Maryland Department of Education officials consider Heather Hills and Rockledge elementary schools’ EGATE program pretty great.
The Bowie schools are scheduled to receive MDE’s award for Excellence in Gifted and Talented Education in a ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.
The award is given to schools that meet the highest standards for excellence in teaching talented and gifted students and includes recognition from state leaders as well as a plaque to commemorate the achievement.
While the award doesn’t bring scholarship money or grant funding, it does provide recognition to each school that qualifies as being a leader in teaching talented and gifted students, said award founder Jeanne Paynter, a gifted and talented education specialist at the Maryland Department of Education.
Nine schools out of 15 schools that applied across the state won the EGATE award. Prince George’s County was also represented by Accokeek Academy and Glenarden Woods in Glenarden, Paynter said.
“We are so excited. It’s a wonderful, wonderful award,” said Patsy Hosch, principal of Heather Hills Elementary School.
Rena Shylanski, a second-grade teacher and talented and gifted program coordinator at Rockledge, said she was very excited to hear the news of the school’s selection.
“I think I probably yelled or cheered,” she said. “My kids probably looked at me as though I was crazy.”
Having to complete the applications has yielded changes in education with teachers at Heather Hills making wider use of pre-assessment testing in order to best determine students’ existing knowledge, which helps teachers avoid teaching what students all ready know, said Jennifer Pierson, a teacher who helped organize the school’s EGATE application.
“It lets us find out where they are so we can kind of start at a higher level,” Pierson said.