In a few short weeks, Austin College graduate student Kellie Day will start her first job out of college as a teacher at Terrell Elementary School in Denison. And for the past 10 days, Day and seven other AC teaching students have gotten a preview of what they’re in for.

In a few short weeks, Austin College graduate student Kellie Day will start her first job out of college as a teacher at Terrell Elementary School in Denison. And for the past 10 days, Day and seven other AC teaching students have gotten a preview of what they’re in for.


The college’s annual Thinking Camp at Jefferson Elementary, a yearly partnership with Sherman Independent School District, seeks to cross-pollinate future teachers with handfuls of gifted and talented students each summer.


"I’ve just learned how to really take control of a classroom; I really built up my confidence in the program," said Day, an Allen native. "This is really nice, this camp, because I’m getting to try out my own classroom management. … So that’s really nice. I’m just really building up my skills."


Providing prospective teachers with two weeks of hands-on training is one of Thinking Camp’s two main goals, organizers said. The Camp is also a great chance for several of the district’s best and brightest students to spend the dog days of summer applying themselves in the classroom.


"The fact that these gifted kids have something positive going on in the summer — I hear from so many parents of the gifted and talented kids that they’re so excited, the first few weeks, to be out of school, but then after that, they get bored," Sherman ISD Gifted Specialist Cyndi Petray said. "This gives them something meaningful and deep to think about during the summer, so it’s great for the students."


The kids seem to agree.


"It’s a really a good chance so I can meet people from other schools, and it’s really kind of an honor to go to this," said Jax Dixon, a student at Neblett Elementary School. "And it’s really fun, too."


At Jefferson Elementary on Wednesday, 62 children rotated through learning stations to find out more about German culture, which was the Camp’s theme this year. Fairview Elementary School 10-year-old Calen Woody said he enjoyed being able to perform experiments outside.


"It’s been really fun; we’ve done a lot of fun activities here," Woody said. "The most interesting thing is definitely all the German words that we’ve learned about, and that 6.9 percent of Germany is powered by the solar power they make."


Austin College Education Department Chair Julia Shahid, who partnered with Petray 13 years ago to devise the concept for the Thinking Camp and then make it a reality, said the program has evolved over the years to be among the most mutually beneficial partnerships the college has with SISD.


"I have the opportunity to have my students teach real content, real curriculum, to elementary kids, and it has just been the best thing ever," Shahid said. "We have eight graduate students (teaching at the camp this summer), and of these eight graduate students, five of them are going to be teachers in the fall. This is the last college class they are going to have. And they are so ready. They are so ready!"