The Story of CGA
In March 2006, Todd Kettler, CISD Director of Advanced Academics at the time, stood before the CISD Board of Trustees to report about the state of gifted education in the school district. During that presentation, he stated that he wanted to start a parent group to support gifted education in CISD. Coppell parent Tracy Fisher was at that meeting and heard his call for help. She volunteered to help him with this endeavor, and the Coppell Gifted Association was born.
Their first action was to hold middle school Gifted and Talented (GT) program updates. During the meetings, they focused on what the top performing school districts in Texas had in common – GT parent groups. Everyone but Coppell, that is. They collected parent contact info along with skill and interest information from those meetings. With help from other interested parents, Tracy pulled together a group of parent volunteers that summer of 2006. They organized the Coppell Gifted Association, appointed officers, filed for 501(c)3 status, wrote a mission statement and bylaws.
At that time, CGA focused on and helped communicate academic changes at the secondary level as more GT courses were offered in CISD in grades 7-12. Collectively, they learned a great deal about social-emotional needs of the gifted, attended speaker sessions, and read many books about gifted children, building capacity for understanding about educational benefits like acceleration, learning and interacting with intellectual peers, educator training and much more.
During the first two years of the organization, CGA grew at warp speed. The organization modified its mission and bylaws, was granted 501(c)3 tax status, and brought in national and state speakers on giftedness. CGA also produced several info-packed newsletters, partnered with Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) to offer dual membership, hosted local school board candidate forums, and offered CISD educator scholarships to attend conferences of TAGT and National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). During this same time, the Marvelous Opportunities Scheduled as Individual Classes (MOSAIC) was created and filled a gap in the community for students looking for a local opportunities to enhance their academic and intellectual interests. School year enrichment was also offered on topics such as rocketry.
From its inception, CGA’s leaders realized that a student being identified “gifted” by the school district was confusing not only to those who were, but to those who were not. The label of “gifted” appeared to be equated with being part of a “club” vs. the identification of an academic need. CGA was also aware that students who may be gifted, may not be identified because of the academic focus utilized to identify gifted students. Welcoming members regardless of the academic needs of their children has always been a practice of CGA. The speaker series and much of the student enrichment open to all of our community, including families outside of CISD, seem to have helped to breakdown some of the misconceptions about the “gifted” label.
CGA has worked collaboratively with our district to help make a difference for gifted children, their parents and their educators. Working hard to not duplicate the efforts of other local organizations such as PTOs, CGA has partnered with the district and community to support gifted students. With purposeful intention, our organization has tried to support our district in ways that supplement other organizations efforts without treading on their efforts.
CGA’s mission statement to support Coppell gifted and beyond has been a beacon for all involved as the organization has grown into a 600 plus member group – a model for the state of Texas. CGA has shared speakers with other gifted groups and co-hosted parent book studies with other districts. Our leaders have also helped to start and served as resources for parent groups in other areas of North Texas. In addition, our organization and its leaders have been involved in gifted education work at the state level behind the scenes and in front of audiences through TAGT, TASB (school boards) and TASA (superintendents).
With the transformation of education, CGA hopes to continue to reflect upon our mission and bylaws. Most of our success can be attributed to our passionate leadership depth and having a clear purpose for the organization. The support and partnership CGA has with CISD has also been instrumental. CGA cares about gifted students, our members and adding value to membership. The evolution of CGA is ongoing, like the academic needs of gifted students. Thought-provoking questions are continuously raised and cause our organization to pause, always returning to our mission of supporting gifted kids, their parents and educators in Coppell and beyond.