Category Archives: Stories of Gifted

Thoughts on Gifted Children from an IEA Intern

By Matt Myers

Matt is a summer intern at IEA. He had the privilege of meeting some of the Summer Academy students and taking them to the park for lunch each day. This is his reflection on his time with these kids.

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Matt with the Academy lunch crew. They like to keep the mood light.

I had never met a gifted child before interning at IEA this summer.  My job would be to help around the office and take the Academy kids to lunch.   What is a gifted child, though?  What do they look like?  I somehow had an image of miniature college professors in khakis, casual sweaters, and dirty new balance running shoes (this is what most of my professors at The Johns Hopkins University wear).  Perhaps one or two of them would even have a stylish goatee that they would twirl in their finger as they discussed the motive hunting surrounding the motiveless malignity of Iago from William Shakespeare’s Othello.  “Indeed the play suggests some over-determined motivations from Iago—a lover jealous of Othello’s involvement with Desdemona, an ambitious military officer, or perhaps a subtly racist Venetian?”

I would nod my head,  making a mental note to read up that night on my Othello notes from last semester.

See what Matt learned about gifted children here!

IEA Summer Spotlight 2013

115 students, parents and supporters of gifted education gathered at USC on July 9 for IEA’s Summer Spotlight 2013, an event designed to showcase gifted students and the programs we offer to meet their needs. The evening was a huge success, and we wanted to share some of the highlights with those of you who were not able to attend.

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See some of the evening’s highlights.

The Revolution Won’t Start Here…And That’s Okay

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

  • checklistDeliver a full cup of tea in a wagon that rolls smoothly on four wheels of four different shapes.
  • Design and craft a musical instrument that is played only by altering its temperature.
  • Freeze and pop an airborne bubble.

These are three of the 318 items on this year’s University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt List. Scav, as it’s called, is a school-wide game in which students get points for completing listed tasks. All of this occurs over four days, ending Mother’s Day. Participants are expected to attend class and complete all of their required assignments during Scav. The winning team gets nothing more than bragging rights.

My son’s participation in Scav got me thinking about all of the things my children have done just for fun. None of these activities will be on their resumes or college applications, and no money changed hands. They may have looked like a waste of time (I may have even said so myself), but they reflect the curiosity and creative thinking that characterize so many gifted children. So, in honor of Scav, I am creating a scavenger hunt of my own composed entirely of some of my children’s more unusual activities. I am doing this with the hopes that there might be other parents out there whose children are more interested in having silly fun than in changing the world. If your daughter constructed a science lab in her room to develop a new form of algae biofuel or wrote an algorithm to predict epileptic seizures, please stop reading. You will only make me feel bad. If you wonder if your child’s creative abilities are being put to their best use, read on…

Read more here!

The Perfect Test

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

At my son’s kindergarten parent/teacher conference, his teacher played a game with my husband and me. She put 3 marbles on the table and asked us to close our eyes. When we opened them, we saw 2 marbles. She asked us how many she was holding in her hand. When we told her “one”, she repeated the game with 4 marbles.

Our son’s teacher told us she played this game with each student until the child no longer gave the correct answer. All the children in her class stopped at 10 marbles, except my son. She played with him until she had 20 marbles on the table. Then she stopped. She told us that he was clearly very good at math.
I left the meeting feeling proud of my son’s talent and satisfied with the teacher’s assessment. My husband wasn’t.

“Why didn’t she keep going until he gave the wrong answer?”

Read more from

Confessions by the Dashboard Lights

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

iPodThere is a song on my son’s iPod that has over 500 plays. 500 plays in 3 months, no other song comes close. He listened to this song while he was at boarding school in New Hampshire. He was depressed.

Made a wrong turn once or twice
Dug my way out, blood and fire
Bad decisions, that’s alright
Welcome to my silly life
. . .
You’re so mean when you talk
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead.
–P!nk “Perfect”

When my son came home from boarding school, he told me very little about his depression. He did, however, tell me how many times he played P!nk’s song. From that moment on, I followed his musical tastes closely.

We brought him home from boarding school, and his depression continued. He enrolled at a school in San Francisco halfway through the year. I picked him up from school and drove him home every day. Most days we sat in silence. When he refused to share his day with me, I would ask him to play me a song from his iPod.

‘Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe… just breathe
–Anna Nalick “Breathe (2am)”

He was working through his problems, and he shared this process with me every day at 3:00pm.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just do your best, do everything you can
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright).
–Jimmy Eat World “The Middle”

Sometimes it felt like he was hitting me over the head.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.
–Kelly Clarkson “Stronger”

This must all sound so contrived. I don’t think I would believe it if I didn’t live it. The funny thing is that I was never good at finding patterns. That was my son’s strength. I take most things at face value. It wasn’t until I became aware of my son’s pain and his accompanying silence that I began to pay attention to what was happening in the car.

It all makes perfect sense now. He has been doing this type of thing for years.

My son collects inspirational quotes and posts his favorites on his Facebook “About” section. “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” Or “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

He searches for writings that move him, like “Acknowledgement: A Meditation” by Kenneth Sawyer and Anis Mojgani’s “Here Am It.” He made me watch countless TEDTalks. His favorite: Jan McGonigal’s “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life.”

In a week, I can stop looking for clues; my son is ready to talk. He is going to participate in a student production in which he and 10 other high school sophomores perform a series of scenes and monologues they have written about their lives. He will be writing about the last year. I’m more than a little nervous. Somehow, the expression of pain is easier to stomach when accompanied by a guitar.

I no longer pick up my son at school. He likes the independence of riding BART and the bus. Instead, I ask him to make me CD’s with his favorite songs. When I do find myself alone with him in the car, I ask him to play his iPod. I take great comfort in listening to his latest favorite.

Isn’t it time you got over
How fragile you are
We’re all waiting
Waiting on your supernova
Cause that’s who you are
And you’ve only begun to shine
–Anna Nalick “Shine”

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