This photo was taken in 2011 at the National Association for Gifted Children conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. It is a photo of my eldest daughter with her first gifted teacher, Miriam Ellis of Woodvale Elementary School in Lafayette, LA. Mrs. Ellis is not only an amazing support system for the gifted learners in her class but also to the parents who are new to the gifted and talented universe. I have often thought of Mrs. Ellis as my years as a gifted advocate go by and I had hoped to see her one day to express my gratitude.
See, Mrs. Ellis had shown me it was possible to support a gifted learner academically, socially and emotionally. Mrs. Ellis had shown me simple acts of supporting the parents of gifted learners helped them to be more supportive of their children. She showed me how well teachers, students and parents can collaborate. A parent of gifted children herself, she knew how important it was for the parents of gifted students to feel supported. What Miriam Ellis didn’t know was she had been the catalyst for all my years as an advocate. I was fortunate because I had experienced gifted education could support the whole child and a great teacher could be a shining light for parents. We only had Mrs. Ellis for one year as we moved the next summer. Our experience the next fall was quite a departure from having Mrs. Ellis. The teacher didn’t understand our eldest and didn’t want to. The administration didn’t want to talk to us. I could not wrap my mind around how much our world had been turned upside down. I knew it didn’t have to be this way and I knew I would work to do something about it and I hope I have made some small dent along the way.
So back to the story…..
The 2011 NAGC conference was in full swing. I found a comfy chair to sit between sessions and a plug to charge my phone as I was tweeting from the sessions I was attending. I was wholly ignoring the world around me as I planned my schedule and made sure I was everywhere I was supposed to be. Then I heard a couple of teachers discussing gifted in Lafayette, LA. My ears perked up and I yanked my brain away from my thoughts to listen to the conversation. That’s right, I was eavesdropping. I own it. It happens. I looked over only to realize Miriam Ellis was sitting on the couch across from me. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! After ten years I was going to have the opportunity to tell her what she meant to me and what a guiding force she had been. It was an amazing feeling. It was important to let her know how important she had been and in ways she hadn’t anticipated. I have been paying forward her kindness and knowledge for many years since. Her reply to me was simple,”You’re welcome. I was just doing what needed to be done.” Profound in its simplicity. Mrs. Ellis’ idea of doing what needed to be done had a breadth and depth that positively impacted our entire family. Miriam Ellis is a great educator and I am very grateful she taught my eldest daughter.
We met up with Mrs. Ellis at the end of the NAGC conference and took this picture. Kristin, my eldest daughter, was thrilled to see her again and they talked for a long time. Kristin had often thought of her time in Mrs. Ellis’ class with great fondness. It was a nice full circle moment.
Thank you Miriam Ellis. You make a difference.