Did you know that there is no Wisconsin legislation that requires pre-service teachers (education majors) to have a specific course in gifted education? I remember when I was in college, my only conversation about gifted students occurred (for about 10 minutes) in my REQUIRED Special Education class. That was 40 years ago! I’m sad to say that nothing has changed about that requirement (or lack thereof) in all this time! Education students are fortunate when they have an instructor who knows the importance of specifically training their classes on the needs of gifted children.
We are fortunate to have some staff at higher education schools in Wisconsin that are turning this problem around and working to create change for our gifted students! I would like to highlight them for you to show our gratitude!
Dr. Uzeyir Ogurlu from UW-Stevens Point is new to the WATG Board of Directors. He has national and international research experience that he can bring to the work of WATG. With a deep background in gifted education, it is important to him to make sure his students are getting the current information they need. “Dr. O” invited WATG to talk with his students about the “state of gifted education in Wisconsin” during his January term class and again this week for his spring term class. From first hand experience, I can tell you that these college students were amazed that they were given no prior information about gifted students, and they are willing to go the extra mile to get more information now that they know there is a need.
Dr. Jen Collins, director of the UW-Platteville School of Education, brought a van load of their education students to the WATG fall conference last year. She went above and beyond in graciously accepting our invitation to bring students, and UWP financially supported the students’ registration fees. WATG board members were able to spend a day with these students and share a wealth of information and resources with them.
Dr. Scott Peters and Dr. Pamela Clinkenbeard from UW-Whitewater have continuously gone above and beyond for gifted students, not only in Wisconsin, but also nationally and internationally. Both have served on the WATG Board of Directors. Dr. Clinkenbeard is currently an advisory member, and is helping to push funding and legislation for gifted education right here in Wisconsin. Dr. Peters is working with the WATG Acceleration Team, writing a comprehensive state report on acceleration practice and policies in the state. In addition, UW-Whitewater is working on a fully-online gifted and talented licensure program that could start this fall if there is enough interest.
It is imperative that we educate our pre-service and in-service teachers about the needs of gifted students. We cannot just expect them to “know” how to program for, and meet the needs of our students if they are not taught why and how to do it appropriately. WATG is grateful to these instructors for making sure that gifted education is promoted under their watch.
Are you wondering what you can do to help? Reach out to your representatives and let them know that specific legislation for educating our pre-service teachers on the needs of gifted students is an important piece in creating the BIG change we need in Wisconsin. Teachers and administration cannot adequately support gifted students if they do not know how. Let’s teach them!
Past President, WATG
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