Historical Overview of the Alabama Association for Gifted Children
Since the organization was established, AAGC has strived to provide support for parent groups throughout the state, develop partnerships with community, state leaders, and the National Association for Gifted Children, and increase funding for the state mandate for identifying and serving gifted children across Alabama.
Before AAGC, the voice for gifted education in Alabama was The Alabama Association for the Gifted (ALATAG), a division of the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC). Membership in ALATAG required membership in CEC. In response to the small number of people involved in ALATAG various other problems, several educators met to discuss the future of ALATAG. Linda Evans, SDE Gifted Ed. Specialist, Dr. Lusia MacPherson, Shelby Co. Coordinator of Gifted Ed, and Dr. Brian Reid, UAB Professor of Gifted Ed. attended a regional leadership and advocacy meeting sponsored by the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC). When they returned, discussion started. In February of 1995, a group of educators, University professors, including Dr. Rick Olenchak, Dr. Carol Schlichter, Dr. Tom Hebert, and Dr. Brian Reid, coordinators and teachers of gifted education, and the AL State Department Specialist in gifted education came together to discuss the need to establish an Alabama affiliate of NAGC. One of the goals of this new organization, the Alabama Association for Gifted Children, was to provide support for creating a grassroots network that could effectively serve as an advocate for high-ability students.
Dr. Lusia MacPherson, the first President of AAGC, filed the necessary paperwork needed to incorporate the new organization. In May 1995 – the Alabama Association for Gifted Children received incorporation status as a non-profit corporation – a separate organization from ALATAG. With each year AAGC began to increase membership, establish officers and organizational procedures, and provide leadership for a statewide annual conference and workshops. The statewide conference and workshops provide opportunities for professional development and exposure to national leaders in gifted education for the state’s gifted specialists, parents of gifted children, and school administrators. Conferences in the beginning were held annually at different schools in different geographical areas of the state. As membership grew and attendance at the annual conference increased, the AAGC Executive Council decided to hold the conference at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, where the conference was held 2006 through 2017. In 2018, the AAGC annual conference moves to an exciting new venue, the Birmingham Marriott at Grandview, to accommodate increased attendance at the conference. Because of the Covid19 outbreak in 2020, the annual conference has been moved to a virtual format. AAGC is planning an in-person conference event for the 2021 year.
Parent groups advocate in their communities for gifted students and can become chapters of AAGC. If you are interested in starting a parent advocacy group, please contact the president of AAGC.AAGC advocates with community, business and state legislators to increase awareness for gifted education. In 2007 for the first time in the history of gifted education in Alabama, the State Legislature allocated $2.3 million for gifted education programming. Then in 2008 – 2011 funding for gifted education was not renewed. After much advocacy, funding was reinstated in 2012 by the Alabama State Legislature for $1 million for gifted program funding. In 2014 the State Legislature increased the Gifted Student Program budget to $1.1 million. For FY 2018, gifted funding in the Education Trust Fund was increased to $2.5 million. AAGC continues making a difference in the lives of gifted students in Alabama through recognizing educational excellence. By supporting gifted students, we increase the likelihood that Alabama will move to higher levels of productivity and economic growth.
The Alabama Association for Gifted children recognizes the need for educational excellence. By supporting gifted students, we increase the likelihood that Alabama will move to higher levels of productivity and produce citizens who will contribute to the state’s economy and a global society.