As Thanksgiving approaches family and friends are brought together for sometimes much too long awaited reunions to sit down, put work aside, and reminisce fond memories. Our families are communities that we are born into—and pretty hard to get rid of (even when we try haha). However, our friends and many other communities we subscribe to are carefully handpicked according to our interests, values and views on different profound (or not so profound subjects). A community is a group of people that we have some range of commonalities, be it geographical or habitual characteristics. According to Webster’s dictionary, a community is “a group of people with common characteristics or interests” (Webster’s Dictionary). One of the many communities I have been included in for the majority of my life has been the Gifted Community. It is one that I am sure you, my readers, may also adhere to. It’s one that I feel is very tight knit, one that word travels fast in, and yet seems to be disorganized and lacking in unity.
So, why am I talking about what a community is? This has been on my mind for quite some time now, in fact I think that the Gifted Community is a topic that will continue to be on my mind for the foreseeable future. HEROES started as a community of mostly CTY and Davidsons’ members, as a group that would get together maybe once or twice a year. Even at that point I realized that the Gifted Community had some sort of a disconnect—a select few parents advocating for the Gifted and Talented within their school district or region of CTY or Davidsons. In the last few weeks we’ve started to have a sort of “coffee hour” with many of our HEROES parents and volunteers. One parent has aided in developing a Gifted and Talented Parent Association in her town, another is trying to work with CTY to provide more programs in the local area, another is advocating within the school district, and many just do not know where to begin. This is where the disconnect begins, and hopefully where it begins to end. While some of these parents have met, posted on discussion boards, held meetings with other parents, educators and maybe even a few administrators the Gifted Community has yet to figure out how to work together on this project. New Jersey falls at a shockingly [or not so shockingly for those of you who keep tabs on NJ’s Gifted and Talented Legislation (or lack thereof)] low percentile for Gifted and Talented programming across the nation. So, it has fallen to the parents, students and devoted educators to resolve this crisis.
So, here I sit, at my computer once again wondering how I can help unite the Gifted Community, a group with similar interests but a sad following. If instead of each parent with a Gifted Child advocating for their own child’s education we all worked together to make a permanent change within a larger community, New Jersey, then maybe our children won’t have to make the same fight for their children. Unions grow to have power because they have numbers. This community has the numbers but now we must find a way to bring everyone together. So, I guess the point of this whole posting is to ask you, the reader, the devoted parents, educators, students, or miscellaneous interested persons, how can I help bring this community together? What would we like to see for not only our children, but our grandchildren and every generation hereafter?
Today I found myself overwhelmed with joy with the simplicity of receiving a student’s writing assignment. This student has been difficult to encourage throughout the semester, reluctant to complete the work or focus his attention on the discussions in class. He had a lot to say about the topic but it was not translating into his writing. As a teacher, it was becoming frustrating to watch a student with so much potential refuse to take advantage of the opportunity before him. I was struggling to figure out how to unveil the inspiration in this student to yearn to learn, expand his education and take pride in his own work.
A short fifteen minute conversation with him and his mother worked miracles for this student. I was earnest in telling them that I truly wanted to help his writing, to help him find the motivation to write and to develop a mature writing voice. As an educator, the most rewarding moment is when a student finally has their "moment" where everything seems to click. He not only submitted his homework on time, but early, complete with a strong, well worded argument with intricate support and details. His writing improved leaps and bounds from where it was just the week before simply by putting that added effort in.
This is the type of inspiration I hope to instill in all of my students, to not only encourage them to expand upon their interests but to find their inner motivation to excel in every realm of education. This student simply needed to feel like his work was appreciated and that his excellence would be acknowledged. I seek to find out what each individual student needs to succeed academically and emotionally to help them grow in every realm of their lives.