Gifted students need two things from their school: an exciting, rich academic program designed to meet their specific needs, and a peer group by whom they can be accepted and with whom they can play and learn and be happy. They need to fly as far and as wide as their talents and passions can carry them, and not to be stifled by rigid conformity.
Nueva was created as a haven for these students, a place where their gifts would be celebrated and nurtured, where they would learn and play together with other students and adults who appreciate and share their gifts and passions.
Part of Nueva's mission is to reach out locally, nationally, and internationally to the broader community of gifted students, teachers, homeschoolers, administrators, and clinicians. Through publications, presentations at conferences, partnerships with institutions such as the Stanford d.school, and institutes on campus, Nueva is a leader in the world of gifted education. Nueva, as an institution and through its teachers, offers many opportunities for teachers, administrators, and parents to learn more about gifted education in classes, workshops, conferences, institutes, and publications, both print and online.
Nueva has remained true to its mission to cultivate and serve intellectually and creatively gifted students since 1967. A rationale to justify special programs, classes, and schools for gifted students shouldn't be necessary, and probably isn't for Nueva families. But even Nueva families are sometimes hesitant to embrace the term gifted.
At Nueva, we remain committed to our mission of serving the unique educational needs of intellectually gifted students and believe:
- That all students are entitled to an education suited to their particular strengths and talents.
- That all students are entitled to receive that education in a community and among peers who appreciate and respect their abilities and passions.
- That students at the upper end of the bell curve of intelligence have needs that are as different from those with average intelligence as the needs of the child of average intelligence are to the needs of those on the lower end of the curve.
- That all gifted students have the right (adapted from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) "Gifted Children's Bill of Rights"):
- to know about their giftedness.
- to learn something new every day.
- to be passionate about their talent areas without apologies.
- to have an identity beyond their talent area.
- to feel good about their accomplishments.
- to make mistakes.
- to seek guidance in the development of their talents.
- to have multiple peer groups and a variety of friends.
- to choose which of their talent areas they wish to pursue.
- not to be gifted at everything.
There is a story, well-known in gifted education circles, possibly apocryphal though illustrative, called "The Palcuzzi Ploy."
Mr. Palcuzzi, principal of the Jefferson Elementary School, had been trying for years to start a program for gifted and talented students, without success. Finally, one night in the late 70s, he stood up in front of the PTA and announced that a new program for gifted students had been put in place.
Students would be tested for entry into the program, and admission would be based solely on ability, not on age or grade. Students in the program would be excused from regular instruction for part of the day to be given special instruction, suited to their talents. This instruction would be given by specially trained teachers, using special equipment, and in separate facilities, all paid for by the school. Students in the program would travel at school expense to meet with equally gifted students from other schools. The community would be happy to support these programs because of the prestige it would bring to the school.
You can imagine the reaction.
The audience spent the next half hour shouting at him. It was unfair, anti-democratic. It would hurt the self-esteem of those who were not admitted. It was elitist. All children are gifted in their own ways, so selecting just a few was immoral. So much money, for special teachers, equipment, and facilities, should not be spent on just one special group. And on and on.
Mr. Palcuzzi listened to it all, then finally rose to speak again. He was sorry to hear that they were so adamantly opposed to the program, because it was already in place.
It was called ... the basketball team.
In this country, at this particular time, it is seen as heroic, noble, and admirable to be athletically gifted and dedicated. It is acceptable, even exciting, to be artistically gifted and passionate. But it is, in the minds of too many of our citizens, somehow wrong or elitist or embarrassing to be intellectually gifted, and students in this last category either learn early to hide their gifts and passions, or spend their school lives being subjected to bullying, scorn, derision, and abuse at the hands of their peers, and sometimes even of their teachers and coaches.
They are forced to endure educational programs designed for students with very different needs and abilities. At Nueva, we seek to teach to the stage, not the age of the students we serve. In doing so, Nueva seeks to create the inspirational environment that unlocks passion, purpose, and potential in gifted students.