Oakdale’s Lora Gery has been an advocate for her own children and other gifted learners in Oakdale. Now, she’s taken her advocacy to a higher level.
Gery is the Parent Representative for the San Joaquin Region on the Board of Directors of the California Association for the Gifted (CAG). She began the process to serve on the board in the spring, was elected in May, and attended her first meeting as a board member in September. She is one of 10 parent representatives in the state who serve on the board. She also serves on the CAG’s legislative committee.
“It’s very exciting. We’ve been given a multitude of tasks to achieve this year and next year,” Gery said, adding that they network with numerous school districts throughout the state and are affecting change in the state as it relates to education of gifted learners.
Gery has served as the president of the Oakdale auxiliary organization “Friends of the Gifted” for five years and decided it was time to take on new responsibilities with the CAG. She said that CAG focuses on asking that school districts do what they can to ensure that Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) students still receive services in these difficult budget times. By serving on the board, Gery said that it helps her to mentor other GATE parents as well.
Gery has had two children in the GATE program in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District and said that she had to educate herself about GATE and needed to learn how to advocate for her children. She said that advanced learners often have not just different academic needs, but also different social and emotional needs.
Gery said that she has learned more about how to advocate for her children by going to CAG meetings over the years and she benefited from support offered by OJUSD GATE teacher Brenda Combs and other parents before her who’ve had gifted learners.
“It’s a privilege. I feel so blessed (to serve),” Gery said.
She also said that in the OJUSD GATE program and through Friends of the Gifted, older GATE students now also mentor younger GATE students.
“Lora is a dedicated parent and advocate for all children but feels strongly about the need to help our gifted learners have an opportunity to develop their potential,” said Combs. “…She is an exceptional leader and a tremendous asset to the children she serves.”
Combs added that Gery has also organized a “Super Saturday” event, which provided exciting opportunities for children of all ages and their families to be involved in scientific and mathematical activities such as building a hovercraft.
Gery said that all kids are capable of learning great things, but that sometimes other parents believe it’s easy to raise a gifted child. She said that’s not the case, noting that sometimes highly intellectual children are challenging.
Gery offered some recommendations for parents of gifted learners. She said one book called “Mindset” offers information to parents and teachers about not over-praising children because it can prevent them from meeting their full potential and achieving. There are also other books known as “survival guides” for gifted children to read that helps them to identify themselves. She said the books come in different versions for elementary age and adolescents and helped her own children to see themselves in the pages.
Gery was also previously a teacher in the Bay Area and in Modesto’s Sylvan School District.
For more information about the California Association for the Gifted go to the website www.cagifted.org.