Gifted Education at Open Window

The word “gifted” is uncomfortable for many of us. Admittedly, it sounds pretentious. Few of us would like to walk around with a sign that says, “Hello, I am Gifted!” Ideally, we would like it if the world replaced “gifted education” with “education for children of high intellectual potential;” however, over a century ago, “gifted education” became the accepted terminology.
There are many academic models of giftedness. We are most inspired by the work of Dr. François Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent. We like the Gagné Model because it clearly separates giftedness (potential) from talent (productivity). Gagné believes that all human talents are developed from natural abilities through learning experiences influenced by inner and outer catalysts. Without the right catalysts, there is no guarantee that potential develops into productive talent. A specialized curriculum, talented teachers, supportive peer group, and diverse community are vital external catalysts at Open Window School. Our mission is to nurture and inspire students of high intellectual potential so that they may develop their talents and lead fulfilling lives. At Open Window, we are dedicated to making A Gifted Child’s Bill of Rights a daily reality.
Although the world of gifted education is pretty small, there are significant differences in gifted programs and great variance in approach by different schools. Open Window is known for its deep understanding of and care for gifted children and adolescents. Supporting the whole child is the cornerstone of our philosophy, as expressed in the belief that our students are “children first and gifted second.” Open Window’s approach is best understood through the perspective of balance. We feature an authentic curriculum that challenges, supports, and trusts students to do real work that matters accompanied by a focus on nurturing each student's social and emotional development.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) takes place in many ways, but the hub is the Lower School morning meeting and Middle School advisory structure. Our intentional program of SEL focuses on five key themes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decisionmaking. We are fortunate to have three outstanding counselors who serve as SEL resources to our teachers, but as SEL is infused in everything we do, and all faculty and staff play a vital role in this essential element of an Open Window education.

Balance also applies to our academic program, as Open Window offers a curriculum both rich in depth and complexity along with ample opportunities for acceleration. Gifted children need this degree of depth and rich content in order to develop great academic habits and higher-level thinking skills. Classroom and external learning experiences foster self-confidence, problem solving skills, intellectual risk-taking, creative thinking, and communication skills. Gifted students also need the opportunity to study material that is usually reserved for older students. Open Window students typically work anywhere from one to three levels ahead of grade level in one or more subjects. For example, our middle school students have the opportunity to study many subjects at a high school level.

You can find many additional resources pertaining to gifted education in the Gifted Children section of this website.