Posts Tagged ‘inspiring’


10 Ways Social Media and the Web Are Moving Gifted Education Forward

By Deborah Mersino

Amid early adopters, platform loyalists, time and budget constraints, enthusiasm, privacy concerns, real-time collaboration, media hype, avoidance, and resource-sharing, it’s clear that social media is not only alive and well and impacting the world of gifted education, but it is also truly shifting mindsets and creating opportunities.

Here are 10 ways social media and the Web are catapulting the gifted education movement forward. Some of these developments have been around for a while now; others depict social media’s current and future evolution relative to gifted, talented, and creative learners – and those who serve them. Thank you to those who have helped crowdsource many of these points.

Should you have additional ideas to offer, please “Leave a Reply” so others can benefit. If you’re a parent, educator or organizational leader who is just getting started online, welcome! I’m hoping this post inspires you to delve in further. As always, feel free to contact me with your questions and/or consulting needs. Here we go!

1. Down come the walls

Scholars, gifted education specialists, classroom teachers, administrators, parents, counselors, authors, and advocates are communicating outside of their long-standing silos, which is igniting newfound learning and compelling action.

2. Up comes the engagement and true collaboration

Like never before, you will find parents helping parents, teachers supporting parents, parents enlightening teachers, psychiatrists answering parents’ questions, authors asking for input on new books, journalists finding sources, and teachers sharing ideas online with verve.

3. Read all about it

Access to scholarly articles, resources, videos, podcasts, blogs, and news about the gifted movement is allowing more immediate response and action, especially relative to advocacy.

4. Options galore

Whether searching for homeschooling resources and/or garnering assistance with a passion or specific subject area, open-source and distance learning opportunities continue to give gifted, talented, and creative learners more opportunities to learn 24/7 – often in collaboration with other learners throughout the world.

5. Dialogue develops

Real-time chats, like #gtchat on Twitter, continue to boost understanding among varied audiences and remind us all that gifted learners and those who parent and serve them need and deserve ongoing support. Gifted organizations can – and should – begin planning now for virtual conferences to reach broader audiences cost-effectively and efficiently. And while online discussion platforms have served powerfully for years, we’ll continue to see significant growth in this area and other online parent forums in the years ahead.

6. Facebook groups and Google+ Circles provide ideal platforms

Everyday, these tools allow for audiences to witness and participate in Q&A sessions, professional development, and curricula sharing across the globe.

7. Images create momentum and memories

YouTube, Flickr, video blogs, Skype, and Google+ Hangouts are bringing the power and benefits of gifted education and peer interaction to life.

8. Community comes home

Whether a parent or teacher is looking to connect with others about issues of twice-exceptional students, dual-college enrollment, camps for profoundly gifted learners, and/or students in rural areas, today’s social media platforms are making finding one’s tribe not only possible, but also convenient and rewarding.

9. New Zealand informs New York and vice versa

No longer bound by geography, gifted educators, parents, policy makers and advocates are sharing knowledge, resources, and insights globally.

10. Socratic Seminars in Google+ Circles

We’re just at the beginning of transformative learning. Educators at universities and high schools are already seeing the power of shared learning through social media tools. Group projects and real-time dialogue between professors and students, mentors and students, and learners from different countries will continue to ignite ideation and solutions. Here’s just one of hundreds of examples of an organization recognizing the need to “get it” soon: Stanford University GSB Seeking Social Media & Email Marketing Manager, Marketing & Communications.

No Limits

What impresses me most is the intense commitment shown by teachers who are creating, sharing, and applying the latest social media tools and apps to their curriculum. Parents and students are just now seeing the seeds of true engagement. And we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

As more private gifted schools, gifted nonprofits, publishers, and psychiatrists adjust their views of social media, they will stop “marketing” to target audiences and begin engaging them. They will cross the aisle to communicate with other fields. They will tap advertising and online sponsorship options instead of simply signing up to be a vendor at a traditional, in-person conference or expecting others to manually visit their Web site without interaction. Those who don’t may soon find themselves struggling, wondering why conference attendance rates, revenues, and donations are down, and/or finally realizing they’re becoming obsolete despite long-standing leadership in the past.

It can be hard sometimes to fully comprehend the complexities inherent in the intersection of social media, education, and marketing. Leaders who see behind the predominant myths and embrace the possibilities truly will be the ones shaping the future. Here’s to all of you who are open to seeing these new realities!


