SIG eNewsletter: The Gifted Student

February 2015

Sponsored by the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children

In this issue:

SIG is a program of NSGT, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization

From the President's Desk

A letter from Barbara Swicord, President of SIG:

In a month focused on LOVE, one of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to speak with parents about their gifted children. Recently, at the Torrance Center for Creativity in Athens, Georgia, I met many wonderfully engaged parents who were eager for information about programs as well as information about the issues involved in raising and educating children of high potential. Kudos to these parents for coming out on the weekend and to all parents for the energy and enthusiasm you exude in helping your children maximize their potential!

One of my conversations this weekend raised the topic of acceleration. I continue to be surprised and saddened by how slowly general opinion is changing about acceleration in schools. It seems to me that many of the issues raised by parents could be solved through the many possible acceleration strategies that are fairly easily implemented by schools. There is still a substantial hesitation to move students out of their age groups or to accelerate them beyond the curriculum of their age level grade. There seems to be much more concern about socialization with age peers than actualization with mental peers.

While such concern is certainly understandable and worthy of sincere attention, it is equally important to consider the wealth of positive research surrounding acceleration. That’s why I was so excited to read A Nation Deceived, and why I’m looking forward to the ten-year follow-up to this research coming this spring! This Templeton report, subtitled How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, and compiled by Nicholas Colangelo, Susan Assouline, and Miraca Gross, was released in 2004 to anyone who wishes to read it, and I encourage you to do so, if you have not already.

Here are just 4 of the 20 most important points from volume II of the report for you to sample:

  • Acceleration is the most effective curriculum intervention for gifted children.
  • Acceleration is a virtually cost-free intervention.
  • The 18 types of acceleration available to bright students fall into two broad categories: grade-based acceleration, which shortens the number of years a student spends in the K–12 system, and subject-based acceleration, which allows for advanced content earlier than customary.
  • Many educators have been largely negative about the practice of acceleration, despite abundant research evidence for its success and viability.

Some of those 18 types of acceleration include:

  • Early admission to Kindergarten, First Grade, Middle School, High School, or College
  • Grade Skipping
  • Subject matter acceleration, curriculum compacting, telescoping curriculum
  • Advanced Placement, credit by examination
  • Mentoring
  • And many more!

So, the reader can see that there are many ways to accelerate, many options from which to choose what might be best for any individual student at any point in time. The decision must be made jointly with the child, parents, and school considering what is in the student's best interest. We encourage educators and parents to consider acceleration options when the student is not being provided with educational opportunities that are commensurate with her or his abilities and where there is not sufficient academic challenge.

SIG programs provide another avenue of acceleration in various ways. A student will encounter content in our programs earlier than would be expected in a traditional core curriculum, such as algebra for 9- and 10-year-olds or medical microbiology for 13- and 14-year-olds. They can also accelerate within our courses to the extent they desire. For example, 11- and 12-year-olds could take a topic in Newtonian physics and go off in an extended idea of interest to them that would accelerate them beyond what other students would be interested in learning about that topic. Or, a 15- to 17-year-old may become fascinated by the crime scene investigation aspect of botany and embark on a personal research journey in that area.

I hope that you will take a moment to think about the gifted children in your life and assess what types of acceleration they are (or could be) involved in, and what types of acceleration might be best suited to them. If you have great success stories that would help others, we'd love to hear from you. If there is work yet to be done in this area with your student, read the research, contact the decision-makers in your education system, and talk over options and consequences with the student.

I'd LOVE to hear about instances where folks have fallen in LOVE with acceleration!

Barbara Swicord
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted

"We Have Come Across Something Special" – A Parent Testimonial

As parents, my husband and I realize we have come upon something special. SIG is not just another academic camp. Living in the DC metro area, the number of camp offerings is beyond numerous, and it is frankly a confusing process to decipher quality from the rest. The SIG experience has allowed both of our sons to learn AND have fun in a safe and nurturing environment. It is fun and “cool” to be interested in learning. The staff makes our children feel confident in their questions, and they support our kids fully in their learning process. It is also very comforting as a parent to know they are surrounded by like-minded children. My boys are encouraged to look for more answers and know that there is a place where learning will never be boring. They have also been given the opportunity to learn tangible skills earlier than they typically would in school – these skills (e.g. oral, written/typed communication, and presentation) have given our boys additional confidence in school. Giving young children such as mine the gift of fun learning is something for which I can never be too grateful.

My sons Zayd (8½) and Rayn (5½) both attended SIG summer camp at Woods Academy in Bethesda MD last summer. Zayd also attended the summer of 2013. As the three weeks came to an end, I was expecting that they would be excited about what came next…vacation. Surprisingly (at least to me), they were sad to say goodbye to their new friends and the "best camp ever." They had developed strong connections with their peers as well as with the wonderfully supportive staff. When talking about camp summer options for this upcoming summer, SIG was the only obvious word that came to both of their minds.

