Gifted and Talented+ Program Engages Students of All Ages
Middle schooler Sydney Murphy took the phrase “embracing the concepts” to a whole new level during her summer course. Holding a baby goat, she got up close with the farm animal, which was brought to her Caring for Critters class for a petting and milking demonstration.
Throughout the class, co-taught by Scott Purdy ’18 MAT, CC Master of Arts in Teaching student, and Brittni Darras as part of CC Gifted and Talented+ summer program, middle schoolers explored a wide range of research and got to apply their knowledge on visits to local animal shelters and rescues. Students also learned about local and global impacts of animal conservation and treatment, and developed their own action plan to address problems locally with our animal population.
Caring for Critters was just one of dozens of courses in the GT+ program that brought elementary, middle, and high school students to campus for three weeks this summer. Now in its 42nd year, the program is designed for students entering first through tenth grades with offerings to challenge their intellectual and creative abilities.
The program also brings to campus teachers who are experienced and skilled in working with gifted children and who are well educated in their fields. Plus, it provides an opportunity for CC’s Master of Teaching students to work directly with students and expert teachers in the classroom; each teacher has a CC graduate teaching assistant to help provide the individualized attention that gifted children need.
“I love to share these tools and then model for the MAT students those same strategies with the summer program students. It’s my goal to send them off as a new teacher with as many items in their toolkit as possible,” says Tiffany Hawk, teacher in the GT+ program of working with the master’s students. Hawk co-taught a course titled Farm to Fork for ninth and tenth graders with CC MAT student Savannah Teeple ’18 MAT.
Throughout the class, students explored local and global issues surrounding food scarcity, waste, and ethical practices of sustainability of food sources around the world. Students also studied real-life struggles of various cultures and developed plans to address issues that affect international citizens.
The students spent three days working directly with seven Habitat for Humanity families building and planting backyard raised garden beds in the Crestone Peak Trail neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Students also provided seeds, student-created recipes using crops from the gardens, and care instructions with the beds so that homeowners could put their new gardens to good use.
“When we are able to open our minds and explore the connections between global and local issues, we begin to see that there are so many experiences that bond us throughout the world,” Hawk says of developing the concept for the Farm to Fork class. “The beauty of this program is that students are able to experience the impact of their action. They are making community partnerships and experiencing the power of collaboration. They learn that they can make a difference.”
Hawk says she hopes the MAT students also gain practical knowledge throughout the program. “It is my hope that they take ownership and embrace the power of reflection and taking risks. My emphasis is to remain flexible with instruction and allow students to take you, as the teacher, in different paths to explore what they want to learn within our course objectives.”