Q&A with Tess Vigeland, Host of NPR’s Marketplace Money

by Deborah Mersino

I’m delighted to bring you the first Q&A in a my new Women Living Their Dreams series. My goal is to spotlight authentic women who are impassioned about their work and willing to shed light on their professional journeys. Get ready to meet Tess Vigeland, host of NPR’s Marketplace Money, who describes herself as “an animal-lover, dinner party diva, wine enthusiast, travel junkie, born with webbed feet (native Oregonian) which have now reverted to human form after 10 years in LA.”

1. Can you tell us a bit about how your career evolved over the past decades and how you wound up hosting Marketplace Money?

I started as a general assignment reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. I’d done an internship with them after my freshman year in college, and lo and behold, they wanted to hire me after graduation. I’m a big believer in internships! Lucky for me — although that’s a strange way to put it — I found myself at the center of two huge stories out of Oregon in the mid-90s… the Tonya Harding figure skating debacle, and the scandal surrounding former Senator Bob Packwood. Both happened around the same time and the network couldn’t get enough of them. Suffice it to say, covering those stories raised my national profile and bigger market stations came calling. I went to Boston to cover sports (!) for two years, and then returned to general assignment reporting. I spent six months in Ireland covering everything from the Wexford Opera to the peace talks in Belfast. Ultimately I got a call in 2001 from Marketplace. It was the place I’d always wanted to work — a dream come true. So we moved here to LA. I hosted the Marketplace Morning Report for almost four years, getting up in the middle of the night to report on everything from Enron to Martha Stewart’s stock trades and beyond. And now I’m with the weekend personal finance program Marketplace Money, hopefully helping people manage their dollars and sense!

2. What drew you to radio and how did your education prepare you – or not – for the job you have today?

I didn’t know anything about public radio before I took the aforementioned internship, but quickly fell in love with it because it was so different from, say, the local TV broadcasts that gave people so little real information. I loved that I had more than 10 seconds for “soundbites.” I loved that I could go deep on a subject. And I loved that I wasn’t expected to have anything to do with advertisers. And more than anything, I fell in love with the craft of radio. It’s all about the words, the imagery. We don’t have pictures and we don’t have words on a page. You have to be clear enough with your language and description and explanation that people get it on first pass when it goes in one ear. They can’t re-read what you’ve said. I love that challenge. As for my education… I went to a journalism school that was primarily oriented around print/newspapers. Once I decided I wanted to do broadcast, I thought being in a print program would be a disadvantage. But the opposite is true. Learning the basic craft of writing a good sentence, of bringing an audience with you through creativity and directness… that’s a skill for every aspect of life. If you’re a good writer, you’ll probably be able to get a job somewhere, somehow. I see younger journalists come through our newsrooms right now who need remedial spelling and sentence-writing. That’s criminal. I’ll always be grateful for the writing lessons I received not just in college, but also before than in high school. It’s a skill that — along with critical thinking — is a must-have for any successful career.

3. What qualities have served you best through the trajectory of your career?

Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity. I ask so many questions… I’m sure it drives people nuts sometimes. And I don’t stop once I leave the newsroom. I’m ALWAYS asking questions. One of my dinner party idols, Ina Garten, wrote in one of her cookbooks (aka party manuals) that if you’re shy in social situations or unsure of what to say, just ask people questions. Especially about themselves. They’ll come away thinking you’re the smartest person in the room. And you will be, because everyone you talk to builds on the information database in your head. Salespeople are told to ABC… Always Be Closing. I think ABAQ — Always Be Asking Questions — is far better and far more fun! Aside from curiosity, I think another quality that’s served me well is the ability to synthesize information. When I started as a sports reporter, the only reason I knew where the 50 yard line on a football field was, was because the number 50 was written REALLY BIG on the field. In other words, I did not know anything about sports. But it was a great opportunity to work on a fun show with a writer I’d always admired (Bill Littlefield). So I threw myself into the subject, absorbed everything I could, watched ESPN, read the sports section. And when I interviewed people, I’d ask them to explain things to me as though I’d never heard what they were talking about. (Which — I hadn’t!) And then I’d take it back to the station and put it in my own words to make it understandable and INTERESTING for people who didn’t think they’d want to hear about sports. I do the same thing now with business and economics. The first time I heard the term “collateralized debt obligation” I thought someone was speaking a foreign language. But it’s my job to be the synthesizer, the translator. And that’s an invaluable skill that’s served me well over the years.

