LOCAL TALENTED AND GIFTED PROGRAM COORDINATOR DEVELOPS HANDBOOK

May 18, 2002 12:00 am
STATEWIDE RECOGNITION: Betty Palmer, coordinator of the La Grande School District's Talented and Gifted program, has written a manual that TAG educators throughout the state will soon use. Palmer is shown here working with La Grande TAG students Zach Gray, left, and Taylor Skyles. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
STATEWIDE RECOGNITION: Betty Palmer, coordinator of the La Grande School District's Talented and Gifted program, has written a manual that TAG educators throughout the state will soon use. Palmer is shown here working with La Grande TAG students Zach Gray, left, and Taylor Skyles. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

This compass does not detect magnetic fields.

However, it will help Talented and Gifted program educators find their bearings as effectively as a Global Positioning System.

The compass is the 150-page manual developed by Betty Palmer, the La Grande School District's TAG program coordinator.

The handbook explains Oregon's TAG laws in narrative form, outlines how students are chosen for TAG programs, describes program standards and much more.

"It is a marvelous resource. It is a better source (for Oregon TAG programs) than all of the other information available,'' said Michael Jaeger, dean of Eastern Oregon University's school of education and business.

Jaeger's sentiment is shared by many. Palmer's manual has been selected by the leaders of Oregon's six regional TAG advisory councils to serve as their main handbook for interpreting laws and providing an overall framework.

Laura Pehkonen, TAG program consultant for the Oregon Department of Education, is also impressed. Pehkonen has decided to put Palmer's manual on the Oregon Department of Education's Web site.

The work's popularity can be traced to its explanation of complicated laws and regulations in an easy-to-understand style.

"It clarifies things and gives us goals and a direction for our program,'' said Jay Rowell, the La Grande School District's director of curriculum and personnel.

Palmer started working on the handbook 1 1/2 years ago. The educator saw a need for something to complement Oregon's TAG laws, which the state has had in place since 1987. Many educators, though, do not have good understanding of the laws because funding has not been available to provide proper training.

This is particularly unfortunate because TAG programs would flourish if the laws are followed.

"Oregon is lucky it has great TAG laws,'' Palmer said.

She explained that Oregon's TAG laws have spelled things out very precisely and provide an excellent framework for TAG programs.

Palmer's handbook is also meant to help parents. The manual explains issues like what information parents have a right to know regarding the children they have in TAG programs.

"It is meant to help parent advocacy,'' Palmer said.

Jaeger said that the handbook will help TAG educators lay a solid foundation for programs, which in turn will allow rapid progress.

Palmer credits the La Grande School District and Eastern Oregon University with playing important roles in providing support to complete her manual. Individuals who helped include Valerie Camilli, an education professor at EOU and director the Eastern Oregon TAG advisory group.

Palmer, who lives in Baker City, is completing her fourth year with the La Grande School District. She was previously with the Baker School District for 11 years.