Flowers Watered With Tears / Morning With Shakespeare / Afternoon at Flight Deck

“Feed your faith
and doubt
will starve to death.”

Yes, that's me on the swing I loved at South Elementary (the school was gone but the swing still there).

Yes, that’s me on the swing I loved at South Elementary (the school was gone by 1984, but the swing and the joyful memories remain). This is where I learned that joy is the most important thing that happens in school, and in life.

 “It is very easy to think about Love.
It is very difficult to Love.
It is very easy to Love the whole world.
The real difficulty is to Love
A single human being.”
– Osho

I seem to be in tears lately, as I share with you the stories of my life. Well, here I am again. I am having to dry my eyes to see the computer screen. But I have a large box of tissues and a back up box. So, perhaps, I can finish this tragedy. It may lead you to understand why LeVonna and I detest and abhor alcohol and the deceptively alluring commercials that alter the truth to paint a misleading rosie picture about this highly addictive and horribly destructive bacterial excrement.

Many years ago I fell in love. It was with a truly beautiful heart that belonged to a substitute teacher. Her name was Nona Baggett. And I am sad that I have no photograph of her.

Unbelievably, the school superintendent would not employ her full-time, I later learned, because she was not mean spirited enough. She was not “tough” enough. She did not thrash the students with her tongue or beat them with a board the way so many others did. In this High School, a harsh and demeaning manner was considered imperative and normal. Everyone just tried to survive.


We always enjoy having the Yorkies spend the day with us.

It was my guess, from observing, that no one around really ever read the New Testament of Jesus Christ. But Nona Baggett did. And she lived according to its beautiful teachings. Her life became such a marvelous example for me and so many others.

The fragrance of her being, the essence her existence, was far more influential in my life, than I can convey to you in mere words. She made me want to be a good person. With her by my side, I fell in love with life. And, she shared with me that there was much about life to love.

Essentially, what I remember from being in the secondary school classes was this: kids were perpetually and constantly being disciplined. Very few were the moments that were inspiring and truly educational. The Wiktionary defines very few as – almost none. It is accurate.

The horrendous situation I found myself in reminds me of what one of our remarkably bright students told Mr. A, when asked what he thought about the school he came from (another public school). He was only five or six at the time. He looked into LeVonna’s eyes, and with a depth of sincerity very sadly said, “Oh, I like learning, but we don’t get to do much of that.” Yes, we enrolled this fine young man.

Back to my story – what I fondly remember about this remarkable substitute teacher was that she was always, and I do mean always, kind and compassionate. Her soft voice still echoes in my thoughts. Her loving manner, I feel to this day. Her example, I try to live by.

Some of the other kids, at the end class, would boast and coldly remark things like, “We ate her lunch. She did not know what hit her!” There were many unkind statements like that. But she never lost focus, never lost control of her demeanor, and left at the end of each day letting those “rascals” know that she really cared for them and loved each one of them. She was – remarkable.

Finis and Gladys loved living on the lake.

Finis and Gladys loved living on the lake.

But I had no idea just how remarkable she really was. It took several years to discover the depth of sorrow carved into her heart. It was so deep, that she came to treat every child, including me, as if he was one of her own. Her beautiful life, and the unconditional love she felt for all those around her, led me to a remarkable insight, a simple truth –

                        “The deeper sorrow is carved into your heart,
                                        the more Love it can contain.”

And her sorrow was almost infinite. Her love lives to this day. And now I must stop for awhile. You understand.

After falling in love with her, I would ride to see her on my bicycle, a distance of about ten miles to her farm in the country. By the time I got there, this skinny little guy was worn completely out. (Thank God my kind Mother would drive out to pick up me and my bike.) But there was always a great and abiding reward at the end of this long journey, the warmest smile and the biggest hug you can imagine. I always felt like I was coming home. And so did my Mother.

Many years later, my Mother would come to tell me that I reminded Nona of her son, her only child. And now that I look back, I can see me in her very loving and very lonely eyes. I gaze into the mirror of time and see what I meant to her and now, what she means to me.

Lonely rivers flow not just to the sea,
they flow to hearts in need.

I was so infatuated with the cute little guinea hens she showed me on her farm, that I slipped a few eggs into my pocket, hoping that they would later hatch. Of course, this little city boy had no idea what was required for those eggs to hatch.

We are so proud of Kevin  Grubbs who received his Master of Arts degree in History from The University of Southern Mississippi.

We are so proud of Kevin Grubbs, who received his Master of Arts degree in History from The University of Southern Mississippi. It was great to see you again!

Today, I always seem to have a few of these beautiful creations in my life. We had three gorgeous white guineas that roamed around the campus for several years, protected by my precious canine friend, Kirby. You can see them in a photo I took and placed at About Us/History page. Today, thanks to my friends Rylee, Kylee and their wonderful Mom, Kayla, and our kind next door neighbor, Bob, we have two turkeys and two guineas in our petting zoo. I love them very much. Thank you!

