Having experienced many aspects of education, teaching, state administration, and parenting, Dr. Iris Palazesi, a member of the Davidson Institute’s Educators Guild, in Tallahassee, Florida, brings a unique perspective to advocacy. Since she has worn so many hats in the education system, Palazesi feels she has a lot to offer as an advocate for gifted children. She took her first job as a GT teacher while pursuing a masters in gifted education. Interested in infusing standard education with gifted techniques so all levels might benefit, she quickly moved into the regular classroom to “stretch all kids as far as they could go.” She went on to receive her Ed.D. in teacher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, taught at the collegiate level, and then eventually took a position with the Florida State Department of Education, which provided invaluable expertise in school law. After leaving her position with the state to start a family, she witnessed the need for advocacy first hand.
In the capacity of a gifted advocate, Palazesi acts as a facilitator to help parents better express what their needs are without emotions getting in the way. “By the time parents come to me for help, they are extremely frustrated, so my job is to be a filter and present things in a way that educators might be more receptive to... I come to the table with the utmost respect for everyone at the meeting. I never tell educators what to do; instead, I help them think about the issues at hand in a different way.”
Speaking as an advocate, Palazesi would like to see educators become more knowledgeable about gifted education, the unique needs of gifted children, and the consequences of not serving these students. Palazesi believes “the biggest need for gifted education is for people to understand that each child is an individual. There is too much focus on programs and placing a child into those programs. We need to think of children as individuals, with individual needs.” On the flip side, speaking as an educator, she would like parents to recognize the weighty demands being placed upon teachers by keeping in mind that requests for accommodations need to be reasonable for today’s classroom. In parting, Palazesi remarked, “An educator’s job is to know about gifted education. It is the parents’ job to know their child. We need to have a meeting of the minds.”
©2006 The Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
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