Gifted Student Academy Opens in Fox Point

Would your child qualify for Scholaris Gifted Academy? Learn more about the Fox Point-based school.

Connie Gordon, head of school at Scholaris Gifted Academy. Credit: Matt Schroeder
Connie Gordon, head of school at Scholaris Gifted Academy. Credit: Matt Schroeder

When the Wisconsin Center for Gifted Learners ceased operating its Magellan Day School after last year, Connie Gordon stepped in to fill the void with Scholaris Gifted Academy.

Opening this year in the Dunwood Building at 217 W. Dunwood Road in Fox Point, Scholaris welcomes students from age 3 through eighth grade. Gordon took a few moments out of her preparations to answer 5 Questions from Patch:

Why did you open this school?
When Magellan closed, there was a void as to where parents could send their children. Gifted children have special needs and certain characteristics. The parents came and asked me to take it on.

What does “gifted” really mean?
Gifted students are intensely curious. They are able to go through a curriculum at a quick pace. They have incredible memories. A typical school is not set up for gifted learners. They can have special social and emotional needs as well.

What do you want to accomplish here?
Our intention is to get to know the kids and where their gifts and talents lie. We want to prepare them for high school and how to use their gifts when they leave here.

Every parent thinks their child is “gifted.” How can I really tell?
There is no one sign; that’s what makes this field challenging. But some signs are: extremely high verbal ability; a focus on tasks that is much greater than their peers; asking perceptive questions that connect concepts you wouldn’t expect.

How does a child get into Scholaris?
We ask questions of the parents first, then we meet with the parents and the child. We also have a battery of tests given by Dr. Elizabeth Axelrod, a child psychologist. They address creativity, higher-level thinking skills and things like that.

Robert Powell August 13, 2013 at 12:36 AM
They have a roundtable discussion event this Wednesday at 5:30 pm, Room 113.
Eilene Stevens August 13, 2013 at 09:04 AM
I am quite sure the school is high quality. I disagree, however, with the premise that our public schools are not equipped to handle gifted children. Our son fits all the criteria stated in the article. He also went to the Fox Point/Bayside schools and to Nicolet High School where he received both the academic and the social support that a gifted child needs to succeed. For example, his teachers were worried about his lack of social activity so, for 2nd grade they created a class of high verbal/low jock boys. That year he made friends that stayed with him through middle school. I could relate similar stories for every year. Scholaris Gifted Academy may offer another option, but most certainly not the only option. Proof? In high school our son took seven advanced placement classes and earned 5 (the highest score) on all tests; he earned at 35 (one point from the top score) on his ACT; he graduated from The University of Chicago with honors; and he now has the job he wanted. So, let's not write off public schools when it comes to working with gifted students.
Robert Powell August 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Public schools often do not start to become involved until the 3rd grade, often long after girls (for example) decide to "fit in" and hide their talent. Gifted learners are not necessarily the "math whiz", and are often missed by school systems. See this for testimonials from parents and students, addressing the limitations of gifted identification in the public schools. http://youtu.be/yT6M_T7Oowo
Sarah August 13, 2013 at 12:20 PM
@Eilene - I'm envious of that special consideration given to your son when he was in second grade. I have kids in the fp/bs school district now and I can attest that nothing similar is happening currently. In fact, less attention is being given to kids with these needs, as the G&T hours were recently decreased in our district as other state mandated curriculum changes took priority. I wish with all my heart my child could be serviced in this school system (either through actual curriculum or groupings like your son had) but after four years of wishing, advocating, meeting, testing, and begging, it is clear that it is not a population that gets or will get any kind of focus right now. If I could make one more wish, it would be that my son would have the same experience yours did. Any genies out there listening? :) Signed, Desperate Mom of those that slip through the cracks
Robert Powell August 13, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Sarah, your son might well thrive in an environment of his peers. Contact Scholaris Gifted Academy and speak with the staff, there, to see about learning options available.


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