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### Recognition for UA Little Rock Graduate Student’s Exceptional Work with Gifted and Talented Individuals

A graduate student from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has been acknowledged for her contributions to gifted and talented education.

Sheyanne Smith, hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska, has been honored with the Master’s and Specialist Award by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), the foremost organization dedicated to addressing the needs of gifted and talented youth.

The prestigious Masters and Specialist Award is bestowed upon individuals who have exhibited exceptional teaching skills and have made significant contributions to enhancing understanding and fostering positive learning environments in classrooms and communities.

Expressing her gratitude, Smith stated, “Winning this award is a true honor for me. Balancing a full-time job with my graduate studies has always been a priority, and receiving the Master’s and Specialist Award validates my dedication and hard work.”

Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in teaching from Belmont University. With five years of experience in gifted and talented education, she began her journey as a teaching assistant at Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth before transitioning to a role as a middle school gifted teacher in Tennessee.

Currently, Smith serves as the director of high ability learning at the Nebraska Department of Education, where she actively pursues her passion for bridging the gap between research, policy, and classroom practices. She is also in the process of pursuing a [ppp6].

Reflecting on her academic journey, Smith praised the invaluable experience gained at UA Little Rock. She emphasized the program’s flexibility, which allows her to seamlessly integrate her coursework with her professional responsibilities while benefiting from unwavering support and guidance from her professors. The practical knowledge acquired through the program has significantly enhanced her skills, particularly in designing and evaluating research and interventions to better support educational initiatives in Nebraska.

Acknowledging the pivotal role of Dr. Ann Robinson, the director of the Jodie Mahony Center for Gifted Education at UA Little Rock, Smith expressed her gratitude for the nomination that led to her receiving the award. Smith emphasized the empowering effect of Robinson’s recognition of her potential, underscoring the shock and elation she felt upon learning of her win. She emphasized that the award not only recognizes her individual efforts but also pays tribute to the collaborative efforts of dedicated educators, professors, and colleagues who have supported her in her mission to empower gifted students.

Dr. Robinson commended Smith’s dedication and leadership in the field of gifted education, highlighting her significant role at the Nebraska Department of Education. Robinson expressed delight in Smith’s choice to pursue the UA Little Rock masters program in Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education, noting her multiple appearances as an emerging leader in the field. Robinson expressed pride in Smith’s achievements to date and expressed confidence in her future success and continued contributions to the field.