How do I know if a child is considered academically gifted, especially if the child is not in Kindergarten yet?
A gifted child often exhibits several of the following characteristics:
• Learns quickly and easily • Is extremely persistent
• Generally displays an advanced vocabulary • Is intense, logical, precise
• Has a good memory • Is a perfectionist
• Has the ability to reason and think in complex ways • Has an acute sense of justice
• Has a passion for learning • Has a great sense of humour
• Exhibits verbal proficiency • Needs mental stimulation
• Has a high energy level • Has a vivid imagination
• Is curious/questioning • Is sensitive and perceptive
Websites, books and other publications are available to help with the identification of a gifted learner.
It may be helpful to speak with staff and parents of gifted education programs.
An assessment of intelligence (I.Q. Test) can be administered by a Registered Psychologist.
What are some of the unique needs of academically gifted students?
Gifted students benefit from a learning environment where they feel encouraged to strive for excellence; where they have opportunities to socialize with peers who have similar abilities and interests; and where the Teachers and school Administration understand that gifted students:
• need enhanced learning experiences that will provide a challenge for them at their level (not just more of what they have already mastered to keep them busy), otherwise they may become disruptive, withdrawn, unmotivated, or may not reach their full potential;
• need opportunities to think alternatively and to pursue learning according to their own learning styles;
• may have heightened sensitivities or intense behaviors as part of their giftedness; and
• may have incongruity between their social and emotional level and their intellectual level.
How is New Horizons School different from other public schools?
It is a public charter school meaning that it has a specific mandate in addition to following the Alberta government's education curriculum. New Horizons School's charter focuses on the needs of academically gifted students.
Curriculum can be compacted (allowing students to move through certain areas more quickly) or enriched (with individual and/or class learning experiences) to better meet the gifted students' needs.
Every student has an Individual Program Plan (IPP) that outlines specific goals and methods for reaching the goals. IPPs are developed at the beginning of each school year and reviewed periodically every year. Alberta Education requires that each student who receives a special education designation be provided with an IPP.
All students complete Independent Study Projects. These projects allow students to learn about a topic of their choosing; to gain research and organizational skills; to develop presentations (e.g., a poster, book, display, or computer presentation); and to build self-confidence in public speaking.
Teachers and the school Administration understand, and are continually learning more about, the unique characteristics and needs (intellectual, social and emotional) of gifted students.
All students learn French as a second language.
Math Acceleration: Grade 1-9 math classes occur at the same time so that students who have been accelerated are able to join the class of similar ability students.
How is New Horizons School similar to other public schools?
The school is publicly funded. Parents are required to pay only regular school fees that are comparable to other public schools' fees. It is not a private school.
The Alberta government's education curriculum is followed and the school is accountable to the Alberta Minister of Education.
Each class consists mainly of same-age students.
Students are able to participate in a variety of school clubs, music programs, and field trips.
What is a charter school?
The purpose of charter schools is to expand the range of opportunities within the Alberta education system by offering innovative or enhanced programs and delivery methods in order to improve studente learning.
Alberta is the first, and only, Canadian province with charter schools. Charter school legislation was introduced in Alberta in 1994. New Horizons Charter School was established in 1995 as the first charter school in Canada. There are now various charter schools across Alberta. According to the Alberta Charter Schools Regulation, the number of charter schools may not exceed 15 at any one time.
All charter schools must follow the Alberta government's education curriculum, derive their funding from public school taxes, and have full accountability to the Alberta Minister of Education. Charter schools in Alberta are not private schools. However, because they operate independently, they can offer more innovative and focused programs than most other public schools can.
Unlike regular public schools in Canada, which are governed by district school Boards with authority over all schools in the district, charter schools are governed by Boards of Directors elected by the parents and responsible for a single school. The New Horizons School board of Directors is elected by the members (parents) of the New Horizons Charter School Society.
New Horizons School's charter focuses on enabling academically gifted students to achieve excellence in an environment that supports the students' unique intellectual, social and emotional needs.
Charter document requirements are listed in Section 35 of the Province of Alberta School Act and in Section 4 of the Charter Schools Regulation.
Each charter school must apply for a renewal of their charter every five years or less. Five years is the maximum term allowed by the Charter Schools Regulation. The Charter Schools Regulation also requires the Minister of Education to conduct a minimum of one evaluation of each charter school within the term of its charter. The evaluation is a very time-consuming process that does not occur in regular public schools, but it is also a valuable opportunity to identify areas of strength and to facilitate continuous improvement.
For further information please see:
The New Horizons Charter School Society's Charter
The School Act and Charter Schools Regulation at www.qp.alberta.ca
The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools at www.taapcs.ca
What does it cost to attend New Horizons School?
The school is publicly funded, therefore parents are required to pay only regular school fes that are comparable to other Strathcona County public schools' fees.
Where does funding come from for New Horizons School?
New Horizons is a public school, therefore it receives the same per pupil grant from Alberta Education as any other public school in Alberta. The School/Parent Council raises additional funds through a variety of activities to support the school programs.
Are bussing services available?
New Horizons School contracts Elk Island Public Schools Transportation to provide bussing to/from the school. While there is currently no transportation fee, one that is comparable to that of other local school Boards will likely be implemented in the near future.
What is the process for enrolment in New Horizons School?
An assessment of intelligence (I.Q.Test), indicating that a child has scored within or above the Superior range, must accompany a school application form and a checklist that is completed by parents.
The assessment results, application forms, and any previous school information are then reviewed by an Admissions Committee. If a student is accepted into the school, a registration form must be completed.
Occasionally, due to high enrolment, students are placed on a waiting list.
The assessment is to be done by a Registered Psychologist and is the responsibility of parents to arrange. Parents are also responsible for the assessment costs. Costs may be covered by some health care plans.
Please contact the school and see REGISTRATION info on the website for more details.
What does the New Horizons School Jr. High program offer?
• Small class sizes
• Various opportunities to pursue individual interests such as science fair and independent study projects
• Unique option courses
• Service learning opportunities
• Adventure trips to other provinces
• Opportunities to accelerate to above grade-level math: Students working above the grade 9 level are provided with grade 10 math coursework so they can earn their grade 10 math credit.
• Individually assigned lap-top computers
Where do New Horizons students go to school after grade nine?
Many students attend high schools in Sherwood Park and choose Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs. Some graduates attend Old Scona Academic High School in Edmonton.
What do the New Horizons School staff do to enhance their knowledge of gifted education?
The staff continually develop their ability to deliver a quality gifted education program and to address the educational as well as the social-emotional needs of gifted learners by:
• attending gifted education conferences and courses, in addition to attending traditional professional development conferences and courses for educators
• reading literature about gifted education
• communicating and collaborating with others involved in gifted education (i.e. other schools, organizations, consultants, etc.)
• trialing and monitoring assessment tools, teaching methods, etc.
Staff also participate in activities to help educate the public about New Horizons School and the needs of gifted learners.