Giftedness- In memory of a dear colleague and friend
On the 14th of December 2012, a dear colleague and friend in the field of gifted, suddenly passed away in Canada.
Edna and I worked together on the WCGTC Council for many years, I got to know her-a lively, mischievous, bright personality loving her extended family well. She loved her colours, art & pets but mostly Edna always was ‘real’, and had great ability to see through things to what was really important, or what people where really trying to do or trying to be… As a friend and colleague I was many times thankful/grateful to her for that.
Born in Ontario, Canada in 1937, Edna suffered an early and tragic loss of her husband. However, never having had children of her own did not keep her from enjoying them . Never far from young folk, Edna became an Aunt to 17 nieces and nephews, and throughout her life she was dedicated and devoted to education.
Edna received a Doctorate in Gifted Education in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977, with a dissertation entitled – ‘An Observational Study of Gifted and non-Gifted Pupil-Teacher Interaction’. From there her career spanned many decades working, supporting and being active within the realm of Gifted Education both in her native Canada and Internationally, as a teacher, supporter as well a publishing numerous articles, including ‘Differentiation: Gifted Children in the Canadian Classroom with Dr. Janice Leroux. Edna was also a humble person, and I don’t recall ever, even once during our relationship, that she ever refered to herself as Dr. or placing letters after her name. She didn’t feel the need to, preferring to refer to herself as simply ‘Edna McMillan, of Stoney Creek, Ontario.
Having spent such a long time working within various gifted support circles, meant that she came to work with and know many many people, including those in academic high places, and those of us who struggle in the trenches of schooling systems and parenthood, all of whom will remember her sparkling blue eyes and sharp wit. At the risk of forgetting or leaving someone out, I will not name any names here, but those of you who read this will surely know who you are, and to what extent you were touched by her presence in your life.
First and foremost, Edna was a contributor, and contributed hundreds of hours across her professional career to the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. First a member, than newsletter contributor, as one of the Canadian Delegates until her election onto the WCGTC EC (reverting to delegate, when stepping down in 2011, after a long and distinguished service), and as WC EC she held several positions including Treasurer and Vice President. During her last year on the EC, she worked on helping to update and modernise the organisations by-laws, a big job which she took on with her characteristic let’s- do- this, attitude.
Edna was there, in 1993, in Toronto, and coordinated the tenth World Congress in Gifted and Talented Education, as conference chair. During her educational career, she also lived abroad in Turkey, securing the World Conference for that country in 1999, again acting as conference co-ordinator in Istanbul. Her wisdom, experience and knowledge was of great assistance to the organisation over the ensuing years. During the recent global economic downturn, conferences in general worldwide began to experience difficulties. Ednas level headed advise and past experience, her gift for seeing what was achievable, and when to let go, was priceless. Edna contributed in a major way in making the 2009 World Conference in Vancouver a success, she was instrumental in the WCGTC Headquarters move from Winnipeg, in Canada, to it’s new premises in Bowling Green, Kentucky (USA), she also supported and aided the President and organisers of the 2011 World Conference in Prague, taking an active part in helping the fledgling International Day of the Gifted take flight.
It was at that Conference, in Prague, in 2011, that Dr. Edna McMillan stepped down from the council, receiving the highly acclaimed ‘Distinguished Service Award’, from the hand of the current World Council President, and a long time colleague and friend in gifted, Dr. Taisir Yamin, for her lifetime of Service to the organisation. As a professional, she gave her life to Gifted Children and will be sorely missed in the field.
From a personal point of view, I will hold my memories of Edna in my heart and mind, as a kind, sharp witty, intelligent and fun individual who coloured my world and made me think sometimes, laugh sometimes, and work hard when I needed to. I met good people through Edna, and many became good friends too. My last memories of spending time with Edna are such as this, my last goodbyes to her in person.
Spending the last afternoon and evening of the WC conference in Prague, quietly exploring the city with Dr. Dorothy Sisk (another esteemed friend and colleague in the field of gifted), and Edna McMillan, listening to classical music in the churches, taking a slow boat along the river, quiet conversations and sparkling wonder, coffees enjoyed and glasses of wine shared.. listening to Edna and Dorothy tell tales of conferences and escapades past and the joy of old friends meeting in far off places.. magic moments of connectedness, a snapshot/window in time. This will be forever etched in my mind when I think of her.
A good and special friend, with a life well lived through her passion for gifted, and will be missed by many. I am sure all those who knew Edna, through the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, or in other places or walks of life, will miss her presence in the world.
This blogpost, is my way of saying I will miss her too, and not forget, and hope in my heart that she is finding peace in the other far off place wherever that may be. Safe home for the holidays, dear Edna, safe home.
Ps– For any who wish to send their sentiments to her family, there is an online place to do so here: http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=665305 Also, if any would like to send any memories or sentiments to the WCGTC we would happily recieve them, either in a comment here, or sent to the WCGTC care of Tracy Harkins -Executive Administrator at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, Please also note that all thoughts and sentiments in this post are my own, and do not reflect on what may be others, or intended to be so. Information I have touched on here and provided about Edna is what I have taken from conversations with same, and my own patchy memory of same. If there are discrepancies, please view these with compassion, and or understanding, if there is something that should be corrected, please accept any appologies in advance and let me know , Thankyou.