Parents, Educators, & Kids (P.E.K.) Day: The Inspiration for Children’s Programming and the Teen Conferences
Over the years, WATG has always been interested in programming for gifted children.The first planned event for children included parent, educator, and adult activities, and began in 1980. This event was billed as the P.E.K. Day (Parents, Educators, & Kids). The day was planned cooperatively by officers of the Wisconsin Council for Gifted & Talented (WCGT) and the Wisconsin Association of Educators of the Gifted & Talented (WAEGT). Additionally, the local school district, closest University of Wisconsin campus, and often the regional technical school participated in the planning and event. These events were held on a Saturday. Sometimes they were in conjunction with the WCGT Conference; sometimes they were held on a Saturday in the spring closest to the WAEGT Conference. Sessions were planned so that age groups could be grouped together, from elementary to middle school aged students.
Beginning in 1988, the P.E.K. Days became the Children’s Programs. At this time, the annual conference began on Thursday evening prior to the full-day Friday-Saturday Conference. The Children’s Programs then ran all day, both on Friday and Saturday. This allowed more parents and teachers with school-aged children to attend without additional arrangements for child care. The Children’s Programs were discontinued after the 2000 conferences. There was no programming for students of any age from 2001-2007.
In 2008, parents and educators encouraged WATG to premiere a Teen Conference. This was also a way to enhance attendance at the fall conferences. The Children's Programs had focused on elementary age students, and the Teen Conferences would focus on older students. Thus began a new tradition.
The period of time between 1985 and 2000 marked the inception and implementation of State Standard (t) in Wisconsin law. All of the programming during this time frame was aimed at children, and was sparked by the enthusiasm generated by Standard (t). These years also coincided with the federally funded Project STREAM (Support, Training, Resources for Educating Able Minorities) through the University of WIsconsin- Whitewater. This Javits Grant was authored and directed by Dr. Donna Rae Clasen.
A project has recently begun to locate any of the hundreds of Project STREAM middle school students, and the teachers and counselors who participated in the graduate level coursework that was offered through that early Javits grant. It would be great to follow up with this population of students, now in their 40s. It would be especially great to celebrate with them during the fiftieth annual fall conference of WATG in 2023. Any assistance is appreciated!
Register for this year's Teen Conference.
Ruth Robinson, Past President (2003-2004)