Students Innovative Project Earns National Award
Dec. 8, 1999 -- When University of Virginia
graduate student Kay Brimijoin began working on an assignment for
her "Introduction to Curriculum for the Gifted" class,
she had no idea of its lasting impact. Now, only a year after its
creation, the assignment has become a new curriculum for accelerated
high schoolers and the winner of a national award.
coordinator of enrichment programs and co-coordinator of staff development
for Amherst County Public Schools, Brimijoin wanted to create a
unit that could be used by Amherst students as well as satisfy her
coursework for a Ph.D. in educational psychology at U.Va.
with Cynthia Kelley, the chair of the English department at Amherst
County High School, Brimijoin created a semester-long unit called
"Visions and Voices: Humanism and the Renaissance" for
12th graders enrolled in college-level English.
is an interactive, multi-disciplinary unit focused on lots of writers,
primarily Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare and the English sonneteers,"
Brimijoin said. In addition, the program "embraces the music
and visual arts of the time," she said. Students study writers
and artists as they explore the concept of humanism.
and Kelley also had another aim: to create a program so enticing
and engaging that high school seniors would stay interested and
work hard, despite the allure of "senioritis" a
term used to describe lack of interest in classes as graduation
programs trial run in the spring of 1999 was so successful
that Brimijoin and Kelley submitted the unit to a competition sponsored
by the National Association for Gifted Children. The judges chose
the program as one of the 10 best in the country. Brimijoin received
a red marble apple and plaque Nov. 5 in Albuquerque, NM, at the
associations annual conference.
a result of this, were currently in dialogue with a publisher
about the possibility of publishing the unit," Brimijoin said.
literature program includes innovative projects designed to captivate
students. For example, after reading Shakespeares "Othello,"
students were told to imagine that the plays villain, Iago,
was tried and convicted for his crimes. The seniors wrote legal
briefs stating if they thought the verdict should be overturned
order to complete the project, they had to learn the logistics of
writing legal briefs while using the text to support their positions.
said several students began considering the possibility of law school
after finishing the project.
more information, contact Kay Brimijoin at (804) 946-9386 ext. 1-651
Jill Johnson, (804) 924-6855