Parents and students’ testimonials provide a valuable evaluation tool for schools for gifted children. They offer insights into the effectiveness of the gifted and talented education provided by these institutions. They reveal the impact of these schools on the intellectual growth and emotional and social development of gifted children. These testimonials also serve as a testament to the critical role that these schools play in nurturing the unique abilities and potentials of gifted children.
With so much turmoil in the world today, the issue of Private Schools vs. Public Schools has fallen into the political fray. I wanted to convey to you the story of my son and I wanted to convey to you the story of my son and I am hoping you will see why supporting Steppingstone is worth your time and effort.
When my son was three years old, we took him to see his pediatrician for a regular checkup. Alex, my son, mentioned that he knew how to write his name. The doctor did not believe him so he gave Alex a pen and had him write his name on the examination table. Alex did and the doctor tore the paper covering off and had him write his name again, which he did a second time. The doctor was amazed since he had not seen anyone that young write his name so clearly.
By the time Alex reached Kindergarten, he knew how to add, and subtract, all of his colors and shapes, as well as write his full name. However, with Public Schools, the teachers have a responsibility to bring all the children to the same level of education. There were 36 children in his class and almost all of them had to learn their colors and shapes. Alex was overwhelmed by so many children in one room, and bored, thus he started doing things to occupy his time that resulted in a number of behavior issues.
We lived within walking distance of the school and Alex knew his way home. While on the playground, he walked the quarter-mile from the back of the school, beyond the playground, past the yard attendants, and off school property. The attendants retrieved him before he got too far away but also called the police and an officer responded. He spoke with our son for an hour while the school chastised him about leaving school properly. Then around 10pm that evening, the principal called us to let us know what had happened to our son that day (leaving a message), and also informed us that she was unavailable until Monday as she was on a Yoga retreat for the weekend.
The Superintendent moved our son to another elementary in the school district, as we were angry by how the school had handled the situation and waited so long to let us know what had happened. Problems continued and eventually his teachers instructed our son that he could not ask questions and had a special chair he had to sit in during classroom instruction. Eventually they moved him out of the classroom all together and he sat in front of a computer in the special education area, where he just looked up items on the internet and played games.
During this time we met with multiple panels (nine school representatives typically including the district psychologist) telling us our son was autistic and needed to be part of the severely handicapped program at yet another school in the district. We even hired a parent advocate to assist us, as we did not know what to do or how to respond to the school.
The final event that eventually led us away from Public Education happened during lunch recess on the playground. A group of students (14 all together) surrounded our son and was teasing him relentlessly. Our son was crying and wanted to get away but the students kept pushing him back into the middle. Eventually he pushed his way out of the group and ran off school grounds. The principal’s response, our son was expelled from school as the school had a no-tolerance policy towards violent acts regardless of the situation. None of the students that forced our son into the situation were reprimanded by the school officials. We were angry and hurt by what had happened to our son and how the school allowed such an event to take place when supervisors should have been on the playground observing the students. We decided that we needed to do something else as the Public School System had failed our son.
We considered homeschooling but a friend suggested that we get Alex tested on his IQ to see if the behavior problems stemmed from boredom rather than from any mental disabilities. We were exhausted so we decided to try anything to see if we could help him. We took him to a specialist, and a few hours later, the doctor said our son’s IQ was in excess of 150. Suddenly we realized that during all the meetings we had with the school officials, not once was anything mentioned about the possibility that his intelligence was high and could be the issue.
Public School, in Michigan, has no way of dealing with children who are advanced at an early age. We found Steppingstone and it has made a world of difference for our son. He graduated from Steppingstone and was able to get into the International Academy (Charter School) where he is in advanced math classes. His love for math, the sciences, and programming is tremendous and all thanks to the programs offered by Steppingstone and the wonderful staff that is dedicated to teaching the students at their level and their needs, rather than the level and needs of the entire group. Public School cannot do this for students, as the teachers must make sure everyone is at the same level throughout the teachinglearning process.
