Welcome to the Website for Gifted and Talented Education

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) is a division of University Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University. We are dedicated to promoting differentiated educational programs for students in middle school and high school.

Our Mission

The mission of the Gifted and Talented Education office is to provide educational experiences that allow gifted students to develop intellectually, to cultivate social relationships, and to expand their understanding of the world.

Our History

The Office of Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) began with the arrival of Dorothy Lawshe. Ms. Lawshe began her career in Michigan at Ingham Intermediate School District (ISD) in 1984. With the assistance of the late Garry Michaels, she developed programming at Ingham ISD and worked to develop a relationship with Michigan State University. 

The first GATE meeting was held in May 1986. In attendance were: Dr. Donald Shebuski, Superintendent of Ingham ISD; Garry Michaels and Nancy Mincemoyer of the State of Michigan; Olivia Letts and Marlyce Harte from the Lansing School District; Dale Herder from Lansing Community College; Cassandra Book, Peter Lappen, and Donald Lammers from MSU; Carlton Guthrie of Trumark and Ingham ISD Board Member; and Ben Schwenderer Jr., of the Thoman Foundation.

In June 1986, the Dimensions program began with 80 students, and the High Achievers program began with four students, who were sent to Purdue University for instruction. Then, in September 1986, CHAMP began on the MSU campus with 13 boys and one girl.

In 1987, GATE continued to grow with the Girls’ Math/Science Conference. Eighty sixth-grade girls and their parents met in Okemos for the one-day conference, in which 40 speakers encouraged the girls to consider careers in areas of math and science.

In 1988, the Dart Foundation provided funds for the MASCOT Program, a three-week mathematics problem-solving program for students in the 6th grade. The first MASCOT program was held in June 1995 with 150 students and 18 teachers from Lansing, Haslett and Okemos.

In 1990, with prompting from parents from various Detroit suburbs, and with funding from MSU, Ingham ISD, and the Thoman Foundation, the MST@MSU program was developed. It was during this same year that the GATE Office opened in MSU’s Honors College (HC) with the assistance of Don Lammers, Honors College Director. In January of that same year, Sylvia Buie joined Ingham ISD and the GATE Office. With Dorothy and Sylvia working together, all eight GATE programs continued to grow.

On November 13, 1998, Ms. Lawshe received the MSU College of Education Crystal Apple Award for her efforts to create programming for area gifted and talented students.

In 1998, Jenny McCampbell succeeded Dorothy Lawshe as GATE Director, although Dorothy continued to be involved with GATE for another two years. Upon arriving at MSU, Jenny was asked to work with all of the dual enrollment students attending MSU, continue to operate the GATE programs begun by Dorothy, and maintain the GATE Advisory Board. During 1998-99 Jenny and Dorothy collaborated to create the High Achieving Talented Students (HATS OFF!) Luncheon at MSU, to honor the top 1% of seventh and eighth-grade students from Michigan involved in the Midwest Academic Talent Search. During 1999-2000, Dorothy conducted a 14-year Follow-Up Study by contacting former students in the GATE programs.

In 1999, working with Sylvia Buie, a committee of MSU professors, and Honors College Director Ron Fisher (succeeding Don Lammers), Jenny wrote and received a grant for $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to provide funds for the development of online Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which was of high interest to President Peter McPherson. Top professors in the areas of physics, economics, psychology, and human geography created the courses. Also through that grant, Jenny coordinated a conference about online learning that was attended by high school educators throughout the state, and held workshops for AP teachers from schools with a high percentage of low-income students.

In 2000, personnel from the MSU Development Office helped Jenny establish the Dorothy Lawshe Endowment Fund to provide needs-based scholarship money for students in GATE programs. To get the fund started, Jenny and Sylvia, with the help of a committee and HC Director Ron Fisher, held a dinner honoring Dorothy for her many years of accomplishment in creating programs for high-achieving students. Former students and educators from across the country attended. Within five years, the fund was close to $100,000.