While looking at the 2015 summer class options, Zayd started reminiscing on his favorite moments from his past two summers. His favorite class was Sport Stop. For obvious reasons, this class was fun for a sports enthusiast like Zayd because he was able to play the sport he loves to play more than any other – basketball. SIG, however, adds an element that is unique. In addition to learning about how to play the game, Zayd created a PowerPoint presentation about the life and career of his favorite basketball player. These presentation skills were new to Zayd, and he has been able to use these skills for creative additions to his second grade class and various projects.

After enjoying the summer so much, Zayd wanted to participate in a SIG Online Learning program – a writing course. His favorite assignment and the one he is most proud of was when he wrote a poem that would become lyrics. His teacher then allowed Zayd to collaborate with her musician son, who composed music to his lyrics – and a song was created! Performing and recording it brought out a voice that Zayd didn’t know he had. Zayd is now a part of a band – after being so inspired by the creative process of writing and performing this song.

On a more practical note, Zayd’s typing skills were honed as a subtle class objective. These writing skills have enabled Zayd to confidently communicate his thoughts in school. In fact, when he has a hard day, I find him writing his feelings in a poem/lyric form. These experiences have encouraged and allowed him to express himself in mature ways that were not readily available prior to his SIG experience.

– Zeena Lafeer, SIG Parent

Kevin's Korner

Hello everyone! Regular readers of this column know that what we write here often corresponds with events taking place concurrently, such as the school year or new calendar year starting. This month will be no exception, as we usher in February as the National Heart Association’s National Heart month and of course Valentine’s Day. This timely focus on the heart helps remind us what SIG is all about – doing what we love.

One of our key philosophies at the Summer Institute for the Gifted is to align student learning with passions and interests. Time after time we have seen students reach a deep level of engagement in their studies due to their pursuit of individualized objectives and immersion in individualized curriculum. I’m sure that we can all relate to this experience in our lives and careers. When we are involved in completing a project that we feel very strongly about and connected with, we find it more satisfying and gratifying to take part in. Conversely, for those tasks that we honestly don’t feel the same connection with, not as much.

So, is there any proof, other than personal stories of increased engagement and enjoyment, that pursuing what we are passionate about brings tangible health benefits to our hearts or otherwise? Many tout the benefits of such a path, referring to their personal experiences, but since passion and satisfaction are difficult to quantify, concrete proof can be elusive. If we assume that working toward something that is not all that interesting and engaging produces stress, we perhaps come a little closer to finding solid correlations between passion and health.

As the American Psychological Association points out, even “dream jobs” produce stress (including deadlines, performance expectations, and other responsibilities). While stress can motivate us, too much stress can overwhelm us. You may continually worry about your job responsibilities, have less than enjoyable working relationships with co-workers or supervisors, or take on extra work in order to “get ahead,” which can affect personal relationships and increase work-related pressure.

Your physical health can be compromised due to prolonged job-related stress. Constant preoccupation with job responsibilities can impact eating habits and lead to limited exercise, contributing to increased weight, elevated cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure. Such stress can lead to burnout, which often involves emotional exhaustion, accompanied by increasingly negative attitudes toward others, yourself, and the world in general.

Depression can result from burnout as well, which has been linked to many debilitating health conditions including stroke, obesity, eating disorders, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and heart disease.

So, particularly during this month in which we pay close attention to matters of the heart, make sure to follow yours academically, professionally, and/or creatively. Much as we guide our students to do, make your personal objective to pursue your passions and interests in meaningful ways, and you will likely receive the benefits of doing so not only through this month, but for years to come.

Kevin Wickersham
Academic Director
Summer Institute for the Gifted

Campus Spotlight: Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr is one of the world’s most distinctive, distinguished colleges, located 11 miles west of Philadelphia on a beautiful, 135.5-acre campus in Montgomery County. It was the first higher education institution to offer graduate degrees, including doctorates, to women. Its history has been defined by a commitment to intellectual rigor and freedom of conscience. The Bryn Mawr buildings are truly original in their adaptation of Jacobean Gothic and possess romance and charm.

Learn more about SIG at Bryn Mawr

Fun Facts!

  • You can get a 360-degree look at sample dorm rooms at
  • During the decades surrounding World War II, Bryn Mawr became home to many distinguished European scholars who were refugees from Nazi persecution.
  • SIG has been on campus since 1987 – the school's beautiful, compact campus is a perfect location for a first-time SIG student.
  • A SIG Day program is also available at Bryn Mawr College for students ages 5 through 8.

SIG offers many options for students who wish to attend this program:

  • Residential Program for students ages 9-14
    Students choosing this option will participate in the full curriculum of SIG including the 4-period academic day, evening programs, Saturday Get-Away Day and Weekend Activity Day. Students live on campus in dormitories.

  • Commuter Program for students ages 9-14 (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
    Commuter students participate in the full 4-period academic day, lunch and recreation period. They do not participate in any weekend or evening activities. Commuter students must be dropped off at 8:30 a.m. and picked up at 5:30 p.m.

  • Extended Commuter Program for students ages 9-14 (8:30 a.m. - 9:15 p.m.)
    Extended commuter students will participate in the full 4-period academic day, lunch, recreation period, dinner and all evening activities, as well as the Saturday Get-Away Day trip. Extended commuters do not reside on campus or take part in Sunday activities.

