Regional Gifted Centers
Imagine a welcoming and nurturing school environment that encourages gifted and talented students of diverse populations to become resourceful, critical thinkers who are self-starters and aware of their own potential and passion; students who develop a lifelong love of learning, where creativity and expression of individual talent is encouraged; students who thrive on an accelerated curriculum, develop excellent organizational skills and the ability to determine the best approaches to problem-solving situations; students who think of themselves as globally responsible citizens with an emphasis on social justice and community service; students who have the ability to assess subtle differences in content areas and theories by developing strong research and higher-order thinking skills and the confidence to take risks; and through school emphasis on social-emotional counseling, students who are able to make independent, responsible life choices.
From the earliest ages of kindergarten through eighth grade, the fostering of such an environment is the mission of the Regional Gifted Centers of the Chicago Public Schools.
Current nationwide surveys suggest that one of the largest underachieving segments of student populations in the American classroom today is the gifted learner. Gifted learners come in many overlooked “disguises”—be they “twice-exceptional” students (gifted students with disabilities), English-language learners, gifted girls, gifted rural populations, or students who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Regional gifted centers are creating a pattern of success with administrative and teaching staffs dedicated to helping each child discover and celebrate his/her own unique gifts and talents.
Chicago Public Schools’ Regional Gifted Centers offer full-day gifted instruction to students beginning in kindergarten or first grade. These schools provide academically gifted and motivated students the opportunity to complete the elementary school curriculum by the end of the sixth grade, followed by honors-level high school instruction in the seventh and eighth grades.
A gifted student in a regular classroom often feels lonely at the top of every class academically. At Regional Gifted Centers, students challenge each other and have the opportunity to socialize with their age and academic peers.
Regional Gifted Centers are consistently recognized as top elementary and middle schools in Chicago and students graduate from these programs prepared to attend the city’s most academically rigorous high schools.
There are 10 Regional Gifted Centers in Chicago – Beasley, Beaubien, Bell, Carnegie, Coonley, Edison, Keller, Lenart, Pritzker, and South Loop. Testing is required for admission.
Programming provides students the unique opportunity to receive instruction at up to two years above grade level. The accelerated instructional program places an emphasis on critical thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving, and creativity. In addition to rigor in the core content areas, Regional Gifted Centers expose students to a world language or Latin, laboratory science, computer science, and fine arts. The accelerated timeframe leaves time for projects, term papers, and group work that take the student deeper into the subject matters. Regional Gifted Centers align their programs to match the expectations in the Illinois State Code for establishing and maintaining gifted and talented programs.
To be considered to teach gifted students in the Regional Gifted Centers, CPS selects only the highest quality candidates, who participate in extensive professional development. OAE offers workshops such as the Gifted Education Seminar, advanced seminars in gifted education, Gifted Best Practices Workshop, and Curriculum Development for Gifted Learners conducted by instructional leaders in gifted education.
These gifted educators are “masters” of differentiated instruction, and are constantly reinventing themselves and their classrooms to improve the quality and delivery of advanced gifted curriculum that fully engages their students. Regional Gifted Center teachers regularly re-evaluate their gifted programs to make ongoing changes and positive interventions in a team-teaching approach that shares information about students across the core curriculum.
Daily assessment of each child’s progress through observation of learning styles and interests allows each teacher to provide an individualized, differentiated classroom program that meets each child at their greatest point of need.
One of the Regional Gifted Center teacher’s most important priorities is a focus on the specific social-emotional issues that affect each student—the ability to “listen” and become sensitive to each child’s social-emotional needs, with feedback to parents that is essential to their child’s academic success.
Parent Involvement and Community Partnerships
Partnerships and parent communication are key to establishing community awareness and participation. Regional Gifted Centers maintain high visibility through open houses, town hall meetings, fundraising events, and an abundance of extracurricular activities such as after-school programs and clubs that incorporate the fine arts, physical fitness, and advanced math, science and technology training.
Each Regional Gifted Center provides opportunities for students to attend classes, programs and events at museums, universities, and world-renowned music, theatre and dance organizations.
Parents are welcomed as essential “partners” and “collaborators” in their child’s academic achievement. Parents are regularly informed of “options programs,” and their child’s progress or needed interventions through tutoring and mentoring programs, homework “hotlines,” websites, newsletters, and “face-to-face” meetings that support parents’ understanding of the gifted curriculum, and the current social-emotional needs of their child.
For most Regional Gifted Centers, transportation is provided to students who live more than 1.5 miles from the school. Three centers—Carnegie, Coonley, and South Loop—provide transportation to students who live within designated street ranges:
How can my child apply?