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NCAGT 2021 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Laura Thompson

In 2021, Onslow County Schools AIG Specialist, Laura Thompson, was the recipient of the NCAGT Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted Award. We conducted an interview with Laura about her work as a gifted specialist and how she was impacted by receiving this award.

Describe your current role in gifted education and the population of students with whom you work.

As a K-5 Gifted Specialist, I am fortunate to work with students in all grade levels. I push into kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms using Primary Education Thinking Skills P.E.T.S. curriculum. In third grade I begin the year by pushing into classrooms using P.E.T.S., then transition into pull-out classes for identified gifted and Talent Development students. Fourth and fifth grade identified gifted and Talent Development students are pulled for weekly lessons in their respective identified areas.

Another large part of my role is to work closely with classroom teachers to ensure they are supported by providing appropriate materials for identified gifted students, as well as any other student who may require different work than the required curriculum.

How did it feel to be the recipient of the Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted Award?

When I was chosen as the Outstanding Teacher in Gifted Education, I was humbled beyond words. In Onslow County Schools, our gifted specialist team is outstanding. I really think the award shows the talents of the Onslow County Gifted Specialists team and our leadership.

How have you been impacted professionally by the Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted Award?

Receiving this award made me more confident in myself and has encouraged me to take risks professionally, such as designing professional development with time-strapped classroom teachers in mind. I have named this PD, Ruminating in the Restroom. Receiving this award has helped me feel more confident when I enter a classroom and I realize I am here to help not only the children expand their thinking, but also the adults in the room.

What is your favorite part of being a teacher of the gifted?

Being a teacher of the gifted is the best job in the world. I love challenging students to think about things differently and helping them to discover and explore their interests. Being an advocate for gifted learners means students know there is always someone in their corner.

What advice would you share with teachers who are new to working with gifted learners?

My advice for teachers who are new to working with gifted learners is please understand that there is not one typical gifted learner. Expect your gifted students to respond to challenges differently, to communicate in their own personal way and help them be ok with not being correct all the time. Nurture their interests and strengths while helping them grow in their growth points, whether it be content or socially/emotionally. Assign them work that will stretch their thinking. Teach them, and do not assume they won't need instruction.

Know an outstanding teacher of the gifted who deserves to be recognized? Nominate them today! Award nominations are open for this award and many others. Check out what other awards and scholarships we offer:

Please contact the Awards Committee at should you have any questions about the applications or submission process.

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