Xavier's Nat'l Leadership Forum

Many of you may know Xavier's story, some may not.  I am not one to post many things regarding my personal life or my children's accomplishments as I do believe my children need my support and encouragement in life, not online.  

With that being said, asking for any amount to help support my own children is a very difficult thing for me, however I would also like to look back on my life as a mother and be able to tell my children that no matter what, I tried.  That no matter our financial situation, I will always do what I can, including humbling myself to any level, in order to help provide the opportunities offered to them.  

Xavier is a very special kid.  His father and I knew that right away, but we were not prepared for just how special he would become and continue to become.  At 19 months old and by accident, we realized that Xavier could read.  We had not attempted to teach him, he simply taught himself from observing us reading to him.  During his kindergarten assessment at age 4, the teachers were so amazed with what he knew, how well he spoke, and the fact that a 4 year old could read on a 6th grade level, they spent over an hour walking him around the school having him display his ability for fellow teachers and staff.  

Kindergarten was a difficult transition for Xavier.  He struggled to relate to the other children his age, became frustrated with the slow pace of learning and acted out often.  After many discussions, meetings, difficulties within the school involving the county school board, our state's DPI agency, AGI teachers, and the school psychologist, they decided to administer an IQ test at the age of 5.  Xavier not only surpassed their expectations, they had to abandon the child's test and scale him on the adult level IQ test.  Xavier's results came back indicating that he was placing in the "very superior" level of 140, meaning around 0.4% of the population had an IQ higher than Xavier (that means he is placed at 99.6%!).

As exciting as this news is, it is also quite intimidating.  You learn that resources within schools are limited for advanced students and focus more on bringing grades up rather than propelling students that already excel.  They are often forgotten and lost in the mix.  It was up to me to find options and opportunities to continue enriching and encouraging his love for learning and the extreme challenge of continuing to find affordable resources, programs, and opportunities for my son within his age group.  Being in a lower income bracket, there are not programs set up for low-income gifted children, and this is something that I continue to struggle with and advocate for.  Smart kids are not just born to rich people. 

Xavier is 11 years old, in the seventh grade, became a member of Mensa at the age of 5, advanced a grade in elementary school (skipped a grade), entered AGI programs starting in kindergarten (three years prior to when they are offered), became a member of Duke TIP, was invited to join Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (one we had to turn down due to financial resources), received the Presidential Award for Educational Excellence, remained on A honor roll, and was invited and is a current member the National Junior Honors Society for his current school.

This year Xavier was nominated to represent his school and attend the National Youth Leadership Forum in Winston-Salem at Wake Forest University for a week next summer.  His school has not nominated someone to attend this event in the past three years and this is an enormous honor for Xavier.  At this forum he will have an opportunity to meet and work directly with Former NASA Astronauts; create engineering simulations using NASA robotic techniques; dive into forensic science, medicine, and civil engineering; process a staged crime scene using this information; as well as work with those administrators in the STEM field to build a personalized success plan to focus his sights on his future and how to make his dreams into reality.

I know this is the holiday season and money is tight for everyone.  We have applied for and been denied scholarships for this program.  I have requested extensions for enrollment as I try to work out financial solutions.  Every donation will go directly to this opportunity for Xavier.   

Xavier is not aware of this request yet, as he already wrote the opportunity off in his head when the scholarships were denied.  As embarrassing as it can be for your 11 year old to understand the limitations of his parents' finances to support who he is, it would be a wonderful gift to show him the support of his community and family for his success.  We will be happy to update you along the way, not only with updates from the program, but on his thoughts and plans for his future this opportunity would provide.  It is a great honor for him to be nominated and selected by the committee at Envision, and an honor, regardless of participation, we will always be proud of him for.

For additional information regarding the program, please visit: https://www.envisionexperience.com/explore-our-programs/national-youth-leadership-forum-explore-stem
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Stephanie Hines 
Raleigh, NC
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