by Nicole LaChance, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Earlier this month, a few IEA staff members attended the National Association for Gifted Children’s 63rd Annual Convention. The theme of this year’s gathering was “Imagine the Possibilities,” with a focus on what could happen if all gifted children had the chance to reach their full potential.
I had the opportunity to attend the pre-conference program, Identifying and Serving Gifted and Talented African American and Hispanic/Latino Students. The keynote speech for this portion of the conference was given by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest district in the country. Since he came on board in 2008, the district has been conducting universal gifted screenings using cultural and language sensitive assessments (a good portion of the district’s Hispanic/Latino population are English Language Learners). As a result, the district’s proportion of African American and Latino/Hispanic students represented in gifted programs is double or more the national and state averages.
Carvalho himself has an interesting story, coming to this country with his parents as an undocumented immigrant, knowing no English, and working his way up from dishwasher to superintendent. He was the only one of his siblings to even graduate high school, which he kept stressing was all about having the opportunity to succeed. He emphasized that this is what gifted students, especially those from underserved populations, need.
This message resonated with me. How can we best serve students from all backgrounds? How can we make sure no one is being left behind, that every student has the opportunity to be challenged if they choose to do so? I left NAGC with a renewed sense of optimism about the futures of these students. I met so many dedicated people from around the country working hard to serve and challenge them, to make sure the someday no one will fall through the cracks. Being surrounded by a group of dedicated educators, advocates and parents helped me to imagine the possibilities for all gifted kids.
To close, I will leave you with my favorite quote from Carvalho, about the importance of universal gifted screening to make sure no students are being left behind and unchallenged: “If you’re a smart fisherman, you don’t put a hook in the water to try to catch all fish, you put a net.”
- Here is an article about the measures being taken in the Miami-Dade schools to diversify gifted programs.
- Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video Carvalho’s talk from the convention, but I found this video of him talking, in part, about the importance of reaching and challenging every child (he’s an engaging speaker).
- A post from the IEA archives about the fight for diversity in gifted education.
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