I hope that our story has demonstrated the need that having other options for our children is crucial to their success in life. Steppingstone is not for everyone, but for those children who need the specialized guidance and instruction, it is a lifesaver and helps them develop into strong individuals able to contribute to the world around them. I cannot imagine what our son’s life would have been like if we had decided to listened to the public school representatives and kept Alex in their suggested programs special needs programs. He needed more than they could offer him, and they were unable to provide those services to help him grow. He would have received a more specialized and personal learning environment but at what cost to his overall education? Special Education programs have a place and need in public school, but not for advanced children who have developed ahead of their fellow students.
Day Student Parent
A cozy, family atmosphere
“Excellent opportunities for gifted students to work to their full potential and create strong peer relationships with children of similar intellect. Steppingstone provides a caring, supportive staff and administration with a cozy, family atmosphere.
“The unique curriculum features: foreign language, computer programming, hands-on science, and variety of P.E. activities, which include: swimming, ice skating, and cross-country skiing. Each child is individually assessed and allowed to work at his/her own level.“
Day school Alumn parent
Please know that the work you do there really does impact the world at both a personal and public level.
“Just wanted to let you know that Dan was inducted into the Cum Laude Society today. We are very proud of him. I also wanted to thank you and everyone at Steppingstone for helping to make this possible.
“We are so grateful that Dan had the opportunity to attend Steppingstone. Please know that the work you do there really does impact the world at both a personal and public level. I believe that Daniel is testimony to that impact being a positive one. Thanks again and we love and miss you all.“
Day School Alumn
To this day, I attribute my time-management skills and strong work ethic to this school
“As a current college student, I am able to look back and appreciate all that Steppingstone did for me. To this day, I attribute my time-management skills and strong work ethic to this school. Steppingstone truly teaches students how to think, instead of creating a learning environment that is standardized to each child. This allows for flexibility not only in teaching styles but also gives students a unique learning opportunity. The teachers have a real knack for encouraging their students to strive for their best work. These skill sets have allowed my success in higher education.“
Day school Alumn parent
This speaks volumes about the program at Steppingstone and illustrates the kind of diversity and respect for other cultures that you are teaching the students.
“I am so happy that my son’s classmates and the staff loved the authentic Indian ethnic birthday luncheon, and needless to say, he was on “Cloud Nine”; this was, no doubt, one of his best birthdays. In addition, we need to thank you for allowing us this opportunity.
“We could not have done this in any other school. This speaks volumes about the program at Steppingstone and illustrates the kind of diversity and respect for other cultures that you are teaching the students. I was amazed at the thank you notes we received and the heartfelt joy that his classmates expressed to us. This is one memory that our family will carry throughout his life.“
Day School Alumn
I graduated from Steppingstone with an unbreakable will that POWERED me through the tough academic and social environment of high school and onward to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“When I came to Steppingstone in the sixth grade I had numerous behavioral problems to work through. Also, I had not been challenged in academics for quite some time. Through Kiyo’s and Keiko’s (my pre high school teacher) encouragement, I overcame the challenge. “Accelerated work has boosted my confidence, and is the key attribute for my success today. I graduated from Steppingstone with an unbreakable will that POWERED me through the tough academic and social environment of high school and onward to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “This confidence gave me the courage in my junior year to finally audition for the school musical, for which I was cast in a lead role. One and a half years later, I have been admitted to the acting program at the University of Michigan. It is probable that none of this would have been possible without the empowering and nurturing environment that Steppingstone has given me. Now, I am excelling in a highly competitive field – ACTING – where the slightest bit of self-doubt or shyness can contain the sea.“
Day School Parent
A very grateful parent
“I love this school so much. I have never been so sad to see a school year-end. Looking forward to next year. I am one very grateful parent.“
Day School Alumn Parent
Steppingstone showed him it was OK to be Jack
“It was Steppingstone that showed him it was OK to be Jack. Thanks for all that you and everyone else at Steppingstone did for Jack.“
Day School Alumn Parent
Outstanding teachers and flexible program
“Sending my son to Steppingstone was one of the best decisions that I have made. He attended for 8 years and is now a very successful high school student. Steppingstone has outstanding teachers and flexible program that allows your child to progress academically at a pace that continues to challenge them.“
Michelle, a day school parent
The best schools in the area
“I believe Steppingstone to be one of the best schools in the area. They allow the children to learn at their own pace. For example, My son is in kindergarten but is in first-grade math, spelling, and reading. They really work one-on-one with the students, and even let the older students work with the younger ones.“
Day School Parent
The foundation he needs for a lifetime of learning, growing, and challenging himself.
