Vanessa R. Wood: The International Gifted Consortium, Research Center for the Highly-Profoundly Gifted.

Feb 10, 2018 by

An Interview with Vanessa R. Wood: The International Gifted Consortium, Research Center for the Highly-Profoundly Gifted.

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

  1. Vanesa first of all, please tell us a bit about yourself, your education and experience.

Sure, I am the co-founder of The International Gifted Consortium (IGC), Research Center for the Highly-Profoundly Gifted. I did my undergraduate work in Entrepreneurial Studies, Marketing and Communications at Babson College. And I went back to school to earn a masters in Gifted Education when I was faced with the unexpected journey of administering my children’s education. While homeschooling, I served on the board and assisted in leading the HSGS (Home Schooling Gifted Students) Cooperative, a diverse group of dedicated parents determined to meet the educational and social-emotional needs of their gifted children; truly a benchmark community.

I developed programs to fit the educational and developmental needs of highly-profoundly gifted children including: Advanced Astronaut Training at the Challenger Learning Center and a semester of hands-on research with researchers in the field at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

In 2013, my family and I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona so my oldest could attend The Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy at Arizona State University allowing him to concurrently attend ASU classes. The IGC, Research Center for the Highly-Profoundly Gifted was founded shortly there after to aid other parents, and community stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, counselors, psychologists, pediatricians and policy makers, to fulfill the educational and developmental needs of this unique, yet marginalized population.

  1. Now what exactly is this Gifted Consortium, and where are you located?

The International Gifted Consortium, or IGC, is a growing collaboration of stakeholders from across the globe who are dedicated to meeting the unique educational and developmental needs of our highly-profoundly gifted population.

The IGC is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization based out of Scottsdale, Arizona with contributors throughout the United States, Australia, Switzerland, France, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. We are currently considering organizations and universities to house The IGC, Research Center for the Highly-Profoundly Gifted, the international hub of research and dissemination. The proper fit is essential to the IGC mission.

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?

The mission of the IGC is to collaboratively understand, identify and support the unique development of Giftedness through the lens of the highly-profoundly gifted. It is important to realize that when we say Giftedness, we are referring to the holistic being of the individual not just the potential manifestation of intelligence. We know Giftedness can manifest extraordinary creations, perceptions and deductions, but more importantly, the IGC understands the unique social, emotional, physical, cognitive and altruistic underpinnings of Giftedness that together can accelerate and accentuate development, in one or more areas. And when nurtured and proactively supported, Giftedness can positively continue to develop.

We, as a society at large, need to understand the developmental phenomena of profound Giftedness and be aware of both the potential and vulnerability of extraordinary human development. Highly and profoundly gifted children and adolescents (and adults for that matter) are being misunderstood, misidentified and tragically misdiagnosed. The IGC is dedicated to curbing this harmful epidemic. We envision highly-profoundly gifted children nurtured with fitting experiences and opportunities to fit their educational and developmental needs. I hope I have answered your question on what we are trying to accomplish.

To aid us in accomplishing our mission, The IGC has four targeted initiatives: Research, Education-Outreach, Advocacy and Opportunities. Currently, our efforts are heavily focused on Research and Education-Outreach as we integrate components of our advocacy and opportunities initiatives.

The IGC flagship program, “Understanding Giftedness Through the Eyes of the Highly- Profoundly Gifted” continues to be the focus of our Education-Outreach initiative. Through international collaborations, presentations and professional development, we communicate the characteristics, behaviors and needs of Giftedness, and the differentiating barometers of profound giftedness, to all stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, psychologists, pediatricians, policy makers). Our efforts focus on growth – moving our knowledge of giftedness to greater humanistic understanding. This paradigm shift allows us to recognize and better understanding our profoundly gifted, thereby providing a model for better identifying and supporting the continuum of giftedness and human development.

  1. Do you have a website and what would we find there?

Yes, you can find the IGC online at GiftedConsortium.org . On the homepage you can view a glimpse of the IGC initiatives as well as more detailed information on programs and useful resources. We have an upcoming Spring Speaker Series in collaboration with ASU, The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and The Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy beginning on February 28th. Speakers include psychologists Laura Wingers and James T. Webb. We are expecting all stakeholders to be present to provide a unique, interdisciplinary forum to further growth and understanding.

On the IGC site, you will also find the opportunity to Join-a-Cohort: an avenue for actively supporting and shaping the IGC mission which we envision blossoming into like-minded peer groups. Additionally, you can find a host of articles and research from IGC contributors across the globe, specific to the highly-profoundly gifted population. You can also access IGC’s media and social media communications which include an array of information and opportunities (such as IGC contributor, Jennifer Harvey Sallin’s Psychology 101 online class for counselors, psychologists, therapists and social workers). All IGC contributors specialize in the highly- profoundly gifted population.

  1. What do you see as the most pressing needs of the gifted?

 

Wow, that’s a big question. I think our efforts would be best served by stepping back and taking the time to truly understand our gifted – their innately interconnected wiring, their efficiency and their authentic being. Once we begin to understand and proactively nurture development from the inside out, the needs of our gifted will surface. Understanding starts by role-modeling recognition, acceptance, appreciation, inclusion, tolerance, compassion and empathy. This is the heart of humanistic understanding. All stakeholders, everyone involved in the lives of our

youth, carry this important role. At the moment, this is the most pressing need for our gifted and an essential lifeline for the growth and wellbeing of our profoundly gifted.

With that said, research and education-outreach requires substantial funding and resources. The IGC operates from the generous funding of individual philanthropists, corporations including the Staples Foundation and a team of dedicated volunteers. The IGC, Research Center for the Highly-Profoundly Gifted is currently seeking endowment funding to secure it’s operations and the longevity of its mission.

  1. Now, specifically, what are the most dire social and emotional needs of the gifted?

Again, understanding is the most dire need. Like-minded peers are essential for gifted individuals to feel a sense of belonging and community and to develop an authentic sense of self within the community. They thrive not only on seeing and perceiving connections but also on feeling connections. Like-minded peers and like-minded adult mentors are essential to their positive social-emotional development. “It’s like I see myself in him” – these are the most priceless words a profoundly gifted child can express.

  1. What have I neglected to ask?

Why do we need to care?

Every child needs fitting experiences and educational opportunities to positively grow and develop. Among us are the change agents; we need to emotional inspire, physically engage and cognitively challenge each and every child including our highly and profoundly gifted.

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