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UA Little Rock Graduate Student Honored for Gifted and Talented Work

UA Little Rock student Sheyanne Smith receives the Master’s and Specialist Award.
UA Little Rock student Sheyanne Smith receives the Master’s and Specialist Award.

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock graduate student has been recognized for her work in 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 Sheyanne Smith, a graduate student from Lincoln, Nebraska, the Master’s and Specialist Award.

The Masters and Specialist Award is presented to those who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and in increasing knowledge about and creating positive classroom and community environments.

“I am truly honored to win this award,” Smith said. “It is a priority for me to do everything to my fullest capability, and that includes maintaining a full-time job and being a graduate student. Winning the Master’s and Specialist Award means that I must be doing something pretty well!”

Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in teaching from Belmont University. She has been working in gifted and talented education for five years, starting as a teaching assistant at Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth and following up as a middle school gifted teacher in Tennessee.

Smith now serves as the director of high ability learning at the Nebraska Department of Education, where she follows her passion for bridging the gaps between research, policy, and classroom practice. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in gifted, talented, and creative education from UA Little Rock

“The program at UA Little Rock has been invaluable,” Smith said. “I have the flexibility to follow my classwork with my job whilst still having strong guidance and support from my professors. Everything has been directly transferable to the real world, and that has really expanded my abilities. Through my degree, I am gaining a better understanding of designing and analyzing research and interventions to best support initiatives in Nebraska.”

Smith is grateful to her professor, Dr. Ann Robinson, director of the Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education at UA Little Rock, for nominating her for the award.

“Her recognition of my potential is empowering,” Smith said. “When I got the call that I won, I was shocked. A recognition at the national level is indescribable. What I love most about this award is that it is a reflection of the dedicated educators, professors, and colleagues that make my work to support gifted students possible.”

Robinson notes, “Sheyanne is a busy professional in an important leadership role in gifted education at the Nebraska Department of Education. I’m delighted that she selected the UA Little Rock masters program in Gifted, Creative and Talented Education for her graduate preparation. Not only is she receiving an award from NAGC this year, she appears multiple times on the program as an early leader in the field. We are proud of all her accomplishments and know there are many, many more to come!”