The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented named Emily Villamar-Robbins Advocate of the Year.

Emily is a mother of two RISD students. During her active engagement in the district, she has helped rejuvenate a group for parents of gifted students. She is chair of the SAGE group of the RISD Council of PTAs and was a member of the district’s strategic planning committee that redesigned how RISD approaches personalized learning.

TAGT 2018 Advocate of the Year

Monica Simonds, RISD Director of Advanced Academic Studies, says Emily’s advocacy has positively changed the complexion of the district’s gifted and talented education.

“She has shared with me on so many occasions that she wants to be a voice for those who may not have one … the student whose parent doesn’t speak English, who doesn’t understand gifted, who isn’t aware of the unique needs of their child,” Simonds says.

Villamar-Robbins has expanded her advocacy by assuming numerous volunteer posts at the local, state and national level. She is vice-chair for the parent division of the TAGT and has presented at the statewide conference. She has researched and written numerous articles that have been published by a handful of gifted education outlets.

She helps administer various SAGE events and helps coordinate the Understanding Differences program. She recently received a graduate certificate for gifted education from UNT to supplement the law degree she earned at Harvard years ago.

The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented “strives to honor and recognize individuals and groups that have demonstrated a commitment to the gifted community.”

Emily will be honored Thursday, Nov. 29 at the nonprofit advocacy group’s INSPIRE awards celebration at the Omni in Fort Worth during the giftED18 conference.

The Advocate for the Gifted award is presented annually “to an individual working or serving in any capacity who has demonstrated exceptional efforts to increase awareness, understanding and support of the unique needs and characteristics of gifted students.”

And this is the second year in a row that an RISD community member has been recognized. Last year, Caroline Winfield, a GT specialist in RISD Advanced Academic Studies, was honored for her passionate support for gifted learners over the past two decades.

Winfield is an inaugural member of the RISD kindergarten gifted team that developed curriculum and teaching and also works with the QUEST program that identifies gifted students from underserved populations.

As the 2018 recipient, Villamar-Robbins gets a complimentary registration to the giftED18 conference and a lifetime membership in the TAGT sponsored by publishing giant Houghton Mifflin.

“Emily is one of the most educated parents about gifted in Texas,” TAGT Executive Director Paulina van Eeden Hill says. “She is also one of the most passionate parents in the state. She is always making sure programs are funded and meeting state plans for gifted education. I especially appreciate that she isn’t just doing it for her children, but advocating for all our kiddos.”

The RISD community is very supportive of SAGE and highly respected across the Lone Star state, according to van Eeden Hill. She said Simonds has been a long-standing member of TAGT, including as chair of the education committee, and she is always helpful answering questions from teachers, parents and community members alike.

RISD Mom Named Texas Assoc. for the Gifted & Talented Advocate of the Year was originally published in Richardson ISD Newsdesk on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.