At 9, Harold Gregory Branch IV—whom everyone knows as Quatro—took the ACT and scored a 21. Yes, that ACT. He ranks in the top 10% in math in the nation. As far as giftedness, he is in the 99th percentile of the 99th percentile.
Now 10, Quatro is blessed in that he attends a private school for gifted kids on a college campus. Every day he tells his parents that he loves school. His first reading assignment? The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
Quatro’s parents have been strategic about his education. One of the first things his mother said to me is that she and her former husband co-parent. Here are some ways Harold Branch and Rayco Branch work together to develop their son’s potential.
- Lay the foundation. They agreed to invest in their children’s (the Branches also have a gifted daughter) early education, rather than saving for college. “At 5 he started the Abacus program and piano.”
- Sacrifice. They prioritize spending on their children’s education. “We may sacrifice new shoes or a new car or a stylish purse, but Quatro’s in the Abacus program that everyone else said they couldn’t afford.”
- Take responsibility. “In this country the education system is broken,” says Harold, “but for people of color it’s devastating. Our state is 47th in education in the nation, so we expected the school to provide the skeleton, and we provide the rest. Rayco is an award-winning educator. She always had the kids doing worksheets that had them two years ahead.”
- Value academics at least as much as sports. They praise academic victories as much as they cheer athletic triumphs. “He’s a happy 10-year-old. He’s on the track team. He’s the captain of his basketball team. He played football, but we took him out because of the tackling. We love sports, but we love academics too.”
- Foster racial identity. As accelerated learners, their children are often ‘onlies,’ so they raise them with a strong racial identity.
- Co-parent. The Branches are divorced but live within 15 minutes of each other and truly work as a team. “The two people our kids love most in the world are their parents,” says Harold. “If we acted like we hate each other—they’re done. They’d never be able to get that fog out of their mind.” The two present a united front and don’t allow disrespectful talk about the other parent. They both see the potential in their children and want to develop it.
As Harold Branch says, “We can’t wait for the country to have an epiphany for our kids to do well.”
For more about being young, gifted, and black, see the BE Smart website.