“I believe all children deserve the best our educational system can offer by placing them in stimulating environments that best fits their talents and abilities. The Davidson Academy addresses the unique needs of these profoundly gifted students and, by doing so, has created a tremendous opportunity for our state to lead the nation in gifted education. I envision a day when a Davidson Scholar may even help our Institute develop a cure for chronic neuro-immune diseases such as CFS, Autism or MS. For these reasons and many more, I find serving on the governing board of the Davidson Academy both an honor and a joy.”
-- Annette Whittemore, Davidson Academy Board Member
Annette Whittemore graduated with honors from the University of Nevada with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education in 1974. While attending the University, she began her commitment to community service as a volunteer for Head Start and St. Mary’s Hospital. Working with disadvantaged preschoolers solidified her desire to teach other children of similar backgrounds, making it an easy choice to serve as a student teacher at Glen Duncan Elementary school. Working with a gifted mentor and children who deeply appreciated the attention they received served to confirm her life values of helping others in need, serving one’s community and a lifelong love of learning and teaching. During her senior year of college, Ms. Whittemore received a full academic scholarship and entrance into the National Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
The summer following graduation, Ms. Whittemore and her husband, Harvey, moved to Tempe, Ariz. where she began her teaching career. As the first special education resource teacher at Thew Elementary School, she helped students from kindergarten through sixth grade with learning disabilities by developing personal learning strategies for each student. In addition to facing the challenges of becoming a new teacher, she was also learning how to raise her first child who was later identified as gifted.
Following her husband to New Hampshire and back to Nevada gave her a chance to know the world of a “stay at home” mom, which she chose full time after the birth of her second child. Ms. Whittemore was lucky to be able to give her son’s regular classroom teachers additional tools and provide extra activities at home to encourage his unbridled curiosity. The task of keeping up with an exceptional child while raising four others became her full-time focus.
During those years, Ms. Whittemore became involved in various school related activities including classroom art instructor, Odyssey of the Mind coach, and Child Abuse Prevention instructor. Other commitments have included, program consultant to a first year high school special education program, active membership in PEO, hospital volunteer, religious school instructor and executive board member of Pack Paws. She and her husband have also supported numerous other philanthropic causes as a means of giving back to the community in which they have shared so many blessings.
Most recently, Ms. Whittemore has become a voice for those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a debilitating illness that has affected one of her daughter’s lives for over 16 years. She began this important mission in 1994 by supporting a think tank on CFS, led by Dr. Daniel Peterson of Incline Village. In 2004, she and another patient advocate with a similar story began a medical foundation to support research to find biomarkers of disease and treatments for this illness. Since that time, the HHV-6 Foundation has organized an International Medical Conference and supported significant grant requests from scientists from all over the world.
In 2005 she supported a bill to build an Institute for CFS which won the unanimous support of the Nevada state legislature. Ms. Whittemore and her husband pledged five million dollars in support of the building and programming to bring this project to fruition. As the director of the operations, Ms. Whittemore supports the basic and clinical research program, recruits physicians and other personnel, and fundraises. Ms. Whittemore and her husband were honored as Health Care Heroes by the Nevada Business Journal for their personal commitment to this Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease, which opened in 2008 as part of the University of Nevada, Reno's medical campus. Its mission is to serve those with complex neuron-immune diseases such as CFS, viral induced central nervous system dysfunction and fibromyalgia.