Students in Bloom

Taking care of plants is an art form I have yet to master. Although I love growing them, it takes great care and patience to find the perfect amount of sunlight, the right soil combinations, and the ideal amount of water. My plants usually wither within a month. Hopefully, I have better results, using that magic formula of patience, care, and opportunity, with my students.

Recently, I heard Dr. Susan Baum, a leading expert in twice-exceptional education practice, describe the stages of talent development as growing from latent to emergent to manifest. Her description reminded me of my experience with a Thai dish called mangoes and sweet rice.

One day, a few years ago, I got inspired after eating this favorite dish. I saved the seed and researched various methods of turning that seed into a sapling. I had to open the hard outer shell carefully and plant the mango’s inner seed. After four weeks, excitingly, a sapling emerged from the soil. A few months later, it grew into a two-foot mango plant. Knowing that it would take up to a decade for the mango to turn into a tree and start bearing delicious fruit, and that my apartment and my limited talents would not help matters, I knew I had to take it to an expert. So, I gave it to my father, who has a natural green thumb. Now, a few years later, I enjoy seeing how this tree has grown, knowing that someday soon it will bear fruit with its own sweet mangos.

As a teacher, I cannot help but see the similarities between growing a plant and helping children develop the latent gifts and talents within them. Children need much more time and nurturing than my tiny mango seed. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder to bring the inner talents of students to fruition. More and more p...


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About JT Chaiyakam

JT Chaiyakam, M.Ed., is a Film Teacher at Bridges Academy and is currently exploring creative arts as a strength-based talent-focused model in core curriculum. Before coming to Bridges, he produced, directed, and wrote several award-winning shorts and independent films. JT continues to write and produce screenplays independently and for Bridges Education Group.