My desire to become a teacher started in a one room school house when I was seven years old. The schoolhouse was on the property of an old, country museum near my childhood home and the curators invited me to come over one summer day to “play school” with their grandchildren. My journey to becoming a teacher began that day, but morphed into something beyond my wildest dreams.
When I set foot in my first classroom in 1997, it was not the classroom my undergraduate degree had prepared me for. I was hired to replace a beloved K-5 gifted pullout program teacher who had resigned mid-year. I had finished my student teaching just days before and was beyond excited about my first teaching job. I couldn’t believe someone was actually going to pay me to be a teacher—the one thing I wanted more than anything in the world.
I quickly understood why teachers get paid to work—in order to fund continuous education for themselves. These precious children were nothing like I had experienced before. Gifted students thought differently, needed individualized learning experiences, and were nothing like the students I had learned to teach in my teacher preparation program. I felt ill prepared to nurture these students to their full potential and realized in order to do right by them I needed specific training in gifted and talented education. Not surprisingly, the 45 minutes devoted to gifted children in my undergraduate degree was not enough–I needed more.
One of the best decisions I made was to enroll in a Master’s program in Teaching Gifted and Talented Students from Whitworth University. I was exposed to ideas, theories, and strategies that were new to me but were congruent with what I knew to be true about education. At my core, these new ideas fit perfectly with my synergistic style of teaching and my desire to focus on the needs of the whole child.
Through Whitworth, I was introduced to Accelerated Learning Methodology, a way of teaching that was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I spent over 270 hours studying the art of teaching powered by neuroscience research through the Quantum Learning Network. This experience opened up a newfound love for training teachers, along with a desire to reach a larger audience in order to impact more children. In order to fulfill this dream, I needed credibility. My mentor suggested I either write a book, or go back to school for my PhD.
In January, 2004, I was accepted into a doctoral program from Gonzaga University in Leadership Studies. My dissertation research focused on the teacher characteristics needed to nurture gifted students in a technology rich environment. This was an intersection between my passion for gifted education, teacher training, and technology integration.
Through my dissertation research, the message I was meant to share with the world was unveiled to me. I learned the following: a highly effective teacher serving gifted learners is an ally and serves the students through the following servant leadership attributes: listening to students; empathizing with their needs; healing their hearts; being aware of what is needed; persuading students to become lifelong learners; committing to their growth; and being a steward of their time, talent, and resources. The teacher must realize that the process may get messy along the way, which causes the team to adapt in those situations. The teacher is an architect who creates a well-designed learning foundation, providing guidance and aggregating the necessary print, digital, and human resources together in one place. Finally, the teacher provides the appropriate level of autonomy to the student.
The message was clear and through Gifted Resources I would find the audience. Gifted Resources was born from a desire to share resources about gifted education, but through my education and experiences has transformed into much more.
Gifted Resources exists to:
· Empower parents and teachers to become Servant Leaders to gifted children
· Train teachers to differentiate the curriculum using free technology resources
· Educate people on the unique social, emotional and academic needs of gifted students
My calling is to provide practical strategies to empower you to serve the gifted students in your life through interactive, online learning experiences, videos, and articles. As a good steward of your time, talent, and resources I look forward to taking this journey alongside you. Together, we will explore how you can transform the life of gifted learners, one child at a time.