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Examine gifted programs

To the Editor:

I listened with overwhelming sadness and disbelief to the words spoken at a memorial service for the victims of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

I listened as a mom, a sister, an aunt, wondering how these families will be able to repair their broken hearts.

I also listened as a teacher. President Barack Obama spoke of “teaching our children well.” As a retired teacher, one who spent 29 years working with students, I thought about what that really meant, especially in light of the horrific events. I thought of the children whose lives I have touched, and hoped that they would feel I had “taught them well.”

Then, my thoughts went to the young man who had committed these unspeakable acts of violence. Where did his life go wrong? In several descriptions given by people who knew him, they all mention his extraordinary intelligence.

This seems to be a common characteristic of individuals who commit these violent crimes. Did we teach them well?

As we, as a country, examine what we might do to prevent this from happening again, we will talk about gun control and better serving the mentally ill. I wonder if we also need to re-examine our programs in the schools for serving those who are intellectually gifted. Are we meeting the needs of those few extremely intelligent outliers, who sometimes struggle to find their place in the school system as it exists today?

Joan Walton



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