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UA Little Rock Graduate Student Receives Javits-Frasier Scholar Award

Lauren Smithey
Lauren Smithey

A UA Little Rock graduate student has been honored with an award that will help expand her knowledge of gifted and talented education.

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), the nation’s leading organization focused on the needs of gifted and talented children, has awarded Lauren Smithey, a graduate student from Cabot, Arkansas, the Javits-Frasier Scholar Award.

The Javits-Frasier Scholars Program is a unique professional development opportunity for teachers, school counselors/psychologists, and others who work in Title I schools and are passionate about helping all gifted children. The program provides scholars with a travel stipend and complimentary registration to attend the NAGC Annual Convention, a professional mentor from the NAGC community, and a two-year membership to the NAGC.

“When I first was informed about receiving the Javits-Frasier Scholarship Award, I was overjoyed,” Smithey said. “There is always a need and desire to create more equitable, diverse access to gifted education, which this program strives to achieve. It is not just an award but a commitment to the ideals of Dr. Mary Frasier (an internationally recognized scholar and researcher in gifted education) in further identifying and servicing underrepresented populations in gifted education.”

Smithey serves as the gifted and talented facilitator at Indian Hills Elementary in North Little Rock, the District II representative on the Arkansans for Gifted Talented Education (AGATE) Board, and the volunteer coordinator/materials manager for UA Little Rock’s Summer Laureate University for Youth (SLUFY) program. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in gifted, talented, and creative education from UA Little Rock

“What I have come to discover while on the path to achieving this degree is a wonderful sense of belonging,” Smithey said. “It’s akin to finding a group of people who not only speak the same language as you but happen to also have the same accent and the same mannerisms. I came into the program at the height of the pandemic and from a very dark place, so I am unafraid to say that this program helped save me from drowning. What I have encountered is an onslaught of highly educated professionals who are eager to assist in any way they can just for the sake of helping.”

Smithey is grateful to her UA Little Rock professors and North Little Rock School District colleagues who have helped advance her career in gifted and talented education.

“I would not be where I am today without the grace and guidance of Dr. Ann Robinson, Dr. Christine Deitz, Dr. Monica Meadows, and the Jodie Mahoney Center,” Smithey said. “My colleagues at North Little Rock both past and present have been instrumental in my growth as an educator: Mrs. Bonnie Curlin, Dr. Amber Harbin, Mrs. Kay Adams, Mrs. Tina Johnston, Mrs. Elena Reyes Lovins, Mrs. Karen Moss-Newburn, Mrs. Mindy Bissett, Mrs. Nancy Simpson, Mrs. Kim Fonville, Mrs. Heather Theodore, and Mr. Kris Smith. My gratitude to every one of these individuals is never-ending, and I thank them so much.”