Talented elementary students are offered a helping hand School takes time to aid the gifted

February 15, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Sunset Elementary schoolteacher Nancy Thomas tells the 17 students she meets with after school that all the world's a stage. Over the next two months, for an hour each Wednesday, she intends to prove it.

The children, would-be mimes under Ms. Thomas' instruction, are part of Sunset's new after-school enrichment program, designed to challenge especially bright, talented students.

"We really wanted to do something for our highly-abled students, and parents were requesting we do something," Vice Principal Lorna Gore said.

Mrs. Gore applied for an Anne Arundel County Public School mini-grant for the 10-week enrichment program and received $1,580. Teachers identified students they thought would benefit and offered them invitations.

All who were invited joined.

Thirty-six third-, fourth- and fifth-graders are participating, about half concentrating on math, the other half on language arts. "We're really excited about this," Mrs. Gore said.

Volunteer teachers -- three in math and five in language arts -- work with the students on projects that foster thinking skills, emphasize cooperative learning and encourage leadership, Mrs. Gore said.

The program also emphasizes involvement by teachers, parents and students. Both students and teachers fill out evaluations after each class. Parents are expected to participate in two teacher conferences by the end of the program.

Students participating in the math portion of the program work in small groups creating objects that move away from the traditional pencil-and-paper math, while still learning the required concepts.

Language arts students spend their 10 weeks working on imagery, pantomime and improvisation, concluding their session with a play.

Last week, students in the language arts section learned about mime. They broke into groups of two or three, and were given slips of paper that contained such exercises as walking in on a surprise birthday party.

As the students acted out their charades, many found that the hardest part was not being able to talk. But in the end, most were surprised by the skill they displayed.

While students normally don't want to spend any more time in school than they have to, the students in the after-school enrichment program often don't want to leave.

"I was excited because I get to stay after school and see my friends," said 10-year-old Jennifer Stylc. "The teachers are really nice, and we get to come out and express our feelings."

Frankie Fried, 9, said he wanted to join the after-school program because it was different from his regular school day.

"This is like getting away from school," Frankie said. "It's a nice program, and it's fun. I don't staying another hour at all."

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