“The children and faculty at TCV are so eager to learn and feel they have a mission," said Cramond. "It is exciting to work with them."

Gifted education prof, alumni work with schools for Tibetan refugees in India

Bonnie Cramond and alumni Charles Martin and Ted Anders are collaborating with the Tibetan Children's Village Schools to improve its gifted education program.

Genevieve di Leonardo | Jun 7, 2010

Bonnie Cramond and Ted Anders in front of the Taj Mahal.
A gifted education professor has joined two alumni and faculty from several other U.S. universities to improve the teaching practices and evaluation system in schools for Tibetan refugee children in India.

Bonnie Cramond, a professor in the department of educational psychology and instructional technology, was asked to work with the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) Schools by UGA graduates Charles Martin and Ted Anders.

Martin (Ph.D., ‘82), director of the Center for Program Evaluation and Development at Georgia College and State University, originally contracted with Anders (Ph.D., ‘82), a professor of education at Newman University in Wichita, Kan., to increase the global visibility of the center.

In 2006, at a conference of Nobel laureates he was facilitating, Anders began conversations with Madame Jetsun Pema, the Dalai Lama’s sister and then president of TCV, about the schools’ needs. Pema and Anders remained in contact regarding the schools for nearly three years. In March 2009, Martin and Anders met with current TCV president Tsewang Yeshi, and other TCV leaders to develop an initial plan. During a private audience with Martin and Anders, the Dalai Lama endorsed the plan, which has led to a multi-year commitment from Georgia College and Newman University, and now UGA, to work with TCV schools.

Since beginning their work last year, Martin and Anders have brought in experts such as Steve Dunn, assistant dean of Newman University and Florida-based education best practices experts Beverly Fisher and Joann Cannon, to assist in the work.

L-R: The Dalai Lama, Natalie Anders, Ted Anders, and Charles Martin.
Cramond was invited to join the project to improve the gifted education program and to assist all of the feeder schools in implementing a selection procedure that meets the needs of their system.

“I love teaching children, and I love working with teachers,” said Cramond, who is head of UGA’s gifted education program and former director of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development. “The children and faculty at TCV are so eager to learn and feel they have a mission. It is exciting to work with them. They don't have an administration that is forcing them to do something. We are working together toward a shared vision.”

Cramond has agreed to a five-year commitment to work with the TCV School for Gifted Children in Selakui to redesign their selection process and add some programs that will help them meet the Dalai Lama’s goal of producing top professionals who will serve as ambassadors of peace and compassion throughout India and the world.

“The students and faculty are very aware that they are exiles from their land, and they feel a strong mission to succeed, to retain their cultural heritage, and to embody the Dalai Lama’s vision of them as ambassadors of world peace,” said Cramond, who made an initial 10-day visit to India in March.

During her visit, Cramond observed classes and met with individual faculty members and administrators to learn about their culture and schooling, as well as what they wanted to achieve. She also introduced the faculty to three curriculum innovations that she thought would fit well with what she had learned about the program and their goals.

One of the programs Cramond proposed was the International Future Problem Solving Program, which was developed by the late UGA Alumni Foundation Distinguished Professor Emeritus E. Paul Torrance in 1974. Torrance was a pioneer in research on the identification and development of creative potential.

Cramond also suggested using the organization and ideas of the DaVinci Academy in Hall County (Ga.) developed by Hall County Rigor Specialist and UGA alumna Sally Krisel (Ed.D. ‘00) and school superintendent Will Schofield to provide a program of choice that uses student interest in the arts and sciences as the foundation for advanced learning in all content areas.

The final program she suggested was Renzulli Learning, a web-based program of assessment and instruction that enables students to work in areas of interest on individual or small group projects, developed by University of Connecticut professors Joe Renzulli and Sally Reis and supported by Kiki Walker of Renzulli Learning Systems.

“I think it is meaningful that alumni from UGA are having such a positive impact on the schools in the Tibetan Children's Villages,” said Cramond. “All of us involved have been touched by Paul Torrance in various ways. Charlie, Ted, Sally and I were all students of his at one time. He marked us with an understanding of the importance and possibilities of teaching creativity as well as a sense of mission to share this knowledge. Joe Renzulli and Sally Reis were professional colleagues of his who appreciated his work and guidance.”

Cramond will work with the TCV faculty over the next few months and plans to return to India in October with the resources necessary to carry out the plan.

Most of the funding for the TCV School program has been provided by the Georgia College and State University Center for Program Evaluation. Additional funding and technical assistance is being provided by the University System of Georgia’s Digital Innovation Group.

Genevieve di Leonardo is a master’s student in advertising and was a publications assistant with the College of Education’s Office of Communications for 2009-10.

© 2006 University of Georgia