MANSFIELD — Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center serves students of all abilities. One of the services that MOESC provides client school districts is assistance in identifying and supporting gifted students, as well as sponsoring events to challenge and encourage them in their pursuits.
MOESC Gifted Coordinator Leanna Ferreira explained this is an area sorely lacking for many teachers. “Educators will tell us that with all the training and education they get, the one population that is rarely talked about is the gifted students. They need to learn how to instruct students who, sometimes, may be even smarter than they are.” Ferreira said she was directly affected by this need when she herself was a high school calculus teacher with students whose math skills exceeded her own. “We want to help teachers find ways to unlock the content for these students in ways that are challenging and unique. By providing this service we are giving districts the opportunity to value their learners who, in many ways, find learning easy or enjoyable.”
Ohio requires that districts must identify students gifted in academics, cognition, creativity and visual/performing arts, but gifted services for those students are not mandated. Many schools have honors classes, advanced placement (AP) classes, or college preparatory courses (CPC) to serve high-learning students, but Ferreira said there are two drawbacks from that. First, honors classes usually don’t start until middle or high school. Second, high-learners may not be the same as gifted.
MOESC’s gifted services allow districts to offer more to those gifted students like internships and independent study to expand upon not just core classes, but also those with gifts in the arts. For example, MOESC hosts events like spelling bees, Academic Challenge competitions, Artapalooza, and more to give these high achievers a safe place to interact with peers and shine.
Another aspect of MOESC’s services is assistance with the much needed but oft overlooked social/emotional component. Gifted students are just as far removed from the average as a low-performing student, and they can have real difficulties socially and emotionally. “They might have trouble relating to peers, or have struggles with perfectionism,” said Ferreira. “There are just very different needs that these students have that a regular teacher, without any explicit guidance on gifted students and their needs, might be bewildered by.”
However, Ferreira said the heart and soul of what MOESC offers that makes them stand out is the teacher coaching. “We meet with our teachers monthly or bi-monthly so we really know our teachers and can tailor our assistance to what their needs are. It’s just a neat way for us to come alongside and support that population that many people will falsely believe will be just fine because they are good at school. The reality is that there is a lot that we need to provide to ensure that they show adequate growth, but more importantly, that they are challenged on things that maybe they wouldn’t have learned because it wasn’t an interest to them.”
To find out more about MOESC’s gifted student services, contact Leanna Ferreira at 419-774-5520 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.