Television audiences know Alicia Coppola from the soap-opera Another World, the sci-fi cult favorite Jericho, the dramas NCIS and NCIS: LA, two different roles on the sitcom Two and a Half Men, and the supernatural Teen Wolf. But in addition to being an actress, she is also the author of a memoir, "Gracefully Gone," which chronicles the life and death of her father, and is herself the mother of three gifted daughters.
The NY Gifted Education Examiner spoke with Ms. Coppola about her experience raising extraordinary children, and her hopes for the future of gifted education in America.
NYGEE: When and how did you realize that your children were gifted? How did you feel about it? Have your feelings on the subject changed or evolved over the years?
AC: Mila is our first child. (My husband) Anthony is the youngest of six siblings, and had experience with the babies and children of his older siblings. I did not.
Mila spoke at 8 months, knew her alphabet and had perfect letter recognition by 12 months, had the verbal skills of an adult by two and at three years old she was reading "The Atlas Of The Human Body" in my doctor’s office, telling him why she wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon instead of a neurosurgeon. At this point we knew she was a bit different than other children.
She has a passion for learning and is also extremely compassionate towards others. Our other two daughters, Esmé and Greta, are the same. Although all three of our girls are extremely different from each other with very different personalities, they share the same mind and gentle spirits. As Mila’s first teacher told us, "Cabbage plus Cabbage equals Cabbage. You and Anthony are not going to produce a Zucchini.” So we now have three cabbages!
NYGEE: What are the best parts - and the challenges - for you of raising gifted children?
AC: Raising children in general is brilliant, fun, exhilarating, challenging and exhausting all at once. I don't know how to answer this question because I have never raised any other children but my own. I think all children are special in their own ways, and have interests as varying as they themselves are. All children require different types of parenting, different educations etc... They are like snowflakes: No two are the same.
I will say that finding the proper school environment is more challenging with highly/profoundly gifted children. This is where my views may be controversial....
To read what Alicia Coppola has to say about educating gifted children in America, stay tuned for Part #2 of her interview!
In the meantime, check out what Traci P. Johnson, the creator (and voice) of Blue's Clues, has to say about finding the right school for her own gifted brood, here.