As you read this article, I will be closing out my final month of serving on the WATG board for seven years. I’m not going away though, simply moving into a different kind of role within WATG. But the culmination of a seven-year term has me really pondering the work that I’ve done to date because of WATG and because of having gifted children myself.
Let me start by telling you, (or reminding you) that I have regrets for not putting up the kind of fight needed to get service for my own children while they were in school. I was a teacher within the same district and I felt as though I had to be careful not to rock the boat too hard and I especially did not want to damage relationships or burn bridges with the folks with whom I worked. In the end, that only resulted in holding back my own kids from getting their educational needs met at school year after year. We tried to give them the rigor and challenge they craved through home activities and adventures. And then they graduated… one after the other. The good news is “they survived,” as most gifted children do, but I always wonder how different things might have been for them had their needs been met, truly met, with appropriate challenges in school. I wonder if the anxiety and perfectionism they deal with today could have been avoided (or minimized) had they had the right lessons about “being” gifted, including the social and emotional support from school staff during their school years. So yes, I have regrets.
And then, along came my opportunity to work with WATG… a place to turn my regrets into action. It has been a soap box platform for me to “shout from the mountain tops” that our gifted kids need EVERYONE’s support. It doesn’t matter what role you play within a gifted child’s life; you have an important role to play to give that child the best support possible. There will be times that it seems impossible and that the obstacles are too big, but it will be worth it in the end. WHY? Because you will have fought the good fight, not just for your student, but for all the others that will come after this one.You will have no regrets because you “left it all on the field”.
Perhaps you are asking right now what you can do to make a change from your corner of the gifted world. Let me give you an incomplete list.
I can tell you that every bit of effort that you put into this work will pay off in the end. You may not see it right away, but the benefits are real. Perhaps you are feeling the same regrets. Perhaps you feel like you are past the point of needing to battle because your children have graduated. Don’t think that way… grandchildren may need the same thing! I have had five grandchildren join my life since landing on the WATG board and the need to keep working on this has only intensified with my Nana status!
I will leave you with this thought: The work we do is important. Your voice is important. It makes a difference to our own children, but also to those children (and parents) who have no voice within our current system. Stretch yourself and find new ways to do this work. Leave it all “on the field” and have no regrets for a job well done. I am beyond grateful for those that have fought before me, with me, and will join us in the future. Thank you to each and every one of you. Take care and take heart. WATG is here to support you as they have me.
Cathy Schmit, President, WATG