Gifted and talented program outlined by Re-1J coordinator

    Holyoke School District’s K-12 gifted and talented coordinator Laura Loutensock provided an informative presentation on the local program at the Nov. 21 meeting of the Re-1J Board of Education.
    She pointed out that a student who is gifted is so outstanding that they require special attention to meet their educational needs. She emphasized that giftedness means one has the ability but that ability must be nurtured through opportunities.
    While she has worked with the elementary school gifted and talented program for several years, this is the first year Loutensock has handled the K-12 gifted and talented needs.
    Just one hour of her day is devoted to GT, as she also works in technology at the elementary school. Her GT role includes identifying gifted students and informing them of opportunities in the area, helping teachers set goals and handling paperwork for the program.
    In Colorado, giftedness is identified in five areas: general or specific intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability and psychomotor ability.
    Statewide, 10 percent of students are identified as gifted, but Loutensock said that Holyoke has about a 15 percent level with 37 students.
    Referrals for gifted identification can come from a variety of sources, including staff, data, parents, performance and peers. The body of evidence includes aptitude, achievement, behavior and performance over time in competition.
    Loutensock said if she gets a referral, she has 30 days to act on it by gathering evidence and getting a data team together. That team typically includes herself, the teacher in the area of achievement and an administrator.
    From that referral, a student can be identified as gifted, routed to a talent pool or watch list so that more data may be collected, or determined that they’re not gifted at the time.
    When identified as gifted, an Advanced Learning Plan is created. In Holyoke, it is usually written by the teacher who has the student in their area of strength.
    The ALP includes academic goals written toward the child’s area of strength and affective goals written to address the social, emotional or career path.
    Loutensock pointed out that academic goals should not just be more work but should be more advanced work than is currently being done in the classroom.
    Enrichment opportunities are also key to a gifted student’s education. Some of these include infusion classes, robotics competition, Brain Bowl, clubs, 4-H, arts contests and essay contests.
    Loutensock told the board that there is a high dropout rate among gifted kids nationwide due to boredom and lack of challenge.
    She cited three next steps for the local GT program. First, in the area of communication, she is creating a website that will include, among other things, a GT handbook and a list of events in northeast Colorado.
    Secondly, consistency and compliance with Colorado Department of Education guidelines in gifted identification will be reviewed.
    The most important and probably the most challenging aspect, said Loutensock, is meeting the needs of gifted students to help them progress.
    Board members acknowledged the need to not only identify a student who is gifted but to nurture that ability.
    Holyoke’s GT budget is about $10,000 this year. While that’s not a lot of program dollars, board member Dennis Herman noted that the need is not necessarily for more dollars but for more attention in the school.
    Board member Trampas Hutches cited the focus on equal opportunity for everyone and asked how, as a board, they can advocate for that at the state level.
Other business
    In other business at the Nov. 21 meeting, the Re-1J board:
    —Heard from board president Pat Wiebers that her name will be removed from the substitution roster at both buildings, as she will devote her effort to being board president.
    —Hired Madison King as an elementary paraprofessional for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year.
    —Accepted nonresident students Lucinda Mares from Sedgwick County and JaRae Sholes from Yuma County.
    —Canvassed the certified board candidate election results and approved revised bank resolutions to reflect the new board president and treasurer.
    —Heard from Elementary Principal Kyle Stumpf about the successful retired teacher day in which five former teachers spent 10 minutes in each class in a 10 a.m.-2 p.m. visit.
    They reportedly enjoyed the experience, noting they were very impressed with the Wonders Reading Program and with the kids’ keyboarding skills.
    Stumpf said they would like to invite a group each month to demonstrate what’s happening in the classrooms.
    —Noted that Holyoke School District was chosen by the Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s external plan auditor to be included in its test sample of representative contributing employers. This is an extension of a normal audit, focused around the Government Accounting Standards Board.
    Superintendent John McCleary told the board that they’re working with the district’s auditor, Scott Szabo, to provide the requested payroll data.
    —Decided on a policy review plan, bringing several policies to work sessions prior to meetings to start the ongoing process.
    —Reviewed the agenda for the Nov. 29-Dec. 3 annual convention of the Colorado Association of School Boards, citing workshops and sessions they would like to attend.
    —Held training for new board members in a work session prior to the regular meeting.

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