MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs is seeking board and committee members!

Would you like to spend more time with other advanced learner parents, shaping and implementing advocacy efforts with MPS, and creating activities that support the needs you see for your family and community?  Join our board for the September 2021 – August 2022 term!

We have an experienced and well-run board with a formal, yet flexible, structure. We all get how hard this journey can be to navigate – one of the most fulfilling parts of board leadership is having support and feedback from parents who’ve been there. We work hard, and we like to celebrate our accomplishments! 

You do NOT need to be an MPS parent to be on the board. But, please note you must be a paid MCGT Minneapolis member (family memberships are $40/year, and scholarships are available). 

Our board generally meets every six weeks on Monday evenings, with adjustments for holidays. We will nail down our calendar at our August meeting. We are moving back to in-person meetings, but are open to alternating with some virtual meetings as well. 

If you are interested in learning more, and seeing where your strengths and interests overlap with chapter needs, please email us We’d be happy to exchange messages, set up a virtual chat, or grab a coffee to talk more with you about the exciting and important work we do supporting the needs of advanced learner families in Minneapolis. 

We look forward to connecting! 

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs(Parents Advocating for Advanced Learners) 
JOIN Today!
facebook: @mcgtminneapolis
Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented

Q&A Follow-Up Notes

A message from our co-presidents following the Q&A Event on April 27 with the MPS Talent Development Team:

There are important updates for AL services for SY21-22. We strongly encourage *all* families to read through all the materials / info here, and on the MPS Talent Development website

Know what you can expect for your advanced learner (and about the identification process). No matter your student’s school situation – you will want to arm yourself with the knowledge of what your kiddo should be getting. If they’re not getting their needs met, start with your student’s teacher first. 

Reach out to us! We are parents across the district who’ve been there – our chapter leaders have students ranging from K to high school. We are here to support families, provide resources, and advocate with MPS. Navigating the journey with kiddos with extra academic and social / emotional needs isn’t always easy – but you don’t have to go it alone. 

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs
Jess Khan + Tyra Zuchowski, co-presidents
facebook: @mcgtminneapolis
Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented

EVENT: MCGT – Minneapolis hosting Q&A with MPS Talent Development Leads

TUESDAY, APRIL 27 from 6:30 – 8pm

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs will host the MPS K-8 Talent Development department leads, Christina Ramsey and Melissa Damon, and also Kelly McQuillan, 9-12 department lead.

Join us to hear updates about MPS services for advanced learners, and have your questions answered. We encourage questions to be submitted prior. Comment on our FB page or email: [email protected].

Open to all – Via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 913 0657 7150

Added 4/30/2021: Follow Up Notes

CHAT Night: Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship for Middle Schoolers

Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Video:

See How Far Your 7th Grader Can Go!

Hosted by:

You are invited to learn about the Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program, a selective five-year, pre-college scholarship for high-performing 7th grade students with financial need. 

Join Northwestern University Center for Talent Development’s Tammie Stewart for a presentation on the comprehensive educational advising and financial support offered by the Cooke Young Scholars program.  This program maximizes the high school experience and prepares students to thrive at the nation’s top-performing colleges.

Hosted by the Minneapolis PAALs Chapter of Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented (MCGT).  

Join us, Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 7:00-8:30

This event is open to all, please feel free to share this invite with others.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 927 2941 5858

Passcode: 676890

We hope you will join us as we learn about this exceptional academic opportunity!

The Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program details: 

Application open January 11-March 22, 2021

Our programming and support includes:

  1. Identifying an appropriately rigorous high school.
  2. Engaging in four-year planning and goal-setting.
  3. Funding for academic and extracurricular opportunities, such as music and art lessons; supplemental academic classes; and technology.
  4. Annual summer programs, including two required Cooke Young Scholar events.
  5. Year-round interaction and networking with a community of high-achieving peers

Who We Select

 Young Scholars are selected from a nationwide applicant pool each year. Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Grade level–Currently in seventh grade during the 2020-2021 academic year.
  2. Academics– Since the beginning of 6th grade, earned grades of all or mostly A’s in school, with no C’s or below in core academic subjects.
  3. Income–Demonstrate unmet financial need. We will consider applicants with family income up to $95,000. The 2020 cohort of new Young Scholars had a median family income of approximately $38,000.
  4. Income–Demonstrate unmet financial need. We will consider applicants with family income up to $95,000. The 2020 cohort of new Young Scholars had a median family income of approximately $38,000.

Cooke Scholars come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and from rural, suburban, and urban communities. Many scholars are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

JKCF Young Scholars Program 

For more information on the supports and opportunities offered by MCGT please visit: MCGT

FEBRUARY 13: MPS Career & Tech Ed (CTE) Meeting with MCGT-Minneapolis

MPS advanced learner parents have been invited by the district to meet with Career and Technical Education (CTE) leaders to hear more about this pathway, and provide feedback about the specific needs and wants of advanced learner families. This is a great collaboration and opportunity to learn and give the district feedback.

