Summer 2020 Newsletter

Gifted Education Family Network

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GEFN requests GT inclusion in TEA district guidance for Fall 2020

On Monday, we urged Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath to include Gifted and Talented education in Agency planning and in 2020-2021 overview guidance. The Gifted Education Family Network sent a letter to the TEA Commissioner asking the TEA to remind districts that they are required to maintain necessary, state-mandated G/T services. While G/T services must be adapted, they remain essential and can be provided without burden during COVID-19. 

How will GT look in your district?

Please let us know what you’re hearing. Email us or use our web contact form to share your feedback. As a reminder, Texas GT students must still be identified and served per the State Plan in all instructional models, including virtual. 


We’ve had a busy summer! Here is a quick recap of what we’ve been doing here at the Gifted Education Family Network:

• Standing in support of Black gifted students

In June, the Gifted Education Family Network joined in the call to action for reforms to address discriminatory practices in our criminal justice system, the use of deadly force by police, and injustice suffered by all impacted by racism. Read our statement standing against injustice and in support of Black families.

• Publishing a new full grade acceleration resource

We co-published a new free parent resource on full grade acceleration with Gifted Unlimited, LLC. Get the details and the FREE PDF.

• Confronting racism with SENG & Black GT scholars 

In her role as president of Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, our GEFN GT Professional Advisor, Dr. Kristina Collins, hosted & moderated two virtual town hall conversations featuring Black GT scholars in the Consortium for Inclusion of Underrepresented Racial Groups in Gifted Education. I-URGGE published a social justice statement in June on confronting racism against black students in GT education

• Sharing parent experiences at Campersand 

Gifted Education Family Network leaders spoke at Campersand in July about our experiences advocating for our kids’ advanced learning needs. GEFN Board Members Lin Lim and Emily Villamar-Robbins were the session speakers, in collaboration with Sabrina James and Kimberley Barber-Davis. Their advice is: No matter where and how your children will be learning next year, your voice can help gifted services in public schools which improves future opportunities for all our students.


Gifted Unlimited LLC Logo Banner.jpg

Get 20% off books at Gifted Unlimited 

As a subscriber to our newsletter, shop at Gifted Unlimited and use the code TXGiftedFam20 for 20% off your purchase of books. The bookshop offers a wide selection! Thank you to Gifted Unlimited for providing this offer for families of gifted students. Offer good through August 31, 2020.


Meet our Leadership Team

The Gifted Education Family Network is led by the following parents. We appreciate the investment of their volunteer time supporting gifted education.

Board Officers: 

  • Sabrina James, Chair
  • Amy Warren, Secretary
  • Lin Lim, Treasurer
  • Emily Villamar-Robbins, Vice Chair
  • Myiesha Taylor, M.D., Vice Chair
  • Kimberley Barber-Davis, Vice Chair
  • Angie Hanan, Vice Chair
  • Kim Farbisz, Vice Chair
  • Jorge Rodriguez, Vice Chair

GT Professional Advisors:

  • Dr. Todd Kettler, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology, Baylor University School of Education; Chair, Texas Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Council for Gifted Education
  • Dr. Kristina Collins, Assistant Professor, Talent Development, Texas State University; President of SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted); Member, NAGC Board of Directors (National Association for Gifted Children)
  • Dr. Fred Bonner, Professor and Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership and Counseling; Executive Director, Minority Achievement, Creativity and High Ability (MACH-III) Center, Prairie View A&M University
  • Dr. Anne Rinn, Professor of Educational Psychology; Director, Office for Giftedness, Talent Development, and Creativity, University of North Texas College of Education

Statewide GT Parent Group Leaders:

Leaders of statewide GT Parent Groups are invited to join our Parent Advisory Council. We will exchange information and support each other through wins, losses, concerns, and barriers we encounter. Our Parent Advisory Council will meet via Zoom in October, and currently includes these parents: 

Please email us if your group leader would like to participate. 


A Texas GT educator explains: How will we serve them now?

To read & share: Meredith Austin, Ed.D., writes on about what gifted programs should look like as schools return to a world where in-person attendance, transitions, and groupings may be limited. With some certainty emerging about the “look” of Texas public schools next year, gifted education leaders must review current practices, adapt our models, and ensure that each of our students learns something new every day.

A call for parent-teacher partnerships: “Families are one of students’ biggest assets.”

In a NY Chalkbeat essay, Christina Armas writes: “Teachers started to realize parents’ commitment to supporting their children. And these concerns opened a conversation between teachers and parents about education being a process, not a polished product. When parents go back to work and students go back to school, I hope this partnership carries on. We should be sharing more of our professional knowledge and experience with parents.”

UCONN to expand research about underrepresented GT students 

The National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE), part of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, recently was awarded five years of funding to expand its research in identifying and serving gifted and talented students who have been traditionally underserved. Read the key findings of the ongoing project at the University of Connecticut.

Curated resources for the gifted in the time of COVID-19

The Gifted Education Family Network curated a list of possible ways to support gifted children during our global crisis by helping others, accelerating academics, finding new challenges, and more. 

Gifted or ADHD?

Tracy P Alloway, Ph.D., writes in Psychology Today about twice-exceptional (2e) children: “In my research, I found that gifted students displayed similar oppositional and hyperactive behaviors compared to students with ADHD. Interestingly, both groups also had very similar IQ scores. Yet they had very different learning outcomes. Why?”


Drop everything now — and thank a teacher!

Families, our teachers need our support more than ever. Now is the perfect time to write a thank you note or buy a gift card in appreciation for their dedication to the field of education and specific ways they’ve helped your child.

Be well

We applaud districts for carefully considering all issues involving reopening schools. We wish the very best of health and well-being for every family in our network. To those GEFN families on the front lines of providing essential services to our community: our deepest thanks. Please take very good care.


Events near you

Is your local GT parent support group hosting a live or virtual meetup and looking for new members? Or … are you feeling like the only GT family in town? Please let us know about it. GEFN wants to connect gifted families in your area. Get in touch and we’ll try to help advertise events, meetups or even “gifted family seeks other gifted families in Anytown, Texas” to help connect gifted families in Texas. 


Refer a friend

Please consider asking friends and family across Texas to sign up for our Gifted Education Family Network. It’s new, it’s free, and its purpose is to advocate for strong, vibrant, and appropriately challenging education programs for students with exceptional potential. The broader our reach, the more GT families can connect across Texas, and the better we can all support GT learning in our schools and at home. 

Ready to network? Here’s how.


“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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