The ASPIRE Academy at Connolly Middle School is designed for academically gifted students in sixth-eighth grade who require additional intellectual and creative challenge to reach their full potential. The Academy meets the unique social and emotional needs of gifted middle school students by providing the safe and supportive environment necessary for the growth of students with high potential. ASPIRE stands for Actualizing Student Potential Increases Resiliency and Excellence.
Gifted endorsed, highly qualified subject-area teachers offer curricula in the core subjects of math, science, social studies, and language arts which challenge students at their levels of intellectual abilities. Additionally, students are able to take project-based learning classes that meet daily in high-interest subjects such as forensics, theater, sustainability, math explorations, and electronics and critical thinking. Students also choose another elective such as technology or the arts, including symphony orchestra, choir, and band. This interdisciplinary approach is reflective of the unique way gifted children learn, and creates a seamless transition between the K-5 PACE program and the ASPIRE Academy.
Gifted students learn differently. They learn at a rapid pace, delve deeply, and make countless connections among and between topics and subjects. They need an environment that offers curricula that match these unique learning styles. Their curiosity, creativity, intensities, sensitivities, and advanced learning styles are embraced and appreciated by their teachers and classmates. A school of like-minded peers with teachers who understand and appreciate the needs of gifted learners allows these students to flourish intellectually, socially, and emotionally in a rigorous and engaging atmosphere.
To be considered for the ASPIRE Academy, a student must meet the following criteria:
- Gifted qualification at 94th percentile or higher in at least one area on a state board-approved test for gifted identification
- 85th percentile or higher in at least one other area on a state board-approved test for gifted identification
- High performance on an achievement test
- Teacher recommendations
- Evaluation of completed application
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