I received my masters in gifted education in 1999. I have been teaching gifted students for the last eight years, but only this year was I able to put into practice the idea of using mentors. In a chapter titled “The Role of Gifted Personnel in Counseling the Gifted” by Joyce Van Tassel-Braska and Lee Baska, the writers include mentorships as a strategy for addressing the special affective needs of gifted children, needs such as “understanding one’s differences, yet recognizing one’s similarities to others and developing skills in areas that will nurture both cognitive and affective development.”
What they do not say is how the mentor relationship is as rewarding to the mentor as to the mentee. I have had the privilege of offering a mentorship to my 5th grade student Matthew who dubbed himself “Magic Matt” years ago. I just happen to know the family of a famous magician in New Orleans, Michael Dardant. Michael visited with Matthew for the first time back in February. I wrote about it here.
Since then, Michael has emailed with Matthew and sent a package of magical stuff. When Michael contacted me to say he was coming by for another visit, I was thrilled. On Wednesday last week, he personally delivered a magician’s jacket to Matthew. And once again taught Matthew a few tricks. As a bystander learning the slights, I am still in awe. Even knowing how they are done, I could not possible execute the trick. There is a talent in the slight of hand, the patter, and even the stance of the magician.
After witnessing again the power of mentorship, I told Michael by text, “You have become someone’s hero.” I can feel Michael’s passion about magic and his increasing interest in this relationship.
Matthew performed for the Mother’s Day program at school on Friday. He was a featured performer on the sidewalk outside a local gallery for Art Walk on Saturday night. He is well on his way to following Michael’s footsteps. I do not have a crystal ball to predict the future, but I am convinced that mentorships work. (And wearing a red jacket helps.)
Michael is on his way to the world championships of magic in Italy this summer. Watch his promotional video (He has a hilarious Cajun accent.) and consider supporting his trip.