In attendance:  Laura Van Horn, Cristina Nitescu, Sima Serrafin, Laxminarayana Korada, Jingjing Tang, Desiree Ohrbeck, Julie Uyeda, Margaret Li, Kristen Richards, Kristi Stroyan, Lora McHugh

Each attendee was asked to introduce him/herself and share a goal for the committee.

  • Discuss European perspective on gifted, and the need to work on growth mindset. To understand what gifted is and how can we help gifted give back to community.  Use of technology to support parent understanding of what learning is taking place in the classroom.
  • To work on the community dynamic, labels hurt. Create points of contact for students receiving gifted services in their neighborhood school.  Loop in counselors. Coordinate workload at Interlake so that students have more down time or time for other activities.  Promote modeling, thinking and inquiry in class rather than giving students class time to do homework.
  • To get more involved and understand reasons behind gifted and how students are taught. Parent education to support understanding.  Coaching of parents to promote curiosity.

Program strength is for kids to find themselves and similar peers.  Many didn’t belong before, and now their peers respect them and the teachers understand them. Positive peer pressure to promote self-motivation. Student knows how to “help themselves.” To support novel selection.

  • To understand the school system specifically gifted programming. Tackle homework issues. Dealing with peers, understanding adversity. Understand all students.
  • Help educate other families, what other identification things area available for families,
  • Students achieve potential in a self-contained classroom. Knowledgeable about models for supporting students, curricular focus, pedagogical practices, acceleration focus (not best), deeper thinking to promote grit and determination, push further.  Encourage different styles of thinking and models of thinking in classrooms, add creativity and enrichment into program.  Parent education to support this model over acceleration.  Try to bring issues from school and to school to be a liaison.
  • Advocate for parents between gifted program and GESP school. Support social piece promote unification rather than separation in schools.  Happy with programming, enjoyed helping with the novel review, diversity of programming,
  • Advocate for home school program and acceleration. Promote diversity, friendships and socialization.
  • Initially to get familiar with program and gain feedback from her community to support action. Students should be challenged to think instead of told what to think. Liked book review.  To help teachers figure out how to challenge students more than give homework.

Lora McHugh recapped the themes she heard:  Homework, Systems, Community Service, Parent education, community/social development for student relationships.  She asked the group if they would be willing to create a parent publication that she would approve and send out from time to time.  She asked if reps might be interested in hosting book studies for parent groups to learn more about the needs of gifted students.   She mentioned that she would talk with principals/teachers to see if there was any time/possibilities for service learning.


One school has a picture of 5th grade students in hallway, but gifted 5th graders are not included.

Best practices, what is working and how can we share these to other schools, example: can we share themes of IB and share with other high schools?

How can we educate students to develop capacity for dealing with issues?  SEL style work to support issues (combat what they are hearing at home “your gifted”).

Is loneliness, an issue at high school too? Suggestions needed for finding a new peer group.

System support for kids attending neighborhood school – organized event to create peer group. Familiar faces? Can we create a box to be part of an email distribution for parents to access for “playdate opportunities for big kids” as they like?  To support a familiar face for first few weeks until they find “their people.”

If a student wants to come back to Interlake after choosing a different high school, is it possible?

Could we meet with principals after GAC meetings to share information and talk about specific issues?

Lora commented on some of the questions.

  • We have asked Ian Bird to provide PD for GESP teachers next year. He was in gifted programs as a child but didn’t understand what it meant to be gifted.  He said it is difficult to grow up realizing you’re different but not knowing why.  He could help teachers to share information with students about how everyone has strengths, and that gifted doesn’t make you a better thinker, just a different thinker.
  • If looking for a way to communicate with parents at the school you represent, you could set up an email account to get feedback. Somerset reps host meetings on occasion but all parents at the school are welcome to attend.  Some of the most poignant feedback comes from parents whose children are not in GESP.
  • If a student would like to attend Interlake after trying their neighborhood high school, they are able to return within 1 year (ie: attended neighborhood school for 9th grade and then return to GHSP in 10th.) If absence is longer than 1 year, it will be important to look at the course work to ensure it is advanced and that the child is performing well. Because IB Program begins at grade 10, it is more difficult to come back later than the sophomore year.  However, an older student could complete the IB program in 11th-12th grade with the cohort of 10th-11th

Program Updates

Novel Review

Appreciative of those who reviewed.  Teachers are currently reading 2 novels based on your input. Lora will get back to you after teachers review.

Naming Challenge

800+ responses, downloaded and sorted/combined, shared top names, close to deciding.  The students are asking to not be called “gifted.”  We need a name for administrative purposes, but we don’t really need to label the students even with a generic title.

Parent comments:

  • Everyone will still know the students are in a special program no matter what you name it. We still need parent education and teacher education.
  • Branding roll out. Parent push out, welcome letter that includes tips for not labeling, our district strives to achieve xyz. New to program and at change of levels.  Praise efforts not “gifted”. Parent agreement like sports teams, I will…, Building community, what we are and what we are not, include resources/readings, iConnect meetings to support some of this.
  • Parent forums to learn about Bellevue educational systems.

Universal Screening

Ardmore, Clyde Hill, Woodridge will pilot.  Test all 2nd graders with the CogAT. At 2nd grade students have moved beyond the pre-operational phase of cognitive development. Historically when we see a leap in identification. This would make the program non-referral dependent.

K-1 Identification

Slowly phase out K-1 cognitive testing.  In class data used, no CogAT for K this fall.

Domain Specific Identification

During winter testing of 2017-18, 1st graders will be identified for domain specific services, Math, Reading, Nonverbal Ability, and be served through differentiation at their home school. This identification will then roll up one year at a time.  This gives students in the self-contained program more service model choices.  Math is the most challenging area to support in elementary.  Kristi is working on a document to support students in need of higher level math instruction with the goal of all gifted identified math students being ready for IMT2 by 6th grade.

Final Comments

Registration at the neighborhood high school needs improvement.  Students only able to register online for some classes because the majority of their classes are at a higher grade level.  Also, there is a conflict with grade level specific field trips at the neighborhood high schools, that are associated with the grade level curriculum.  Gifted students are taking courses at the next grade level with different curriculum.

Transitions for next year

  • Dania Schwab – students are moving up to Odle MS
  • Laura Van Horn – students no longer at Odle or Interlake – all attending neighborhood HS
  • Kirsten Richards – may be able to help with specific projects but might not be able to serve next year
  • Lora will look at how many reps there are for each school site to determine where there are needs.