There are so many great things that the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted does; one of those things is advocating for people who cannot advocate for themselves. I am talking especially about kids and about minorities.
I have seen so many minority children in my teaching career not even give gifted and talented programs a thought; that is, until a teacher pointed them in our direction.
The sad truth, in my experience, is that minority families believe that they are being taken care of in our schools. They want to trust in the education system and have faith that the Wisconsin Department of Instruction and their schools have their child’s best interests at heart.
Unfortunately, too many kids get swallowed up and lost in the shuffle. I’ve seen them.
There was a Spanish fourth grader who was very quiet. We will call him Miguel. He didn’t do very well on standardized tests because he didn’t completely understand what was being asked of him.
However, things started to turn around when he got some one-on-one instruction and a teacher’s aide began to unlock his hidden academic potential. His educators quickly understood how gifted Miguel was at math and how strong of a reader he was.
Unfortunately, since he couldn’t express himself well verbally or in writing, there were a lot of people that had given up on him. All Miguel really needed was a chance. He needed to prove himself to his teachers and he needed a chance to prove himself to himself.
Think about it. How confident would you be if adults in your life kept saying that you couldn’t do things? How energetic would you be about school if adults that you were supposed to trust never took your learning seriously?
After those one-on-one meetings with the teacher’s aide, Miguel knew that he could be an achiever. The aide reached out to the teacher and said that Miguel was doing some remarkable things in math and reading. The teacher didn’t hesitate -- and reached out to the gifted and talented program coordinator in the district. She didn’t say that Miguel belonged in a gifted and talented setting; she just asked a question about the process for kids to be recognized.
As a result of that conversation, things changed for Miguel. Instead of working in a setting that heightened his anxiety, Miguel would work with three or four gifted and talented kids. He flourished in that environment and his anxiety instantly melted away.
This is just one story; we know that countless other stories exist, and our mission at WATG is to educate about and advocate for the needs of the gifted in Wisconsin -- to facilitate stories such as Miguel’s.
What WATG is doing doesn’t manifest itself in magic potions or wishful thinking. What this organization does is change lives and attitudes through education and advocacy. Its mission is a mission of action.
As in Miguel’s story, the first step was to recognize a need. If that teacher’s aide didn’t notice Miguel’s aptitude from a distance, nothing would’ve changed. He would’ve stayed in the same classroom, trying to find himself. Academic confidence is such a fickle thing, especially for a kid like Miguel who was quiet to begin with. Kids need advocates to stand up for them because oftentimes there aren’t a lot of people willing to stick up for them. Miguel’s educators took action, and that action changed a life.
WATG’s mission is about action -- government action for funding and legislation, programming and membership actions for the education of educators and students, and student action -- assuring kids like Miguel that they will be seen and served. WATG takes action by providing the resources, encouragement, and networking to make this happen.
Miguel was able to turn his academic career around simply because someone listened intently -- and took action.
Be an active listener; it can change someone’s life. Then...take action!
WATG Board Member
Student and Parent Voices
Hear from and about gifted and talented students and parents across the state Wisconsin.