A Bayside private school listened to public demand and spent the past year developing its first gifted and talented program, modeled closely to the style offered throughout the city in order to revive its weak enrollment numbers.
For the first time, the Lutheran School of Flushing and Bayside will implement a kindergarten gifted and talented program in the first of three phases until students through eighth-grade can participate. Warren Castellani, the head of the school, said this offered a unique opportunity for Bayside parents looking to put their kids in a program not often used in the private school realm.
“We decided to stop competing with public and Catholic schools and find our own little niche market,” Castellani said. “Our goal is to get as close to the city programs as possible so a parent can come from a public school and transition into our program easily.”
By ushering in a gifted and talented program for students from nursery school through eighth-grade over the next three or four years, Castellani said he would be able to hire more instructors and provide a more lengthy classroom agenda with more trips, projects and technology.
“Our school has been struggling with smaller enrollment in the higher grades,” Castellani said, adding that only seven students were registered for the school’s eighth-grade program. “We are trying to figure out how to fulfill our mission.”
Since working to implement the program at the kindergarten level, Castellani said he already hired an additional instructor to his staff.
“Because the kids are already eager and anxious to learn, we should be able to get through lessons in less time,” Castellani said. “We will be able to expand on our programs. Teachers will have more time to take the kids a little further.”
According to the city Department of Education, gifted and talented programs take regular coursework and revamp lessons for students with an exceptional academic ability. In gifted and talented programs, students are grouped with like-minded peers and typically experience an accelerated curriculum.
Castellani said the Lutheran school, at 36-01 Bell Blvd., gauged public input by interviewing residents up and down Bell last year, asking what parents were looking for in a gifted and talented program.
Lutheran’s arts- and technology-based program will begin for kindergartners in September with 18 seats — half of which have already been enrolled, Castellani said. By starting small, the head of the school said the program will be watched closely so it may grow and adjust accordingly to match the standards of the similar city programs.
The program will then be extended in the coming years all the way through eighth-grade.
“We want to take this slowly and make sure it is all done correctly,” Castellani said.
Interested parents can either bring their child’s city gifted and talented test scores above 90 percent to the Lutheran school or have the youngster tested on site to determine if he or she is eligible for enrollment.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community News Group
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