Liaison of the Month: Toni Viscounte

When I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in education, I thought I was fully prepared to reach and teach all students who would be assigned to my classroom. It was not long before I realized that all students have unique needs and approaches to learning. Through this discovery, I noticed that it was the bright students who challenged me the most. Entry-level education programs do a decent job of teaching prospective educators how to teach to the norm and struggling students; I do not remember anyone ever mentioning how to teach or challenge the bright students. This may be due to different states having different laws on identifying and providing service to gifted. In Ohio, it is required to identify gifted students; however, there are no laws that require service. Hence, I began my pursuit to meet the needs of the students who were finished with an assignment before I fully finished explaining what needed to be done.

I saw a flyer from Kent State University that offered a program to obtain a gifted endorsement. I was already working on my master’s degree, so I decided to add this to my program of studies. My first class, a social and emotional needs class, introduced me to SENG.  After starting the program, it seemed as though every educator I came in contact with mentioned SENG. I was using the resources available on SENG’s Web site for some time, and the more I researched, the more I knew that I wanted to share this valuable information. I was honored to be selected as SENG’s Ohio liaison. As one of Ohio’s Gifted Association Regional Board members, I am afforded the opportunity to spread SENG’s message locally and at the state level via conferences. Most recently I teamed up with a SMPG-trained facilitator to talk to parents about SENG. This was very rewarding. Many parents came up after the presentation stating this was what they had been looking for and that it answered many of their questions regarding their children. My next step is to gather enough names of individuals in Ohio who are interested in SMPG training.  With luck, Ohio will offer this training in the future.

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