Mid-South Gifted Academy
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a micro-school?
A micro-school is an intentionally small school (150 students or less) led by a trained professional and focused on meaningful, integrated, project-based, whole student learning and community involvement. Micro-schools are also called the modern-day one-room schoolhouse in that students from different ages and grades are learning alongside each other, grouped together for some projects, but working individually for part of the day on a very personalized learning path. Teachers in micro-schools serve more as guides than lecturers, and they harness the power of adaptive technology and research-based methods to ensure each child is learning and progressing at an appropriate pace.
What ages do you serve?
We serve children ages 5-13 in grades K-8. Our personalized high school program will launch in August of 2020.
What are characteristics of gifted children?
Because gifted children are so diverse, not all exhibit every characteristic. However, there are common characteristics that many gifted individuals share.
- Ability to process and learn information quickly
- Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
- Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful
- Put ideas or things together that are not typical
- Keen or unusual sense of humor
- Excellent memory
- Vivid imaginations
- Deep, intense feelings and reactions
- Idealism and sense of justice at an early age
- Advanced vocabulary and communication skills
- Insatiable curiosity
- Can sometimes struggle with perfectionism or anxiety
Why do gifted learners need a specialized learning environment?
Gifted students require differentiated educational services beyond those typically provided by the regular education program. In a traditional setting, the pace and challenge level of the content are predetermined by grade level standards to be covered, rather than matched to the readiness level of the learners. For gifted learners, this often equates to busy work and boredom and does not allow them the opportunity to work hard and to reach their full potential. In a personalized and mastery-based learning environment, gifted learners spend their entire school days on work that is appropriately challenging. This gives them a sense of joy and purpose in their learning. When gifted learners are challenged daily, they learn how to learn and develop grit.
What are tuition costs for the 2019-2020 school year?
Our tuition is $12,800. All fees are built into the tuition and cover enrollment, materials, technology, and local field trips.
Do you offer financial aid?
Not at this time.
What is the admission process?
We are now enrolling students for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. Please visit our Admission page for more information.
Does my child need to be advanced in all subject areas in order to thrive in this environment?
No. Many of our students are working above grade level in some subjects but on grade level in another subject. A personalized learning environment allows us to meet students where they are and help move them forward. Typically our students accelerate rapidly once they are empowered to learn at their own pace.
How is learning assessed and monitored?
Students at Mid-South Gifted Academy take part in mastery-based learning and work toward goals specified on their personalized learning plans. They are assessed informally and formally to determine what they can do or create with what they learn. Data is tracked and shared with parents weekly. Individualized narrative reports and self-reflections are shared with parents at the end of each semester. Students use the following to track progress:
- a weekly data tracker
- a badge system to track mastery and progression of skills
- a digital portfolio
- a student blog to publish writing and other projects
- Presentations of Learning- formal presentations to classmates, family and community members
What is Mastery-Based Learning?
Mastery learning focuses on mastering a topic before moving on to a more advanced one. Whenever possible, students demonstrate mastery by applying new learning through performance tasks and presentations. In the traditional system, the time allotted to learn something is fixed and comprehension of the material is the variable. In a mastery-based system, all students achieve a high level comprehension of a skill or concept, and the variable is the time it takes students to get to mastery. This allows all students to work at their own pace and have a true understanding of a topic or skill before moving forward. While this shift in education would help all children, it is essential for gifted learners because they can often achieve mastery at a quicker pace and are therefore limited in a traditional academic setting. Follow this link to view Sal Khan’s Ted Talk on the importance of teaching for mastery.
Do you administer a standardized test?
Once each year, we administer the Iowa Assessments to our students in grades 3-8.
How do you know this works?
While new to this area, micro-schools have been successfully operating in other parts of the country for over ten years. The philosophies and educational methods used at MSGA are research-based and driven by child development and the needs of the learners. We have multiple systems in place to monitor student achievement and growth. MSGA students are excelling in all academic areas and progressing rapidly through grade levels. On our most recent nationally norm-referenced assessment, our students scored an average of 2.5 grade levels above their current level, and several earned grade equivalency scores of 13+ (end of high school).
How much time do students use computers?
Our blended learning model allows each child to spend a small portion of the school day, working on core academic work that is matched to his or her ability. This equates to one hour or less for most students. A personalized learning plan along with weekly and daily goal setting helps direct this time. Additionally, students may use computers for research and writing during group and individual projects.
What is your homework policy?
MSGA students do not have required homework, but many of them choose to blog, code, or work on passion projects at home. Reading for pleasure is always encouraged!
Is Mid-South Gifted Academy a religious school?
No. We open and close the day with a prayer, but participation is optional. No formal religion curriculum is taught.
Do you offer special services or behavioral support for students with special needs?
We do not offer special services for students with learning disabilities or behavioral challenges. The type of learner who excels at MSGA has great behavior and is highly motivated by and excited for enriched and accelerated learning opportunities. We will determine our ability to serve students on an individual basis.
How is time built in for physical exercise, music, and art?
Students participate in enrichment classes that include art, music, physical education, and STEM. Brain breaks and energizers are part of each day, and students have ample outdoor opportunity for exercise and activities.
Do your students miss out on after school sports and fine arts opportunities by attending such a small school?
Without homework, our students have more time to pursue such endeavors outside of the school day. Our students find they have a lot more time in their schedule to take advantage of sports, music lessons, and theatrical opportunities in the community.
What are your hours?
Our hours are 8:00-3:00, with drop-off from 7:45-8:00 and pick-up is at 3:00.
Do you offer extended care?
We offer after-school care from 3:00-5:00 PM daily.