Recognizing and Fostering Talent

By: Matthew James Gutierrez

Let me quickly begin this story with my own personal testament, this will help 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 was unable to
put the pieces of the puzzle together, I had a talent, it was there and I was actually mastering my craft.
What I need needed was an adult, a friend, anyone, to tell me that I had a talent, and that I should place
forth all my effort into fostering and making this creative talent grow. To end my story, let me say that I
continued to write over the years but it wasn’t until recently that I finally realized, after twenty years,
that I should publish my first poetry book.

So, I bring to you the point of my article: we need to do a better job at recognizing talent within
our youth and fostering their natural talent, so that they are better equipped to discover their passion
and purpose at a young age. I currently work with middle school students as a school counselor in the
city of Milwaukee, so I am fully aware of the fact that so many of our youth have a talent that is often
overlooked and lacks the love and attention needed to grow. I see first hand a student’s talent on
display, whether it’s a school related activity, such as a class project or talent show, or a student simply
writing or drawing during free time. While some students believe that they are simply engaging in an
activity to fill the time, or find enjoyment in their creative outlet, they may not fully understand the
significance in their talent. There are students that are aware of their talent; however, they are not
aware of the next steps that could help foster the talent and allow it grow. This is where we come in and
help recognize and foster that talent.

My role as a school counselor in MPS allows me the privilege of heling 8 th grade students apply
for high school. It’s important for a student to pick the next chapter in their education, picking the right

school can help nurture and foster a student’s talent. For example, if I notice a student has a talent in
drawing, acting or singing, I will try and help them find a high school that focuses on the arts. If they are
showing signs and an interest in studying beyond high school, I will help them find a high school that will
prepare them for the collegiate level.

Another way that I try and help a student grow their talent is by suggesting some extra-
curriculum classes that can 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 great spectacular technology lab. If a
student displays a talent for technology, 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 isn’t the only way that students can build upon their talent. There are many community
outlets that 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 simply do your part by recognizing talent and guiding our youth towards activities
and organizations that will take them in and help foster a talent that was mostly likely handed to down
to them at birth.

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