4. What about college? What did you enjoy most? Did you face any particular challenges?

College was tough. I didn’t know a soul when I arrived on campus, 2,000 miles away from home. I’d been socially awkward in high school. A theater and music geek. I was better at conversing with adults twice my age than with my peers. I thought college would change that. Turned out I went to a school that was way too big for me. Too many people. Not enough individual attention. There was no way to know that beforehand. But I also was only barely 17 when I got there. So, socially, it was really tough. I was happiest when I was away from school on internships on the Hill in Washington, DC, and at a newspaper in Delaware. That said, I did have a small number of wonderful friendships that exist to this day. And as for what I enjoyed most? Living in/near Chicago. I was always going downtown to art galleries and even the symphony. I loved the big city. But I was itching to get out into the world. Get on with life and a career. College was just a signpost for me.

5. Going back a bit further, can you talk about being accelerated in elementary school? Did it serve you well?

Halfway through 7th grade, my parents asked me how I’d feel about moving up to 8th grade for the second half of the year. My teachers and school admin had advocated for me to accelerate and go to high school early (our system was 6-8 middle school, 9-12 high school). My folks sat me down for a quite serious conversation. I think I also spoke with some teachers (memory is fuzzy at this point) and the principal. Socially, it was hard enough to be the smart kid in class without then generating the special kind of ostracism reserved for a smarty-pants who thinks she’s so much better than anybody else that she can skip a full year of school. Some of my friends took it better than others. But the fact that I remember the pain from that long ago tells you just how powerful some of that schoolyard behavior can be. (Not physical, but emotional.) AND YET… best thing that ever happened to me. I finally felt challenged at school. I caught up socially… eventually. And it was absolutely the right decision. My parents ultimately left it up to me, and I’m glad they did.

6. Were there any teachers in particular who impacted you in a powerful way? Can you share more about him and/or her?

I had 2-3 teachers who were life-changing. One was my choir teacher, who I knew from 4th grade through high school. She was a sounding board. And she helped cultivate talents outside the classroom. (She was very supportive of my piano studies, which were pretty much my life until I got on the school newspaper and got bit by the news bug.) I also had two English/Literature teachers who were not just good teachers, but good people who really paid attention to individual students. One became almost a psychologist for me, someone outside my family (and friends) who I could talk to about things like not making the cheerleading squad. He recognized that he was that person for me, and he let me lean on him as an adult… mentor? That’s not the right word. An adult friend who would just listen. Not every teacher can do that, has the time to do that, has the energy to deal with a moody teenager outside of class hours. But to this day I credit him for helping keep me sane and on a path toward success.

7. What advice would you give students today who want to pursue a career in broadcasting or journalism?

I touched on some of this already, but really there are two keys. One, be curious about the world around you. I find it useful to know a little about a lot of things, instead of a lot about one or two things. I’m not a specialist. If you want to be, say, a science reporter, then you’ll need to know a lot about one subject. That’s different from what I do. I need to be curious about pretty much everything, from science to politics to finance to, yes, sports and beyond. And I like that. It makes every day interesting and keeps me on my toes. If you want to be in journalism, you have to be ready to learn every single day. Curiosity is your best friend. And secondly, writing. Writing, writing, writing. How do you become a good writer? It goes way beyond sentence structure and punctuation (you’ll notice I use a lot of ellipses and dashes — that’s just the way I’m used to writing for broadcast). It’s all about expressing yourself through words. And the best way to learn how to do that is by… reading. Find columnists, bloggers, book authors you admire and try to figure out why you’re drawn to them. Then use that to create your own writing personality. You don’t have to be Steinbeck. But you do have to draw people in, engage them, and get them CURIOUS about what you have to say. Good writing will do that.