I especially treasure them today, I believe, because of what happened when my Mother drove me back to Nona’s farm to return the precious treasure of absconded eggs. After all, I did take them without asking. I expected to be scolded and given a proper lecture about taking them, when they were not given to me. I just knew the yoke was about to be on me!

But to know this precious Lady, Nona, was to be given a glimpse into very heart of Heaven. She was, in my humble and grateful opinion, an Angel. She softly patted me on the back of my hand and told me to keep the eggs and then placed them, very gently, and with words so tender, one by one, back into my pockets since, as she said, they meant so  much to me. And then she handed little “Skippy” even more eggs to keep. And I found out, in a kind and loving manner, what was necessary for them to hatch. Importantly, I learned that if you want to correct a behavior, let that someone know that you love them. Tell them in different ways. Their behavior will change out of love for you. And the lessons learned will be profound.

Little Lexi is out of control spoiled by Riley, Diana, Travis and Carter, not to mention Mrs. A

Little Lexi is out of control spoiled by Riley, Diana, Travis & Carter, not to mention Mrs. A. and many others.

You know, God sends his Love to us through such people. I know this, because it has happened so many times, especially in times of deep need. Yes, the Love of God is real. I feel that it is the only thing that is real. I can feel this special Love reach through time, from the loving, gently heart of this truly good Lady. I feel it today. It is stronger today than when I was a child. It is much stronger. In fact, I truly feel that her precious Spirit lives deeply imbedded within my heart. For I, too, became her child. Oh, what a warm and wonderful feeling.

Love seems to be that way. It ripens like fruit in the sun. Like a flower opens in the wind, spreading it’s fragrance all around, making us remember, making us smile. It keeps regret and sorrow and pain so very, very far away. It heals our wounds.

I remember the day I first met Nona. She was substituting for a ninth grade physical science teacher, who had the good judgement to take sick leave as soon as a day became available. I became inured to the horrible conditions I found myself in while enrolled in this pathetic school, if you could call it a school. My Mother had no real choice but to keep me enrolled in the public schools of this unnamed school district, that needed a warning label and was situated in west Texas.

I visited the neglected memorial for a precious third grade teacher, Lillie Hazle. This school district never bothered to replace the tree after it died.

I visited this neglected memorial on the lawn of the long gone old South Elementary School. It was for a precious third grade teacher I remember, Lillie Hazle. This school district never  replaced the tree after it died. Mrs. Hazle will always remain in my heart. (photo: 1984)

This community had become truly intoxicated and addicted to sports. This intoxication was coupled with one for alcohol. They won, as I recall, five state championships in a ten year period. And violence was the order of the day. It was not only tolerated, it was promoted under the guise that, “It toughens them up for the team!”

I, not so fondly, remember walking home, day after dreaded day, and passing by from three to five fist fights. From time to time, I actually fought my way home. No teacher ever stopped a fight at school. They just waited until someone hit the ground, then shouted to get back to class or hit the showers.

Oh my God! There were always so many black eyes that I got a feeling I was attending the Texas school for the half-blind.

There was one benefit. Later, when I became a public school Principal (God has a sense of humor), I utilized the knowledge gained. But, during the period from grade seven to when I decided I had enough, it was not what anyone would call an academic experience. It proved to be a tragic loss of precious time on this Earth. And for what?

Over this time I became possessed of a strong stomach and a hard head, inured to hardship, cruelty, and brutality. I found, as I came to manhood, that I unconsciously protected myself from the pain. But more importantly, I truly treasured anyone with a good heart. And God, in His Mercy, provided what I needed to survive.

And yes, I was a youngster not afraid to pray. I especially prayed for those who were so violent and in need of forgiveness. I can even remember praying for some them while I had them on the ground. I gained some of my best friends this way. The larger ones, and there were some BIG guys, seemed to be impressed and later wanted to spend time with me. Many of them came to accept my love. My concern for them brought me close to those in need. The others remained mentally, socially or morally ill. Many of them died young and very lonely. They are still in my prayers.

The story I wish to share with you, of Nona and John Baggett, remains among the most tragic I have ever encountered. Their son, Andrew Cole, had served, and heroically, three of four years in the U.S. Navy.
As cited from the local newspaper at the time:
—   —   —   —   —
Andrew was the son of J. A. and Nona Baggett – Tx EM3 US Navy –
Born in Stephens County, Texas and died in Stephens County.

He was eager to have his picture made for those he loved before he left for his fourth year in the U. S. Navy. Monday afternoon, Andrew Cole Baggett, 21, walked into the Ramsey Studio and Frank Homme completed the photographic assignment. The navy youth left and Homme yelled, “Good luck.” Baggett replied, “I’ll need it.!”

