Fostering a love of learning

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, June 30, 2016

Twenty-four Charlotte County students plan to join children, from surrounding counties from grades 4-7, participating in Longwood University’s Talented and Gifted (TAG) program this summer. For some, it’s not their first time.

To Charlotte County TAG Program Coordinator Scott “Shep” Critzer, the existence of repeat attendees was a “good indicator” of the program’s quality.

“I think that typically these are students who enjoy learning. These are typically hands-on active, engaging classes, so it’s a good opportunity to kind of promote and encourage that among a group of students that already have that kind of high-level interest,” said Critzer.

The program offers 10 themed classes geared towards the young audience, taught and developed by a mix of Longwood faculty and public school teachers from the area. According to Critzer, the course offerings are decided by all of the TAG coordinators for each school system, aiming at providing the students with “a diverse representation of classes.”

Class topics include strange science, world cultures, wild west simulation and critical thinking through the lens of Harry Potter.

“Our experience is that the students definitely enjoy that and are given the opportunity to learn in different ways than they learn in a traditional classroom and we’ve heard good things from the parents and the students,” said Critzer.

Charlotte County elementary school teacher Jennifer Gray plans to teach one of the courses after her class proposal was accepted, adding another summer under her belt with the TAG program, according to Critzer.

The students’ cost for the program is funded by the Charlotte County School Board, setting a cap on the number of participants. The fee for each student costs $175, totaling $4,200 for all 24, which the board approved at its meeting on June 14.

Critzer said all students meeting the criteria of gifted and talented between those grades were offered the chance to apply to partake in the 11-day educational opportunity.

“It’s a great enrichment opportunity for them and the school board has definitely been very supportive,” said Critzer.

The TAG program will run from July 11-22, ending with a poster session of the students’ projects on the final day designed to showcase what they worked on.

“I think one of the key elements to promoting education is keeping kids excited and engaged in education,” said Critzer. “I think any time you have the opportunity to create learning situations where your students can apply things they can learn in a hands-on or active settings — they are just great opportunities.”