Meet Adam and Evelyn. They are gifted kids from a rural region.
They were both selected to represent their region in the Youth Planning for the Future conference.
Evelyn’s family has lived on a large farming property in the area for several generations. They are considered pillars of the community and support all the important events on the local calendar especially CWA, pony club, girl guides and brownies, the CFA rural fire brigade and its ladies’ auxiliary, the annual agricultural show and the local Anglican Church.
Evelyn is named after her grandmother who lives with them and she spends a lot of time in the kitchen with her grandma cooking (and sampling) all manner of delicious cakes, scones, jams and preserved vegetables. Evelyn has her own garden bed in the kitchen garden where she grows vegetables and herbs and some flowers.
Evelyn has many pet animals – a small dog, some bantams, a bucket calf, several bottle fed lambs and a pony.
She is a bit plump and not very good at sporting activities except horse riding.
However Evelyn does well at school academically and if there are any extra programs for gifted and talented students being offered (such as writing workshops with visiting authors) Evelyn is usually selected to attend.
At present she attends the small local primary school but her parents face a big decision about where she will attend secondary school. In the past her family have been sent to private boarding schools and she would be eligible for a scholarship.
However running costs for the property have increased and there have been drought conditions which have decreased the productivity. Evelyn’s parents are fairly sure they will not be able to afford to send her to boarding school. They are investigating the state secondary school and the Catholic school in the nearest major city.
At the moment Evelyn is engrossed in her everyday life and does not have any career aspirations. She has many friends in the class but she cannot share deeply with them and always has to choose simpler words than the ones she would like to use. Evelyn prefers to talk to her grandma or her parents and their friends.
Evelyn needs to move out of comfort zone and be stretched academically and she needs to spend time with true academic peers.
Adam’s family are newcomers to the area. They moved to the country when Adam was three. They live in a brightly painted caravan and an old shack while they build their mud brick home on their small hobby farm.
The locals call Adam’s parents Hippy Dippy and the Prof. It is a second marriage for both of them and they both have older children from previous marriages who do not live with them but visit occasionally.
Adam’s father is an introverted academic who holds a doctorate in an obscure subject which the locals do not understand and cannot imagine it having any practical application. He has an adult son from his previous marriage who also has a doctorate in an obscure subject.
Adam’s mother is a flamboyant, artistic, New Age environmentalist. She believes in using solar and wind powered energy and loves creating colourful sculptures from recycled materials which she has scattered all around the farm. She can often be seen practising tai chi or meditation or dancing under the trees or beside the creek which runs through their farm. She has two daughters and a son from her previous marriage who are all at university now.
Adam’s mother is well read and is outspoken about her opinions.
Because she has already had the experience of advocating for the education needs of her three gifted older children, she is well informed about matters relating to giftedness.
Adam, who is quiet and introverted like his father, and shares his father’s passion for collecting fragments of meteorites is often embarrassed when his mother is ‘holding forth on her soap box’ about her topics of passionate interest.
Adam spoke very clearly at a very early age, taught himself to read when he was three and has been asking questions about profound topics since he could talk.
Teachers at the local primary school are amazed by the speed at which Adam learns and the levels of mastery he has achieved. It is fortunate that the small rural school has composite level classes in the two rooms and Adam can work at his own level without it creating too great a problem.
However the teachers can see that it will not be long before Adam needs much more than they can offer. They have started to investigate Distance Education Centre and online courses.
Adam has not made any friends at the school, partly because he is not accepted as a local, partly because he is not good at football or cricket which are the main social activities for the boys in the area and partly because he prefers to talk to older people. Adam tends to bring a book and sit under a tree by himself at lunchtime.
Adam needs opportunities to learn at his own level, depth, breadth and pace and also opportunities to spend time with like minded peers. Time with a mentor could also be very helpful.