Tidbit # 14-A Major Issue In Education Today

October 23, 2022

A Major Issue In Education Today

Too many students fail to reach their potential because they did not receive appropriately challenging curriculum and services. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) reports that 73% of teachers agreed that, “Too often the brightest students are bored and under-challenged in school. – we’re not giving them a sufficient chance to thrive.” Our nation’s education policies narrowly focus on the achievement gap for struggling learners, which is extremely problematic for the widening “excellence gap” faced by high-ability students. Additionally, it is a well-known, indisputable fact in the field of gifted education that minorities are underrepresented in gifted programs nationwide. Most regular classroom teachers do not possess the knowledge nor receive adequate training to recognize and address the needs of high-ability learners. This is even more pronounced for children of color, English Language Learners, and children from low-income backgrounds. Regular classroom teachers, in the public setting, are under a prohibitive amount of pressure to close the achievement gap of their struggling students; while this is an important measure, it shouldn’t be at the expense of our gifted and talented students.

When the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into a downward spiral, an opportunity like no other fell into my lap. My undergraduate and graduate professor from Pfeiffer University, Dr. Laura Lowder, reached out to me in hopes that I would help her build a fully accredited, virtual, private school for gifted students, Scholars Academy for the Gifted and Artistically Elite.  Honored to be chosen to help spearhead the development of such a unique initiative, I said “yes!” without hesitation and threw myself into a nationwide virtual community of gifted scholars. At the time, I was also in my fifth year of teaching in a public elementary school in North Carolina. Over the course of the past three years, I have had the opportunity to provide research-based, quality, engaging teaching and learning experiences with more than thirty families of gifted children nationwide. Through these unique interactions with gifted students and gifted parents alike, I have been able to experience and view gifted education through a lens wider than ever before. As I continue to learn and grow on this journey, it becomes more and more evident that the need to provide high-quality education for all students is essential. Many of the scholars that enroll in our virtual school are fleeing from the public school systems in their states because they are failing to identify, acknowledge and meet the unique needs of these children. Teacher training, in the majority of public institutions nationwide, focuses solely on students who are struggling and falling behind. There is an extremely problematic mindset among educators that the gifted child will “get it” and “be just fine” and, therefore, does not require attention or support. Although there are many teachers and administrators who truly do have their hearts in the right place, public entities lack the funding, support, and resources to prevent “gifted” students from being lost in the shuffle. 

When asked about working for both schools, people often questioned which was best; private schools versus public schools, in-person compared to virtual learning. I do not believe that there is a one-size-fits-all, right answer. Every child is a unique individual, deserving of a champion that will fight to provide exactly what they need. 

At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, after two years of working both jobs, I made the tough decision to resign from public education and focus my whole heart on helping to build Scholars Academy. Here at Scholars Academy, every day, I get to innovate creative, pedagogical solutions to support the shared goals of gifted and twice-exceptional students, all while expanding my cultural awareness and competency. I have the freedom to provide rigorous coursework that is specially designed for individual students’ needs. I am no longer restricted to teaching students solely based on their age, instead, I am allowed to target their individual skill levels. If students are excelling through lessons, I can move at whatever pace is most logical… I no longer have to follow a county’s pacing guide. It’s beautiful and magical in every way! I am proud to work for an entity that refuses to allow gifted students to lose their fire and unequivocally believes that equity and culturally responsive practices must be provided to all children, regardless of their race, religion, or socioeconomic status. 

Hannah Hill Park, M.Ed.

AIG (K-12) & Elementary Education Educator Licensure

Third-Year Scholars Academy Faculty

Union County (NC) Teacher of the Year (21-23)

Associate Director of Innovation

Scholars Academy for the Gifted

Board Member & Podcast Host of NCAGT Talent Talk

The North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented, Inc. 

Champion of Children