Enrichment services aimed to expand learning in all Royalton students

By Kerry Drager, Correspondent

The Royalton School District is preparing to establish the new Gifted, Talented and Enrichment (GTE) program for the coming school year. Supt. Jon Ellerbusch and GTE coordinator Shari Bishop attended a conference in Minneapolis this month to obtain more information about the program and how to identify those students who may benefit from its services.

There are three separate tiers of services that are available to students. The enrichment tier is geared more toward all children and will be used to help identify students who may qualify for additional GTE services. The second tier is designed for those students who exhibit talents and potential. The gifted tier is meant for those who have shown great improvement in their talents and are academically competent.

Each tier gives educators the opportunity focus on the individual needs of each student and their capabilities. Ellerbusch said the majority of students fall within tier two meant for the talented or “bright” students. Per the definition of “gifted,” truly gifted students are extremely rare. In fact, only one in 10,000 students may be defined as gifted. However, with the GTE services, it is possible to further develop talented tier students and could potentially create a gifted individual.

“By developing the talented, we are pushing our students into the gifted tier. The more that we foster those talents and help them, the more likely they might flow into the next tier due to that development process,” said Bishop.

These services will assist GTE students by offering them opportunities to discover and engage their talents. It is challenging enough to provoke expanded learning and even encourages other students and teachers to grow, as these services are done within the classroom among all students.

“This is raising the bar for everyone and for all students,” said Bishop.

Students who may not be performing to their ability will also benefit from GTE services. For example, some students may not be gifted in mathematics or social studies but are very competition in mechanics. These children would still be considered for GTE services, Ellerbusch said.

“This will encourage curiosity and creative thinking. Students will be doing more authentic learning. They will be doing projects that could actually go into play with a decision that can be made in real life. I think that would be good for all kids and we could transfer this over to all students,” said Ellerbusch.

Bishop said the best time to start implementing the program is between the ages of 5 – 8. This is the age bracket where the talents and capabilities of the children are most easily identified. After that time, peer pressure may cause particularly bright students to hide their abilities. A series of activities, test scores and student or teacher recommendations can be used to help identify GTE students and what tier they may belong to.

Royalton School Board Briefs:

Other business that came before the Royalton School Board included:

•Voting 2-4 against parking regulations on the west side of Hawthorn Street from County Road 26 to Second Avenue between the hours of 7:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Board Members Dale Lenz and Liz Verley voted no;

•Approving a proposed resolution for no parking for one stall on each side of each access point along the west side of Hawthorn Street for two blocks south of County Road 26;

•Voting not to approve a five-year leave of absence request for Elementary Title 1 teacher Meredith Posch. The Board felt five years was too long to wait;

• Learning that the community survey for the building addition options has been finalized and is ready to enter the next step of stage of construction planning;

•Hearing that Project Lead the Way had been launched. The project is meant to enrich student learning in science-based disciplines. The elementary school administration hopes to use the project to help kids transition into middle and high school learning by providing hands-on kits and activities; and

• Deciding to hold a goal-setting meeting, scheduled for June 30 at 6 p.m. at the high school.

Interviews for building project manager and architect are set for July 9 at 1 p.m. at the high school, A contract will be decided July 21.

The next regularly scheduled Royalton School Board meeting will be Monday, July 21, at 6 p.m. in the high school.