Nueva has hosted a biennial Identifying Gifted Students of Color Conference (IGSOCC) since 2014.
“The initiative was started by the Admissions Team and headed by Taryn Grogan, director of admissions,” said Davion Fleming, associate director of admissions for the upper school and IGSOCC co-organizer. “The team decided to put on this conference to start the discussion of why so many children of color were often overlooked and therefore not identified. Most educators who attend the conference are aware that there are inequities that exist within education, but are not always privy to the barriers that are in place for students of color, especially when we are talking about gifted identification.”
“We want educators to feel equipped, confident, and courageous to advocate for students of color who get overlooked and misidentified more often than white or Asian students,” said Kim Overton, associate director of admissions for the lower school and IGSOCC co-organizer.
This year’s conference, held August 12, looked a little different from those of past years: it took place entirely on Zoom.
“The Zoom format allowed us to connect with educators across the United States,” Kim said. “Our event sold out. With no need to travel and little expense, we met and started to build relationships with more people than ever before. The breakout rooms, polls, and chat functions made spaces for attendees to share ideas in different and sometimes more comfortable ways.”
The morning began with a poignant keynote presentation delivered by Colin Seale, founder and CEO of thinkLaw, titled “Because, Not Despite: Leveraging Student Assets to Change the Underrepresentation Narrative in Gifted Education.”
Davion shared, “Colin is an electric speaker and person. One of the things that resonates with me was the idea of educational equity. There was this amazing part of Colin’s presentation where he showed the three Educational Equity Equations, and it reiterated how important it is to meet children where they are. In order to do this, we must know our students, and we must know ourselves to teach them not necessarily what we want them to learn but what they need to learn for self empowerment and liberation.”
Kim added, “Colin reminded us to ‘flip the narrative’ in really seeing and valuing children’s behavior and skills.”
Following the keynote, participants had an opportunity to select from a number of workshop sessions, including “Low Floor, High Ceiling: Concrete Strategies to Unlock Excellence in All Students,” “Identifying and Supporting Young Gifted Students of Color, Ages 3–6,” and “Creating Space for Your Students to THRIVE.” These sessions were led by Colin, by Kim and Davion, and by members of the Nueva faculty: Director of Social Justice and Equity Alegria Barclay, Kindergarten associate teacher Rashida Blade, and THRIVE coordinator and middle school SEL teacher Alison Williams.
“It was exciting and fortifying to be able to offer the IGSOCC,” Kim said. The Leadership Team supported our efforts to bring in Colin Seale and connect the conference with the Giftedness Institute. This helped solidify our focus beyond identifying to nurturing the gifted students of color at Nueva.”
“I would be remiss to not point out all the time and effort of Colin, our presenters, the Communications Team, the admissions interns, and the folx that planned the Giftedness Institute for being willing to share resources with us,” Davion said. “Putting on an event like this takes a village, and the success of that event belongs to the community.”