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Meeting State Needs with Gifted and Talented Education Courses


"I came to USC to design and deliver a new and challenging graduate program in gifted and talented education," says Educational Studies for Gifted and Talented Education Professor Thomas P. Hébert.

He describes that one special feature of the program currently under construction is an emphasis on training educators to identify and nurture the gifts and talents of young people in high poverty environments. "This program will be unique" Hébert continues, "because currently there is no gifted education degree program in the country with this focus. At USC, we are supporting school districts in developing strong programs for underserved gifted students."

As an engaged board member of the S.C. Consortium for Gifted Education, Hébert has examined the need for gifted and talented (GT) training in South Carolina and is preparing for the inevitability that teachers will be required to meet the state's GT requirement as mandated by the state legislature.

Dr. Hébert's current classes are specifically geared to address South Carolina's gifted and talented endorsement requirements. They are open to graduate students, undergraduates in their final year of study who qualify for "Senior Privilege," and K-12 educators. Two endorsement courses will be offered in the upcoming Spring Semester. The first class is EDEX 540, Nature and Needs of the Gifted and Talented, an overview course that serves as an introduction to the field of gifted and talented education. This course presents a history of the field, an examination of the characteristics and concomitant needs of gifted children and youth, programming options, curricular adjustments, special populations of gifted students and contemporary issues and trends. 

The second class is EDEX 742, Educational Procedures for the Gifted and Talented that focuses on the understanding and use of instructional strategies and materials that may be used to facilitate the development of gifted learners from diverse backgrounds who express their gifts in various talent domains. The course has been designed to familiarize students with information concerning differentiation of instruction for highly able learners based on their characteristics and needs and on theory and practice in instructional design. 

Dr. Thomas P. Hébert has more than a decade of K-12 classroom experience working with gifted students and 20 years in higher education training graduate students and educators. Additionally, he has conducted research for the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Dr. Hébert is a nationally recognized leader in gifted education and the acclaimed author of Understanding the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students that addresses the comprehensive treatment of social and emotional development in high-ability learners.

Because of his stature as a scholar and a nationally recognized leader in gifted and talented education, Hébert was invited to be the featured keynote speaker for the New England Conference for Talent Development and Gifted Education in 2013. His topic was Cultivating the Social and Emotional Growth and Development of Gifted Students. "Educators remain dedicated to nurturing the growth and development of the whole child" says Hébert. "In doing so they attend to the social and emotional needs of their students. This presentation explored the experiences of several noteworthy students who offered insights on the social and emotional issues they encountered and supportive adults who provided guidance. By listening to the voices of these gifted students teachers recognize their influential roles and reflect on significant ways to provide support for the young people they teach."

Hébert was also a featured speaker at the South Carolina Consortium for Gifted Education (SCCGE) annual conference. There he highlighted insights from his award-winning book that examines the lived experiences of gifted students; social and emotional characteristics and behaviors evidenced in gifted learners; friendships and family relationships that support them; contextual influences that shape their social and emotional lives; and identity development.

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