The Center for Gifted Education

Drury Leadership Academy

Morning Courses

Afternoon Courses

Morning Courses

Living the College Life

Are you ready to leave home and go to college? This course will help you make the final preparations for a healthy and successful journey.  College is a time of significant stress and change.  You will learn how to deal with that stress in a positive way – whether it be through physical activities such as climbing a rock wall or getting down-time with friends at a local coffee shop or meeting with a local personal strength coach and nutrition expert who will help you establish a healthy eating plan and workout program for your own specific needs.  There will also be interactive activities such as learning cooking hints from vendors at the Farmer’s Market to even competing in a winner-take-all Iron Chef cooking competition.  We culminate the course as you team up to present a technology-based presentation to Drury’s Wellness Department – with the possibility that the proposal will be implemented by Drury University!  You will have an impact on others! $30 FEE.

Instructor: John Post, Willard Schools in Willard and Lindsay Paulsell, St. Agnes Cathedral School Principal

The Power of Story

Myths are not just stories from the past. Myths are alive and well in our world today.  Power of Myth explores the function of myth and identifies key elements of myths from both past and present. Using ideas from Joseph Campbell, Karl Jung, Walter Fisher, Kenneth Burke, and Robert Reich students will develop an understanding of how myth explains the unknowable, defines our culture, and preserves our values.  Our study is not limited to ancient myths; students will learn how myths are present in modern literature, movies, and advertising.  Concepts will be applied as students form clans and create their own mythologies.

Instructor: Tom Gist, Drury University, Springfield & Michelle Horn, Youth Leader at Greene County Juvenile Facilities

Philosophy 101: It's All In Your Head

Of all the disciplines, philosophy asks the deepest and most far-reaching questions. How does one obtain wisdom? Does knowledge come from reason or from experience? What is the ultimate substance of the world? Is it material or ideal? Are human actions free or determined? Is morality relative or absolute? We will investigate these and other problems as we become acquainted with the nature of Western philosophy and philosophical life. To accomplish these goals, you will investigate the works and ideas of such famous philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Bacon, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, and others. Required materials: a sense of wonder. 

Instructor: Scott Henderson, Columbia Independent School in Columbia, Missouri


Games, Game Theory, and Strategic Thinking.  Games can challenge and sharpen your intellect—but did you know they can also provide insights into human and even animal behavior?  We’ll play games and talk about games and how game theory can help in decision-making for tomorrow’s leaders.  Having trouble convincing your parents that a game class is more than fun and games?  Tell them eight game theorists have won the Nobel Prize in Economics.  Besides an introduction into game theory, you’ll learn addictive games such as Diplomacy (featuring negotiation and geopolitical strategy) and Pig (spelling and strategy).

Instructor: Joe Miller, Attorney at Law, Springfield, Missouri

Scientific Inquiry

We are increasingly adrift in a world of baseless claims and “Choose Your Own News” posturing, where the phrase “scientists believe” can shamelessly precede a bewildering array of statements.  In a torrent of information authored by anybody with access to a computer, information credibility has never been more critical. Join us as we learn to judge the claims of others and produce our own information, accurately and ethically. We will explore the formation of good questions, effective research design, ethical conduct, and the presentation of findings. Our work will revolve around a survey of DLA campers to address our own big questions, and participants will leave one big step closer to conducting their own reliable research.

Instructor: Dr. Kris Wiley, Drury University in Springfield

Afternoon Courses

Improv Everywhere!

Using Improvisation Skills to Create Out of the Box Performances.
Love Whose Line Is it Anyway? Love making things up to make your friends laugh? Students of Improv Everywhere will not only learn basic improvisation techniques, but will also participate in The Harold, a long-form improvisation performance originated at Second City Improv by Del Close. The Harold was used to train comedians Chris Farley and Mike Myers among others. In addition, students will perform guerilla improvisation performances in the style of NYC’s Improv Everywhere made popular on YouTube. 

Instructor: Gretchen Teague, Central High School, Springfield

The Art of War

“You may not be interested in war…but war is interested in you.” – Leon Trotsky.  This course is a survey of the main concepts involved in studying war.  It also addresses the effect of war on human society and examines the significance of war in human culture.  What do we mean when we speak of war, and what are the main causes of war?  How have other cultures thought about war throughout history?  Is there a characteristic “Western art of war”?  How does it differ from the “art of war” adopted by other cultures?  Why have Western powers proven so formidable in contemporary history?  What motivates combatants?  Can war be controlled or eliminated?  What strategies have been proposed to accomplish these objectives?  What are the “philosophies” of war?  By the end of this course, you will be better equipped to answer these and other relevant questions.                                             

Instructor: Scott Henderson, Columbia Independent School, Columbia, Missouri

Digital Photography and Photo Realism

Digital imaging allows endless possibilities for creative expression.  Be unique as you explore and compose your own photomontages based on thematic subjects.  You will also learn how to create realistic photocomposition from imaginative sources. This experience provides elements of choice, personal investigation, individual problem-solving skills, and personal expression.  You will produce outcomes that will leave your viewers saying, “Wow, how’d you do that?”  Digital cameras will be provided, though you may choose to bring your own.

Instructor: Gary Strunk, Central High School in Springfield


Is euthanasia a viable option for pain?  Is cloning the key to immortality?  Are genetically custom made children the future?  Just because we can, does it mean we should?  As science and technology advance these and many more bio-ethical questions will need answers. Answers that will decide our future!  Join the discussion so you can answer the question…Should we or shouldn’t we?

Instructor: Jackie Carl, Central High School, Springfield      

Senior Leadership Experience

If you have graduated from high school, this is the class available for you to participate in DLA.  This program allows you to attend DLA while participating in an intensive experiential leadership program.  You will take a Drury University Leadership Certificate class in the morning which will focus more on theory and take a leadership laboratory class in the afternoon.  You will use some of the residential activities as a hands-on learning experience to apply what they have been working on in class.  You will live in the dorm and participate in all residential activities.  There will be some time when your role in these activities may differ from a traditional resident as you will be applying your classroom knowledge in a leadership position.  $30 FEE .

Instructor: Drury University Leadership Professor, Drury University in Springfield