Dr. Renae D. Mayes: Mapping the Margins, Understanding Intersecting Identities for Twice-Exceptional Students

Description: With the identified twice exceptional population being seemingly small, it’s easy to understand why these gifted students with disabilities feel like unicorns. However, what we often miss is that these students sit at a complex intersection of identities that all come together to form who they are. We’ll discuss these intersecting identities, especially as it relates to minoritized students, and how this impacts the identification of twice exceptional students along with their experiences once identified. As we consider their unique experiences, we will end with a discussion of specific strategies around antiracist practices that we as educators, counselors, caregivers can implement to support the holistic development of twice exceptional students.
Bio: Dr. Renae D. Mayes is an associate professor in the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies. She is a licensed school counselor and national certified counselor with experience in K-12 schools along with specialized educational settings. She completed her Ph.D. in Counselor Education at The Ohio State University where she was a Todd Anthony Bell Fellow. Dr. Mayes completed degrees at the University of Maryland, College Park (M.Ed. in School Counseling) and University of Missouri (B.S. in Middle School Math and Social Studies Education) where she was a McNair Scholar. Dr. Mayes was also a Gates Millennium Scholar as an undergraduate and graduate student. Informed by Critical Race Theory, Critical Race Feminism, DisCrit, and bioecological systems theories, her research agenda centers around the academic success and college readiness for gifted Black students with dis/abilities and Black girls. Mayes’ research details the experience of students and families navigating schools, while also providing recommendations for dismantling systems of oppression through policy and practice. Further, Dr. Mayes has extended this research to include implications for leadership, advocacy, and collaboration for school counselors and school administrators.has a Doctor of Education and Master of Education in Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor and Master of Science in Art Education from SUNY New Paltz. Her chapter 7 in the 1998 art ed textbook "Creating Meaning in art: Teacher as choice maker" introduced her concept of Elegant Problems to the world. Grounded in K-12 education for 34 years, she spent 10 of those years as a Visiting Scholar at Teachers College Columbia University honing her work on Elegant Problems as well as a Talent Profile system that places the arts, academics and athletics all on the same page while coordinating district-wide gifted and talented programs for students demonstrating talent in any of the six areas federally defined. Her current research interests remain focused on community efforts to catalog and communicate the developing talents/expertise in children and on their problem-finding aspects of creative thought, visual thinking, and other habits of mind that engage the imagination and promote self-directed inquiry in children and adults. This year’s project is focused on completing a collaborative educational documentary entitled “Engaging the Imagination: Wally’s Way” that introduces new audiences to ways of understanding abstract sculptures and the joys of using one’s imagination for creative thought.

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