Caleb Anderson could sign 250 words at 9 months old, and by 15 months could already name all the countries on the globe. At age two, he read the U.S. Constitution, and today he speaks three languages other than English — Spanish, French and Mandarin. Those early accomplishments helped to land the 12-year-old boy from Marietta, Georgia, where he is today — starting his second year at Chattahoochee Technical College, also in Marietta.
Anderson qualified for the high-IQ society of Mensa at age three, and joined at age five, becoming the youngest Black boy to have ever done so.
Claire and Kobi Anderson, Caleb’s parents, said they first realized their child’s unique gift when he was only four weeks old.
“He was mimicking the sounds of the words I was trying to say,” Claire Anderson said. “If I would say a sentence, and he would mimic that sentence, and most of my girlfriends had kids around the same time, I noticed that they didn’t act the same way.”
They began cultivating their gifted child’s thirst for knowledge through sign language and using the world around them as their classroom.
“I’d use the simple things, like when I saw a stop sign, you know, I talked about the shape, I talked about the color,” Claire said. “Everything we did, we kind of communicated with Caleb about it.”
His parents say Caleb, who attends The King’s Academy, a private school outside of metropolitan Atlanta, began to express boredom with what he was learning around the seventh grade because he wasn’t being challenged enough.
“When Chattahoochee Tech presented itself, that was a godsend and he loves it,” Claire said.
Through dual enrollment at The King’s Academy, the gifted learner is taking on subjects like calculus and macroeconomics.
They’re heavy subjects that may leave many scratching their heads. For Caleb though, the challenge has had less to do with tackling the content than with making sense of/understanding a challenge of a different kind.
“Whenever I asked questions, most, a lot [of my] teachers before my college age, were confused; and they were angry at me it seems like, and I honestly don’t know why.”
Because of his age, Caleb’s father chaperones him on campus. But the experience hasn’t come without some hiccups. Kobi says while on campus, a white female faculty member attempted to kick Caleb off campus, assuming he didn’t belong.
“It was because there had been some high school or middle-school students on campus earlier that year that were involved in some type of drug activity, so this woman assumed that my then 11-year-old son was a drug dealer,” Kobi recalled.
Claire and Kobi say experiences like this are why they’re sharing Caleb’s amazing story, in hopes of inspiring other families of gifted learners.
“I think there’s a stereotype of young black males, whether it’s sports or music, they wouldn’t have a problem with it, but when it’s intellect, people tend to question it,” Claire said.
Caleb is set to graduate at 14, and wants to attend Georgia Tech University or Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the future.
The Andersons have two other children, Aaron and Hannah, who are gifted as well.