The next day, the war veteran’s loved ones called Homme to make pictures again. Homme made them as Andrew Cole Baggett lay in the casket at the Satterwhite Funeral home, less than 24 hours after that first studio appointment. He died after his body was thrown clear of the car he was driving on the Cisco highway, a few miles south of Breckenridge.
—   —   —   —   —

Now, I need to add something. Andrew turned his vehicle over, several times, trying to negotiate the turn onto the driveway of his home. He died at the entrance to the house where his parents lived. What a horrendous discovery to make as you exit your home. And yes, he was intoxicated.

Mrs. A with Finis and Gladys Williams

Mrs. A with Finis and Gladys Williams (1982)

Many years ago, long after this tragedy, I had a dear friend and a man, who in many ways, took the place of the Father I never saw. His name was Finis Williams, and there was absolutely nothing he would not do for my Mother or for me or anyone else in need. I found him frequently repairing our plumbing or doing electrical work, or whatever was needed. And he would never accept pay.

Finis told me, privately and in tears, that Andrew was drinking at some event on the day he died and that he, Finis, tried, very hard, to let him drive Andrew home, since he was obviously drunk. But Andrew refused. And now, Finis is tearfully devastated by the loss of such a wonderful young man. Finis said, with the saddest look I have seen, “I should have taken his keys away. Just look at what has happened to his parents”.

Finis and your's truly

Finis and Yours Truly. (1984)

It was then that I recalled that every time I visited Nona’s home, her husband sat quietly, absolutely quiet, in a chair and never spoke a word. He never greeted me or said anything. Later, Nona explained that he never recovered from the loss of their son. And I found out that, until his death, he was in a near comatose state. The death of his only child, his treasured son, was the death of his desire to live.

Perhaps, in sharing this story, you can take steps to spare someone’s precious child, and a beloved family, from such a tragedy. If so, Andrew’s untimely death may not have been in vain.

Finis took me fishing, and boating and camping dozens of times over the years. He taught me how to water ski, camp out, cook, skin a fish, brag about the catch, tell tall tales (hey, it’s west Texas), and, how to be compassionate. Many times he would take out the catch, gut and clean the fish and then drive to someone’s home who was struggling to earn a living, usually a black family. There he would give that family all the fish we caught that day. And they were truly grateful.

Finis was our “Milk Man”. He delivered the milk in one quart glass jugs to the doorsteps of many people. And one day, he brought milk to our doorstep. My Mother invited him in, and while visiting, he noticed that I returned from a “fishing trip” to the Gonzales creek. I was about eight years of age, at the time.

Finish asked me about my catch. And I explained that I did not catch anything. He then, and with tender words and actions, asked me to examine my fishing “gear”. He noted that I was fishing with a sewing needle and explained that I really needed a fishing “hook” with barbs on it, to hold onto the fish once it took the bate. He asked me about my bate and I confessed that I tried using grasshoppers, but they slipped off the needle. I needed a lot of help. Hey, I still do.

Portrait of an Angel, Finis Williams

Portrait of an Angel on this earth, Finis Williams

Finis smiled broadly, chuckled, and looked at my Mother and exclaimed, “Well, I finally met a REAL fisherman, someone who loves fishing so much that he would risk his life to fish from the slippery and dangerous banks of the Gonzales creek, without fishing pole (I had a long stick), thread for line, just some old grasshoppers for bait and no fishing hooks, just a needle (he carefully examined my gear). Yes, young man! You are just the fishing partner I have been looking for. Would you like to join me one day?

Well, I was quite excited. You can just imagine. And the next weekend Finis shows up with gifts: a new tackle box FULL of fishing lures, a bucket of live bait and a brand new fishing pole, yes, a real fishing pole. And off we go, with a real boat in tow to a real lake. And we caught twenty three perch, and yes, we cleaned them and took them to a family in need. The families we helped in this manner were always truly grateful. I recall many tearful moments.

A couple of years later, I learned that Finis was fired from his job as the local milk man. I remembered, while on the playground of South Elementary School, that Finis would frequently drive his milk truck to the playground, located in the back of school, and hand out small cartons of milk to the kids, those left over that did not sell. Well, he was fired for giving the milk away, rather than putting it all in a dumpster. The owner of the company ordered the product thrown away rather than give anyone anything. The highway to Hades may also be paved with, uh, milk.

I cannot tell you how proud I was of my fishing buddy and friend, Finis Williams. I cannot wrap a sentence around the word “Love” with enough emotion to share my feelings and my deep, abiding regard for such a loving man. Here was someone who knew what life was all about and knew how to live it.

Later, the notorious junior high school I attended would employ Finis as one of the custodians. And I was so joyful knowing that my dear friend and fishing buddy was always nearby. We planned many a fishing trip from behind the trash cans and shared many slightly exaggerated stories of fish that grew in length by the minute. Truth, to someone in love with fishing, can become a highly subjective thing.

Hey, if you don’t think God loves you, just look around. He is disguised in many faces and gazes through many eyes. He is right around the next corner. He is always standing near you. He is always in your face.

I need another box of tissue.

People ask me, “Why do you spend so much time writing a weblog?” Well, it is therapeutic. But, if I can help just one other precious soul with this information, I am truly happy. And I hope I help you.

