Programming and Services
Academic Emphasis: The goal of the gifted education program in the Thompson School District is to provide support for gifted and talented learners who need and desire learning which is academically rigorous and rich. The curriculum is differentiated to meet the students' need for faster pacing and increased depth of instruction. Gifted education specialists at each building provide direct support to each identified gifted learner as well as instructional support and resources to general education teachers. Elementary teachers have traditionally focused their time in a pull-out model, offering instruction in various units based on enrichment in areas of student interest. Now, we are moving our focus toward academic-based enhancement of classroom instruction, taking our gifted and high-ability students deeper into content and offering them a more challenging curriculum. At the secondary level, this includes more advanced classes and acceleration offerings.
Staff Support: Each building in Thompson School District has a gifted education specialist or secondary gifted education counselor assigned to the building for the express purpose of providing gifted education support, direct instruction, and personal counseling to identified gifted students. Staffing at elementary schools varies from 33% to 100%. Middle schools receive from 50% to 100% FTE from the district for a Gifted and Talented teacher. High schools are staffed with gifted education counselors who work with high ability learners/gifted learners on course selection, college and career choices, and personal counseling issues.
Advanced Learning Plans: All students who are identified as gifted are scheduled to be on Advanced Learning Plans (ALPs) by December 2009 according to state mandate. These plans are developed around students' identified strength areas. ALPs outline a plan for the student to continue to grow and to learn in his or her area of exceptional ability, creating the opportunity for the gifted learner to experience commensurate academic growth. Advanced Learning Plans are written in conjunction with the student, the parents, the general education teacher(s), and the gifted specialist or gifted counselor. Goals and plans are reviewed annually.
Enrichment: Gifted Education is also supported through Enrichment activities which occur outside of the school day. Enrichment activities may include Odyssey of the Mind, Robotics, Spelling Bee, Shadows in the Arts, MathCounts, and Chess Club. Each program is designed to enrich the students' educational experience; it does not supplant classroom instruction. Jennifer Solt is the district coordinator for these enrichment opportunities.