My name is Rachael (King) Burriss, a 2007 graduate from the high school and I spent many wonderful, inspiring years participating in Pendleton County’s Gifted and Talented Program. I attended Morehead State University for four amazing years studying Art Education, and I am currently completing my first year at Randall K. Cooper High School in Boone County as an Art Teacher. I love my job and I have been blessed in my life thus far to know, train and learn from some of the best art teachers in the state of Kentucky.
I was identified for the Gifted Program early in elementary school but I didn’t get heavily involved until middle school when I was able to take the advanced art classes offered to those who were identified as gifted in art. My middle school years were the most influential years of my life, because during this time I truly blossomed into the person I am very closely represented by today. With the guidance offered from Mrs. Michelle Lustenberg, I formed my love for the arts and my potential to succeed. I participated in everything I possibly could during middle school from Dinner Theater performances, ArtFest competitions, to just building my talents and skills in art. Of all the activities I ever participated in during my time in the Gifted Program, ArtFest was by far my favorite. Looking back on it now, I realize how beneficial ArtFest was/is, and how it was the first stepping stones into my current career. ArtFest is when students choose topics ranging in art from the Elements and Principles, to famous artists and eras, to specific art processes, and then they become the experts to teach to others. I remember teaching my topics to elementary students, community members during Evening of the Arts, and tons of art teachers during a Kentucky Art Education Association conference. There was also an ArtFest state competition that I always participated in to present my topics. I loved everything about ArtFest because I truly felt like a teacher. The satisfaction I received after giving my presentation was euphoric and I knew that I wanted to spread my love for the arts forever. I became more confident and creative during this time, and knew that I was meant to be a teacher. Without the Gifted Program and dedication of Mrs. Lustenberg, I wouldn’t have discovered what I was meant to do with my life.
I continued participating in the Gifted Program during my high school years, but what I learned during middle school has stayed with me even to this day. Pendleton County is lucky to have such an amazing and beneficial Gifted Program that truly caters to the students involved in it. I always felt that my participation in the program was individualized for me and my interests. It is a great program and I encourage all the students who can to be involved with the activities the program offers now. Since my graduation from Pendleton I have returned to assist gifted students as a guest artist and as an ArtFest judge. It pleases me to see all of the students who participate in the program today who have a wide variety of activities to choose from to participate in. The program has grown substantially since I was involved in it, and it is constantly headed in the right direction to assist students in expanding their horizons. The goal of education is to take a closed mind and create an open mind, which is exactly the goal of the Gifted and Talented Program in Pendleton County.