Liaison of the Month: Evelyn Metcalf
The year: 1996. The place: Chardon, Ohio. I had gotten my MAT in elementary education just three years before without ever hearing the term “gifted.” Undergraduate degree 10 years earlier in Southeast Asian Studies-that’s another story. I was a long-term sub in a regular fifth-grade classroom. My experience with “gifted” involved sending the smart kids to a resource room once a week across the hall. I wanted a job like that! Lynne Proegler, the Geagua County Gifted Coordinator, came to my school for an in-service on Differentiation. I must have made a beeline to Lynne afterwards, asking how I could get into this field? My blood was churning! She handed me a flier for the SENG Conference coming to Cuyahoga Falls. I went.
LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME. I attended sessions with Sharon Lind and George Betts and heard a keynote by Jim Delisle. I learned about overexcitabilities FOR THE FIRST TIME. I learned about ADULT GIFTEDNESS. I realized that I was NOT from another planet, a theory I’d only held for my entire life. I had lunch with my parents and shared this new-found epiphany of a realization. They nodded, as if comprehending a truth long acknowledged without prior language to articulate the sounds. IT WAS A TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE.
My husband and I had not yet had our first child, which would take me on yet ANOTHER path toward gifted awareness. I bought my first copy of The Autonomous Learner Model, signed by George, at that conference. I used it as a springboard for conversation when I interviewed for my first gifted position in Chardon several years later. My task was to develop a middle school component to our already successful elementary gifted pull-out. I wrote and received a SENG National Speakers grant, which then brought George Betts to Northeast Ohio for a professional development speaking engagement. A middle school parent saw my passion and donated $500 to the school district so I could attend the Autonomous Learner Model Rocky Mountain Conference.
SENG catapulted me into getting my gifted license via Kent State and Jim Delisle, which has in the long run brought me HERE TODAY teaching gifted third-graders at a charter school in Charlotte, NC. I OWE IT ALL TO SENG (and Lynne Proegler)! Last fall I was able to FINALLY be trained as a SENG Model Parent Group facilitator, making a long-wished-for dream come true. This fall I was able to launch my first parent support group, with an incredible co-facilitator, Renee Alsop, and an awe-inspiring group of parents at my school. I am honored to serve such an organization as SENG, and know that I will be doing so for the rest of my life on this planet … maybe beyond!