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Graduate student named a Javits-Frasier Scholar

Jerilyn Williams, a master's student in the College of Education and a teacher at Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School in Atlanta, was recently named a 2016 Javits-Frasier Scholar by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).

The Javits-Frasier Scholars program identifies passionate, innovative educators in communities across the country where students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are historically underrepresented in gifted programs. As a scholar, Williams will network with and learn from other teachers and leaders in gifted education.

"Being named a 2016 Javits-Frasier Scholar means that I have been charged with the task of educating others about the importance of ensuring all students, no matter their diverse backgrounds, have the opportunity to participate in talent development programs and receive services when necessary," said Williams. "Mary Frasier worked so very hard in the gifted education field to ensure that underrepresented students were identified, and this is a legacy that I would like to help carry on."

Earlier this month, Williams, who will graduate next year with a master's degree in reading education, attended NAGC's 63rd Annual Convention in Florida. She participated in several break-out sessions that highlighted the underrepresentation of African American and Latino students in gifted education programs across the country.

Additionally, Williams was able to speak with various school leaders about summer programs that provide enrichment opportunities for students outside of school hours.

"I know now that I am not in this alone with my students," she said. "And now that I am a member of the NAGC, which was another perk of my scholarship, I have the support I need to ensure my students receive an enriching education."

While in elementary school, Williams felt like she was never challenged enough in the classroom until a teacher placed her in the same gifted program she teaches in today.

According to M. René Islas, executive director of NAGC, high-achieving children in poverty and from minority groups are two and half times less likely to be identified for and served in gifted programs at school.

"I know that I am teaching students who don't have the support they need at home, and if I could be overlooked, imagine how many other students are slipping through the cracks each day," she said. "The reason I push myself is to ensure that I am the support system my students need when they feel like they have no one else. I want my kids to know that the world is theirs, and they have to get up and go and get it because no one will hand it to them."

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