Innovations in Gifted Education at Westmount Charter School
As a Charter School, Westmount is expected to engage in innovative educational practices that improve the overall educational landscape in Alberta. In over a decade of operation, the school has introduced a number of fresh practices and perspectives which are detailed in the historical overview below. Currently, our innovative practices include:
- Admissions practices which recognize the complexity of giftedness. Students are admitted not solely on the basis of across-the-board IQ thresholds, but on a broad range of input from parents, educators, and student interviews, test and assessment activities.
- a strong emphasis on humanitarianism as a key component to the full social-emotional development of gifted adolescents. Locally-developed Human Condition courses and humanitarian travel, including trips to Ecuador in 2007 and 2009, and to Peru in 2011, are receiving strong support from students and parents. Students participating in at least 60 hours of volunteerism during their high school years receive Gifted Education Diplomas in Community Volunteerism and/or School Leadership. Westmount is also the Canadian lead school for the "Face to Faith" program of the Tony Blair foundation, providing global videoconferencing opportunities with students of other cultures.
- engagement of the phenomenon of "gifted underachievement". Our cycle III AISI project focused on the need for students, parents and the school to act in a "tri-partnership" in order to address gifted underachievement, and the Student Services team has been expanded to increase the amount of in-school support available for students in need. Westmount works closely with the Centre for Gifted Education, University of Calgary, to ensure that current understandings and "best practices" are shared between our institutions.
- special emphasis is being placed on the mentoring of new teachers. Westmount has been a site for many student teachers, and recently certificated teachers are part of an ongoing program of mentoring.
"Communities of Practice" have developed within the Westmount Staff. Click here to learn more about the theory behind these peer learning communities! The work of these professional communities, along with the tri-partnership approach of our cycle III AISI project, have contributed greatly to the development of our current cycle IV AISI project, "Building an Engaged Learning Community."
To learn more about Westmount's history of innovation, click here!
Westmount Charter School has been the site for many research studies. Currently, Westmount is engaged in an ongoing project with English Language Learners (ELL, often referred to as English as a Second Language/ESL learners).18 November 2012