“Why would you need to?” Peyton replied to the last question.
“These are all great questions. I like the idea a lot,” Fabbiani said.
After Alden’s presentation on his hologram phone, GT student Jose Rodriguez presented his concept of a wheelchair-accessible “handi-bed.” Jose spoke shyly at first but seemed to gain footing and confidence.
“I do love it,” Fabbiani said. “It’s really fun. The coordinating part is the new part.”