Please know that there is a horrendous and unfathomable price to pay when you consume the bacterial excrement, alcohol. But, importantly, there is ALWAYS a far greater cost than your suffering and death, O self-centered one. It is the collateral damage done to those who love you. The parents of Andrew Cole Baggett literally stopped living when their only son died. Their reason for living was gone. The hope, the love, the passion for life – all extinguished by liquid from a can.

I remember visiting their home on many occasions. And I was always deeply impressed when looking into a small classroom on the property. It was constructed to provide for the only child of this couple and a few others, much like this school. I thought it strange that it was never touched, only cleaned. Nothing was ever moved from the place it was found on the last day Andrew attended school. It was, in retrospect, a memorial for the dearly loved, and only son, of John and Nona Baggett.

Instead of being able to honor this fine young man, the courageous hero that Andrew became in the United States Navy, his body was buried along with the hearts of his parents, in a deep hole in the Gunsight Cemetery. The flowers that grow there are watered by tears. And in all that time, over so very many years, I still cry for this precious family.

The next time you lift a glass or a can filled with so much regret, so much unbearable pain, so much loss of life and precious love, say a prayer for the now nameless millions who have gone before you and left behind a landscape that resembles nothing but misery and death. Please remember that as you wander further and further down into this valley of the shadow of death, you are taking your loved ones with you. Alcoholism is not singular disease. It is always accompanied by other victims. It is a social disorder on a magnitude and scale that defies definition. It envelopes and destroys entire families, your other loved ones and friends, and frequently, many others that were simply going down the highway at the same time. Each year the number is in the millions. But the numbers do not matter as much as you do. They are insignificant to those who love you, if you drown in the sea of apathy and alcohol.

The consumption of alcohol frequently leads to a portrait drawn of the loneliest place on earth, a graveyard. And the flowers, yes, those flowers, are not what they seem. They are watered by the tears of the deeply loved and lost. They never blossom in the warm sunlight of tomorrow. They died. Their lives were stolen, along with all the precious dreams.

Andrew Cole Baggett

For our trip on Friday, Jan. 16, 2015

We will meet at 8:30 a.m. at school to work on our Shakespeare production with Director, George Rodriguez.

Following lunch we will caravan to the Food Court in the Ridgmar Mall for lunch and then enjoy the new movie Unbroken,Buy Movie Tickets for Unbroken based upon the N.Y. Times best seller book.

The younger children will view Paddington, Rated PG at 11:45 a.m. running 1 hour and 35 minutes.Paddington showtimes and tickets

Start time for Unbroken:
12:30 p.m.
Runtime for Unbroken:
137 min
MPAA Rating for Unbroken:
PG-13 for Brief Language, War Violence, Intense Sequences of Brutality.
Synopsis of Unbroken:
During World War II, Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) survives for 47 days at sea in a raft, only to be captured by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Genre for Unbroken:
Biography, War, Historical drama
Jan. 19 (Monday) Dr. Martin L. King Holiday
Jan. 23 Fort Worth Stock Show
Feb. 16 (Monday) President’s Day Holiday
Mar. 9-13 Spring Break Holidays
April 3 & 6 (Fri. & Mon.) Easter Holidays
April 28 Scarborough Renaissance Festival
(Drama Competition is “Twelfth Night”)
May 4 & 5 (Mon. & Tuesday) Dress Rehearsal and Performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Stage West Theater

On Life Unending / e-News Update 4-5-2013

As William Blake notably observed, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

And the young philosophers in my class are learning from their studies of aspects of infinity, subatomic particle physics and modern medical discovery, that we are quickly headed into a time when death and dying will be no more. Life, itself, may become infinite.

Neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Strout, recently observed that, “The only things you can be sure of are death and taxes, but don’t be too sure about death.”

So it is becoming important, in this moment and not so late that time can become irrelevant or subservient to a newly defined reality, to ask truly important questions. And our children have posed some that are significant.

Will love prevail?  Will our capacity to love expand to fill the expansive void of the Universe? What will indefinite living be for, if not for love? Can we foresee an infinite trace in time filled without our enduring love? And ultimately, what will we and the depths of our compassion for one another evolve into being? Can a life unending resolve itself into anything other than what dwells within?

The future poses challenges beyond anything you or I can imagine or comprehend. And we must prepare our children, and their children’s children, with the insight and the courage to cherish life enough to love beyond the self and far, far beyond tomorrow.

In the narrow focus of our brief existence we cannot fathom the responsibility that is ours. We will never be privileged to know.

Joe Henry beautifully unfolded our hope for the dawn of a new day for mankind in lyrics interpreted by John Denver,  “And the Spirit fills the darkness of the Heavens. It fills the endless yearning of the soul. It lives within a star too far to greet us. It lives within each heart and is the hope.  It’s the fire and the wings that fly us home.”

