During two one-week sessions (July 11-15 and July 18-22), Converse education graduate students led 95 gifted elementary students from Spartanburg County on a journey through time via the Athena Program.
Now in its 25th year and the only program of its kind in South Carolina, the Athena Program is a win-win situation as the children interact with each other as they explore topics that are new to them, and the Converse students gain course credit and the invaluable experience of working solely with gifted children. For the 2005 program, the children studied most aspects (culture, economy, discoveries) of the 1920s, 1950s, and the 1970s.
“We were responsible for all aspects of this program,” said Amy Gunter, an eighth grade teacher at Gable Middle School who is also earning her master’s degree in education at Converse. “We designed the curriculum, the lesson plans, and the budget. Since most of us are teaching higher grade levels at other schools where gifted students are spread throughout, it is important for us to see how gifted children react and interact differently at younger ages.”
Cindy Holland, a ninth grade teacher at Boiling Springs High School, is pursuing her second master’s degree in education from Converse. “I teach honors classes and tech prep classes at Boiling Springs High,” she said. “Working exclusively with gifted students through a program like Athena is valuable because I can take what works well back to my classroom, modify it for the gifted students in my classes, and present it in much greater detail.”