The West Virginia Wesleyan Summer Gifted Program was conceived and developed by a college professor who felt his gifted sons were not being adequately served by the local school system.
Dr. Joseph Wiest, a professor of physics at West Virginia Wesleyan College, started the program in 1983, which has been running continuously ever since.
“Any gifted student, or one who has tested at ninety-seven percent in either verbal or math sections of any standardized test, will qualify,” explained administrative assistant to the program April Keating. “We take students from all over the U.S. and even outside the country.”
Students can expect to take courses during the two-week program that challenge them in mathematics, physics, computer programing, and environmental sciences. The class setting is intimate, allowing for individual attention.
“Enrollment has been historically small, so the students feel supported by both counselors and professors,” Keating added. “They [staff and students alike] become very close during their time here, and maintain these connections after they leave the program.”
Keating noted that gifted students, especially in West Virginia, are frequently underserved by their school systems, and that even those with an IEP (Individualized Education Program) do not get the intellectual stimulation and social support they need.
“This program is critical for their intellectual development and their self-concept,” she said. “At about middle-school age, most gifted students who’ve not been sufficiently challenged feel defeated—and become complacent. Our program is an antidote to that feeling of hopelessness. The return of almost half of our students every year shows how important the program is to them.”
For April, it’s rewarding to see each student grow and become more confident in their abilities. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the support and formation of these students, who I believe hold the key to many of our problems,” she said. “Since so many of them come back every year, I’ve been in the fortunate position to see them grow, and I fully expect them to go out and change the world for the better.”
The Wesleyan Summer Gifted Program is the most unique and affordable program of its type in the region. The program will run June 17-30 this year, and the deadline to enroll is June 1.Lena Camilletti