And another insightful artist paves the way for the legacy we weave in the tapestry of life beyond:

 “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works,
if I create from the head, almost nothing.
– Marc Chagall

On Friday, April 5, 2013, Lucas adores new friend

we will meet at 10:00 a.m. at the EAST entrance of the FORT WORTH ZOO, 1989 COLONIAL PARKWAY (817-759-7500).
Pick up will be at the EAST Entrance at 2:30 p.m.

Please Note: Uniform pants with a belt, & RED monogrammed school shirts are required. PARENTS / GUARDIANS / FRIENDS are always invited to participate on our trips. Comfortable shoes are highly recommended. Please dress for the weather.

Adults (13+) $12.00/Children (3-12) $9.00 (2 & under) Free/Seniors (65+) $9.00 Please pay at the ZOO.
Parking $ 5.00 per vehicle, cash only.

Please be on time or the Lions will growl.

Gift Shops: Yes. Lunch: Yes (please provide funds)

April 30 – Scarborough Renaissance Festival
May1Tuition Due for 2013-14
May 6 &7 (Mon. & Tues.) – Shakespeare at the Sanders Theater May 21 – 24 Adventure Trip
Emergency Telephone No: 682-777-1908

A . n . d . e . r . s . o . n
Where precocious children are nurtured & appreciated

Don’t forget your camera.

Kudos are due

[Comment left on previous post for the Anderson Private School]

Being the mother/advocate of a gifted learner, I applaud you Dr. Anderson, for your willingness to concisely state you assessment of the current educational collapse in our country. I know for a FACT, based on experience with my daughter, that the public school was not willing to educate my daughter. You stated it beautifully, they have the talented educators, they just do not allow them the FREEDOM to teach the INDIVIDUALS as they need to be taught. They have spent the time and money to be sure that the children have been labeled deficient in some way go get what they need to be successful. But they have completely ignored the other end of the spectrum that is just as in need of attention and care. Again, i will go back to the distinction of INDIVIDUALS, children are just that, individuals, not buckets of like kinds. So either way, children need to be treated as individuals and taught as such.

I need to give kudos where kudos are due!

I have been actively searching for the correct educational model for my daughter, Iyan, since she was seven. She started school at the tender age of three and had we known how to identify what we were seeing in her behavior in school, we would have been able to identify her giftedness earlier. Unfortunately, she went through many years of frustration and anguish, as I searched for a way to satisfy her zest for learning. The traditional classroom was not a successful environment for her, University model education was not a fit, homeschooling didn’t work (I am not qualified), public school, in the highest level classes, didn’t work (boring)….help!

My child had grown bitter, angry, troubled, mixing with the wrong people, spent more time in the AP office than in class(he liked her…she was a great conversationalist), none the less she was being referred to the alternative school. I started searching again… The Lord led me to Anderson… I took a leap of faith and moved my family from Houston to Fort Worth for hope to save my daughter from a fate worse than death, having to stay in the public school.

In three short weeks, my daughter has started to smile and laugh again. She is not angry anymore (except when the boys really annoy her… that is normal), she gets in the car everyday and comments that she had a good day and actually talks about what she did that day, with details. Wow! A far cry from the previous, boring I hate school. She gladly irons her pleated navy skirt and wears hose with her navy blue pumps with a little heal, amazing. Before she wore only black, black and black.

My daughter of 12 actually looks like a young lady again. Dr and Mrs. Anderson thank you for responding to the call that the Lord put on your hearts to minister to gifted children. I know that you are blessed to do what you do and I am blessed as a parent to support you in being the educators of children, mine included. The world is a better place because of your daily efforts with the children you teach and the lives you impact. God bless you and your family.

Elizabeth Holloway-Wren
Mother if Iyan Wren, Student of Anderson Private School

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults

SENG ANNOUNCEMENT: Please share this important online opportunity with parents of gifted children, as well as with educators and health professionals.

Thursday November 20
8:30PM Eastern Time (5:30PM Pacific)

Common Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults: What Parents, Educators and Psychologists Need to Know

90 Minute Webinar Presentation – Presented by James T. Webb, PhD

SENG Webinar Event

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults


Date:November 20, 2008

Time:8:30 Eastern Time
(5:30 Pacific Time)

Location: Participate at home or office using your computer.

Because they lack training, mental health professionals are misdiagnosing gifted and talented children and adults as having mental disorders. The characteristics of gifted/talented children and adults – particularly if not understood at school, home, or work – often are mistaken for significant behavioral or emotional problems that can be misdiagnosed as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, or Bi-Polar Disorder… Parents and educators, therefore, must become more informed about these issues.

However, for other children and adults, their giftedness is related, but often overlooked, for diagnoses that are accurate such as Existential Depression, Bi-Polar, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, Sleep Disorders or Multiple Personality Disorder. That is, these children and adults do indeed have dual diagnoses – giftedness and some disorder. It is important that the aspects related to giftedness not be overlooked or misunderstood by professionals.

