"She Will Run Out of Math at the High School"
One Parent's Story
Written by Newenka DuMont
My daughter was always an excellent student, so it was a unique experience for me in early September some years ago to be called in to the middle school by the new gifted specialist.
“Newenka, your daughter is in the wrong math class,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“I know,” I responded meekly.
“I have given her the algebra readiness test and she passed with flying colors,” the gifted specialist continued. “The assistant superintendent said I could move her into the eight-grade algebra class, if you will sign this permission form.” Whoa! Really? Give me that form!
“Also, I think we should put her into seventh-grade Spanish, so that she can skip seventh grade, if necessary.” I knew that was going to be a hard sell given the administration at the school.
This gifted specialist knew her stuff! If my daughter skipped seventh grade, she reasoned, then she would be playing catch up in language arts and Spanish. Science and history were fairly self-contained so she wouldn’t really be behind there. She could play catch up in Spanish this year and in language arts next year. Furthermore, she would get to know some of the students in the seventh grade class who might become her classmates. An excellent plan all around!
Wouldn’t it be great if all gifted students had someone watching out for them and helping plan ahead for their educational needs? I know we were fortunate. The gifted specialist helped my daughter make productive use of the two half periods that resulted from taking a class with the eighth-graders due to scheduling problems. My daughter spent this time in the library working on a passion pursuit in particle physics. She studied and read and worked with a mentor and at the end of the year she wrote a 15-page paper on particle physics. The specialist also made sure that my daughter studied for and passed her constitution test, since that is required of all seventh graders.
By the end of the year my daughter was ready for the challenge of eighth grade according to all of her teachers and the gifted specialist and based on her self-assessment. Now the school administrators were caught in the uncomfortable position of either accelerating her or having to devise a way for her to take geometry at the high school as a seventh grader, which was a challenging proposition given the way the middle school schedule worked. Voila, they elected to support our proposal to skip seventh grade!
It pays to have a longer-range plan!
The following year my daughter spent the first two periods of the day at the high school taking honors biology and honors geometry. (Her 8th grade science teacher had read her paper on particle physics and advocated for her to skip ahead in science that year!) She spent the rest of the day in eighth grade at the middle school. That year she applied to IMSA, the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and was invited to attend as a sophomore the following year. And as a matter of policy, it is impossible to “run out of math” at IMSA!
Newenka DuMont is the parent of two profoundly gifted daughters who are now in their twenties. She continues to advocate for gifted children through her role as president of the Chicago Gifted Community Center and her position on the board of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children. Newenka can be reached at NewenkaDuMont@ChicagoGiftedCommunity.org
The Illinois Association for Gifted Children is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.
© Illinois Association for Gifted Children