Member Spotlight

Leny Philipose • Campus G/T Coordinator • Wylie ISD

How did you get involved with TAGT?
I joined TAGT and began getting involved once I started teaching a Gifted and Talented Humanities course for freshmen and sophomores at Wylie High School

Why do you continue to engage with, and support, TAGT?
TAGT provides me with appropriate training for G/T students, enabling me to give them my best. The organization provides me with valuable information regarding the needs of G/T students, identifying exceptionalities, helping students with anxiety…the list goes on and on.  

What is your dream for the future of gifted education?
Honestly, my dream is that more people would gain a better understanding of what giftedness truly is. All too often I hear that gifted education is elitist or that as a G/T teacher I have an “easy job.” Nothing could be further than the truth. I hope that more of us who are “in the know” can advocate for these students that are so near and dear to our hearts. 

What do you love to do during summer vacation?
During that blessed time of summer, I love to spend my time with my children—three under the age of 7! We spend a lot of time reading, swimming, traveling, museum hopping, and geocaching. I love to cook year-round, but when I really get to experiment in the summer time. I am a Top Chef wannabe, aspiring to be the Indian Martha Stewart (without the jail time!). 

What was your childhood dream job?
I knew from a young age I wanted to be a teacher. I used to put all my stuffed animals in assigned seats in the living room and read to them. I was inspired at an early age to be in the classroom. My mother tells me my first career aspiration was to be a checker at Kmart—I apparently loved the “ding” of the cash registers! I also wanted to be an astronaut because Punky Brewster wanted to be one, too. Did I just age myself?  

If you had unlimited funds, what would you purchase for your classroom?
Oh, the things I would buy! Stress reliever toys, flexible seating, books, books, and more books! I’d be like a kid in a candy store!   

In your role you have inspired hundreds of students, tell us about a student who has impacted you?
Rachel had a beautiful writing style and her ideas were insightful to say the least. She wrote an essay about how she felt shackled by her age and wanted to be a voice for those who are marginalized or oppressed. I marveled at how she had such a clear vision of what she wanted to do with her life as a sophomore in high school. I read the essay to a visiting cousin at the time who later ended up working for a microfinance firm in Lucknow, India. My cousin called me a year later asking if the “girl who wrote the essay” would like to volunteer for the summer in India with some remote village schools. Long shot, I thought, but I still presented the opportunity to the student. She and her parents jumped at the opportunity, much to my surprise. It’s not often that a student in the summer before her senior year will hop a plane to go across the world to teach English in village schools that meet under trees. But Rachel did. During her college years, she wrote a grant to go to Varanasi, India and work with the most impoverished groups in the area. Rachel’s heart for others struck me. She didn’t allow these dreams to remain as thoughts floating around in her mind—she grasped the opportunity before her and made it her reality. When I think of Rachel, I remember to dream big and to take hold of what comes my way.