This session provides information to help parents, educators, and health care professionals understand how they can differentiate gifted behaviors from behavioral pathology. Dr. Webb will describe commonalities and contrasts between the characteristics of gifted children and adults and the behaviors described in the DSM-IV that are used by mental health professionals to make differential diagnoses. In addition, Dr. Webb will discuss dual diagnoses and how treatment approaches with gifted children and adults often need to be modified. Sign Up Today!

Dr. James T. Webb founded SENG in 1981, and is the lead author of award winning books including Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults, Guiding the Gifted Child, A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children, Grandparent’s Guide to Gifted Children, and Gifted Parent Groups: The SENG Model. He was previously President of the American Association for Gifted Children, on the board of directors for the National Association for Gifted Children, President of the Ohio Psychological Association, and a member of the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Webb was recognized as one of the 25 most influential psychologists in a national survey published in Gifted Child Today.

For more information, contact, phone 845-797-5054.

This Webinar is provided by SENG,

Special thanks to Applied Gifted Ed and Todd McIntyre, for providing technical guidance for this event.

SENG is committed to sharing complex issues relating to the social and emotional needs of giftedness. Webinars reflect the opinions of their speakers and do not necessarily represent the philosophy of SENG. SENG invites your comments and discussion about this webinar following the session.

Barbara Saunders

[commenting on previous post]

I love this post. My mother, a teacher and the daughter of a teacher who attended segregated public schools in the 1930s and 1940s, chose the private school to which she sent my sisters and I because, she said, “I could not stand the rigid desks and rows in the public schools. When I saw kids sprawled out in the halls, talking and laughing, that was the place I want you kids to go!”

I have a hard time believing that “reformers” don’t notice that the schools for the intellectual and socioeconomic elite are more – not less – free, relaxed and playful.

Fixing Our Schools

[Former Labor Secretary William Brock leads the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.]

Secretary Brock:

How can we fix American education?

In the last 25 years, spending rose 240 percent and performance has barely changed. Only 68 percent of students graduate from high school.

We need the very best among us to become teachers, and we need to ensure that standardized tests of rote knowledge don’t drive education away from the very things that have made America special: critical thinking, creativity, innovation and teamwork.

The Crisis Today!

In frequent discortations with other private school educators, I found a highly consubstantial love of what we call a relaxed and informal atmosphere, combined with a real commitment to academic freedom. If you are old enough, you may actually recall having teachers who were trusted enough to make decisions and conduct the business of counseling, motivating and teaching children. Oh, these were the good old days! These were the generations of educators that enabled the children of this nation to make the United States the envy of other nations. These teachers empowered us to become the only remaining superpower on earth, to acquire more than half the wealth of the world, while comprising only six percent of its population and to realize that not locating a Starbucks could be a significant life-altering dilemma. How does the saying go, “Only in America”!

We shared an abhorrence of those things that distract children from academic and thoughtful pursuit. Their love of reading meshes beautifully with our first love. We forbid homework and ask our students instead, to spend this precious time establishing a life-time habit and love of reading – with a requirement that each child read or be read to, for at least one hour each evening.

As with the Finns, we believe that overly strict rules do not translate into dedicated scholars. We harbor only three rules: to be kind, to be kind and to be kind. And when you think about it, that covers just about everything.

At the Anderson School visitors are sometimes mildly shocked to find such things as: barefoot boys (and girls) fluttering down the hall (they really do feel more relaxed and at home this way), or a child asleep in bed during the school day (why fight Mother Nature – if you are tired, rest! After a nap, children are energized and ready again to learn and play) and a mild, low-grade level of chaos.

This is normal behavior for the young and can become highly productive. It provides opportunity for the interplay of ideas and hopes and dreams as kids banter back and forth. And there are intangibles that result: the modeling of creative flux, improved self-esteem and self-confidence and the intrinsic motivation generated by the children themselves. Since our bright students are busy teaching and working with each other, the tendency is toward non-stop communication, as they group themselves according to interests, not age. Typically, you find a very young scholar teaching older types and excited to share knowledge.

At our school students keep the same teachers for many years. We actually get to know them and we treat each other like family. Why not? Are we not really related in many ways? We promote self-reliance and autonomous learning, minimize competition, assail perfectionism, promote informality and a relaxed home-like atmosphere, remove the harmful and potentially devastating emphasis upon grades (no grades or report cards are provided – scholars are expected to perform at a mastery level of 90% without time constraints) and, importantly, we eliminate homework. As educators we have had plenty of time during the day to get the job done.

And parents are essentially not qualified to teach at home and do not have the time or patience. They worked hard all day and the boss did not assign them homework. Parents would not tolerate this. They would find another employer. But your children cannot simply find another teacher. They are riveted to a desk, with little hope of finding the time they need to do the real work of kids – they need to play.

We also provide the freedom to do such things as: progress at your own pace, allow children to prepare their own meals and dine whenever they like (some “graze” throughout the day) and play whenever they complete morning or afternoon assignments (a few will work all weekend so they may play at school). This is real academic freedom and allows for the independent use of personal judgment. We want our children to practice making many, many decisions while they are young and under our guidance.

