AcademyACL is designed as an entire school where every staff member specializes in gifted education.
- Gifted Education Specialists: Teachers who understand and encourage the academic and social-emotional needs of gifted learners with a highly challenging, highly supportive approach from the first day of kindergarten
- Gifted Peers: Students working together who also have gifted educational needs with passion for deeply exploring subjects and using analytical thinking
- Individual Goals: Personal Learning Plans with goals for each student each quarter
- Encore Subjects: Art, Music-Theater, Spanish, and Physical Education for every student on a four-day cycle
- Integrated Curriculum Model: Curriculum designed for advanced learners with thematic, project-based units drawn from science and history that connect the World of Math, the Art of Language, and Encore subjects with support materials designed by the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary
- Family Involvement: Five student-family-teacher conferences each year, and fifteen hours of volunteer involved required per family, per year
- More Time to Explore Ideas: School day from 8AM to 3:10PM
- Free Access: A tuition-free program (with the exception of full-day kindergarten) as a public charter school for any student in the Pikes Peak Region
- A School of Choice: An open welcome, open admission policy with no test scores required for admission; detailed information available for parents to decide if this program is a good fit for individual children's needs
We are the only K-8 school in the Pikes Peak Region fully designed as a place for students who have 'asynchronous' learning needs that are advanced beyond the typical grade level for their age. Many years of research show that these children require specialized educational techniques that allow them to achieve their potential, and teachers who work with gifted students require specialized training to meet their needs. These students benefit from having peers who can challenge them in their thinking, who don't find it strange to spend hours and hours on a particular subject or passion, and who like to debate and analyze subjects on a deep level beginning at very young ages.
Quite often, parents of gifted children recognize early that their children aren't following the baby books and typical developmental stages, and using research-based checklists of gifted characteristics they are often quite accurate in identifying students with giftedness that is later confirmed by a test score. A few students do not 'test well' on a single assessment but gifted characteristics are very evident. We count on parents to fully investigate our program carefully and determine if this is the type of school that could meet the individual needs of their child or children. While there are many elements we use that can be adapted for other types of learners in other schools, and many things we do that other schools do as well, each element of our entire program is designed to work together as an integrated system of delivery for the needs of gifted learners.
We have students who taught themselves to read in preschool or memorized the taxonomy of dinosaurs, students who can recite texts after only a couple of times hearing them, students who crave complex math and science or get lost for hours in a book three reading levels ahead of 'typical'... we believe all children are precious and amazing, and we provide a place for those children who learn at a faster and/or more complex rate to grow the way they need to grow. Gifted students still need to learn new things every day just as all children do, and our students are children who still need support and encouragement from teachers who work with them to understand their unique needs.
Welcome to our website! We invite you to explore the information we have available throughout this site, and to ask us further questions about the needs of your student. Our vision is to create an academic home for gifted students, to cultivate excellence, and serve as a resource to our community~ a place where people can connect with each other and with additional local programs in the Pikes Peak Region that meet unique learnings needs of children. This school was developed because local families and teachers recognized that there was a need for a kindergarten through eighth grade school in this region for students to work above grade-level in their areas of giftedness with teachers trained to support their specialized needs for complex content and social-emotional support.
Aren't all students gifted? This question appears frequently in discussions of gifted education. For better or for worse, this term is the one educators used to describe students who are at the far upper end of the learning spectrum whose needs are not met with material that is designed for students who are their same age. Unfortunately, in general, everyday language, "gifted" seems like a value statement, but in educational language, "gifted" is not used for 'better'… it is just used for 'different' learning needs. Just like 'special education' is used to refer to learning needs that require specialized support to catch up and keep up to the achievement expected of a particular age group, 'gifted education' is used to refer to learning needs that require specialized support to achieve new material, because the student has already mastered the material that most same-age peers are just now learning. All students are precious, amazing, and capable of learning so very much… but in education, not all students require "gifted" education, just as not all students require "special" education. AcademyACL is committed to the premise that all students need to experience the joy of conquering difficult challenges, and our program is created to be as challenging as each of our gifted students need in order to grow, with specialized social-emotional support for students who think and feel with intensity and passion that is outside of the needs of most children their age.
We began with our first school year in 2010, and we are delighted to be a part of the Colorado Springs District 11 system of schools that strives for excellence and the preparation of students for demands of the 21st century. Our staff has a passion ffor meeting the needs of the gifted learners. They are a collaborative, energetic group of people who are continually reviewing and refining their practices, and our professional development meetings are challenging and thought-provoking as we share ideas, best practices, and the latest research with each other. We have master's degrees, doctoral degrees, a Juilliard graduate, a professional sculptor... but above all, teachers who have a heartbeat for gifted education and a willingness to try new things and implement best practices.
This 2011-2011 year's theme is "Digging Deeper, Flying Higher… Gifted Education in the 21st Century." As we continually refine, adjust, and grow in our program, we use this theme to work together with colleagues, local experts and community members, students, and parents. We are so excited about the ways that our students are responding to the process.
We look forward to meeting you, and we invite you to call us to schedule a tour and see our program in action.