With the rebirth of Frisco SAGE as an independent nonprofit this year, our board decided it was time for some rebranding and a new logo. As we discussed colors, motifs and fonts, one of our board members' daughter whipped up a tree that we fell in love with instantly.
Megan Ripley is a 7th grader at Trent Middle School where she participates in the gifted and talented program. She is the daughter of Frisco SAGE board president Monica Ripley and her husband Kevin. Megan also has a sister with special needs who has joined her at Trent this year in 6th grade.
Megan recently agreed to answer a few questions for our newsletter. I have known Megan since she was in kindergarten with my own son who has autism. I would describe her as a quiet, introspective young lady who is incredibly compassionate. But she had some surprises for me that showed me that there are many facets to this gifted and talented young lady.
Hard-working is how Megan describes herself. She says she always wants to give her best effort to all she does. She is passionate about helping others. While she has had experience with art in elementary school, she mostly draws for fun in her free time. Her arts focus is more on music, including singing and playing the saxophone in her middle school band, and acting as she is also involved in theater at Trent.
When asked about the tree she drew for the Frisco SAGE logo, she says that she felt a tree represented both gifted and special education well because trees come in many varieties just like people do. But even among the varieties that exist, each one is unique in its shape, size and color. Trees change and grow over time just as people do. Even each tree has many parts, just like each person has many different characteristics that make them who they are.
How does Megan feel about being gifted? She stated that she loves learning and has obviously studied many different things! Her most exciting project so far in school was learning about the Fibonacci sequence and doing projects demonstrating the application of what she had learned over the course of the year on this topic. One of the projects included pentagrams, which she found particularly interesting.
Something she wished people understood about students who are academically gifted is that everything is not easy for them. She thinks the assumption is not fair since everyone has strengths and weaknesses, things that are easy and things that are hard. Students who are academically gifted are no exception!
This theme of strengths and weaknesses continues when you ask her about her sister Katie, who has Down syndrome. She says that Katie may have a disability, but she has a lot to teach other people. Katie also teaches others that assumptions should not be made based on stereotypes. Katie has friends and enjoys hanging out with them. She shows others every day that she is a lot of fun and is quite capable!
When asked what it's like to be a sibling of someone with special needs, Megan says that being Katie's sister has made her more patient and accepting of others. She feels that she has learned from Katie that being kind is an easy thing to do. The advice she would give to others about having a sibling with special needs is that, for her, it is easier than most people might expect and that it's a learning experience.
In her future, Megan leaves her options open. She simply says that she hopes that wherever she is or whatever she is doing, she will be surrounded with people who are kind and who accept differences, whatever those differences may be.
Megan could teach the world a lot about acceptance, empathy and compassion. We are grateful to her for her giving spirit and for sharing her talents with us. Her future is filled with promise that, not unlike the Fibonacci sequence that fascinates her, has limitless potential!
Thank you, Megan!