Gifted education is more than academic placement and at Solid Rock Community School we recognize the whole gifted student- meaning that we not only individualize academic placement and support for each child, but we provide social-emotional skill building and executive function practice with gifted-trained educators throughout the school day.
We utilize a range of multiple criteria to identify and serve our students who have gifted characteristics and needs, and match the support with their strengths, while supporting any additional challenges as needed. Being gifted can create a need for additional high level educational challenges and access to acceleration, which is offered as part of the SRCS format for every student who is ready for the next challenge. But, as giftedness does not always mean the same as high achieving, we do not limit gifted program options to only those gifted students who achieve at the highest levels in all classes. Giftedness is not limited to, or defined by specific academic performance at Solid Rock. By raising the bar in individualized ways for each student, we allow for constant individualized growth. Education is a journey and we set new goals for achievement as we go.
We recognize that some gifted students need completely different ways of accessing information, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach in a “program” setting. So, SRCS teachers support gifted learning needs with project-based learning opportunities, as well as independent research and topic exploration in alignment with student interests and passions, and innovative options that allow for creative expression and flexibility.
The things that make Solid Rock unique for all learners, make it a special place for gifted students to grow and thrive at their own pace, no matter what their talent areas may (or may not) be. Every student receives individual attention with regular formal and informal evaluations based on their own strengths and challenges. This enables flexibility in placement and continuous support throughout the year with access to academic levels from kindergarten through college levels for all ages and stages. Students who are gifted are placed in classes with other gifted students through an inclusion cluster model, and each student has a special plan for achievement that is reviewed on a regular basis, unlike state required education plans (EP’s) that may or may not be utilized on a regular basis in the public school system.
Solid Rock allows all students to participate in multi-period academic days from Mondays through Thursdays, which allows students constant access to teachers who are specialists in their fields. And Fridays are reserved for engaging, full-day enrichment opportunities such as field trips, community speakers, and multiple hands-on projects that are integrated with the arts, STEM, and physical education topics.
Students who are gifted will participate in a rotation of specific Friday workshops taught by teachers trained in gifted education, and emphasizing the development of higher level thinking skills, community and civics involvement, empathy and issues of fairness/justice, and social emotional skill building projects that will help the students focus their gifted characteristics and talents in positive ways that impact the world around them.
All teachers at SRCS continue to receive gifted education training above and beyond what is required in the public school system for a gifted endorsement, including weekly information blasts on up to date research from the field, as well as monthly trainings and workshops. Parents and family members of students who are gifted are also invited to join in community trainings and events, including guest speakers, newsletters on what our school is doing for gifted and other special needs students, shared student work samples, and resource links.
SRCS uses many different resources and formats based on best practices to facilitate learning, including elements from Joseph Renzulli, Carol Dweck, Maria Montessori, Marzano, and other experts in the field. Our teacher trainings in gifted education are based on research from education and psychology experts such as Dr. Susan Daniels, Dr. James T. Webb, Dr. Donna Ford, Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, Dr. Karen Silverman, Dr. Richard Cash and more.
SRCS is excited to announce that the former Florida State Gifted Education Specialist, current president-elect of the Florida Association for the Gifted (FLAG,) and former director on the SENG board of directors, Kathleen Casper, JD, is our new director of gifted studies, and will be providing trainings and support to our staff and students throughout the year.
At SRCS we know that giftedness is not just about what a child can do, it’s who they are. And gifted and twice exceptional children are welcomed and supported here.