When I first found out that I was the recipient of the first Mensa Foundation Gifted Education Fellowship, I was humbled and honored.
I had been working as one of two gifted educators in a K–8 district and was tasked with both identifying and serving this unique population of learners. When I first began this role, I thought I knew enough about gifted learners to be able to effectively meet their needs. However, the more I learned about gifted education, the more I realized that I still had much to learn.
The Mensa Foundation provided me with the opportunity to further my education in this area, so I could understand my students more fully. Through its generous grant, I was able to pursue a master’s degree in educational psychology with a concentration in giftedness, creativity, and talent development at the University of Connecticut.
The knowledge I gained from this experience enabled me to improve my Mensa local chapter’s gifted program and begin to identify even more students who, due to various reasons, flew under our identification radar. I applied my knowledge of the social and emotional needs of gifted learners not only toward helping the students but also toward educating other teachers, administrators, and even school counselors about the special and often misunderstood needs of this population of learners.
As I continued my degree, my passion continued to grow. Through my advocacy work at the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children, I helped pass a law in New Jersey that will help to ensure gifted learners from all socioeconomic levels, races, genders, and ethnicities are identified and served. I serve on a volunteer committee for the New Jersey Department of Education that advises the state about how to help school districts implement the law using equitable best practices.
I am currently the Head of School for FlexSchool, which serves gifted and twice-exceptional students. I am uniquely qualified to serve these students because of the opportunities afforded to me by the Mensa Foundation and its generous fellowship.
At a time when gifted education is under the microscope, it is more important than ever that we understand that these students have special needs, both academically and socially/emotionally, and it is imperative that educators know how to recognize, understand, and support these children. Every child deserves to learn and grow at a rate commensurate with their needs. Despite popular belief, children with gifted needs will not necessarily be fine without intervention.
I support the work the Foundation is doing to further this work and help these children use their gifts and talents to contribute to the betterment of the world.