Michelle Swain, M.Ed.
Director, Gifted and Advanced Academic Services
TAGT Past President
Round Rock ISD
"One of the best decisions I've made professionally was to join TAGT early in my career. I initially became a member to learn more about how to best provide services to this population of students with unique needs. I was teaching low income students in East Austin and saw amazing potential that needed to be tapped and nurtured. What my membership provided was so much more than I was seeking! In addition to research-based information and best-practice strategies, I became part of a network of parents and educators who shared my passion for developing academic talent in students and built livelong friendships serving alongside others who were advocating for the advanced student population in our state!"
Kristin Graham, M.Ed.
G/T and ALC Coordinator
"Serving as a leader in gifted education can be a professionally isolating experience, but there is no reason why it has to be. Joining and engaging with others in TAGT allowed me to become empowered to deliver services that I felt confident would be best for our students, all because of the collective experiences shared by TAGT members. Join, listen, learn, and take action to support your gifted students through the help of TAGT!"
Mary Christopher, Ph.D.
Christopher Leadership Consulting
TAGT Past President
"Growing up as a gifted child when services for advanced learners were not provided in public schools meant that my parents had to advocate individually for my educational needs. They explored acceleration and differentiation when those opportunities were not understood or accepted. They found that a local private elementary school provided the enrichment and advanced learning I needed.
Luckily times are different now. Because of the work of TAGT and the support of the legislature, schools must identify and serve gifted children in the K-12 setting in Texas, which means that students like me, and my children, receive appropriate educational experiences. After teaching in the K-12 setting, I chose my life’s career at the university level and in my consulting business because I wanted to make a difference with teachers and administrators who love and work with gifted learners.
I joined and continue to volunteer with TAGT because they are strong advocates for gifted education and provide quality professional development. Being involved with TAGT allows me to be surrounded by creative, insightful, intelligent individuals who care deeply about gifted children. I have found my professional home and family with the members and leaders of TAGT. That is why I am a life-long member of TAGT."
Jessica Fair, M.Ed.
Curriculum and Instruction Team Lead
"It is really hard to put into words what TAGT has meant to me the past few years, because this organization has been crucial for all gifted kids, including my own GT children and my GT students. As a gifted educator, parent and GT advocate in Texas, TAGT has provided prodigious support in the gifted and talented community that has been transformative. Gifted children view the world and operate in unique and complex ways, and the resources, instructional strategies, partnerships, advocacy and parental support that I have gained through being an active member in TAGT are unparalleled. We are beyond fortunate to have such a dedicated organization that is truly invested and “all-in” for gifted education in our great state of Texas. Thank you, TAGT. You are life-changing for so many of us."
C. Matthew Fugate, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology
University of Houston - Downtown
"When I returned to Texas, one of the first things that I did was join TAGT. As an educator and researcher, I feel that one of my greatest duties is to be an advocate for our gifted and talented students, particularly those from populations that have traditionally been underserved in gifted programs. As such, it is vital that we constantly ensure that we are providing the best programming and resources to meet the needs of our diverse community of educators and parents to empower their individual voices as they advocate for our gifted students. TAGT is a conduit that connects all stakeholders within our gifted community to ensure that this mission is carried out."
Meredith Austin, Ed.D.
Advanced Academics Coordinator
My membership with TAGT has been an integral part of my personal and professional life. In it, I have found a community of like-minded peers with whom I can converse and who keep my own intellectual needs fulfilled. TAGT has been there for me throughout the roles I have played professionally. From first joining TAGT as a classroom teacher searching for ideas to enrich my students, to my first role as an administrator trying to navigate the State Plan, I was able to find the support I needed. Now, as a budding political junkie and wanna-be researcher, TAGT has kept me in the know and pointed me in all the right directions. And for that, being a member has been priceless.
Luke Hurst, M.Ed.
Secondary Gifted and Talented Coordinator
I initially joined TAGT with a desire to find classroom resources and professional peers to help me challenge my brightest students in my Pre-AP English 2 class. I attended the TAGT conference in Fort Worth that year and knew by the time it was over that I had found my calling in life.
Kelsey Karcher, M.Ed.
"Being a TAGT member means lending my voice as an advocate for each and every one of our gifted & talented students, teachers, schools, and families across Texas. As a new district coordinator, the opportunities for professional learning, networking, and support are invaluable. We all want what’s best for our gifted and advanced learners, so our work in education policy, research, and best practices is constant. TAGT members have a seat at the table for each and every one of those discussions. Knowing there are so many fellow administrators, teachers, and parents all working and learning together to help our kids understand their unique social and emotional characteristics, as well as their academic needs, warms my heart. They’re all our kids and TAGT members are all in this together!"
Rolando Ruvalcaba, M.Ed.
