During my school counseling training at Purdue University, I was privileged to be mentored and instructed by a leading expert in high-ability/gifted students, Dr. Jean Peterson. My understanding of this important student population has been invaluable when making decisions as a board member.
All students are unique. Their learning styles and abilities vary considerably, creating interesting challenges for teachers as they strive to meet the needs of their students.
However, the diversity among gifted students can be extreme. The importance of keeping this population of students engaged and thriving at school is critical not only to their academic success, but to society as a whole – as what they have to offer is a new generation of innovation and genius as we move into an even more competitive and global economy.
Gifted students, especially when they are young, can sometimes be targeted as problems because they are often bored at school. They can also be hard on themselves and demand perfection of themselves. If individual gifted students are understood, their social/emotional needs are met and their thirst for knowledge and achievement is nurtured, they will not fall into the common pitfall of underachievement.
In addition to CVUSD’s current offerings for gifted students, I believe we can provide more options, especially at the grade school level. I support providing effective gifted programs at each elementary and middle school campus that meet the needs of those gifted students who wish to stay at their neighborhood school.
I believe our high schools already do a great job at serving high-ability/gifted students. The Honors, AP and IB level courses, impressive labs, our wide array of foreign language classes and other rigorous class offerings are examples of how our high schools engage and challenge gifted students.
We just need to continually improve our gifted offerings so that when gifted students reach high school, they are already excelling and ready to take advantage of these opportunities rather than bored, jaded and drifting into underachievement.
As a school board member, I support gifted student offerings at all levels and advocate for the individualized needs of these exceptional students. Each one of them has the potential to change the world.
- Sandee Everett, MSEd & California Licensed School Counselor