I would like to thank WATG’s out-going president Sue Lee for passing the proverbial baton. Her time and service as a leader on the WATG Board helped push the board to new levels, and inspired conversations among hundreds in Wisconsin. Well done Sue! Your shoes will be difficult to fill.
My name is Cathy Schmit, and I would like to use this first post as the president of the WATG Board, to introduce myself and share my vision for the next two years.
My roots “and wings” are both in Wisconsin. I grew up in Madison, but was married and settled immediately into rural, Northern Wisconsin where I have been now for 36 years with my husband and family. I came into gifted education and advocacy in a very hands on manner, by “coming to the table” so to speak. I began my teaching career as a regular education teacher in small public schools in Northern Wisconsin. My husband and I raised five children and we experienced the ups and downs of raising gifted kids in a public school with neither the funds nor the training to meet our children’s needs. I found myself “at the table” for the first time, advocating for my children. This advocacy effort led to me being offered a G/T position in the school district in my community, where I served K-12 gifted learners and led trainings for teachers on gifted learners and differentiation. The second time I found myself “at the table” was getting involved with our regional CESA consortium of gifted resource folks, which led to becoming a G/T consultant for CESA #9. At that point, I could see from a more macroscopic level, that the rural part of the state was lacking in support and programming for gifted K-12 students. I desired to take things further and be “at the table” once again, which led ultimately to my participation in state G/T efforts. I have now been on the WATG Board for almost 4 years. What began as a search to have my own children’s needs met brought me to my position now, as president of the WATG Board, a position that I am humbled and eager to assume this month.
This brings me to one of my visions for the next two years, which is to Meet Me at the Table. The work that is required to make a broader and more sustainable shift in gifted and talented education in Wisconsin can indeed start (or continue) with you at the table. I am asking and encouraging all of you that are reading this, to “meet me at the table” and help make things happen together. We need people that are willing to step outside their comfort zones, reach for the next thing, or support those with the means to do so. In this holiday season, I am hoping that the words “meet me at the table” bring the feeling of warmth and welcome as I intend. I would be honored to have each and every one of you join us in this effort on behalf of our Wisconsin youth.
I would like to thank Sue one last time, for her two years of service as the president of the WATG Board and her countless efforts prior to this service on behalf of gifted students, families, and schools in the state. She has warmly welcomed me to the table. I want to call on her realization of passion that she found with the people she spoke with. I want to utilize this passion to help gifted individuals be understood and help people better understand them. So, will you meet me at the table? You are welcome!
This will be my last blog at the WATG President. On November 17th I hand the baton to Cathy Schmit whom I know will lead the organization in accomplishing amazing things.
During the past two years I've had the pleasure of a thousand conversations (or more) with individuals in Wisconsin whom have an interest in students with gifts and talents. The reasons for these conversations covered a wide variety of topics. No matter what spurred the conversation a common thread of emotion was woven through every conversation; passion. That feeling of passion focused either on someone trying to understand or a passion to be understood.
If you are reading this blog changes are you are one of the people who has been part of a passionate conversation with me or others around identifying or helping students with gifts or talents. Regardless of the side of this conversation you are on, I invite you to please continue to converse. Growing understanding the needs of this special group of students needs to endure.
For many students the gap between need and programming persists. A lack of understanding that there truly is a need and that schools have an obligation to meet those needs is fueled by the meager funding in the state of Wisconsin for advanced learners programming. The law calls for identification and programming in five areas. Yet the current funding structures for public schools combined with the absence of funding for gifted programming makes it immensely difficult to support many avenues for providing students with appropriate learning paths.
This lack of understanding and lack of funding has led to a lack of programming for some of our most fragile learners. I’m not talking about students who do school well. Underserved students are found in every school and from every background. Students are doing their best to learn and grow sometimes despite the roadblocks and hoops they need to navigate. Some wait patiently, some give up. Some rebel.
As I leave my post as President I commit to advocating in stronger ways than ever for these students--who wish and hope and wait for us to challenge them. I would love it if you joined me in spreading the message of advocacy, especially to our legislators and the Department of Education. If you are interested in helping with advocacy efforts across the state, please email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. As we build our toolbox of strategies I will include you in or the work ahead of us.
On behalf of the students, thank you for your commitment to the work!
From the President
Meet me at the table!