Consultant, Advanced Academics
ESC, Region 20
"Gifted and Talented Education has been a major part of my life since I was a student in San Antonio ISD. I always respected the hard work that my teachers put into my classes as a child and always wanted to be the same advocate for my own students. The environment was one in which I was able to develop with my own voice and ideals! TAGT is an organization that allows me to meet and collaborate with individuals that share the same passion and mission. I am proud to be a part of a group of intrinsically driven advocates that battle for equity in Gifted and Talented Services."
Javetta Jones-Roberson, M.Ed.
Dean of Instruction/Doctoral Candidate
Birdville ISD/Texas A&M University-Commerce
"Being a first-year title one gifted teacher, I needed a safe space to learn about how to serve various populations in gifted and advanced level courses. My district at the time was adamant on quality professional development and that year I was able to experience my first TAGT conference! TAGT gave me a safe space where I've gained knowledge, training and great relationships that have become invaluable. I was amazed that there were organizations in our country, specifically in Texas, that helped teachers, parents and university personnel in understanding the value in gifted and talented students. Being active in TAGT, serving on committees, advocating in my community and now as a Board member, has continued to help build my purpose in educating others who work with advanced level learners and in life."
STEM Academy and ELAR Teacher
"I became a member because my newly formed GE team was told we would enjoy the conference. We did not just enjoy it, we reveled in it. By the end of three days of exploring GE topics, fangirling over 'gurus', and animated conversations about all we learned, my team's foundation was set. Conference attendance turned into presenting to my peers. Gurus turned into friends. Volunteering led to Committee and Board service. TEMPO, Connect, #GTChat keep me up to date. The camaraderie found at conferences brings me back year after year."
"I joined TAGT when my understanding of gifted was limited and full of misconceptions. I wanted to learn more about what gifted really means – not just academics but also social, emotional, and asynchronous development, and how our education system meets these needs of our children. TAGT provides valuable resources, professional conferences, and connections with educators and parents of diverse backgrounds. TAGT collaborates with leaders in the field to provide us access to trends, research, and ideas that open our minds to new possibilities. No other organization in Texas focuses on, and strives to impact, the gifted and talented like TAGT does."
Theresa Biggs, M.Ed.
Director, Advanced Academics
"TAGT provides support and services that benefit parents, teachers, administrators, and ultimately students. For this reason, membership is critical; access to TAGT resources and to a community who understands the complexities, challenges, and unique characteristics of the gifted learner supports my work on a regular basis. Without this organization, it would be more challenging to meet the needs of our gifted community."
Christina Dearman, Ph.D.
It has to do with Nikola Tesla being proclaimed by a 6th grader as a “genius often obscured by Edison” who serves as that child’s role model. This followed by a statement that he will be part of the 8% to get into MIT one day.
It centers on tough conversations with 7th-grade gifted students stating that they hadn’t fully connected the idea of “oppression” and “dehumanization” when talking about slavery and economics in the cotton industry. And besides, they “never really get to talk very deep” in non-GT classes.
It is gifted students slowing me down before moving to another activity; asking if we can do a Mindfulness Session because things are feeling stressful and it is something that helps them make it through the rest of a Friday.
It is echoed in the conversations with parents struggling to guide their gifted child through the complex issues of asynchronous development as they hit yet another unique situation in those awkward times known as the “tweens” and “teenage” years.
TAGT is my “go-to” source. The place where I find my “role models” for gifted education and in return I can serve as a role model to others in the field. A place where I am exposed to new ideas and researched based best practices. The arena where I have deeper and tougher conversations with colleagues, such as how to better identify underserved populations. The community where I can de-stress and connect because I am amongst friends who understand the gifted population and the unique issues we face as their educators, parents, and advocates.
That’s why TAGT. It’s there for me, my students, my parents, and my colleagues every step of the way.
Priscilla Ramirez Lurz, M.Ed.
TAGT Past President
"I first joined TAGT to be better equipped in serving my GT students. However, I quickly found that my membership and involvement with TAGT would provide so much more. Experiences with my state professional association opened the way for me to learn more about best practices and new innovations occurring in the field of gifted education. Attending TAGT conferences over the years offered me opportunities to hear from a diverse group of national and world renown speakers which helped me develop a stronger voice to advocate for the unique needs of gifted & talented students. Early on as an active member of TAGT, I found my tribe, a warm and welcoming network of professional colleagues who shared my passion for the field. Some of these individuals are now lifelong friends. As a retired GT teacher and administrator of gifted programs K-12 and now educational consultant, my connection with TAGT still equips me with confidence to continue to be a lifelong champion of gifted learners. Thank you, TAGT for consistently providing the tools and expertise to strengthen me as a professional in every season of my career."
G/T Instructional Specialist
San Antonio ISD
"As a gifted student in San Antonio ISD I struggled to find my place and identity. I went through my educational career taking advanced classes and completing all assignments with no complaints. However, I always felt like I needed/deserved more choice. Fast forward to today, as an active member of the TAGT community, I have been given the opportunity to have a voice and share my story. Working as a Gifted and Talented Specialist in San Antonio ISD my drive and passion is to continuously advocate for change and equity for all of our gifted students."