HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Hollidaysburg Area School District is rounding out its gifted program with a holistic approach to educating its brightest students.
"We need to always look at the whole child," Foot of Ten Elementary School gifted support teacher Sharon Clewell said about meeting both the emotional and academic needs of gifted children.
Clewell was among other educators who presented a comprehensive report on the program to the school board last week.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Adele Giller works with (from left) Max Gehringer, Miranda?Jones and Eric Khalouf, all 11, for the Hollidaysburg Area School District gifted program at Frankstown Elementary.
According to the review, the district embarked on a yearlong review of its gifted education program, exploring what other districts offer, attending April's Gifted Education State Conference through the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education and receiving a review from Franny McAleer, educational consultant and author.
McAleer, who is president of the Western Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and past president of PAGE, has a long resume of educational experience.
"They have the interest of the kids at heart," McAleer said of HASD.
Statewide gifted programs are gaining strength since legislation was introduced in the late '90s, she said, adding that when the administration, school board and parents place value on the program it shows.
McAleer gave HASD stellar marks, calling the district "one of the most ideal settings" with teachers and parents who feel like they are on the same team.
The district has created a five-year evaluation action plan. Assistant Superintendent Gary Robinson said the district has earmarked money for some changes that will occur this school year.
Differentiated instruction - teaching to a student's readiness, passion and learning profile, according to a PowerPoint presentation on www.learnerslink.com - began in August and will continue into the 2010-11 school year.
Beginning later this month, gifted students across all grade levels will meet for a half-day each marking period. The students will participate in activities, and older students will mentor younger ones about the challenges of growing up gifted. Gifted teachers will also meet twice a month for a common planning time.
Other actions in the plan include hiring a secondary-level, full-time gifted support coordinator in the spring and raising awareness among parents, teachers, staff and the community.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Clegg is at 949-7030.