After all, they will be making every decision regarding their own lives, and our own lives, and in a few years. So be very kind to your children, for in the end, they will be all you have left.

And don’t be shocked if your children can’t survive on their own in the near future, if you did every thing for them and made their every decision. They may become so dependent that they NEVER leave home. It happens.

Some schools are largely successful because they truly realize that, “Less is more”. To be less demanding equates to more time at home with mom and more time to play and this always leads to a more psychologically healthy person – someone who really WANTS to go to school the next day (and perhaps more importantly, knows how to play).

Our children are more relaxed, energized and ready to study, rather than being burned out, bored, fatigued and more deeply depressed than they will ever say – which can result in their becoming anxious, obnoxious, angry, rebellious and unwilling to continue what has evolved into drudgery and a loathing of going to school.

And when you think about it, wouldn’t you rebel if you were stressed out, overly assessed, classified, compared, bored, structured, selected and sorted ad nausium. Why, revolutions have occurred for less – revolutions of the mind and of the family. We see many children today who are dropping out mentally, socially, emotionally, physically and in other ways that more frequently become destructive.

I have been asked why the educational systems are imploding? What’s broken and what can we, as parents and educators, do to fix it?

Essentially, our educational systems are imploding because:

1. Our schools are now devoid of essential academic freedom,
2. They are saddled with the ineffective and truly oppressive No Child Left Behind Act and its sinfully negative byproducts and
3. Schools lack the fiery furnace of competition in the free market place.

The solutions are simple but, in our present static state of mind, probably unavailable. However, if ever we do decide to act we know what to do:

We need to provide each student, through their parents, the funds to purchase their schooling wherever they choose to go. The natural and highly beneficial effect of competition for this money would produce results similar to every other commodity in the marketplace. Beautifully crafted, thoughtful and productive products in the form of innovative and dynamic curriculums and remarkable institutions of learning would be engineered by our gifted educators in competition with each other. But importantly, regardless of the outcome, they would serve to please our parents and children.

But we have become imprisoned to the precept that government can extrinsically motivate schools and teachers, utilizing the negative bias of assessment and with such harsh and punitive prerogatives as the loss of employment for teachers and administrators, virtually worthless and shameful labels, accusations, inevitably harmful performance evaluations and even the unthinkable closure of entire schools. Such closures are so severe that one can imagine less damage being inflicted to a school community even in time of war.

This punitive, fear based system shall never produce overall sustainable positive results, especially for those children most in need. This system is far beyond broken. It poses a very real-time danger to our society. This obviatedly biased bent toward negative reinforcement is a conceptualization rejected many years ago in the study of child behavior.

Our boat is now sinking by the bow and no longer in sight of the shore. We seemingly cannot even identify the real problems with our schools. But we act like we do really know who or what is to blame. So we keep felling the trees around us in order to glimpse a sliver of the light of understanding from above and do not even know there is a fragile and endangered forest all around us.

For our underpaid, overworked and unappreciated educators should never have been marked and targeted. They are not to blame! And our children should never have been used as pawns in this unintelligible game.

We now find it virtually impossible to patch our ship of state, in light of the large, gaping holes created by fear, a focus upon self-serving and selfish interests and an inability to locate words such as equitable, fair or open-minded in any dictionary to be found in our capitals of government in Austin or Washington.

What can parents do to help children attain success and be the best they can be?

Well, if your child is truly suffering (and can you believe you are paying for this abuse with your taxes or tuition?) I recommend removing them from any oppressive and harmful environment immediately (that means today!).

Then, you may want to take them for refreshments to a fun place (they may actually remember having fun). There you can apologize for not sheltering them from the storm, for not protecting them or truly being their advocate and being there for them when you were needed. It helps to let a child know you are human and make mistakes.

It will also help if you let them know that you will now and forever more be there for them and not allow anyone else or any other school to make them so unhappy and miserable again. After you wipe the tears from their eyes, take a moment to wipe away yours. And remember, if your child forgives you, it is in the past. It is over. Now you can go forward and forgive all those who transgressed against your beloved children. Just don’t vote for them again. Have mercy on the next generation.

Now, plan the future. Let your child help you. Explore the many other avenues available (and there are many). Remind yourself how thankful we all are that Thomas Edison’s mother removed him from such a school at a very early age. Now that’s what I call – seeing the light! With over 1100 patents to his name, we can all be thankful that she removed him from school, which now enables us to watch a great movie tonight, with sound and the ability to record it. A compassionate decision for one deeply loved child, has led us all out of the dark and into the light. Thank you Mrs. Edison! So just follow her example and start by stopping the pain.

Next, you will need to examine what happened to our schools and to your child. And that is a complex journey fraught with unbelievable intrusions into the coliseums and colloquiums of academia.

Special interests, and not so special lawmakers, intruded into the sacred spaces of our children’s classrooms, their home away from home, assuming they knew more than highly trained and devoutly dedicated educators about what your children needed. When in fact, teachers were well qualified and simply needed to be left alone.

