“Your past success is a foundation into future success.” “The present defines the future.”
The second statement is attributed to Lailah Gifty Akita Gharnian, Founder of the Smart Youth Volunteers Foundation
These Gifted Meanderings attempt to document major accomplishments and influences on the advocacy for “systematic, appropriate programming for those gifted, talented, and creative.” Those words were shared so often in my career that they are etched permanently in my memory.
One of the major guidelines for this process was the Pyramid Model used for the Wisconsin Integrated Gifted Education Model. This is a three-dimensional model outlining programming options, support functions, and support roles, all resting on a base of a sound regular programming. The base established the premise that all students develop to their fullest potential. Our emphasis is always on all!
You may not be aware that this model was borrowed and should be credited to June Cox (M.Ed.) from the University of Illinois while she was Executive Director of the Gifted Students Institute in Fort Worth, Texas. It was included in a study funded by the Sid W. Richardson Foundation over the years 1981-1984. Implementing the results of that study resulted in the Pyramid Model used in Wisconsin and throughout the country. Remember that Wisconsin was the last state in the union to adopt statutes requiring services for gifted students in 1987.
During one of Dr. Robert Clasen’s classes or Conference sessions for TAG Coordinators, he added a suggested distribution of Coordinator’s time in service of the levels. He suggested percentages of the coordinator’s time that should be spent at each of the three levels of the Pyramid:
Considering every gifted position I ever held was roughly 50% of my job description, this became complicated! I worked in the Albany, Evansville, and Janesville Districts. No one ever thought gifted should be a full-time job, whether the district population was 500, 1,500 or 10,000 students.
The model provided a firm and comprehensive approach for districts to build programming, especially in the early years through the late 1980s and all the 1990s. Somewhere in the early 2000s, the Department of Public Instruction introduced the Response to Intervention framework for Special Education Services. Coincidentally, the first images were also that of a pyramid! With a little help from a more tech-savvy colleague, we flipped both so that the bases met in the center to form a sort of bell curve model. Several versions of this concept emerged around the state.
Today you will find updated and improved versions of the combined Gifted/RtI Model in the recently published books by Dr. Scott Peters, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater faculty, and past WATG Board Member. Therefore, my friends, it is up to you as the current generation of advocates and leaders to carry the banner for appropriate services forward into the 21st Century, and to document your progress as you go. Proceed!
Printed with permission from Dr. Scott Peters