  • Day Program for students ages 5-8 (8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. with extended care options)
    Students participate in a 4-period academic day on campus.

Please call 866.303.4744 today for more information or visit our website.

Do You Have a Fun Fundraising Idea?

The Summer Institute for the Gifted is looking for ways to increase our scholarships for those with financial need. Do you have a fundraising idea that would help with this? A donor advocate has donated an iPad to be given to the student with the best idea. It’s all about giving back...we look forward to hearing your ideas.

Submit your ideas to Kristin Bernor at Deadline for entry is March 15, 2015.

Submit Your SIG Story

What's your SIG story? We want to know!

Submit your experiences here or via video to! Do so and you may even see yourself on our website!

Puzzle Corner

What letter should appear next in this sequence?

I   P   U   X   ?

Submit your answer online at The first student who submits the correct answer will receive recognition in the next issue of The Gifted Student!


Last Month's Puzzle

Two cars set off from the same point and travel the same route. The first car has a start of nine minutes before the second car sets off. If the first car travels at 55 km/h and the second car travels at 60 km/h, how many kilometers from the starting point will they draw level?

A: 99 kilometers

Congratulations to Emily from Weston, MA, for being the first to respond with the correct answer to last month's puzzle!

Upcoming Conferences & Events


Atlanta Parent Camp Expo
February 21, 2015
Town Center Mall
Kennesaw, Georgia

TAGT Parent Conference/Summer Program Expo
February 21, 2015
Walsh Middle School, Round Rock ISD
Round Rock, Texas


Kentucky Association for Gifted Education (KAGE) Annual Conference
February 23 - 24, 2015
"Toward Excellence and Beyond Proficiency - Gifted Education in Kentucky," Speakers: Thomas Hébert, Linda Sheffield, Julia Roberts, Jan Lanham, Tracy Inman, Leah Ellis
Hyatt Regency
Lexington, Kentucky


Arkansas Association for Gifted and Talented (AGATE)
February 25 - 27, 2015
Keynotes: Felice Kaufman;
Little Rock Marriott
Little Rock, Arkansas


Beverly Hills High School Parent Information Session
February 26, 2015, 6:30-7:30pm
Presentation on all SIG programs
Beverly Hills High School
Beverly Hills, California

Nebraska Association for the Gifted (NAG)
February 26 - 27, 2015
"Beyond Motivation - Igniting the Passion for Learning," Keynotes: Jann Leppien and Del Siegle
Omaha, Nebraska


Vanderbilt Gifted Education Institute
February 26 - 27, 2015
"Developing, Implementing and Differentiating Curriculum for Gifted Learners"
Nashville, Tennessee


California Association for the Gifted Conference (CAG)
February 27 - March 1, 2015
Dr. Barbara Swicord, President of SIG, will be presenting at the conference.
"Cut to the Core: Past, Present, and Future Trends in Recognizing and Responding to All Students," Keynotes: Richard Cash and Kathy Jones,
Palm Springs Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center
Palm Springs, California

Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG), Minds in Motion
February 28, 2015
Masuk High School
Monroe, Connecticut


Phillips Academy Summer Opportunities Fair
February, 1, 2015
Phillips Academy Campus
Andover, MA

Yale Summer Camp Fair
March 3, 2015
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

STAGE Summer Camp Fair
March 5, 2015
Lisle, Illinois

North Carolina Association of Gifted & Talented (NCAGT)
March 5 - 6, 2015
"AIG: At the Heart of North Carolina"
Winston-Salem Marriott & Embassy Suites Hotels
Winston-Salem, North Carolina


New Jersey Association for Gifted Children (NJAGC)
March 6 - 7, 2014
Dr. Barbara Swicord, President of SIG, and Erika Paine, Program Director for SIG, will be presenting.
"Full Steam Ahead," Keynotes: Jim Delisle
Hotel Somerset-Bridgewater
Somerset, New Jersey

Georgia Association for Gifted Children (GAGC) Convention
March 9, 2015
"Perspectives on Creativity," Keynote: Richard Cash
The Classics Center
Athens, Georgia

SIG Information Session @ University of Miami
March 9, 2015
Presentation and Q&A
Miami, FL

SIG Information Session @ The Weiss School
March 10, 2015
Presentation and Q&A
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

National Curriculum Network Conference (NCNC) Recommended
March 12 - 13, 2015
Dr. Barbara Swicord, President of SIG, will be presenting.
Keynotes: Susan K. Johnsen and Del Siegle; Center for Gifted Education (CFGE)
The College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia

MDE Gifted Programs Network Meetings
March 13, 2015
"Beyond Ability: What it takes to be successful in the 21st century," Presenter: Richard Cash


Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG), Minds in Motion
March 21, 2015
Westport, Connecticut

Inland Northwest Conference
March 21, 2015
"Celebration of Talent"
Spokane, Washington


NAGC State Affiliate Conference
March 21 - 24, 2015
Leaders of state gifted education associations meet annually
Washington D.C.


Spread the News!

If you are excited about what you have seen in The Gifted Student newsletter, please share it with your friends. Or send us their names and email addresses, and we'll put them on our email list. Write to Michelle Holleran at with "The Gifted Student" in the subject line to subscribe.