Talent Spotting: You Hold the Keys to Opening the Doors of Recognition

One of the kindest gestures we can do is to recognize another for his or her contributions. Such contributions are often the result of thoughtful planning, tireless dedication, high standards for quality, and dogged determination. When we as a community stop and recognize those who represent the goals of NAGC, who make notable strides to advance the field, and to lead the often resistant to be led, we need to stop and celebrate these accomplishments. As an organization, we champion causes that are important not just to us as a group, but also to individuals. Recognizing the individuals who get the work done—sometimes quietly, sometimes with fanfare—is a way for us as an organization annually to think about those around us who’ve achieved, and for whom we as a field can celebrate.

The goal of the NAGC Awards Committee is to increase awareness of the talent exemplified by our volunteers, teachers, scholars, and leaders provide on behalf of the field of gifted education and individuals who are gifted and talented. With increased awareness of the award criteria, we not only have identified behaviors that the organization values, but we also provide a structure for individuals who are achievement-driven to aspire to channel their energies and talents. Though achievement of an award is not an end in of itself, such recognition often fuels the motivational fire that burns within individuals, keeping their commitment alive or stoking any remnants of the fires within.

To foster an organization that supports the advancement of the field, looking to our past award recipients and potential recipients can be a way of reflecting on the organization’s values. If you see the need for an area of recognition that is not addressed through the current award offerings, then your contribution may be to suggest such an award for distinguished teaching, leadership, scholarship, or service to the field. We welcome your input!

Without a robust pool of nominees for awards, however, the purpose of recognizing our peers and colleagues becomes a task rather than a reward in and of itself. If, however, the Awards Committee recognizes a trend in declining applications for a given award, then the organization may need to revisit how we foster the development of such behavior, and determine if new strategies, supports, encouragement, or efforts are needed to address the lack of interest. Likewise, the Committee may also examine the objectives of the award and whether a review of the criteria are necessary. The current NAGC Awards Committee recently reviewed the awards and recommended that each year the Committee should review the nomination trends, award recipient trends, interest in the award, and criteria used to rate the awards to address recommendations the Committee made following the most recent application review. As such, we hope to clarify for ourselves and for future Awards Committee members the original intent of the awards as developed by the organization, and adjust the application criteria and scoring language to be aligned with these updates. Furthermore, the Committee has reviewed its policies regarding ethical practice and recommended that future Committees regularly review the governance documents of the organization and discuss how our practices reflect the original charge to the Committee.

The Committee seeks to recognize colleagues and peers who embody the goals of NAGC in a way that honors both the individual and the process. Such emphasis has been the case as long as I’ve been associated with the Committee, and I suspect many, many years before my involvement with NAGC, but our goal is to be more transparent in our process. In doing so, we hope more nominees will be recommended for the awards, and that the organization continues to raise its profile in honoring those who espouse the goal of service.

Please take a few moments to consider those colleagues or peers who have shown distinguished leadership or scholarship, extraordinary promise early in their research career, tremendous vision and direction within their districts, and who show evidence of great potential as doctoral students, master’s students, and as recent graduates.

When we recognize the talents of our peers, we celebrate the field. Let’s make sure we celebrate with gusto at the next Annual Convention, where we will recognize the accomplishments of our esteemed colleagues and peers. [The online awards nomination site is open through April 18, 2016.]