In 2001-2002, Jenny worked with Professor John Metzler of MSU’s African Studies Program to create Explore Africa at MSU to add to the GATE offerings. This was a one-week, residential summer program for students completing 10th and 11th grades. Professor Metzler taught a major portion of the program and handpicked graduate students from Africa, who were studying at MSU, to teach other portions. To add to the experience, Jenny reached out to Lutheran Social Services to encourage attendance by the Lost Boys of Sudan who had recently been placed in area high schools. The result was an excellent mix of 14 Caucasian, African-American and African students, together studying the problems and the potential to be found within the many countries of Africa, learning about the culture through food, music and dance, and having a good time interacting with each other.

In 2003, Jenny brought the Michigan/Shiga Student Exchange Program to the GATE office because it was being dropped by the Michigan Department of Education due to budget cuts. This was a two-way exchange of 20 high school students from Michigan and 20 from Shiga, Japan. The Michigan students traveled to Shiga for two weeks, where they stayed with host families and attended school. In September, the Shiga students came to Michigan for two weeks, and stayed with the high school students whom they had hosted.

In 2004 and 2005, Jenny became closely involved in the campus-wide organization of pre-college programs. In this capacity she participated in the development of an MSU pre-college programs website and served on a committee to develop the MSU Pre-College Academic Scholarship. This scholarship is offered to selected students who have attended specific pre-college programs, as a way to encourage them to attend MSU. Students who receive the scholarship may use it the first year they matriculate at the university.

Kathee McDonald became the third GATE Director in October 2005. During her tenure, several new programs were added to the GATE roster, including China Adventure; CSI: The Forensic Science Program at MSU; and ISHALL: Intensive Study of Humanities, Arts, Language and Literature. Along with new programming came new collaborations with the Asian Studies Center, the College of Arts and Letters, Department of Anthropology and School of Criminal Justice.

She continued to represent the GATE Office on campus through her participation on the Pre-College Committee and Pre-College Leadership Team; as the affiliate representative on the Conceptual Modeling Committee, which developed the step-by-step model for processing new affiliates on the MSU campus; as a member of the Affiliates Committee; and as the Michigan liaison for the Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search. She is also a representative on the Michigan Sister State Committee.

In addition to changes in programming, the GATE Office increased their marketing with a comprehensive brochure, an e-newsletter, monthly emails or postal mailings, and through social media.

In 2013, GATE moved to the Office of University Outreach and Engagement, located in the Kellogg Center, and welcomed the fourth GATE Director, Susan Sheth. She has completed her Ph.D. in gifted and talented education and her research included working with parents of gifted children.

Additionally, GATE has implemented changes to existing programs, such as adding new technology and science courses to the MST@MSU program, which include: Nuclear Astrophysics, Website Design, and Digital Radio Technology: Radio Dramas. Along with the execution of new courses, new enrichment clinics include: Astronomy, Young Authors Espresso Book Making, and Music Potpourri.

In partnership with the Asian Studies Center and a grant from the U.S.-Japan Foundation, a new Great Lakes Shiga High School Science Exchange Program for Michigan-area gifted and talented science students ran in Summer 2014-2016.

In 2017, a new summer program for younger gifted students was added. Called GUPPY (Gifted University for Parents and Precocious Youth), it is a weekend program offering students in grades 4-6, ages 9-11, a variety of accelerated exploratory educational presentations and hands-on experiences in Michigan State University’s laboratories and classrooms.

In Fall 2017, ALL: Latin was launched as an academic year program. With a similar hybrid structure to the LEAF: French program, ALL: Latin has 25 percent of classes in person at MSU, and 75 percent of classes online. 

In 2018, marketing efforts focused on promoting programs by grade levels, as programs were expanded to include Grades 3-11.

In 2019, a new program was introduced: IS4GT - Intensive Studies for Gifted and Talented.

In 2020, in response to the global pandemic, academic and summer programs were all offered in virtual formats. SuMO (Summer Mathematics Online Program) was created in response to the pandemic to close the gap in learning. Virtual classes in Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry were offered for nine weeks in the summer of 2020.

In 2021, a Japanese language academic program called M.A.N.G.A. will began. This program is similar to the other academic year programs, however, it takes three years to complete. In addition to MSU campus and Southeast Michigan locations, ISHALL and CHAMP will be offered in a live synchronous format starting in fall of 2021.

In 2022, a Chinese language program called ACE was offered in cooperation with the MSU College of Education. GATE summer programs returned to face-to-face instruction in summer 2022. GUPPY was expanded and offered more tracks than ever before.

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