8. What about stress? How do you handle it?

Multiple psychotropic drugs. No just kidding. I don’t know, I guess after 20+ years, I’m just used to deadline pressure. I thrive on it, actually. I was always a procrastinator, so constant deadlines are good for me. The bigger pressure is always having to pay attention to what’s going on in the world. As a news junkie, and because it is my livelihood, I can’t tune anything out. I have to pay attention to the debt ceiling debate. I have to pay attention to political scandals. I have to be aware of what’s happening in Greece and Egypt. Etc. It never really lets up. And that’s the stressful part. Most people can pick and choose what news they want to consume — I don’t have that choice. And in times like fall of ’08, in the thick of the financial crisis, it’s stressful to watch the wires issue bulletins every few seconds about bank closings and stock market crashes. But you barrel through, in part because the audience is counting on you to be rational and calm, and in part as a coping mechanism. Knowing that millions of people are listening and counting on you does wonders for keeping stress levels in check. Also — and I should have said this up top — lots of people have waaay more stressful lives than I do. I’m very lucky. I have a job. That I love. I am literally living my dream. Keeps things in perspective.

9. What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve learned in your career?

That I have to be my own most vocal advocate. My office is like any other. Nobody else is going to make the case for me when it comes to asking for things I want… whether it’s a raise or doing something different in my job or whatever. I’ve always been terrible at that. (And studies show that we women are terrible — in general — at that.) But you’re never going to get what you don’t ask for. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get everything you DO ask for, but nobody else is going to ask on your behalf. That’s a tough, tough lesson to learn. And if you don’t learn it early, it hurts you in the long run. So to sum up: tell everyone who will listen just how awesome you are, and ask for what you want!

10. What are you most proud of?

Good question and hard to answer. I think in terms of sheer effort and time spent on a project, I’m most proud of a documentary I reported and produced in the mid-90s about the chemical weapons depot in Eastern Oregon. It was an hour-long look at safety preparedness in the surrounding community. I’m also very proud of a collaboration our show did this year with the New York Times, which included two bylined articles from me {Note: Scroll down for links}. It doesn’t get much more exciting than a NYT byline. But I think my most emotional piece of work was an essay I wrote after visiting New Orleans — for the first time — three years after Katrina. That trip moved me like no other, and I wrote what was for me a very opinionated piece about the lack of recovery there. I’m supposed to avoid opinion in my job. But I didn’t that time. And I’m proud of that. I still tear up when I read it.

11. Can you tell us something about your non-professional life that might surprise people?

I gave a solo piano recital last year to mark my 40th birthday. I grew up studying classical piano for 15 years as a kid. Even thought I’d go to conservatory for college. But then veered off into journalism and, as they say, the rest is history. But I took up lessons again about five years ago and now am back at it with Chopin, Beethoven and all the greats! I study at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.

12. Do you have any thoughts on how the United States could improve its support of gifted, talented, and creative learners in public schools?

Well it’s hard to answer this without getting into the foodfight that is American politics right now. It’s insane that governments are cutting back on education at all levels. And I fear these programs (we called them TAG back in my day… talented and gifted) may not fare well under the budget ax. Which means it’s going to be up to parents and others outside the school system to provide more of that support. But beyond that, unfortunately, I have no creative solutions. It’s up to all of you.

13. Lastly, how can NPR lovers best show their support?

Ah an opportunity to pitch for your donations! When you hear the fundraisers on your local station say they can’t exist without you… they’re not joking. They rely on listener support for the vast majority of their budgets. So if you’re a public radio listener… call now!!

Additional Links to Tess Vigeland’s Work

As an NPR fan myself, I agree with Ms. Vigeland regarding supporting public radio! And if you would like a closer look at the work referenced in this post, please see the links below:

Thank you to Ms. Vigeland for sharing her thoughts, experiences, and insights with us. What a privilege it’s been to spotlight her story! As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and takeaways. Feel free to “Leave a Reply” below. And stay tuned for additional Q&As with other Women Living Their Dreams in the days and weeks ahead!


Looking Back and Ahead with Gratitude

2010 has proven to be a year of growth, learning and global collaboration. I wanted to pause for a moment and share my appreciation for the following highlights. None of these milestones would have been possible without your support, input and inspiration:

  • Building a growing, active and generous tribe filled with linchpins!
  • Attracting more than 12,500 unique visitors from 62 countries to the Ingeniosus Web site in just 9 months and receiving more than 230,000 hits to the site since March.
  • Writing and publishing the following articles:
    • “Seven Guidelines for Parents of Gifted: How to Advocate Intelligently in a Tough Economy” in Understanding Our Gifted, Spring 2010. Thank you, Carol Fertig!
    • “Twitter and Gifted Education: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy and Learning” in Parenting High Potential, March 2010.
    • “Twitter and Gifted Education: Part II” in Parenting High Potential, June 2010. Thank you, Jennifer Jolly!

