The New York Times reports that there’s a new player on the New York City school scene, and for the preschoolers and early elementary students who enroll, it’s all gifted all the time.
In a city where the public school gifted programs have long provided an enviable free education, and there are many expensive private schools that emphasize rigorous academics, the Speyer Legacy School [Note: annual tuition is $28,500], which caters to advanced learners, is a rare breed: a private school with an all-gifted student body. It opened last month with 26 children in kindergarten through second grade in a leased space in the Gateway School.
Named after one of the city’s earliest public schools for gifted students from the 1930s, Speyer Legacy is attracting interest (74 children applied for this fall) at a time when New York’s top public gifted programs and private schools have far more applicants than they have seats. The competition is driven by a boom in the school-age population as more families have multiple children and choose the city over the suburbs, as well as by the city’s own efforts to expand access to gifted classes.
Envious? Wishing there were something similar here in the DC area? Look no further! Montgomery County will soon have the Feynman School, opening its doors in September, 2010. According to the website, which went up last week:
Curious-minded preschoolers will now have the opportunity to learn in a fun, science-based, bilingual environment designed to celebrate and nurture their natural inquisitiveness.
Opening in fall 2010 in Montgomery County, Maryland, Feynman School will serve the DC metro area’s brightest young minds with a dynamic hands-on curriculum built upon exemplary gifted education programs throughout the US.
Feynman School will welcome both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds during 2010-2011. The school, which is named for Nobel Laureate Dr. Richard Feynman, will eventually grow to also serve K-8.
Frankly, given the growing disenchantment with MCPS gifted services, I’ve been waiting for someone to figure out that there is a ripe market for a school like this. Unlike New York City, where the start-up Speyer Legacy School is “up against the big gun” privates, the playing field in MoCo strikes me as wide open. The closest competitor is across the river in Fairax County, the Nysmith School for the Gifted.
I had a chance to meet with the Feynman School founders, Robert and Susan Gold, over the summer. She’s a former MCPS teacher and her husband is a lawyer with an interest in gifted education born of personal experience. They’re the parents of a two precocious preschoolers who started looking around at preschool and elementary school options and didn’t like what they saw. So they decided to start their own school.
They’ve done extensive research, including visits to the Hollingsworth Preschool at Columbia University mentioned in the Times piece, and have secured permission from Richard Feynman‘s heirs to use his name in conjunction with their school. The school will have a science focus and offer bi-lingual education in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Among their other influences they cite Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman, Joan Smutny, Kendall King, Alison Mackey and David Sousa.
I expect there will be no shortage of people knocking on their doors, and wish them luck. The more choices available for gifted kids, the better.