Have you ever in your life wondered what was “behind the curtain?” Perhaps you were at a theater production, or a concert, and have wondered “what’s really going on behind that curtain? I can’t wait for it to open.” Perhaps you’ve looked at a completed project and wondered, “What’s “behind the curtain?” How was that accomplished so well? Who was responsible? How did they make it happen?” If you are a person who wonders about what is “behind the curtain,” then this article is for you.
As an organization, there is lots of activity going on “behind the WATG curtain.” We now know that many, many of you read our monthly newsletters and are aware of our many initiatives and the many hours that are spent on them. But are you aware of the reasons for the work? What beliefs and values underpin our work? Who is responsible for the work? What research guides our work? How can you help?
To more fully understand the scope of our work, you will want to check out our website at www.watg.org. The headline banners there provide a glimpse into the vast work that we are doing.
One of the banners that you will see is our justice for all banner. In June of 2020, in response to the events that were unfolding in the United States, our board of directors crafted this statement, ““Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~Maya Angelou. “As our nation faces the grave consequences of long standing and systemic racism, the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted remains committed to equity and justice for all. As an organization, we are cognizant of the inequities in identification and educational programming for gifted students of color. We remain committed to examining these inequities, and rectifying these inequities. We pledge to do our part to dismantle structural and institutional racism. We invite partnerships with other institutions, groups, and individuals to share conversations about the impacts of race, and will work to listen, learn, and support each other in this critical process of changing our world.” Each month our justice for all task force meets to examine our work as a board through lenses of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Most recently, we have been working with Mark Schwingle, the gifted and talented consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Education to align our efforts with the work of DPI. If you choose the Equity tab on the menu bar, it will take you to a long list of resources that you may find helpful as well. Our task force is using these resources to guide our work.
Another banner provides information about our upcoming Townhall Meetings. Each month, WATG hosts a Townhall Meeting, open to all interested people. This is a relatively new offering, and is gaining momentum each month. Questions are posed, and participants are invited to share their ideas and resources. Topics in the past have included basic gifted education information, leadership, and most recently, growing gifted girls. What other topics would you like to see offered at our Townhall Meetings? We are always open to suggestions.
Yet another banner highlights our annual fall conference. This banner, and the banner on the accompanying Teen Conference, which is held in conjunction with our adult conference, will keep you updated on information regarding our conferences. These banners are almost like “sneak previews”, and are designed to whet your appetite for more learning.
With the help of our intern Everett, WATG has recently begun recording podcasts on a wide variety of topics of interest to educators and families. The podcast banner on our website will get you easily connected to our series of podcasts. In today’s busy world, podcasts are often a prime source of information. Again, we welcome suggestions regarding topics for future podcasts.
Logo contests and scholarship information are advertised in other banners on our website. These are opportunities for our young people to grow and show their talents. We invite you to explore these with your children or students.
Often we at WATG are asked about resources for programming for gifted students. Our resource page, newly developed, is packed with resource ideas on topics such as advocacy, artistic domain, assessment and identification, creativity domain, coordination, program development & evaluation, curriculum and instruction, equity, homeschooling, intellectual domain, leadership domain, parenting, parent-community-school partnerships, specific academic domain, social and emotional wellness, summer opportunities, and Wisconsin Gifted 101. It is a great place to find information, whether you are an educator, a parent, or a student. We highly recommend that you check out this section!
Our final banners encourage you to join WATG, and outline the many benefits of membership. You can also see photos of our hardworking board members, all volunteers.
Two newly added features that have recently been added to our website are the flip-open Membership Brochure, which highlights all of the benefits of WATG membership, partnership, and sponsorship, and a flip-book of our long-awaited Acceleration Report. We thank our intern, Camryn, for her work on incorporating these documents on our website.
Finally, our website is the place where we archive all of our newsletter items, articles, and blogs. This is a great place to “get the pulse” of gifted education, and to read up on gifted issues locally, in our state, our nation, and our world.
Now that you’ve been “behind the curtain,” we encourage you to stay for the show(s). Keep viewing our website, as the “show” changes frequently. Share the “show” with your friends and family, and consider sampling many of the “acts” that we provide. If you have an “act” to share, please send us your “script.” We’d love to have you on the stage with us!
(WATG extends a huge thank you to Dr. German Diaz of Milwaukee Public Schools for translating this article into Spanish for our families and educators who speak Spanish. The translation can also be found on our website.)