Our featured FGA board member this month is Janet Schaefer, VP Communications.
Hello! My name's Janet Schaefer and I'm thankful to serve as the VP Communications for FGA. My boys Logan (almost 12, Vandeventer Middle School) and Wyatt (10, Anderson Elementary School) are in the FISD gifted program and we love the enrichment they get from their incredible teachers and fellow classmates.
This year is Logan's first experience with middle school GT ILA. Having this academic and social support system has been key, because 6th grade has been a real eye-opening transition. Organization, time management, juggling multiple classes and extracurricular activities, the changing social scene...he's been tested by most of it. But every day he gets to attend GT ILA class, with many of the same kids he's known for years and an atmosphere that celebrates out-of-the-box thinking. It's his most challenging course academically, and it's also an environment where he's free to be his wonderfully quirky self.
Wyatt's in 5th grade and we're sad It's his last year with the wonderful Ms. Sinclair. GT has consistently been one of his favorite subjects at school. I think sometimes he's having so much fun that he forgets he's learning. Like Logan's middle school ILA class, it's a place where Wyatt's wacky sense of humor and general outlook on life are appreciated. Also, he gets to learn about stuff that goes beyond the standard curriculum...he researches and discusses interesting material at home after it's presented in GT class.
I've learned so many lessons since the boys entered the gifted program. Maybe the biggest one is that I need to allow them the flexibility to pursue the things they're interested in (not just the things I think they should do). And also give them the dignity to make their own mistakes, learn from their struggles, and advocate for themselves. These are hard things for me to do as a parent, but I'm getting better! A couple of books have really helped me improve my perspective: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, and The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.
Volunteering with FGA has been a huge blessing. It's helped expose the boys (and my husband and me) to resources and opportunities that we were previously unaware of. I've met and worked with some of the most inspiring people -- at FGA, in FISD, with our sponsors, and within our community. And just as importantly, I've been able to give back to the people and programs that have helped my own kids so much over the years. If you've been thinking about getting more involved with FGA, I'd greatly encourage reaching out to us. There are opportunities even if you have only few hours a week to give.