Madison Olszewski, a student at Menasha High School, has been selected to have her art be part of an exhibit displayed in Sarasota, FL through a non-profit group called, Embracing Our Differences. This organization uses the power of art and education to expand consciousness and open the heart to celebrate the diversity of the human family.
Madi's piece titled, "A Mile in My Shoes" was one of 50 chosen from 17,912 entries from 123 countries, 47 states and 423 schools around the world. Her piece will be showcased in the 19th annual exhibit, January 15 through April 10, in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park. The exhibit consists of 50 billboard-sized works of art, each accompanied by an inspirational quote. Her art can be viewed at Embracing Our Differences.org,, along with a short video of Madi explaining her inspiration and creative thought process. You can view Madi’s video here.
Madi's art work was also chosen as the cover for the school's annual catalog.
There was also a national segment on PBS talking about the exhibit: The link for the PBS
Segment is here.
Congratulations to Madi, and to all of the educators, mentors, and artists who inspired her along the way!
If you have a student or students whom you’d like to showcase in our featured Spotlight on Students series, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and put Spotlight on Students in the subject line. We’d love to hear from you.
Partnerships help advocates for the gifted and talented population grow stronger. For this reason, the WATG board was excited to partner with The G Word Film organization. This organization is based in California, and their film, currently in post-production, is a new documentary about giftedness, intelligence, and neurodiversity in the 21st Century. It asks the critical question, “Who gets to be gifted?” As they work to finalize this documentary, they have developed a phenomenal website with clips from their movie, highlighting amazing youth from all walks of life. Further, they are becoming a force within the gifted community, advocating for all gifted learners, especially students from traditionally underrepresented communities.
Recently, the G Word Film hosted a discussion with Drs. Ford, Davis, Statmore, and Mr. Ridgeway, entitled: Young, Gifted & Black: Recalibrating Race, Education & Equity for San Francisco. While the core focus of this presentation was centered on San Francisco, many of the themes for moving forward resonate with all learners. Here they are:
The entire podcast, along with many other resources, can be found on the G Word Film website. Take a look, and stay tuned for the release of The G Word Film.
Social Justice Taskforce Chairperson
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
The November 8, 2021 article by Frederick Hess, director of educational policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, entitled
Defend Gifted Education. And Then Do Much More,
is a must-read for parents, educators, and advocates for the gifted student population. Summarizing the article fails to give justice to its eloquent defense of our students. This snippet, however, manages to capture the understanding that equity includes ALL gifted children.
Three years ago, in a
“Culturally Responsive Equity-Based Bill of Rights for Gifted Students of Color,” a group of equity scholars including Donna Y Ford, Kenneth T. Dickson, Joy Lawson Davis, Michelle Trotman Scott, and Tarek C. Grantham argued that “gifted students of color need skilled gifted educators, gifted programs committed to recruiting and retaining them, and access to gifted programs and services, including Advanced Placement, accelerated, magnet schools, early college, and other programs for advanced students/learners.
They’re right. In fact, when equity is understood in this way, there are endless opportunities for simultaneously pursuing both equity and excellence.
Dr. Maria Katsaros-Molzahn, Ed.D. and the Justice For All Taskforce
The 2021 Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted Fall Conference offered the opportunity to delve deeper into key issues around gifted education, both locally and nationally, with a specific focus on equity.
Regardless of the difficulties surrounding change, growth requires it. Dissecting what works versus what continues to challenge a system often begins the change process. For some, this dissection leads to refinement. “This worked, now all we need to do is…” For others, this dissection leads to complete system elimination. “This worked, but for reasons x, y, or z it no longer meets our needs.” Historians, however, dissect the past to develop a better understanding of the future. They ask, “How did we get to this point in time?”
One way to advocate for the continuation of gifted and talented services centers on dovetailing the service into specific niche settings. For instance, careful data analysis may indicate the need for highly targeted instruction. A student may benefit from full grade or subject-specific acceleration; promoting the child to a new class appears to eliminate the need.
Full grade and subject area acceleration models exist and show success. Nonetheless, as parents and educators note, these programs do not address the needs of all gifted students. Asynchrony (non-linear development) and other factors might work to undermine a student’s academic progress. For example, a four-year-old with a seven-year-old brain might still need a kindergarten structure. Similarly, highly talented musicians, athletes, or visual artists might require both talent development and advanced academics targeted to foster their needs.
However, these models often appear to perpetuate system biases. For numerous reasons, including, but not limited to test anxiety, lack of preparatory opportunities, and continued systemic bias, underserved and traditionally minority populations rarely receive the benefits of gifted programming. Indeed, this proves to be the biggest rationale for the rallying cry, “The program is inherently biased, eliminate it.”
Scholars from these very communities, however, propose an alternative path, tied to local norms and talent development. Within this framework, the goal becomes one of inclusion rather than exclusion. One strategy suggested focuses on the use of non-verbal identification tools. The importance of these instruments stems from their non-biased narratives.The challenge comes in disseminating and utilizing the data.
Used with prudence, nonverbal identification tools provide entry points. Rather than using these tools to find one or two students from diverse backgrounds in older grades, use them to find a strong cohort of kids early on. The data may or may not lead to a group that would reach a scale score of 130 on a traditional IQ test. The data, however, might lead to “students of promise.”
Data collection leads to service development and delivery. Recognizing the disparity in access to enriched opportunities, educational models should adopt an enrichment for all mentality. Talent development is good for all kids and allows brains to create higher-level problem-solving skills. Providing enrichment opportunities in the early grades allows for students to hone in on their passions and develop stronger social-emotional connections to their school community. Students and school systems benefit from this positive engagement.
Providing enrichment opportunities, moreover, increases the bonds between the school, home, and community. Parents who believe that their school district provides both appropriate educational opportunities and rewarding experiences become allies. Moreover, as students progress through their academic careers, these bonds ensure that a continuation of appropriate service opportunities remains. Families with strong local connections tend to maintain residency within their district.
Ultimately, to arrive at a point where targeted instruction utilizing full or subject-area acceleration becomes the norm, a foundation of opportunity for all must exist.
Dr. Maria Katsaros-Molzahn, Ed.D,
WATG Secretary for the Justice for All Taskforce