Lawmakers could have helped the wonderful, beautiful, caring and ever-giving teachers by paying them a decent wage and providing more money for materials (many, many teachers have spent their own meager funds on your children and without you ever aware of it). But we, as individuals, elected people who obviously did not know how to educate children, and much more importantly, how fragile they are or how to care for them. Their pride went before our fall.


I fondly remember many years ago my good friend, who was a State Representative, Homer Dear, a wonderful and loving retired school teacher and administrator, calling to ask what should be done, in my opinion, legislatively.

My immediate response was mandate relief. The volumes of dictates from our zealous state agency and the legislature were so voluminous that no one on this planet even knew everything that was required of a school. He then sponsored a bill to provide such relief. Naturally, it was defeated. No one is going to tell the legislature that much of what they did is actually too much and leading toward a dastardly day of self-destruction (this is the impending implosion). But in essence Homer knew what needed to be done. And now you know.


Simply stated: remove nearly all of the governmental laws, mandates (typically unfunded-thank you), guidelines and regulations relative to education, substantially realign and reduce the size, scope and budget of the state regulatory agency (eliminating well over a billion dollars that funds this unbelievable megalopoliptic and essentially counter-productive enterprise) and get every one, and I mean every one out of the teacher’s way and out of the teacher’s classroom. On your way out, buy her (or him) a cup of well-earned coffee.

This can significantly contribute to the academic freedom that Dr. Reed Dawson, a beloved Baylor professor of mine, warned in 1973, was perilously close to death. He was right. The infamous and highly destructive Texas Assessment of Basic Skills test, and its destructive off-springs (T.E.A.M.S., T.A.K.S., etc.) was about to be unleashed upon our unsuspecting and naive populace.

Academic freedom, as with all the productive and beneficial benefits that any freedom provides, was about to be targeted and totally destroyed. And it began with this blunt instrument of institutional sin in 1980. Simply stated, this oppressive test now needs to be abolished and accompanied by an apology to all of its victims, and there are many.

Now, after you give back freedom to teachers to teach, come back in one year and you and child will be well on the road to being happy. Trust me, teachers knew what to do all along. How many years did our educators spend in a college or university preparing to take an oath of poverty, so he or she could have the honor of teaching your child?

Yes, the teacher can do the job. Just get everyone out of her (or his) way. Remember, in the successful schools, such as Finland, less is more. And it always has been. Isn’t that even in the Bible? Simplicity must replace the absolute mess that we have today! By the way, Finnish schools, the highest achieving in the entire world, value exactly this – simplicity.


Finland sets the example for us again, in providing roughly EQUAL per-pupil funding. The gap between the best and worst performing schools in Finland was the smallest tested.

So what happened to our free enterprise system and the competitive market place? You know, the one we preach about from on high in every school in America. The system that created such wealth for us, that we have reached record levels of obesity, consumption and waste. Why is the competitive marketplace of our free enterprise system provided an exemption in the marketplace of knowledge? Do we not yet realize that competition is the primary catalyst for excellence in our economic society, that it is the engine that drives us to unsurpassed prosperity?

Or are we not willing to vote for people of courage and conscience or recruit those rare individuals to run for public office who are willing to sacrifice an innate defensiveness and desire for self-serving interests for the sake of what is most precious in our lives – our children.

To date we have not mustered enough courage or votes to really change anything. And my fear is that we may never do so! This boat full of unwilling and highly dependent people who will soon need to have everyone bailing the waters of indifference, and neglect. The perilous sea has already reached the water line and mighty Casey has struck out. Stay tuned, the game will resume overseas. What’s that gurgling sound?

Can you even imagine educators from other countries observing that our system of public education strives to, “leave no child behind” while we post a drop out rate for Fort Worth I. S. D. of 46 percent, 25 percent nationwide and almost 80 percent along the border? Let’s compare that to 4 [that’s FOUR] percent for Finland.

Ladies and gentlemen, we left half of our children at the starting gate. And we did not just leave them behind, we abandoned them with no hope that they will ever truly flourish and prosper (but, on the bright side, we meagerly raised the minimum wage with them in mind, didn’t we?).

Ultimately, these lost children will never even be able to sustain themselves, much less impact this system that has been so neglectful to so many. And the system we created and perpetuate to this day will, one day soon, not be able to support them or their children. The weight of so much water will cause this listing ship to topple over. (Have you ever tried to live on the minimum wage?)

We left many of our children with little hope that they will ever truly thrive in our highly competitive economy. Our focus upon minimum skills for all has evolved into a minimum wage for many.

Our mediocrity has become merit to us, the mediocre. And our children did not deserve this! They are the victims of our now tired, cowardly, self-centered neglect.

It is a sad commentary that our fear to change what needs to be changed
is now the driving force behind the fall of twenty-first century Rome.

Dr. William C. Anderson, Co-Director
The Anderson Private School for the Gifted, Talented and Creative