It was in 1982 or so that I first learned of this discipline, this distinct field. I fell in love. I realized that I had found a place (in gifted education) that I could really dig into and contribute to so that I could help MAKE A DIFFERENCE particularly for a group of students whose needs were seldom attended to in regular educational settings - gifted children from culturally diverse groups including those from low income, rural & urban communities. These students were bright, creative, and very intuitive. At the time, I was working in a small rural school district in Virginia. The community was isolated, yet, there in that place I came to love and dedicate myself to MAKING A DIFFERENCE to address inequities in the lives of very bright children who were under-challenged and under-served every day! Even with limited exposure to a wider cultural arena that existed in urban and suburban communities, these children were extremely smart, they were funny, compassionate, many were excellent artists, had remarkable leadership skills, had persistence, and caught on easily to complex concepts. The schools, while limited in resources, were staffed with educators who were committed to their work, cared about the children, and did very well with very little to MAKE A DIFFERENCE and nurture the best in the students, doing what they could to help them reach their highest potential.
For the past thirty plus years, I have worked with educators, scholars, researchers and families in urban areas, suburban communities and rural communities across the nation. My commitment to MAKING A DIFFERENCE is greater now than ever! What has changed in my quest to do this work is that I've learned that I'm not in this alone. Over the years, I have met hundreds of people who are deeply dedicated to addressing the inequities in gifted education, deeply passionate about sharing their own resources and gifts, deeply committed to working hard at almost any cost to ensure that the gifts and talents of ALL children and youth are challenged and that they are given their fair and equitable share of resources in schools and programs across the nation!!
This work is not the work of a few, but the work of many. This is also not for the 'faint of heart'...sometimes we have to fight and draw attention to the needs of the under-served gifted child in ways that others may be offended by. But, being courageous does not mean that we are always going to be liked by everyone. This is a battle!
There is so much to be done, at any given time, there are thousands of culturally diverse gifted children in classrooms with ill-trained teachers who see little if any potential in them. These same children may possess the potential that can change the life outcomes for themselves and their families, communities through discoveries in the sciences, creations in the arts, or systemic theories across many disciplines. There is so much work to be done. We need everyone's hands and hearts in this together.
My networking across the nation has been very powerful and effective. I have been fortunate enough to have met many people who are doing great work for children and MAKING A DIFFERENCE everyday. So, I have decided that I will dedicate the first six blogs of 2014 to profiling individuals and programs that are MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR UNDER-SERVED GIFTED CHILDREN.
Some of these individuals whose work has great impact are NOT educators...they are from many different fields. Most recently, through a connection with a good friend and literary agent (Patrick Oliver), I came in contact with a multi-talented artist who began her career as a gifted child actress/vocalist. This young woman has had the ingenuity to continuously re-invent herself so that now she is not only performing to entertain but is now sharing her gifts to motivate and inspire other young people. I was so excited to make her acquaintance and to talk with her. I asked if she'd like to share some of her work and rationale for MAKING A DIFFERENCE and she generously agreed to do so. She shares in this brief testimony below and her website just how passionate she is about MAKING A DIFFERENCE by sharing her gifts to help others. She has lived the life of a child prodigy in one of the toughest fields of all- the entertainment industry and survived!!
Please read and share Rhona Bennett's story below, go to her website, and share her story with others. Many thanks to you Rhona for MAKING A DIFFERENCE!: