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St. Louis Park Public Schools Leads the Way in Talent Development Programming

Updated 3-10-23

Students at Susan Lindgren Elementary School, like all of our elementary schools, are learning how to code and animate objects in Ms. Meg Schauer second grade talent development class. In collaboration with many incredible teachers, Ms. Schauer, like all of the talent development teachers in each of St. Louis Park’s elementary schools, engages students in hands-on topics that are related to what they are learning in other classes.

During technology time, students use ipads and coding applications to apply animation effects to concepts they learned in science. Students have learned how to adjust settings, make objects move in different directions, and change the speed of objects. In this lesson, students studied the movements of aquatic species and replicated these motions through coding. 

“I like that we code. I like math, and there’s science. One time we got to make a boat out of foam,” said second grader Yvonne Williams. The foam boat was from a previous lesson, and though Yvonne recalls her boat sinking, she says what she learned from the lesson applies to the coding project she is working on. 

For this lesson, Ms. Schauer teaches students basic coding skills and gives special challenges and tasks to complete. She explains the meanings of words like algorithm, and gives space for students to put what they learn to the test. When students make mistakes, there are opportunities to go back and try again.

Throughout talent development programming, students learn important skills that apply to their everyday lives. One of the most important lessons students learn is if mistakes happen, it is best to try again.

“Embracing the fact that you can make mistakes in life is going to just help you grow and learn. All our approaches to learning right now are being mindful,” shared Ms. Schauer. 

This important lesson is already being instilled in this second grade class, and they are applying the problem solving, creative thinking, and other skills to lessons just like Yvonne has been doing. 

St. Louis Park Public School has a robust elementary enrichment program that provides culturally relevant talent development programming 120 minutes a week to every K-5 student through STEAM programming (science, technology, education and human development, the arts, and math.) The approach ensures all students benefit from strengths based, culturally-relevant enrichment programming that develops students' talents, skills and cognitive ability to engage at their highest levels. 

“In talent development classes, students participate in inquiry-based learning. This learning process engages students by making real-world connections through exploration and high-level questioning. It encourages the learner in problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration. As K-5 talent development teachers, we view enrichment as an opportunity for exposure and excitement about STEAM topics. Enrichment in our spaces looks like hands-on activities connected to transdisciplinary concepts and content specific vocabulary." - K-5  Talent Development Team.

The model is based on the research of Gloria Ladson-Billings, prolific researcher and author, and Yvette Jackson, the former Gifted and Talented Director for New York City Public Schools (Pedagogy of Confidence, 2011) who partnered with St. Louis Park Public Schools in creating our model. By discovering and cultivating students’ untapped brilliance through gifted education, we can  remove the predictability of academic success and interrupt inequitable practices. 

In 2021, St. Louis Park Public Schools significantly expanded enrichment programming and access for all students in all grade-levels. The district replaced all pull-out remedial math and reading intervention programs with research-based enrichment programs, co-teaching, and coaching at the elementary level, as well as discontinued all pull-out remedial math and reading intervention programs at the secondary level. Previously, only a small portion of students in our elementary schools received only 40 minutes of gifted programming per week. It is important to understand that we have not eliminated or decreased any learning experiences by expanding enrichment programming for students. 

St. Louis Park Public Schools receives an annual grant from the Minnesota Department of Education which provides eight full time enrichment teachers, two at each elementary school. In addition to teaching, they provide monthly professional development to elementary teachers around strategies for supporting the giftedness of students. Every elementary school also has a literacy specialist who provides culturally relevant coaching and support for K-5 teachers, students, and classrooms.

Over the span of their school careers, students engage in multiple forms of enrichment across their classes and coursework in St. Louis Park Public Schools. Middle school students participate in enrichment projects and extension activities and high school students choose from more than 40 Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Concurrent College courses.

Learn more about St. Louis Park Public Schools enrichment programming.