Last year, the WATG Board chose the theme “Hands On - Minds On” for our annual fall conference. Little did we know how prescient that choice was to be!
As 2020 has unfolded, we began to realize that this year was going to be a “Hands On - Minds On” year, now more than ever, and so we amended our conference’s theme to be “Hands On - Minds On: Now More Than Ever!” More than that, we amended so many ways that we do things as a board.
Now more than ever, we as a board are meeting virtually and often, and have many, many projects in the works which require many minds and many hands. Let us share some of our highlights.
As many of you probably know, our conference will be October 18-20, and will be presented virtually. This has required much new learning, and we are all growing because of it. The behind-the-scenes work of a virtual conference has stretched board members and our amazing executive assistant to collaborate in ways that are new and exciting. We will be offering two thought-provoking keynote addresses: Dr. Marcia Gentry will speak on “Equity in Wisconsin” and will address our state reports cards concerning access and equity in gifted identification and programming. Dr. Brian Housand’s keynote address is entitled “Where Do We Go From Here? Charting the Course Ahead for Gifted Education,” and he will focus on identifying some of gifted education’s greatest challenges and re-examine them as opportunities for growth. Complementing these thought-provoking keynote addresses will be a myriad of outstanding breakout sessions, chat opportunities, a lobby, exhibitors’ presentations, a zoom “unconference, social get-together,” a zoom facilitated parent discussion room, a teen conference, and many other surprises. This is going to be a premiere conference like no other! Registration information will be announced very soon, so stay tuned and plan to join us.
While our Programming Committee has been exceptionally busy, other committees have been equally engaged in “Hands On - Minds On” work.
Our Legislative and Government Action Committee has been closely following developments in the state and national arenas, and is poised to act when the timing is right. We maintain informational and working relationships with legislators on issues that pertain to gifted education, and look for your help when we mobilize for action.
Our Membership Committee has been developing a comprehensive list of potential members, partners and supporters of gifted education in Wisconsin, and is in contact with them, growing relationships and suggesting ways that we can help each other during these new and challenging times. If you have ideas for potential collaborations, please contact us with your suggestions.
Our Acceleration Team has recently finished an extremely comprehensive report entitled “Advanced Learning and Accelerated Learning in Wisconsin: Moving Wisconsin Students FORWARD.” This report reflects several years of hard work by a highly dedicated team, and will be made public during the first week of August. You will want to check the WATG website, watg.org, to examine this report. Plans are being made to disseminate the report, present findings at various gatherings, and organize future informational sessions. Again, stay tuned!
WATG board members have also been highly active in many other arenas. We have been engaged with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the WI Gifted and Talented Consultant, Mark Schwingle, on zoom meetings to discuss the “Education Forward: Reopening Wisconsin’s Schools” report. We are especially pleased to see that gifted education has been showcased in this report. See pages 77-79 for the specific recommendations.
Additionally, board members have been active and presenting at various conferences, workshops, and webinars locally and nationally. Some of these include WPEN (the Wisconsin Public Education Network), SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of Gifted), and NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) Affiliate and Leadership workshops.
An upcoming webinar entitled “Meeting the Needs of Gifted Children in Your Classroom” will be presented by WATG board advisor Jackie Drummer on August 18, 7:30-8:30pm. Jackie brings decades of work as a gifted coordinator and differentiation specialist to this presentation. Registration details are available at Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted.
Finally, WATG Board members remain committed to serving the needs of our constituents on a daily basis. We often field calls for information and support. We do our best to act as “conduit” between our constituents and solutions that fit their needs. As you might imagine, we have had many conversations lately!
All of the work of the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted is possible because dedicated volunteers share their brilliant minds and their serving hands. We welcome new board members, and others who want to partner with us for short-term or long-term projects. Again, contact us at watg.org. Now, MORE THAN EVER, the time is right to volunteer to make a difference for gifted learners in our state!