“We stumbled on Steppingstone (no pun intended) as we were searching for a school that would be the “right fit” for our son, without really understanding what that looked like. As we see the difference Steppingstone has made in our son’s life, we feel very fortunate for whatever confluence of events led us to Steppingstone.
Our son, who is currently a third-grader at Steppingstone, attended kindergarten at our local public school, but for first grade, we enrolled him in a private school that promised “project based” and “hands on” learning. In actuality, the curriculum was mostly worksheets, with topics drilled ad nauseam. We began to get complaints that our son was either staring into space or wandering the classroom. His behavior at school was inconsistent with our experience at home, where he was always working on projects, drawing, and asking us to help him read history books written for adults. However, when we asked our son’s teachers to try giving him more difficult work, they refused. We eventually had his IQ tested, but once we had the results, we weren’t sure what they meant in terms of finding the best learning environment for our son. We Googled local schools and learned about Steppingstone. Once we contacted the school, Kiyo Morse shared her extensive knowledge of how gifted kids learn. We were deeply impressed by the school’s time-tested methodology for teaching gifted students, and its emphasis on artistic creativity, something that really resonated with our son.
When our son became a student at Steppingstone at the beginning of his second grade year, he was behind grade level in some areas. His teachers carefully assessed the level of curriculum he needed to catch up. Within a couple of months, he was reading well above grade level. In math, instead of drilling students in areas they have already mastered, Steppingstone quickly moves students on once they demonstrate a solid understanding of the material. Best of all, the teachers at Steppingstone provide students with feedback on every assignment. Students are required to make corrections as directed. Every day, our son brings home a planner sheet listing the work that was completed at school, and any work that needs to be finished as homework. Steppingstone is well known for “unlocking the gift,” and that is truly what our son has experienced. Being academically challenged has changed his perception of himself. He takes great joy in being able to read books that once seemed beyond his grasp; his approach to life seems to be “the sky’s the limit.” Most important, little by little, he is increasingly willing to take responsibility for his own learning. Steppingstone is giving him the foundation he needs for a lifetime of learning, growing, and challenging himself.“
Day Student Parent
They would unlock and release the gifts within him.
“My son is graduating from Steppingstone this year. He will be going to a High School that wants him, not just to a high school that he wants. He has been at Steppingstone School since 2nd grade, and in these years I have had my moments of doubt on whether I am doing the right thing for him.
“But just like we trust our loved one’s life with a physician or surgeon, I trusted his education to Steppingstone. I came to realize that Kiyo and the team know what they are doing, and I need to trust them to do the right thing when it comes to education. I am happy that my trust was not misplaced and that my son is on his way to fulfill his dream and promise. Steppingstone School has built a strong foundation on which his new learning will continue to build.
“Most importantly, Steppingstone made a promise to us six years ago: they would unlock and release the gifts within him.
“During students’ educational process, they should be offered a wide variety of ways to learn and master concepts so that they can choose and use the best approach for solving different problems. At a very early stage of schooling, students should understand that learning how to learn is largely the student’s responsibility, with regard to the help they seek, but which is not imposed on them. The objective of education is learning, not teaching, and real teaching consists of imparting one’s wisdom, among other things to voluntary listeners.
“I am happy and grateful for Steppingstone, and the wonderful educators that my son has encountered in his 6+ years of schooling there, who have helped him to shape his learning and put him, not on his way to making a living but on his way to designing his life and fulfilling his true potential.”“