Gifted Program

The Gifted Program supports the educational, spiritual, and social-emotional needs of gifted students.

The program enhances academic potential and success by providing compacted, accelerated, curriculum and enrichment opportunities. The gifted teachers help each student understand and embrace their learning profile while confidently seeking and managing academic coursework. The Gifted Program allows each student the academic challenge commensurate to his/her intellectual potential.

Program Overview

The services for students identified as gifted begin in the seventh grade and continue through graduation.

Middle School
At this level, students are enrolled in compacted, enriched, social studies classes in place of the traditional social studies course. This is the time for students of high potential to explore their particular intellectual abilities from a biblical perspective, to be exposed to experiences that help them define interests and passions, and to explore the challenges peculiar to their giftedness. The teacher of the gifted courses also assists students in course selections, scheduling, and advocacy and works with other teachers on appropriate accommodations for gifted students. Students participate in appropriate placement in the traditional curriculum for the remainder of the day.

Upper School
At this level, students begin branching out into areas of passion and expertise. In ninth grade, the formal gifted offering is in Honors Geometry with Gifted Exploration. In grades ten through twelve, gifted cluster groupings are offered in the Honors English curriculum. Cluster grouping has been met with such success that plans are underway to include it in all departments. Acceleration and opportunities for virtual and/or off-campus study are available for gifted students whose needs exceed the highest course offerings in each discipline. College counseling begins prior to ninth grade enrollment, as course selection becomes vital for students seeking admission to highly competitive universities. Additionally, students enrolled in the Gifted Program are placed together in a gifted section of Advisory where they further develop the social/emotional impact of the gifted designation as well as the biblical mandate to be good stewards of the gifts God has given them.

Gifted Defined

Westminster has considered the guidelines of the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) in developing gifted services and identifying the gifted learner.

Gifted students are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in 10% or rarer) in one or more academic domains. “What is Giftedness?” (NAGC, 2015) 

The Gifted Program at Westminster focuses on exceptional ability or potential in the academic domains of humanities, mathematics, and science. Ensuring that highly able learners are recognized and subsequently served through systematic programming is of the highest priority. “National Standards in Gifted and Talented Education.” (NAGC, 2015)

Truths About Gifted Students

  • Gifted students are often perfectionistic and idealistic. They may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth, which sometimes leads to fear of failure and interferes with achievement.

  • Gifted students may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others, resulting in guilt over achievements or grades perceived to be low.

  • Gifted students are asynchronous. Their chronological age, social, physical, emotional, and intellectual development may all be at different levels. For example, a 5-year-old may be able to read and comprehend a third-grade book but may not be able to write legibly.

  • Gifted students may be so far ahead of their chronological age mates that they know more than half the curriculum before the school year begins! Their boredom can result in low achievement and grades.

  • Gifted children are problem solvers. They benefit from working on open-ended, interdisciplinary problems; for example, how to solve a shortage of community resources. Gifted students often refuse to work for grades alone.

  • Gifted students who do well in school may define success as getting an “A” and failure as any grade less than an “A.” By early adolescence, they may be unwilling to try anything where they are not certain of guaranteed success.

Questions?

Please contact Head of Enrollment Peggy Johnson at 314.997.2901, ext. 6119, with any questions.