Teach for the Reach

A responsive learning environment for growing up gifted.

At Riverside Presbyterian Day School it is our belief that every child is unique and has special God-given gifts. The RPDS academic and enrichment curriculum is implemented through high expectations and thoughtful teaching to the developmental stages of children. Our teachers and leadership team are committed to differentiating for academic rigor and challenge for our high potential gifted students. We are also mindful of the complexities of the social and emotional needs of gifted children.

Our curriculum is designed to provide in-depth academic instruction with a robust variety of enrichment opportunities. Strong educational offerings in Science, Math, Social Sciences and the Arts make RPDS a challenging environment that responds to the interests and creativity of the gifted learner.

RPDS is filled with bright, diligent, imaginative and kind children. We are committed to providing an independent school education that understands and responds to children who are growing up gifted.

How a responsive learning environment for growing up gifted is achieved:

1. Experienced Teachers

Our experienced teachers are the key to identifying the unique needs of the gifted learner. Their many years of teaching have equipped them with a broad understanding of students’ various learning styles. This keen understanding enables our teachers to be skilled in addressing the heightened curiosities, passions and academic abilities of gifted students. Our faculty individually personalizes the curriculum and can intensify the depth of the curriculum and implement teaching strategies that are appropriate to the academic and social needs of the gifted student. RPDS teachers consistently monitor their students’ progress and deliver differentiated curriculum in a nurturing, and engaging environment. High expectations and continuous opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving are part of how RPDS provides a challenging environment for the gifted learner. Our experienced teachers thoughtfully guide the development of the student and instill the love of learning essential to the education of a gifted child.

2. Small Class Size

Small class size provides the social and emotional opportunity for each student to feel an important part of their class. The teacher and students can become very familiar with one another’s interests, strengths and needs. This is extremely important for the verbal, gifted learner. Not only is there time for class discussion, presentations and debate, there is dedicated class time to individually meet with the teacher to talk and discuss learning and social topics in depth. Small class size allows teachers to pre- test learning, compact curriculum as needed, and to develop instruction that targets the heightened ability of the gifted learner. A small class size offers gifted learners a supportive environment that encourages them to progress at an academic pace that meets their individual interests and strengths.

3. Robust Enrichment Classes and Daily Physical Education

Supplementing the core academic areas of Math, Science, Reading, English and Social Studies are enrichment classes including: Spanish, Computer, Art, Music, Drama and Movement. Students attend Physical Education daily and have ample opportunity for unstructured physical play each day. For the gifted learner these enrichment classes provide academic balance and opportunity to further satisfy their many creative and physical interests. Each enrichment class is taught by a specialized teacher who posses an intense level of knowledge and passion for their subjects’. Many times gifted learners find inspiration from teachers with such focused expertise. An intense interest in research can be a characteristic of a gifted learner. Gifted students many times enjoy the use of technology for its creativity and ability to provide facts and information for problem solving and critical thinking. The use of school laptops and technological experiences in the classroom enhance this drive to discover, create and learn.

4. Administrative Support and Gifted Endorsement Coursework

The Riverside Presbyterian Day School administration team is committed to being knowledgeable, flexible and supportive to gifted students and their families. The administrative team works to know each student, his or her needs, and commits their expertise to support the gifted learners’ academic program. Even offering schedule adjustments when needed for accelerated subject level needs. The administration continually observes class lessons and provides staff professional development to promote best practice teaching.

Riverside Presbyterian Day School is the teaching site for Gifted Endorsement Coursework offered to Independent School Teachers from the Jacksonville Area. Please contact Mrs. Leslie Prohaska, Director of Curriculum and Student Life, at lprohaska@rpds.com for further information.

5. Guidance, Bible Study, and Parent Support

Not all gifted learners are “autonomous gifted students” those that excel in all academic and physical activities. A heightened interest and ability in one academic area can pair with less confidence in another subject area. Special attention must also be paid to perfectionism, fears, self esteem issues, and sometimes a lack of motivation. Parenting a gifted student can have its unique challenges. Many parents feel ill-equipped to parent a child with such high intellect. At RPDS we understand these parental concerns and are available to assist you. Students attend weekly Chapel as well as Bible Guidance classes balancing the cognitive needs of gifted learners with instruction in empathy, and spirituality. For the sometimes highly empathetic gifted child these courses offer a sense of social responsibility and the desire to make the world a better place to live. Many times passions and interests emerge through the development of one’s own moral compass.

6. Support Staff and Curriculum Coordinator

Specialized educators, endorsed in gifted education, are on staff at RPDS to assist teachers, students, and parents with any additional gifted educational needs. Keeping apprised of gifted educational research and related topics is another important way RPDS maintains a challenging academic community. The wonderful news is that research repeatedly shows that all children benefit from the skills, techniques and lesson planning employed to support our gifted learners.

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