We all had a wonderful time at the St. George Art Museum. We learned about Africa, Asia, and Middle East art and cultures. There was fun crafts to make and African rhythms music by one of the artists Djibril N'Doye. It was a fantastic time!
Melody Thieme has received the Calvin W Taylor Outstanding Educator Award from the Utah Association for Gifted Children. This award is designed to recognize an exemplary Utah educator of gifted and talented youth. Congratulations Melody!
We had a nice turn out for our 2018 Spring WCAGC Parent Event. Many great resources from our teachers and board members. Also, thank you Shauna Williams for presenting and sharing ways to help motivate our gifted children!
We had a great time at the Dinosaur Site Museum today. Thanks everyone for a fun event!
Here is our Ruthann Gibbs handouts and great resources from our Parent Night.
We had a wonderful night with Ruthann Gibbs speaking to use about how to help our gifted children. We enjoyed all the fresh new ideas and suggestions she gave us! Look under our resources to check out her handout from the meeting. It is called, "Journeys with Bright and Gifted Children: A Survival Guide."
My journey with giftedness began in Salt Lake in 2010 when I was asked by my oldest son’s teacher if I wanted to have him tested for the Gifted and Talented program. I declined because I was very happy with the education he was receiving and the way his school worked and didn’t plan on sending him to a magnet school. Unfortunately, with a new principal the next year the school changed how things were run, and we spent the next year and a half with little challenge occurring in the classroom. Mid-way through his 3rd grade year I discovered he had stopped turning in assignments. He was 6 weeks behind and failing. After he made up all of the work in less than two days, I knew I needed to have him tested and find a way for him to be challenged.
I had both him and my second child, a 1st grader at the time, tested and they both qualified for the program. After one year in the GT program in Salt Lake we moved to St. George and I was happy to be able to have both of them start directly into the program at Diamond Valley Elementary. My second is currently in 5th grade, and my third son is also in the program is in 3rd grade.
It has been wonderful to see how my children thrive when in an environment that suits them. While my oldest and third children have done well interacting and making friends with many types of children, my second child has not. When in 1st grade, before I had him tested and he joined a GT program, he would come home from school very upset wondering why he had no friends among his classmates. He would unintentionally say and do things that isolated him from his peers. It was amazing to see the contrast when he started in the GT program and was with others on his same level.
When the Washington County Association for Gifted Children was organized in 2015 I was asked to be treasurer. It has been wonderful to meet with parents and educators who are committed to advocating for the high-ability learners of our area. I continue to learn and am able to get ideas from others on how to best help my children succeed. I love attending the family get-togethers where I can use others as a sounding board. I constantly find myself in new waters as my children get older and I enter a new phase of their education.
While there are a few things I wish I would have done differently as I navigated this road, the biggest is when I had my oldest son tested. Even if you don’t plan on utilizing one of the magnet elementary schools (they aren’t right for every child) or if your child is older and out of elementary school, in this case knowledge is power. Having the testing to back you up helps as you work with your child’s teacher and administrator(s) to get him/her the education that is needed. You are child’s best advocate.
I want the best for my kids, as we all do. I am my children’s most important advocate, and my journey in the education system has led me to meet some wonderful people and become involved in the Washington County Association for Gifted Children. Let me tell you my story.
In 2012 we moved to the St. George area from near Salt Lake. Being sure my kids are challenged in school has been a long-time priority for me. That was the case in the Granite School District, and continued when we moved to the Washington County School District.
My second-grade son was tested gifted at the end of his first year here and was invited to be part of the district's Advanced Learning Program. He participated at the magnet elementary level for three years and had a wonderful experience. He made friends who "think like he does" and was able to be more challenged, move at a more appropriate pace, and have more opportunities. I now have a daughter in the ALP program in third grade, and she is benefitting in the same way. I am thrilled that the district identifies gifted kids in elementary school and has something concrete to offer them at that level.
I decided to be proactive, and ran for Community Council at our middle school after the first year here. I realize how vitally important it is to help the low-level students--I am an English as a Second Language teacher and it doesn't take much to get me to fight for the underprivileged. But lots of resources go to supporting those students. So I spoke to the principal and Community Council of the importance of being sure everyone's needs are being met, and of putting resources into helping the high level students. The principal thanked me for my efforts and let me know they made a difference.
Similarly, I am on the high school Community Council. While honors and AP classes give advanced students a place to be challenged, I still want to be sure they are being recognized and given what they need. At the intermediate school, I have gotten with other parents of gifted kids to meet with the principal to talk about how their needs can be met and how to best transition kids from the ALP program to the intermediate school. Additional parents have vocalized their gifted kids' needs, and it is making a difference.
Having kids in the ALP program and being on the Community Councils helped me get to know like-minded parents. In 2013, I attended the original meeting about forming the WCAGC. In 2015, because of those connections, I was asked to be on the WCAGC board. I have enjoyed getting to know more parents and teachers in the district who are passionate about gifted education.
June of 2016 I went to the Utah Association for Gifted Children (UAGC) Conference in Park City. This was a great experience for many reasons, including meeting a parent from a small town with basically no services who was negotiating how to help her son. I was able to learn the lingo and heard a fascinating session on depth of knowledge. This is a great time to be the parent of gifted children.
As a parent, I also take responsibility for my kids' learning. I try and expose them to opportunities like music lessons, science camps, volunteering, etc. I feel like one of my greatest accomplishments is having children who love to read. (Having to make my kids stop reading at the dinner table is a problem I feel lucky to have.) I have learned to balance my expectations, and from time to time have to remind myself that, yes, my kids will be successful adults. My children are all thriving and excelling in ways I never imagined when we first moved here.
For me, WCAGC has been a great place to network with teachers and parents concerned about gifted education. Sharing our stories and our experiences can help those navigating the same terrain. I am confident that we can continue to make a difference with our united voices.
Washington County Association for Gifted Children