Ryan's Story

Includes Genius Denied, Missouri state policy and finding peers in the Young Scholars program.




The Davidson Young Scholars (YS) program has been an extraordinarily valuable experience for my 17-year-old son Ryan. Ryan became a YS in early 2002 at the age of 9. His school experience to that point was well described in the Davidson’s book, Genius Denied, in Chapter 2, "The Sorry State of Gifted Education."

Missouri has no mandate to identify or serve gifted children and there is no federal mandate for gifted education, thus Ryan was offered no services whatsoever other than the regular classroom with his age peers where the teacher’s main concern was “No Child Left Behind”. Giftedness in Columbia, Missouri is determined by achievement and class engagement in the regular classroom. Since teachers here are not required to have any training whatsoever in gifted education it is no wonder that Ryan did not thrive in a regular classroom, and in fact felt extremely isolated, alone and disengaged.

Before his last year of senior high school, Ryan’s only contact with other exceptionally bright peers came through his participation in the YS program. This program was his lifeline. It gave him his first outside validation that he had strengths worth developing and that he could be of value to the world. For the first time he met others like himself and formed meaningful, close friendships with people who understood and appreciated him. I imagine this is what special education personnel would describe as “the least restrictive environment”.

Ryan is now a successful full-time college student at the University of Missouri where he is majoring in chemistry. Thank you to all at Davidson Institute for Talent Development for believing in him and supporting him. You have truly made a world of difference for Ryan. God bless you.

Programs mentioned in this story:
Young Scholars
Genius Denied: How To Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds

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