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Capitol Region
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Counties Included Within The Capitol Region:

Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sierra, Solano, Sutter, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba counties.


Melissa Lawson
Parent Representative

(916)934-9221 (Cell)

Kari Hanson-Smith
Educator Representative

(916) 643-2348 (Work)



Welcome to the Capitol Region of the California Association for the Gifted (CAG). This regional site will keep educators, parents and students informed about events and resources in the Capitol Region and throughout California. Please contact your regional representatives if you have questions, would like to share resources or wish to become more involved.



Regional Representatives - About Us


Kari Hanson Smith, M.A.


Ms. Hanson-Smith is a tireless advocate for advanced learners. Eminently qualified, she has more than 15 years’ experience working in gifted education. Ms. Hanson-Smith earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology, Gifted and Talented Education from the Three Summers program within the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. While there, she studied with Dr. Joseph Renzulli and Dr. Sally Reis, authors of the Enrichment Triad Model, and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model.   Ms. Hanson-Smith’s breadth of expertise includes GATE program design, talent development, differentiating instruction at the K-8 level, the social and emotional needs of gifted individuals, working with students from diverse populations, and gifted education theory.  In addition to serving on the CAG Board as the current Capitol Region Education Representative, She is the Coordinator for GATE and AP Programs, Sacramento City Unified School District. She has also worked as a GATE Resource Teacher and as a classroom teacher.  She is passionately dedicated to urban gifted education and advocating for the academic and emotional needs of gifted and high ability learners in public school systems.


Melissa Lawson, M.A., N.B.C.T.


Ms. Lawson is an esteemed National Board Certified Teacher and gifted education practitioner with nearly two decades of classroom experience.  As the parent of four gifted children, one of whom is twice-exceptional, she is a passionate activist for GATE parents and families. Ms. Lawson is GATE certified and has served at the district level as a GATE site representative and coordinator and at the state level as a GATE program evaluator.  In addition to her classroom experience, Ms. Lawson is intimately familiar with the joys and struggles of supporting gifted learners at home. She has first-hand experience in parenting gifted children.   Her range of expertise includes advocacy, gifted education theory and practice (including differentiated instruction), social and emotional needs of the gifted, and developing the potential in diverse learners, including twice-exceptional children. In addition to serving on the CAG Board as the current Capitol Region Parent Representative, Ms. Lawson served previously as Capitol Region Educator Representative. She continues to hone her practice in the classroom where she currently teaches middle school English and history in Folsom.  She serves on her district’s GATE Advisory Committee, has been a CAG Member for the past 15 years, and  remains a steadfast and enthusiastic GATE advocate at the local and state levels.



Joining California Association for the Gifted is a representation of your commitment to supporting gifted and advanced learners locally and throughout California.  Membership in CAG supports advocacy for gifted students and their parents at the local, state and national levels.  Your dues support continuing educator and parent training opportunities, direct access to the Gifted Education Communicator and discounted conference fees. Our advocates continually promote the cause of gifted education and how the gifted education methodologies benefit all students. Consider joining today.  Just $75 purchases an individual membership! Other membership options are available. Navigate back to the main page to join.




Educational Opportunities and Upcoming Events

The Capitol Region has an array of opportunities to keep you informed about the latest in gifted education in our local area, statewide and at the national level.



On-going for Teachers and Administrators:


Professional Development.

Capitol Region representatives are available to present about GATE practices, theory and policy to parents, school boards and community groups. Please phone or email your Capitol Region Representatives, Kari Hanson-Smith or Melissa Lawson, for more information.  


Capitol Region GATE Certification!   The Capitol Region offers a five-module series that addresses gifted education theory and research;  best practices in lesson planning, unit building and assessment; the social and emotional needs of the gifted, developing a gifted education program at the district level, and gifted students in underserved populations. Academic credit/units are available through Fresno Pacific University. Email or phone your regional representatives or the CAG office for more information about our GATE certification program for yourself, your school or your entire district. 


Capitol Region GATE meetings.

The CRGC meets quarterly to discuss updates in GATE instruction, policy and theory. Our focus is on our local area and what districts and teachers are doing to best serve their GATE students.  All are welcome. Meetings are typically held between 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM once per quarter (while school is in session).  For more information, please contact either of your Capitol Region representatives.  

          Next Meeting:  TBA this fall at the Serna Center, Sacramento                       City Unified School District. 



Events Calendar:



* June 20-24, 2016:  CAG  Nor Cal (Roseville) Summer InstituteBack by popular demand. This summer Institute affords teachers opportunities to see experienced GATE teacher practitioners in action with students in real time, delivering lessons that represent the very latest research-based methods that are best for advanced learners. Observe teachers interacting with students; ask students about what they're learning. Debrief with their teachers after the instructional process is completed to better understand their practices, methodology and instructional decision-making.  


**REGISTRATION FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS IS OPEN NOW.** Please navigate back to the main page for the link.   Want to attend but have funding issues?   We will accept purchase orders for the 2016-17 school year in July if your district's budget has closed for the 2015-16 school year.  


Parents may inquire about enrolling their children in this one-week long summer program. Space is limited for this unique, fun, highly engaging experience!


Student Session - June 20-24

Teacher Session - June 22-24

Novice Teacher Session - June 21


  * Saturday, October 29, 2016:  CAG Northern California Symposium

Location -- Rosemont High School, Sacramento.  More details are forthcoming. 

Educational Opportunities for Gifted Students

California State University, Sacramento
The Academic Talent Search (ATS) program provides alternative educational opportunities to highly able and motivated students in grades six through nine. Founded in 1981, ATS is one of dedication to offering appropriate scholastic services to meet student needs, offering academically challenging, fast-paced and enriched coursework to students. More Info -


The Accelerated College Entrance (ACE) program assists highly able high school students to further their academic growth during the regular school year. Founded in 1985, ACE allows students to enroll at California State University, Sacramento while concurrently completing high school studies. Space in this program is limited. Selected students are allowed to register for one or two courses and earn university credits for a significantly reduced fee. More Info -


** See above about our CAG Summer Institute for students in Roseville. Just one week in June challenges students at their level to profoundly engage them in topics they are excited about! This is not a summer school or summer camp.  It is an intellectually stimulating learning experience that elevates learning above and beyond. **



Past Events

**CAG Annual Conference**

* February 26-28, 2016: Annual  Conference Palm Springs Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. Like NAGC at the national level, the CAG annual conference is *the* statewide conference where renowned national and state experts will speak on best practices for gifted learners, differentiating instruction for all learners, meeting Common Core standards for GATE students,  parenting gifted children and the social and emotional needs of gifted children and adults. Online registration is now open. Navigate back to CAG's homepage to locate the registration form.



Regional Resources


Fun Activities to Do with Gifted Kids Around Home (flyer)

County Offices of Education Contact Phone Numbers:

If you would like more information about how each county addresses their GATE students' needs, we have provided phone numbers for your convenience. 


Alpine                 (530)694-2230

Amador              (209) 257-5353

Calaveras          (209) 736-4662

ElDorado            (530) 622-7130

Mono                  (760) 934-0031

Nevada              (530) 478-6400

Placer                 (530) 889-8020

Sacramento      (916) 228-2500

San Joaquin      (209) 468-4800

Sierra                  (530) 993-1660

Solano                (707) 399-4400

Sutter                  (530)822-2900

Tuolumne           (209) 536-2000

Yolo                    (530) 668-6700

Yuba                  (530) 749-4900



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