Exploring the Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program at the University of St. Thomas

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Apr 15, 2014 / 0 comments

One of the truisms in education, all around the world, is that educators will have students of differing abilities in their classroom. And it is often the most efficient use of a teacher’s time to teach to the lowest common denominator in order to reach everyone. I was an oft-neglected high-ability learner, bored with school, yet eager to learn as much as I could. Self-directed learning wasn’t really discussed, critical thinking skills came along in college (oh, what I could have done with learning that years earlier!), and I often wished I could learn more, more, more each day. What do you do with students like this? Is there a way to reach them, to teach to their abilities? Yes, there is.


Exploring the Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program at the University of St. Thomas


The University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, has a Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program – ALL online. So no matter where you are in the world, you can earn a certificate in this area – and, more importantly, reach students of diverse educational needs, especially exceptional students. The University also offers a Master of Arts in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education on campus. Bravo!


Exploring the Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program at the University of St. Thomas


I was fascinated by this program, as you might imagine. The program is led by two remarkable professors, Dr. Karen Westberg and Dr. Karen Rogers. I am sure they have heard countless jokes about the Two Karens. These two professors are changing the face of gifted education – globally. By enhancing their university’s long-standing online opportunities, they have made high-ability education accessible to educators around the world. This is a windfall for educators in international schools, teaching English abroad, or any teachers, whether in the US or abroad, that find themselves needing more tools and knowledge to fully address the needs of gifted, talented, and creative students.


Dr. Karen Westberg, University of St. Thomas Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program


I had a chance to talk with Dr. Westberg, and was impressed with the scope of the program. Take a look…




Amazed? Indeed – and you’re not alone. Take a look at what some educators in the program have to say:

•    I am writing based on my experiences with the University of St. Thomas certificate in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education.  My certificate exposed me to two very amazing professors whose love and dedication for gifted education has reformed my own educational aspirations and dreams. After my experience with the certificate program, I have decided to complete a Master’s degree in Gifted, Creative, and Talented education.

•    Fantastic course!  Thank you so much.  The knowledge learned in this course has turned out to be essential to teaching.

•    This was a great class--the learning was relevant and interesting.  The learning activities were well thought out and valuable.  The instructor did a great job in sparking interest in the concepts and helped build understanding and how to apply course material.

•    A very knowledgeable instructor who gives meaningful and appropriate feedback to inform our learning performance.


Dr. Karen Westberg, Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program at the University of St. Thomas


When asked who is best suited to take this program, Dr. Westberg noted the importance and accessibility of this program for global educators. She said, “Most of the people enrolled in our courses are regular classroom teachers, from kindergarten to secondary K-12 school teachers. Gifted education teachers, who have not had opportunities to take coursework in the field, also enroll in our classes. We tailor our assignments to meet the needs of whoever is enrolled in our classes.  

The course experiences will help classroom teachers do a better job of meeting the needs of their most advanced students, and it will help gifted education specialists design curriculum to meet the needs of highly capable students too.

Graduate students have opportunities to discuss topics and issues with each other on online discussion boards, and they actually become a community of learners.  It is neat to see how students in different roles and in different locations dialogue with each other and learn from each other.  Lots of sharing occurs.”


Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education Program at the University of St. Thomas



How will this change your teaching?


If you’d like to learn more about the faculty, classes in the certificate and MA program, as well as the biannual conference on Gifted, Talented, and Creative Education, please see: http://www.stthomas.edu/celc/academics/giftedcreativeandtalentededucation




All photos courtesy and copyright University of St. Thomas