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SENG Director's Corner: Empowerment Through Collective Support: Launching SENG Community Groups

By Sylvia Bagley.


As I embark on my third year serving on SENG’s board, I am grateful for the opportunity to focus my impact specifically on the area that first brought me to SENG: its support groups. 


In my previous Director’s Corners (see posts from Jan 12, 2022 and May 1, 2023), I shared briefly about discovering SENG through an SMPG (SENG Model Parent Group) in my area. My three twice-exceptional kids all needed additional support, and I was curious to learn what SENG had to offer.


The moment I started reading James Webb et al.’s A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children (2007), I was underlining and folding pages like crazy. Each chapter confirmed that I’d made the right choice in taking a chance on this new group. While attending weekly discussion circles with other parents – guided by patient, informed, supportive co-facilitators – I understood more about the many special considerations that exist when raising gifted and/or twice-exceptional kids. Intensities are real; emotions matter (a lot); friendships are hard; executive functioning skills are crucial; finding a school setting where your child can thrive and be understood is possible, but it takes time and knowledge of what to look for.


I was both relieved and overwhelmed. What should I focus on first and with which child? All three of my kids needed different things, and the list of strategies and supports felt daunting. Yet I knew I had to learn more to be an advocate. Over the next few months, I booked appointments with a variety of specialists (including a neuropsychologist with expertise in giftedness); purchased and skimmed books; listened obsessively to podcasts like Tilt Parenting; and was grateful for my new group of parent-friends who I could talk openly with.



At the same time, I felt a strong sense of loss. I was grieving the support I never received myself. Although I was lucky enough to participate in weekly gifted services at school, my parents didn’t have any of the information provided in Webb et al.’s book. As a gifted kid and teen, I achieved academically without much problem but was struggling emotionally. I felt disempowered, different, stressed out, and uncertain about my future.  


I wondered if there was a support group for gifted adults, to help them process and make sense of what they’d been through as kids and were likely still experiencing, albeit in a different way? A few years earlier, I had stumbled upon Marylou Kelly Streznewski’s Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential (1999), so I knew at least one person had reflected on “what happens next?” for gifted kids. It was equally validating to read Mary-Elaine Jacobsen’s The Gifted Adult: A Revolutionary Guide for Liberating Everyday Genius (1999) and learn that the intensity, complexity, and drive that gifted children live with doesn’t simply go away at a certain age. Discovering Paula Prober’s analogy of “rainforest minded adults” resonated as well, and felt like an especially safe place to land. (Paula will be a keynote speaker at our summer conference in Berkeley!).


When I joined SENG as a board member in 2021, I took on the task of leading collective work on revamping our model parent groups. I knew I could leverage my work and expertise as a professor of instructional leadership at the University of Washington; and, after countless discussions and brainstorming sessions, the rebranded SENG Community Groups were launched in 2022. These groups, like the original and beloved model parent groups, remain focused on providing peer support for adults in a safe discussion format. However, we’ve made the following important changes:


  • Given our goal of supporting broader gifted communities, the model is open to anyone seeking support – parents and caregivers, educators of the gifted, gifted adults, and other specialized communities.

  • With the hope of expanding our base of trained co-facilitators, the facilitator training for SCG groups is more streamlined and accessible. The new, six-hour training will prepare facilitators to lead groups in person and online. Please consider joining our growing community of SCG-trained co-facilitators.

  • To ensure that participants receive relevant and timely resources, we have expanded from using one book and instead are encouraging facilitators to tap into freely available articles, podcast episodes, and videos. Using a core text is also an option, and we’re excited to list a number of approved titles for use if desired. 

  • To ensure that groups are accessible and regularly offered, we are hosting a variety of SCG groups through SENG itself. The first SCG: Gifted Adults group sold out in under a day, and the second adult group starts in April (and is also at capacity - don’t worry, we will be offering more!).  We are currently offering our first SCG: Educators of the Gifted group. Stay tuned for upcoming groups for parents, educators, and gifted adults!

  • Finally, with the goal of empowering co-facilitator communication and sharing, we are launching a password-protected online community space and resource hub for SCG Facilitators. Stay tuned for more on this as well.


It’s been an exciting and rewarding journey to work with so many dedicated stakeholders to launch our new SENG Community Groups. I offer up sincere thanks to all who have dedicated their time and wisdom to this collective effort. If SENG Community Groups are of interest to you in any way, I hope you’ll join a group, consider training to facilitate, and say hello to me at our annual conference in Berkeley. I look forward to meeting and chatting with you!

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Sylvia S Bagley, Ph.D.: Sylvia is a gifted adult serving on SENG’s Board of Directors as Secretary of the Executive Committee and Chair of SENG Community Groups. She is co-parenting three twice-exceptional kids between the ages of 11 and 15, and is grateful for ongoing support from SENG, which started for her by attending one of SENG’s local support groups for parents. She is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, where she earned her doctorate in the history and philosophy of education. She was formerly an elementary school teacher and instructional math coach, and is now a professor of equitable instructional leadership in the College of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle.

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