Starting a new year usually makes us all a little nostalgic. Granted, most of 2020 is best forgotten; however, some positives resulted. Technology allowed conferences to happen, virtual applications encouraged distant family members to see and speak to each other and helped friends keep in touch. Nostalgia reigned. Nostalgia crept into memories of past gatherings in better times and gives us hope for returning to those ‘in person’ events.
As a historian for WATG, I began thinking about the connection between nostalgia and advocacy for gifted children. There is hope for the future in remembering the past.
As I continued to sift and sort through historical records, I found my original request for help in documenting our organization’s history. That request originated in the spring of 2001! Now, twenty years later, the historical journey continues. All of these stories matter as they connect us to one another, to our past and to what is yet to come.
Here is a bit of historical perspective: The National Association for GIfted Children (NAGC) was founded in 1954. NAGC began requesting historical information about the affiliate state members in 2001 as they were approaching their 50th Anniversary in 2004. Looking forward, NAGC is approaching 70 years of existence in 2024, and WATG will celebrate 50 years of existence in 2023. Things have certainly changed, and we continue to celebrate the evolution of our organizations.
Over the years, WATG has shifted and adjusted to changing times, and has benefited from the persistent work of hundreds of advocates. Parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, counselors, librarians, social workers, psychologists, professors, business and medical leaders have dedicated countless hours of talent in the service of gifted children, and we thank them.
One of those advocates was Wisconsin’s current Governor Tony Evers. Governor Evers began his career in education as a classroom teacher in 1976, and later became interested in gifted education. His name is on many of the early documents of the Wisconsin Association of Educators of Gifted and Talented (WAEGT) and the Wisconsin Council for the Gifted and Talented (WCGT) beginning in the 1980’s. He served as a principal, superintendent, and CESA Administrator (Oshkosh) before moving to the State Department of Public Instruction as Deputy Superintendent from 2001-2009, and State Superintendent from 2009 to 2017.
Countless other volunteers have offered their time and talents over the years, and we are grateful for their passion. Though the “medium” has definitely changed, our message remains the same. Watch this column, Gifted Meanderings, for how technology use within the organization has changed over the decades. Some of the early connections will seem quaint and more than a little funny compared to Zoom, FaceTime, Google Meet and Facebook Chat! Certainly nostalgia may fuse the past with the present...