Running and Serving as an NAGC Network Leader

I first attended the NAGC Convention in 1995. (Wow!)  As I was walking through the convention center that year, I ran into Mary Slade, who had taught many of the courses in my master’s degree program. She told me that I should attend the Professional Development Division (now Network) meeting. As a first-time attendee, I was a little nervous about going, but quickly found that this group was welcoming and shared similar interests. For a long time, the Network was my home within the very large NAGC organization and convention. I went on to serve as the chair of that Network and later, the Early Childhood Network.

The Network leadership experience was crucial for a multitude of reasons!  First, I have met many people who have served as professional role models for me, allowing me to see different ways to be a leader within gifted education. I have had the pleasure of working closely with many NAGC “celebrities” with very different leadership styles:  Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Tracy Cross, Paula Olszweski-Kubilius, George Betts, and the list goes on! Secondly, the Network positions provided me with knowledge of and exposure to the operations of NAGC that I would not have attained otherwise; these roles have been a training ground for additional leadership opportunities in NAGC, as well as in other organizations. Third, being a Network leader also gave me the opportunity to have a voice in my field in a different way than by the channels provided through my employment. Finally, the experience of being a Network Chair or Chair-elect included many exciting events, such as reviewing conference proposals, monitoring convention sessions, planning special events and projects, and attending Network leadership retreats! 

On the more personal side, my involvement in the Networks provided me with opportunities to meet individuals that were helpful to me in my work as a teacher of the gifted, coordinator of a gifted program, and doctoral student. Many of the contacts that I made are the folks that I rely on now when I want to try out ideas or need assistance with a project. Additionally, I have made many friends through NAGC leadership; each convention is a reunion as well as an educational opportunity!

Participating in a Network is a fantastic way to make a difference by sharing your experience and expertise. Eight NAGC Networks will elect Chairs-Elect in June and one has a vacancy for a Chair. To run for one of these positions, you must have been a member of the Network for two or more years. Nominations are due (emailed or postmarked) by April 8, 2015. Elections open in mid-June and successful candidates will start in their positions on September 1.

The two-year term as Chair-elect gives you an opportunity to learn more about leading the Network and getting to know other Network members while building a strong leadership team. The NAGC staff appreciates the time and dedication of Network volunteers and, along with the Network Representative to the Board of Directors, supports each Network's scope of work.

At this point, I am midway through the first year of my second term as the Network Representative to the NAGC Board of Directors. It was that initial welcome by Mary Slade and her encouragement about getting involved that eventually led to my serving in this role. All of my experiences within the Networks I chaired, as well as involvement in other Networks, provided me with the experience and knowledge of NAGC that help me to support the Networks and SIGs with which I work now.

I hope you’ll consider a leadership role with a Network as part of your professional growth plan and contribution to NAGC. It is an important and fulfilling way to serve gifted children, their teachers, and their parents!