FBISD teacher Joseph Bernhart receives 2019 TAGT Innovation in Giftedness Award (1/8/2020)
Fort Bend ISD (January 8, 2020) – Fort Bend ISD is proud to announce that Joseph Bernhart, an English Language Arts teacher at the Gifted and Talented Academy at Quail Valley Middle School, is the recipient of a 2019 TAGT Innovation in Giftedness Award. He is one of only two educators to receive the award this school year. He was recognized for introducing the “Be the Change Advocacy Expo” project at his campus. As an award winner, he was honored at the giftED19 conference in San Antonio, where he received a $5,000 cash award to support continued operation, expansion and development of innovation.
The Innovation in Giftedness Award program, sponsored by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT), recognizes and showcases exemplary projects, programs and ideas that address the unique needs of gifted students in innovative ways. Candidates complete a rigorous application, which a committee of TAGT volunteers review and score.
“I am supremely honored to receive this award and be recognized for a unit I designed to address ELA content-both literature and scholarly research-with a greater end purpose in mind,” said Bernhart. “I humbly accept the award on behalf of my students and my wonderful colleagues at Quail Valley’s GT Academy.”
Bernhart has been teaching middle school ELA for more than 20 years. He is the co-author of Stand Up! Speak Out!, an instructional book for teachers published by Prufrock Press. He was also one of the owners and presenters of the now defunct GT Innovators, LLC, which offered professional development specializing in GT update hours throughout Texas.
Each year, Bernhart requires his GT Academy 7th grade students to participate in the “Be the Change Advocacy Expo” by researching topics and creating original, interactive exhibits to educate 5th grade students on various social justices, while challenging them to “be the change” related to the issue. The student projects focus on topics such as Totalitarianism, Investigating Racial Profiling, Stopping Gun Violence, The Effects of the Civil War on African Americans, Living Conditions in Tanzania, and Discrimination in Housing. The students have created projects using henna, fortune cookies, origami, smoke machines, life-size game board, animation, social media and other material to engage their audience. Elementary students from within the Quail Valley Middle School feeder are invited to attend the expo to engage with the GT students and learn about the issue of social justice. The project is designed to help students recognize and learn about the issue of social justice, while empowering them to create a response that impacts a real audience. Learn more.
Joseph Bernhart, 2019 TAGT Innovation in Giftedness Award recipient