Gifted Arts was created in 1997 with 20 students meeting under a large oak tree at Concordia Park in Clayton. The program has since hosted 2,000 students from all over St. Louis. The Gifted Arts philosophy on running a class remains the same—positive, thoughtful, and informative analysis of writing. Writing instructors and students (usually a 1:8 ratio or smaller) provide constructive feedback, which the writer can use to guide revision. We want students of all ages—middle school through adult—to write in an environment that is stimulating, inspiring, and fun.
Many Gifted Arts students have won school, local and national writing and art contests during their tenure in the program. Many longtime students have gone on to attend some of the most prestigious public and private universities around the world. Gifted Arts has been honored by the Missouri Scholars Academy for Excellence in Education for high school students.
Gifted Arts features guest artists and teachers who talk about their craft and how it corresponds to the writing process. The artist often collaborates with the students. Our guests have included a wide spectrum of artists including actors, photographers, dancers, painters, musicians, architects, glassblowers, sculptors, directors, writers, and more.
Gifted Arts founder, Ted Ibur, was an English teacher with the Webster Groves School District for 27 years until joining the staff at Saint Louis University as the Manager of the 1818 Advanced College Credit Program and as ongoing Director of Gifted Arts. He graduated from Ladue High School, received a BA in both English and Sociology with a minor in Journalism and Creative Writing from Mizzou, and earned an MA in Education from Washington University. For the first ten years of his teaching career, Ibur was also a full-time musician playing drums in several bands. His 2012 debut novel written under his full name, Edward Scott Ibur, is called Teacher of the Year, a satirical comedy set in a middle school. He is currently working on a new book, tentatively called Teitel, and a play—both comedies.
Ibur is the President of the St. Louis Library Associates at Saint Louis University. He serves as Chair of the Saint Louis Literary Award in 2016, an award sponsored by Saint Louis University. The award has honored some of the world’s greatest writers over the past 50 years, including Tennessee Williams, Joyce Carol Oates, Edward Albee, Saul Bellow, Chinua Achebe, Eudora Welty, Seamus Heaney, Mario Vargas Llosa, Tony Kushner, and August Wilson. Additionally, the board raises funds for the SLU’s extensive library system. This past September, Margaret Atwood was honored at The Sheldon Concert Hall as this year’s award recipient (see video). The 2018 honoree is Stephen Sondheim who will accept the award on October 4, 2018, at The Sheldon.
Ibur is part of the creative team and literary manager behind the Labute New Theater Festival, all one-act plays, established in 2012 at the Gaslight Theater. The festival made its New York City debut in 2016. In addition to running the high school part of the program, he helps select the winning professional plays out of hundreds of submissions from around the world.
Ted Ibur has two daughters, Bella and Lily, and lives in University City, Missouri.