“What have gifted education opportunities meant to me?”

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By Ashley Nassarine Hajimirsadeghi, 8th grade, Perry Hall Middle School

In elementary school, I was simply known as “the smart girl.” In middle school, I found getting near perfect grades effortless. The gifted and talented program at Perry Hall Middle School has literally changed my life in so many ways, and I’m grateful for being in the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful program and atmosphere.

When I was in sixth grade, my first year of middle school, I remember being so excited to go to middle school. Elementary school was too lax for me; the students immature and the work extremely easy. I thought middle school would provide a challenge and new opportunities, but I was put into standard classes. These classes were disappointing – I was not being challenged, information I studied was being retaught, and I was not known as Ashley Hajimirsadeghi, I was known as the “smart girl” all over again. But, halfway through sixth grade, an opportunity was presented to me.

“Ashley, come see me after class.” My mathematics teacher said one day, her tone gravely serious. I remember being so scared, and when the bell for mod 5/6, my math mod, came, I was shaking in my boots. I found out I wasn’t in trouble – this was when I was offered my first gifted and talented class. I remember this very same teacher in a very fond light, as she was one of the best teacher’s I’ve ever had. When I struggled in Algebra 1, I remember telling her of my struggles. She offered with a smile her assistance, and though I never did take her offer, I still use the techniques she had taught to be successful. She was passionate about math, and it showed in her classes. Many students would mock her behind her back, but she cared about each and everyone one of her students. She taught math so effectively that I can remember the techniques she used for certain equations- and I’m not the best at remembering formulas too!

I was placed in my other gifted and talented classes halfway through seventh grade. I can now feel empathy for new students. I remember being moved to different classes halfway through units, and not knowing anybody in my new classes. By end of year, these classes would change my life. In language arts, we, as gifted and talented students, are required to study Shakespeare. In seventh grade, we would have to read and act out The Taming of the Shrew. I found a passion in Shakespeare’s works, something that I didn’t have before. Before I knew it, I wanted to read as many classical books as possible. Les Misérables, Anna Karenina, MacBeth – I found it a passion I still hold to this very day. Language arts opened a new door as well: the magic of debate.

When I was placed into a gifted and talented class for language arts, I found debates a new challenge. Now, in eighth grade, magnet programs are offered for the incoming freshmen of the class of 2018. After reviewing the programs, I found two perfect programs to suit my interests – the law program at Towson High School, and the literary arts program offered at George Washington Carver Center. I’m striving to achieve my dreams of entering these magnets, taking practice SAT’s, going to workshops, and joining similar clubs at my school. With the help of my gifted and talented classes, I have access to higher levels of reading, vocabulary, and I get to learn more advanced skills to help me.

I have a hope that I cling to: the hope of going to a good college, becoming a lawyer, and living a successful life. I want to rise to my potential, and do what I love at the same time. My mother may just be a factory worker, and my father just an immigrant, but I want to make them proud, and do what they couldn’t. They didn’t expect to be twenty year olds being a parent, dropping out of college, and go straight into work. I want to show them, and everybody, that I’m my own individual with my own goals, strengths, and weaknesses. I have flaws. I’m bad at mathematics, science, and being social. I have strengths. I’m good at athletics, language arts, history, and art. By being a GT student, I’m able to use the advanced classes to my advantage, with my strengths and weaknesses becoming even stronger. As I go to high school, I can be offered college classes early and earn credits because of being in GT. And by doing so, I will be able to reach my dreams that I always hoped for, and to make them happen.

As a gifted and talented student, I have been able to grow as a person. I’ve gotten better at mathematics, I’ve mastered sentence structures, and I’ve been able to pursue my constant thirst for knowledge. Now, looking back, some of my best friends were made through gifted and talented classes. If I weren’t moved into these classes, I wouldn’t be the same person I am now. I would have different friends, different memories, different goals in life, and I wouldn’t have as many opportunities as I have now.

Without the gifted educational programs, I can’t imagine what my life would be like now. Would I be getting straight A’s? Would I have the same friends? I’ll never know those answers, because of the gifted and talented programs; I’ve met amazing people, and had great memories that’ll last for years. What have gifted education opportunities meant to me? Gifted education has offered me so many experiences and knowledge that I may not have received. I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in gifted education, and I don’t regret my decisions to go into such a wonderful program offered.

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