So, thank you all. Your support, participation, questioning, ideas and passion have ignited new life into the advocacy movement on behalf of these bright and creative students. And I feel so very fortunate to be on this journey with you.

Beginning in January, I hope to help take our digital movement even further, as I hone in on those areas which I feel can make the most impact. I look forward to watching you all lead in your strength areas. You motivate me daily.

In the year ahead, Ingeniosus will be offering companies, schools, individuals and non-profit organizations serving gifted and talented communities the following menu of options to increase their influence and impact:

  • Linchpin Business Reviews (LBR)
  • Strategic Marketing Consulting Services
  • Social Media Trainings
  • Global #gtchat Sponsorships/Advertising

I will also be working to ensure #gtchat continues to evolve, so that parents, educators and advocates from throughout the world can share information and resources in real-time, enjoy a sense of kinship, break down barriers and influence outcomes that benefit students.

Join me in celebrating all that we have accomplished together in such a short time. Well done! I raise my glass to you and look forward to an incredible 2011!

Warmest regards,

Deborah Mersino


Atlanta News | Tweetup on Friday at NAGC!

I’m delighted to be in Atlanta for NAGC’s 57th Annual Conference! It’s sure to be a phenomenal week of learning and collaborating. A few updates:

  • Global #gtchat: We will be having one #gtchat session at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday, November 13th. Our topic will be “Drive: Motivation and the Gifted Child.” Join us! If you’re new to Twitter and want more information on #gtchat, click here.
  • Meet f2f (face-to-face) in Atlanta: I’m helping to orchestrate an #NAGC #Tweetup! Whether you are active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social networking sites – or simply interested in learning more – be sure to mark your calendars. We will be gathering Friday night (after #gtchat) at 8:30 p.m. in the Lobby Bar on the 5th floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Follow @DeborahMersino on Twitter and/or “like” the Ingeniosus Facebook Page and stay tuned for details. And plan to keep Friday night open; our #NAGC #Tweetup will be informal and fun! (Note: everyone will pay for their own beverages). If you know for sure that you’re coming, let me know!
  • Get the Latest News: I will be posting live updates from NAGC via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so feel free to connect and enjoy. I’ll be using the #NAGC hashtag on Twitter (and know others, like @PrufrockPress, will be as well). How exciting!
  • Learn More About the Power of Social Networking: I’m honored to be a part of a timely and informative panel discussion with Joel McIntosh, publisher of Prufrock Press, Carolyn K. of Hoagies Gifted Education Page and Ian Byrd of, being offered at NAGC on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. We would love to see you. Click here for more information on this session!
  • Get Your Questions Answered: Have a question about social networking and/or wonder how your school district, summer program, counseling center and/or business might benefit? Feel free to send me an email. I will be happy to answer your questions and/or set up a time to chat.

For those who can’t be in Atlanta, you might want to check out the NAGC 2010 Virtual Conference.

To our friends in Texas, here’s wishing you all a successful TAGT conference! And to everyone near and far, here’s to you! Just consider how social networking has exploded in 2010. So many of you are helping to ignite this potent collaboration on behalf of gifted learners worldwide. Just think of what can be done in 2011 and beyond!

Warmest regards,

Deborah Mersino


Dr. George Betts and Dr. Maureen Neihart Share Revised Profiles of Gifted

I’m thrilled to be able to share with you the revised 2010 Profiles of Gifted by two leaders in the field, Dr. George Betts and Dr. Maureen Neihart! During our 11.05.10 noon/EDT #gtchat, we’ll have the privilege of discussing these profiles and how they can be used to “increase awareness among educators and parents of differences among gifted children and provide guidelines for identifying gifted children.” These profiles can also be used to develop appropriate educational goals for the gifted.” (Betts, Neihart, 1988).

Here’s the updated matrix of the Profiles:  PROFILES BEST REVISED MATRIX 2010.

I’ll share post-chat thoughts soon, but wanted you all to have access to this. Thank you to Dr. Betts for sharing this with our international audience!

Kindest regards,

Deborah Mersino