Black History Month: The Gifted and Talented Program: Taking Up Space and Debunking Constructs

Coming from New Orleans, Danielle T. Moore has worked diligently to bring her goals and aspirations to fruition. From the depths of her being, she feels a calling within the Gifted and Talented program to help all children feel comfortable in the spaces that they comprise.       

“For me, being in the Gifted and Talented program speaks to who I am,” Moore said. “I never even realized that I am gifted. I want to make sure that other people, whether it be moms, people of color, or underrepresented people, know I just help people however I can.”

During her undergrad years, Moore attended Dillard University, majoring in engineering and physics. When she graduated from school, she decided between being a geophysicist, where she could’ve potentially worked in water-conducting tests, or pursuing a career as an educator in Texas. Following in the footsteps of her fellow alumnus, Ruth Simmons, she chose to enter into the educational industry. 

“It was the best decision of my life. I think I learned more content by having to teach other people. It was a good choice to be able to teach people and connect with families. It kind of fits perfectly with my life,” Moore said. 

Her initiative within education is making sure that students not only absorb the information they’re being taught but also make a connection with each other. She believes true learning begins when you bond with kids. Once the link is made between the student and teacher, real education can take place. 

“I learned that not only being a teacher but being a mom if you don't make the connection, it won't work. It is my work just being able to have not only a rigorous curriculum for kids, but connections [with them,]” Moore said. “I like to have fun while I learn. It’s not good if it's rigid. So for me, being able to bridge some of those gaps by making connections. Making it real. Keeping it real.”                         

With her research in her studies, she analyzes the ways that marginalized communities, particularly Black students, are discriminated against in schooling systems. Her work with the gifted and talented is around equity. In her research, she identifies students of color and students of low socioeconomics. 

“I can go back to a presentation that I did in class. I laid side by side the development of gifted and talented education with African American culture and slavery and all the things. Then you have what they call eugenicists who just believe that people of color are subservient. They're not as smart and they're genetically inferior,” Moore said. “I laid those things side by side for others in my class to see. The people who designed the test were saying you are genetically inferior and people of African American descent were fighting for their lives. I'm like, ‘Well, if we could go through all of this stuff, I don't think we're inferior.” 

By letting people identify where some inequities may lie, she is influencing the educational system by having them come up with “Aha moments.” Not only does she like presenting, but she likes being able to be a representative for people who are underrepresented. 

“[I’ve been] tapping into the purpose of who I am, aligning with the program,” Moore said. “So, I'm not like, ‘Oh, I have this assignment to do.’ I'm like, ‘I've already done this assignment because I've already lived it.’ The coursework has been a true growing and learning experience both personally and professionally.”

One of the strong suits of the program is true connection and alignment. The facilitators who conduct the program pull on people who have an innate connection, alignment, and sense of purpose. Even though each member of the program is doing so many different things, when they’re together, their work overlaps and aligns. Amid her busy schedule and life transitions, Moore has developed a lot of time to connect with her life’s purpose on a more intentional level. Moore is working on her doctoral degree and stepping into a place where she can own her life without feeling obligated or confined to rigid rules and constructs.  

“My son's like, ‘Do I need to call you Dr. Mom?’ And I'm like, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’ Just being in a place where I can be in service, be my authentic self, continue to support people, [and] have freedom,” Moore said. “In this next season, I want to be able to have a lot of time and energy and opportunity to service and help other people.”