“I’m a Rocky Mountain girl,” said Dr. Ann Robinson of UALR’s Gifted Education program. Dr. Robinson, professor and founding director of the Center for Gifted Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as well as director of the UALR Jodie Mahoney Center for Gifted Education, did not start out in Little Rock.
Coming from a long generation of Wyoming-ites, Dr. Robinson attended school in Wyoming up to the Graduate level until heading to Indiana to study educational psychology at Purdue.
There she met her husband, Dr. Tom Stanley of Hendrix College. Fresh out of Graduate school, the two academics found themselves in Little Rock, Arkansas following job prospects.
Arkansas has been a great home for the both of them. “I love living here. I’ve had a wonderful time in this state. […] I felt very welcomed,” she said.
Before Dr. Robinson made the move however, and before she was sure of her career path, she had the chance to work with a refugee population. This incredible experience highly influenced her future. She described those she worked with as people “who survived incredible situations […] who came out of war-torn nations. I met some of the most talented individuals.”
Work with talented young adults sparked Dr. Robinson’s interest. “I wanted to know what allows people to study in such conditions,” she said.
In her line of work, Dr. Robinson participates in two largely different aspects of her field. First, she works on the practical side interacting with teachers and student’s a-like. “I get to be a part of the day to day action in a classroom,” she explained.
Second, however, she gets to work on biographical research. She also works the other side of the equation: “What happens to adults that were gifted children?” This aspect of her work is largely archival. She describes the opportunities that she’s had to view archives all over the worlds as: “High adventure. It’s really like being a historiographer.”
The time and dedication that Dr. Robinson has provided to her field over the years, both in and out of the classroom, has not gone unnoticed. On November 15 Dr. Robinson was named a Distinguished Scholar from The National Association for Gifted Children. In the past, Robinson has had the chance to serve as president for the organization. “I’ve had the opportunity to understand the organization inside and out,” she said. “I’m absolutely thrilled to receive [this award.]”
The distinction strives to honor someone who has made a contribution to the field of Gifted Education. As part of the nomination process a national panel comes together to examine the work of possible candidates.
Dr. Robinson’s work in the area of Gifted Education has made great strides for UALR. The Jodie Mahony Center at UALR was founded by Dr. Robinson and named for the late state legislator responsible for a vast body of educational legislation policy.
The Jodie Mahony Center, established in 2001, is only one of twenty-five such centers nationwide. It provides programs and services to talented students and their families, teachers, and administrators.
Dr. Robinson spends most of her time trying to make a difference: “When anybody loves work as much as I do, it’s hard to do anything else.” However, when she finally takes a break she likes to swim laps. “You get in the zone,” she explained. She also likes to see the world. “My husband and I travel for business as well as pleasure. I love day walking,” she added.
As someone who cares about her community Dr. Robinson believes it’s important to stay informed. In her spare time she also stays up-to-date on the political climate: “I’m pretty committed to being an active citizen.”
Dr. Robinson takes being involved to the next level by dedicating her life to the field of Gifted Education. Her honor as newly Distinguished Scholar, therefore, is very fitting.