Linda Silverman’s Advice to Tahoma

I recently attended a lecture by Linda Silverman, one of the leading experts in the field of gifted education. (See my notes: Part 1, Part 2).  After the lecture, I had the opportunity to ask her about Tahoma's current middle school needs:

Q: We have an opportunity provide input to our district regarding the first Gifted services offerings. What would recommend we ask for first?

A: Several things are key:

1. Counselors who understand gifted and how to provide mental health support.
2. Math is the easiest way to show results for district tracking.
3. Humanities is the most helpful for the kids. Many of them breathe a sigh of relief when they shed their backpacks in their humanities classes. This is where they can have deep, meaningful discussions with their peers about things that are important to them.


Q: Can these humanities class be honors vs. a self-contained class?

A: It MUST be self-contained. Even high-achieving kids think differently and negate the benefits of an actual ‘gifted’ course. The truly gifted kids won’t have the peer support they desperately need.


Q: Is there a way for parents to get special assistance from the district for their gifted kids? I mean, our son had an ADHD diagnosis, so we’ve been able to use a 504 plan…

A: No, the only way for your child to get help or accommodations from the school district is with some sort of diagnosis to force the 504 plan. It’s ugly and it’s morally wrong for them to do this to you, but getting a diagnosis of some sort for your child is the only way you’re really going to get help.