Talking Circles: An Important Scholarship Opportunity
by Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn
In 1962, SENG founder Dr. James T. Webb was a graduate student in psychology at the University of Alabama. It was during this time that Dr. Webb became interested in gifted children as a result of an experience required by an assignment. He rode along with a public health nurse to conduct “well child check-up” visits in very rural Greene County. One stop included a visit to a small African-American community to visit the single mother of two young girls ages three and five residing in a two-room tarpaper shack. The public nurse informed the graduate student (Dr. Webb) she had heard both children could read, and Dr. Webb became curious and arranged for both children to be assessed at the University of Alabama psychological clinic. Both children were indeed identified as intellectually gifted following psychological battery of tests. In addition, the three-year-old was able to read on a second grade level and the oldest child was able to read on a fourth grade level. Although Dr. Webb initially thought it was great these children were gifted, he couldn’t help but wonder how they had learned to read living in such a deprived environment. He learned both children were self-taught and had learned to read primarily by asking questions about headlines from newspaper pages used as wallpaper in their home.
Dr. Webb has always wondered how the lives of these two children turned out. Since these young African-American girls were growing up during the Civil Rights era in Alabama, he knew there was a possibility their opportunities would be limited. He often pondered if they would receive the appropriate stimulation, educational opportunities, and enrichment to develop to their potential. He later wondered about their social and emotional development as it related to their giftedness, as he knew they would require specialized social and emotional support accompanied by appropriate educational opportunities if they were to be successful in such a hostile environment. The amazing birth of SENG began with Dr. Webb in 1962 in a rural county in Alabama based on a unique experience he encountered as a graduate student. His curiosity about the intellectual ability of two poor African American girls birthed an organization that addresses the social and emotional needs of all gifted individuals.
Today, in 2014, just as in 1962, there are millions of low-income gifted children from culturally different backgrounds. These children desperately need someone to demonstrate the same level of curiosity and concern experienced by that young graduate school student. They need their own “Dr. Webb.” Many of these children and their parents lack the necessary resources available to gifted children whose parents have higher incomes. In 2010, SENG’s diversity committee proposed the creation of the James T. Webb Scholarship to its board of directors. The scholarship was created to provide an opportunity for culturally different parents and children from low-income backgrounds to attend the annual SENG conference and all related activities. All of the parents and children awarded this scholarship in the past had never attended a gifted conference prior to attending the SENG conference. Many of the parents expressed an extreme amount of gratitude for the scholarship and shared that they learned so much about their children. The scholarship covers full conference registration and related expenses for one child and one parent, but does not cover travel, lodging, or non-conference provided food (some meals are included in the conference). Applications are available on the SENG website during January and February each year.
This scholarship is making a huge difference in the lives of parents and children from culturally different backgrounds. If you know any parents and children who would benefit from the James T. Webb Scholarship please spread the word about it! If you would like to sponsor a family for this scholarship, please contact the SENG office for further information.
Applications for the 2015 James T. Webb Scholarship will be available soon. For more information and updates, visit the James T. Webb Scholarship page.
Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn is a nationally certified school psychologist and is licensed to practice school psychology in the state of Florida. She has been employed with the Miami-Dade County Public School District as a school psychologist since 2005.
Ms. Kendrick-Dunn has a very strong passion for addressing the needs of gifted students from culturally and linguistically diverse populations and has been instrumental in significantly increasing the numbers of culturally diverse students participating in the Gifted Program at her schools. In addition, she has many helped parents find services outside the school district to help address the needs of their gifted children. In 2006, Ms. Kendrick-Dunn was a member of Miami-Dade Public Schools Gifted Task Force Committee and was also awarded the Mary Frasier Scholarship sponsored by the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC). In 2007, she was both appointed to the NAGC Diversity/Equity Committee and was awarded a grant by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Children Fund Inc to establish a resource center specifically designed for gifted students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Ms. Kendrick-Dunn completed her undergraduate work at Miami Dade College and Florida State University and her graduate work at Barry University. Ms. Kendrick-Dunn has presented at numerous professional conventions on the topic of gifted children.