REACHing out to Gifted Students

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 9, 2009) The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) is making it possible for the USF College of Education (COEDU) to connect with gifted students in an unprecedented way – through REACH: Recognizing Extraordinary Accomplishments of Children. This unique four-year project is designed to increase the representation of English language learners (ELL’s) and low-socioeconomic status (L-SES) learners in the Hillsborough County School District’s (HCSD) program for intellectually-gifted students.


Elizabeth Shaunessy, associate professor for gifted education in the Department of Special Education received a $1,575,392 grant from USDOE’s Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Grant Program to support the project. She serves as co-principal investigator with Linda Evans, assistant professor of secondary education.


“Ultimately, REACH will enable us to provide greater services for learners who have been historically underrepresented in gifted education programs,” said Shaunessy.  “This grant is a giant step toward reversing that trend.  REACH will afford USF and HCSD to continue our collaborative efforts to increase the identification and services for gifted children through establishing parent networks.” 


COEDU and the HCSD have partnered on several other significant projects in the past, including several as part of the Tampa Bay Educational Partnership between the David C. Anchin Center in the USF COEDU and the HCSD.


“We were thrilled to learn this grant was awarded based on the combined strengths of our HCSD partners and the COEDU Faculty,” said USF-COEDU Dean Colleen S. Kennedy. “The HCSD has been a key partner on a variety of projects, and we are very pleased to work with the district in identifying gifted students from underrepresented groups. Our aim is to help all children achieve to their maximum capability.”


REACH is the first award of its kind in the history of the College’s Gifted Education Program.


“We are delighted with the national recognition this highly competitive, peer-reviewed award will bring to our department, college, and university,” said Daphne Thomas, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Special Education. 


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The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.



Kim Tucker, USF College of Education Communications Director, (813) 974-7440