Gifted Teachers have Options for Making Connections Conference

The Making Connections Conference is Mississippi’s largest conference for educators each year. Hosted by the Southern Regional Education Service Agency (SRESA), Making Connections is a one stop shop for CEUs, motivation, and collaboration among Mississippi’s teachers, coordinators, counselors, and administrators.

This year marks the 2nd year that the Karnes Center has helped to host the gifted strand at Making Connections. We are so excited to present information for any teacher interested in improving their ability to meet the needs of gifted and talented students in their classroom. Our sessions are nestled in among hundreds of others – you are certain to find just what you need at Making Connections. (And for those of you with Gifted Licenses, this is an opportunity to receive CEUs IN GIFTED EDUCATION instead of trying to retro-fit something to meet your needs.)

This year’s conference is only a few days away! Join us at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum June 6-9 for all of the wonderful adventures that you need to help you refresh, revive, and reset for the 23/24 school year! More information is available at

Our lineup of of gifted education presenters is:


  • Concurrent Session I: Lori Sisk: Underachievers, Twice Exceptional, and MTSS for Gifted Students
  • Concurrent Session II: Dr. Kristy McRaney and Dr. Heather Houston: Beyond the Norms: Considerations for Assessing Intellectual Abilities in Gifted Students


  • Concurrent Session III: Dr. Heather Houston: Preparing the Soil
  • Concurrent Session IV: Anne Etier: Creating Digital Content in the Classroom
  • Concurrent Session V: Michelle Courtney: Go, Go, Gifted Gadgets!

Deadlines are approaching!

DAY PROGRAMS: Registration deadlines for the Day Programs (SIM and YGS) were extended to May 15th.

RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS: Registrations for the Summer Gifted Studies, Leadership, and SPAATY Programs will be May 30.

See our recent press release about deadlines here.

All applications may be accessed by clicking here.

Follow us on Facebook (@FAKgifted) and Instagram (giftedstudies_usm) for links and announcements. You should have seen these images recently if you are already following us:

Look for more updates to our sites in July!

New Course Options for SPAATY

If you have been holding your breath in anticipation, it is time to BREATHE! The 2023 Lineup of SPAATY courses is here. This year’s courses ask students to examine their own strengths and weaknesses and encourage them to expand their gifts from the inside out. Each class requires a spirit of inquiry and adventure. Students will test themselves and apply what they learn to produce an outcome they will be excited to share with others.


This class explores the ins and outs of competitive debate in a variety of forms.  Be prepared to think and write quickly as you learn how to listen to your opponent and use appropriate strategies to step into the lead.

Criminal Justice: From Lawmaking to Verdict

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the U.S. legal system, beginning with an analysis of the Constitution and moving through the court system to reach a verdict in a criminal case.

Unleashing Your Creativity

Creativity is a concept that many people see as dichotomous—either you are creative, or you are not. However, everyone can be and is creative. Existing research on creativity has resulted in numerous theories relating the concept to culture, personality, divergent thinking, and mental health. There are even suggestions on how to enhance one’s creativity. These topics have implicit and explicit influences on students’ successes; thus, it is important that students learn how to recognize, appreciate, and inspire creativity within themselves and others.

Motivation in Action

Action is not the impact of motivation; motivation is force behind the action.  Motivation theories have been used in many different areas of psychology.  This course would refer to and apply motivational theories from Robert Sternberg, Abraham Maslow, Richard Ryan, Edward Deci, and so many more.  These theories can be used in future careers of motivating yourself and others around you. 

The Game is Afoot: Investigations in Detective Fiction

“The problem with putting two and two together,” writes crime novelist Dashiell Hammett, “is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.” That spirit of investigation and critical, often unusual, thinking will drive our inquiries this summer as we rendezvous with several classic detectives and their stories, unmasking the origins of the detective fiction genre and writing our own! We will consider the role of psychology in the detective story, as well as the historical, cultural, and political realities directing the writers and framing the readers of these texts.  We will also investigate questions at the heart of the humanities which allow us to read these texts even more imaginatively and ask ourselves how this genre solves the truth of who we are and why justice should be a human concern and right.

Fairy Tales

“But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

-C.S. Lewis

Did you love fairy tales as a little child? We all did, but somewhere along the path, we were misled into believing that fairy tales are only for children. The truth is that fairy tales, those joyful dreams of our ludic imagination, never cease to be instructive and enchanting. They teach us about life, and they teach us about stories. In this intensive creative writing course, we will return to the form of fairy tales and draw lessons about fiction writing in general. Each day, we will read a story and discuss its techniques that we may apply and improvise in our creative practice. We will also regularly write short-short stories based on various exciting prompts. You will revise and polish one of these pieces and share it with your fellow students on the final day of the course. Our ultimate goal is to help you unleash and celebrate your inner genius and creative potential.


Students will learn different aspects of technical theatre including stagecraft, lighting, rigging, and design. By learning how the backstage operations of theatres work, students can gain an appreciation of technical theatre. Technical theatre is not just construction but also requires a high amount of problem solving and ingenuity. Skills such as carpentry and welding can be transferred across many fields.


Students will be asked to rank the courses in order of interest on their applications. Course assignments and class schedules will be confirmed prior to the start of the program. Click here to apply!

SPAATY Adds Arts Courses

What is that extra A for? No, it isn’t a typo. Under the Mississippi Talent Development Initiative, SPATY is being expanded to include courses in the Arts and will now be recognized as SPAATY. Our Director is working with professors from a variety of areas on campus to update academic and artistic courses for the Summer of 2023.

Students are invited to apply to the program now to insure their place on the roster. Courses will be released as they are approved over the next several weeks. Courses currently approved include: Debate and Stagecraft. Be on the lookout for more courses in a variety of Academic and Arts areas!

SPAATY applications are now open – just click here!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Karnes!

There are amazing things happening on campus at Southern Miss. We are excitedly awaiting the final stages of construction of our brand new space for the Karnes Center. While we wait, we are celebrating all the good things that are to come and all the good things that make up our past.

Dr. Frances A. Karnes established the Center for Gifted Studies in 1979. We have been striving to serve the needs of gifted and talented students from all backgrounds for the past 43 years.

Our efforts and offerings include:

  • 2 Day programs in the summer featuring engaging, advanced curriculum for students with intellectual and academic gifts and talents
  • 2 one-week long residential programs for students with academic, intellectual, or leadership gifts and talents
  • 1 two-week long residential program for students with academic talents
  • 2 month-long Saturday programs during the winter months for students with intellectual or academic gifts
  • A parenting workshop series hosted in the winter months
  • The Fall Day of Sharing for Teachers
  • The Gifted Education Strand at the Making Connections Conference each spring

And there is more on the way! We cannot make an official announcement just yet, but be on the lookout for advanced levels of Professional Development, new ways to partner with us while working at your school, and year-round, online offerings for teachers and students.

None of these things would be possible without the original vision and mentorship of our dear Dr. Karnes. Her ability to find the gift in everyone she meets, and her desire to push each person to their own potential set the tone for the Center that now bears her name. Each and every day we seek opportunities to help students discover their gifts and reach their potential. Thank you, Dr. Karnes, for leading the way. We are grateful for your leadership and wish you the best birthday ever!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Karnes! We can’t wait to show everyone our new space: Coming Soon!