Grapevine-Colleyville Supporting and Advocating for Gifted Education (SAGE) is pleased to announce the 2019 recipient of the SAGE Senior Scholarship for $1,000.
Ruth Schlenker of Grapevine, class of 2019 of Grapevine High School, will receive $1,000 from SAGE as she enrolls in Brown University with a concentration on Social Analysis and Research, and she plans to cross register for classes at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) while at Brown. Her parents are Lucy and Marty Schlenker. She attended Glenhope Elementary and Cross Timbers Middle School.
Ruth captained the UIL Ready Writing Team and is a 5A All-State Champion. She performed as principal bassoonist for GHS Wind Ensemble and the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. She captained the GHS Debate Team and qualified three years for the all-state tournament. Ruth was inducted into the high school Honor Societies for art, music, science, and math, as well as the National Honor Society and National Forensics League. She was a member of GHS Library Council and GHS Student Forum. Ruth volunteered more than 300 hours with GHS Ambassadors, Middle School Debate, Grapevine Public Library, GRACE, Annual Special Olympics Bike Race, and the Presbyterian Night Shelter. She interned at the Legacy Senior Communities last summer, and will intern at the Costa Rica National Park Conservation this summer. Ruth is a National Merit Scholar Finalist.
SAGE asked scholarship applicants to write an essay: Gifted students have a wide variety of talents, skills and characteristics that make them gifted. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to gifted learners. In about 500 words, describe what you believe to be your gifted traits, how you discovered and nurtured your giftedness, and how this has shaped your plans for post-high school life.
Ruth’s essay is as follows:
Dots. Squares. Circles. Lines. Find the pattern. Finish the drawing.
“Good job, sweetie. Have you heard of the Program for the Academically Talented? We meet on Wednesdays and draw and do puzzles. Does that sound fun? Yes? Good.”
“I’m sorry, your daughter can’t read those books. They’re above her grade level. Yes, I know her reading index is above the second grade level. But for now, she needs to read second grade books.”
My homework consists of cutting and pasting things. My little sister has fun doing it.
“Sweetie, you can’t write your name in cursive. We learn cursive in the third grade.”
[P.A.T. teacher at parent-teacher conference] “Your child is an average smart kid. She’s not special.”
The other P.A.T. kid in my class and I sit in the hallway, doggedly pasting feathers onto paper turkeys. We’d missed the project; it was on a Wednesday. A teacher walks by. “P.A.T.?” We sigh and nod, smearing glue onto more feathers, our palms pressed against the grainy carpet, supporting our bony wrists.
My teacher gives us each a rock with a word on it as a graduation present. Mine is perspicacious.
Perspicacious (adj.): of acute mental vision and discernment
Our teacher makes us take the Myers-Briggs Personality Index. We get four-letter identities.
I.N.T.P. Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving.
I’m the only one.
The teacher describes each personality, naming a famous person with each one. “Look, Ruth, you have the same personality as Einstein.” I don’t feel proud. I feel…inadequate.
“You’re a National Merit Finalist and a genius. Why can’t you study for my class?”
Giftedness has never been one size fits all. But it has also never been one size fits me. All my life, other people have defined my giftedness for me, each understanding it in a different way.
This has led to confusion, even frustration on my part. My identity has been inextricably tied to the gifted label, the former thus as fluid and ambiguous as the latter.
I read a book called Outliers. It cites a study finding no correlation between life success and IQ beyond 120 (below every cutoff for what is considered “gifted.”)
I read about an experiment in which a teacher was told that her (actually underperforming) students were gifted. They got the highest scores in the school on the end of course exams.
The gifted label is largely a social construct. Sometimes I wonder if I am only “gifted” because all my life people have told me I am. People tend to conform to expectations.
The gifted label is a curse. Because I’m “gifted,” I’ve been able to rest on my laurels. Soon I will face hard reality, and I will have had little experience dealing with it.
However, the gifted label is also a blessing. Because I’m “gifted,” I have an incentive, almost a calling, to live up to the descriptors the term evokes. Analytical. Creative. Truth-Seeker. Nonconformist.
In college, my goal is to prove these labels accurate, socially constructed or not. Whether I do it through art, writing, sociology, or some other facet of the liberal arts has yet to be determined. On balance, I’m glad I bear the gifted label. My only wish is that every child did.