Recognizing and Fostering Talent
Let me quickly begin this article with my testament, which will create the foundation for what it means to recognize and foster talent in individuals, especially our youth.
I started writing poetry at the tender age of fifteen; however, I never really saw myself as a poet or thought that I was sitting in typing class practicing the art of creative writing. I never fully understood I had a talent, it was right there in front of me, and I was unknowingly mastering my craft. I needed an adult, a friend, anyone, to tell me that I had a talent and show me the steps I needed to take to help my creative talent grow. To end my story, let me say that I continued to write over the years, but until recently that I finally realized, after twenty years, that I should publish my first poetry book.
So, I bring forth the point of my article: we need to do a better job at recognizing talent within our youth and fostering that talent so they can discover their passion and purpose at a young age. I have worked as a school counselor, in the city of Milwaukee, for the past decade. I am completely aware that many students in our community have a talent that is often overlooked and lacks the love and attention needed to grow. I witness firsthand a student’s talent on display, whether through a school-related activity, such as a class project or talent show, or a student simply writing or drawing during free time. These students believe that they are engaging in activities to pass the time or having fun with friends but not fully aware of their talent. On the other hand, some students are aware of their talent; however, they are unaware of the steps that would allow that talent to grow. Here is where you and I can help recognize and foster that talent.
My role as a school counselor in MPS allows me the privilege of helping 8th-grade students apply for high school, the next chapter in their education. Picking the right high school can significantly help nurture and foster the talent within a student. For example: if a student displays a passion for drawing, acting, or singing, I will try and help them find a high school that focuses on the arts. If they show interest in academics and studying beyond high school, I help them find a high school that will prepare them for the collegiate level.
After choosing a high school, I will suggest extra-curriculum classes that could help them build upon their talent, even before they get to high school. An example would be Project Lead The Way. Many schools offer PLTW for middle school students, allowing students to thrive and build upon their technology skills in a first-class technology lab. If a student displays a technology talent and wants to dive further into the world of computers and coding, I will guide them into a high school that has a PLTW program.
School is not the only way that students can build upon their talent. Many community outlets allow students to showcase their talents. Typically, I will suggest a community organization that offers after-school groups or classes for students to join such as, a sports team, a singing class, or a writing group. We can do our part by recognizing talent and guiding our youth towards activities and organizations with resources that can help foster natural talent handed down at birth.
About the author:
Matthew James Gutierrez has obtained a bachelor’s in science, and a master’s in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). As an undergraduate he studied creative writing, focusing on fiction writing and poetry. Other experiences include screenplay and television writing courses at UCLA.
You can keep up with Matthew by following him on Instagram: @notes2poetry