Coming of age and understanding: my personal story

I am a high school teacher and licensed school counselor. When I’m not at school, I enjoy spending time with my children, lifting weights, and brushing up on the latest in theoretical quantum physics.

School was an unpleasant experience for me. In middle school and high school I was either bored or in trouble. Eventually, I dropped out of high school halfway through my junior year, got a GED, and started college a year early. In college, I had the opportunity to manage my own learning and I flourished.

In 2011, I became the coach of the Quiz Bowl team at the high school where I used to teach. In order to understand more about the students who were on the team, I started researching Academic and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) programs and what school was like for exceptionally bright students. As I continued learning more about them, I started seeing myself. One afternoon, I came across a YouTube video of a 60 Minutes news special on American Mensa, the high IQ society for those who have IQ scores in the top 98% percentile. The video showed people in good spirits who were engaging in various sorts of activities like a talent show, board games, a meet and greet mixer, etc. For some reason, it brought me to tears. These were my people. I didn’t know why or how, but I knew that there was something about them I identified with.

Out of curiosity, I scheduled an IQ test with a psychologist. When my scores were tallied, the psychologist interpreted my results. My final score was superior, however, the total scores in each category were inconsistent. My verbal index was much higher than the other domains. The psychologist told me that my scores were indicative of a child who had a lot of potential that was never actualized. However, as an adult, all of the potential that was never developed was assimilated into my verbal IQ since that domain is the only one that can change in adulthood. While I was glad to know my score, this caused me to reevaluate my experiences in school from a different perspective. I wasn’t the dumb trouble-maker who turned things around. I was overlooked.

I specifically remember times in which I wanted something more meaningful. In 3rd grade, I talked with some of my friends about their enrichment classes and what they did during the time they were pulled out of our regular class. They told me they were reading a book about Greek mythology and it was on a 6th grade reading level. That fascinated me! I wanted to do that too, but my grades did not reflect my ability. Another time, some friends of mine were going to Odyssey of the Mind to perform a skit. I wanted to be a part of that so bad, I volunteered a Saturday to help them with a car wash to raise money for their trip…just to be connected with that in some way. At times like that, I was reaching for something higher, but no one was there to take my hand.

I mailed in an application and my test results to American Mensa and I was approved for membership. It was a new beginning and a homecoming at the same time. At first, I struggled to find my identity as someone who functions at the higher end of the intelligence bell curve. At times, I probably came off as being self-centered or egotistical, as some super-smarties can be. But, eventually things evened out as I became aware of the realistic and unrealistic expectations our society has regarding those who are “smart.”

We cannot change the past. But together, we can influence the present to ensure a better future for our children. That is precisely the purpose of this website and blog. The goal of the website, mygiftedchild.net, is to promote awareness and provide resources for parents and educators. The blog is designed to facilitate conversations. As we communicate, we will form a community of advocacy, support, and mutual understanding.