CTE supports much of the STEM-like programming and career opportunities at the secondary level. CTE allows for hands-on, experiential learning with the invitation for students to go more deeply into application or investigation. Curiosity is sparked, and then they go into deeper learning and application.

CTE offers advanced credits at least as much as PSEO offers.

Meeting details: Thursday, February 13 6:30 – 8pm
Davis Center – Room N5-083
1250 W Broadway Ave,
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Please RSVP to [email protected] if you are interested so we can have a rough headcount.

Thank you!

Jess Khan + Tyra Zuchowski, co-presidents

JOIN Today! MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs
Facebook: @mcgtminneapolis
Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented

Upcoming Event Reminders

Hello! Join us at one or both of the following events: 

Coffee Conversations:  MPS Advanced Learner ServicesSunday, January 26
1- 2:30pm
Spyhouse Coffee
945 Broadway Street, NE Minneapolis

Warm up with a cup of coffee and some conversation with other Minneapolis GT/advanced learner families!  MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs hosts informal gatherings of parents, caregivers and interested community members to get to know one another, ask questions and share ideas and information. This meetup will focus on the efforts to serve advanced learners in MPS.

Characteristics of High Aptitude / Advanced LearnersMonday, February 3

6:30 – 8pm
Seward Montessori 
2309 S 28th Avenue S, Mpls, 55406

Educational consultant and SENG group facilitator, Pam McDonald, will guide us in an evening of discussion about what we often see in children with accelerated learning needs. We will talk about why early identification is important, as well as how to foster and support our students. Free and open to all; donations welcome. Childcare not available.

Hope to see you! -Tyra & Jess

Coffee Conversations

And Other Upcoming Events

Coffee Conversations:  MPS Advanced Learner Services

Sunday, January 26
1- 2:30pm
Spyhouse Coffee
945 Broadway Street, NE Minneapolis

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs hosts informal gatherings of parents, caregivers, and interested community members to get to know one another, ask questions and share ideas and information. This meetup will focus on the efforts to serve advanced learners in MPS.

Upcoming CHAT Nights!

What is a CHAT Night?   Connect. Help. Advocate. Talk

CHAT Nights are dedicated to informally connecting parents of gifted children, helping them find other parents in similar situations with an ear to listen, experiences to share, and solutions to offer. Each CHAT Night starts with a brief (10-15 minutes) presentation by a facilitator on a designated topic of interest followed by small group discussion. The format of CHAT Nights is intended to be casual, rather than structured. CHAT Nights are free and open to the public. Childcare is not provided. More details can be found on MCGT’s event calendar.

December 18, 2019. 6:30 – 8pm

St. Paul Public Schools District Office, St. Paul
Topic: Gifted Learners, Executive Function & Success. Facilitator: Dr. Melissa Malen

January 13, 2020. 7 – 8:30pm

East Lake Elementary, Lakeville. Hosted by RAVE Chapter
Topic: Conscious Discipline. Facilitator: Amy Toonen

February 3, 2020. 6:30 – 8pm

Seward Montessori School, Minneapolis. Hosted by Minneapolis Chapter
Topic: Characteristics of High Aptitude/Advanced Learners. Facilitator: Pam McDonald

Differentiation Specialist Feedback Needed


Some important MPS advanced learner updates/information to share:

1. We encourage everyone to reach out to your school’s Differentiation Specialist – even if just to connect and introduce yourself and student.  We are hearing positive feedback – specialists are working with the teachers to implement the district-provided AL curriculum (it exists, in all subjects – just a matter of working with your school to access it. Not all teachers will automatically provide it). 

2. Curriculum: according to the K-8 AL lead, the AL curriculum is intended to REPLACE the standard curriculum if a student can test out. To measure this, MPS is training the specialists in an online pre-testing system called “Illuminate,” which allows for quick pre-testing for mastery in all subjects, all grades. This is fairly new – a work in progress. Your student may not get this unless you ask and advocate for it! 

3. Full grade and subject acceleration are also options – something you can also ask your specialist about.  More info here and here. Applications for full-grade acceleration are being accepted now for 20-21. 

MPS updates from October’s DPAC (District Parent Advisory Committee) meeting:  (items in bold related to advanced learners)
The School Board passed a resolution on the values of Comprehensive District Design. As part of the Comprehensive District Design, there are two items that are taking place:
        1. Feasibility Studies at the following schools: Heritage, Longfellow, FAIR, and Wellstone.
              a. Heritage – this was an alternative charter school that MPS took over. The study will examine the program to have it remain as it is or identify what kind of additional support it will need.
              b. Longfellow – school for teen moms, which will look at the best space or co-locate the program.
              c. FAIR – look at changing it to a conservatory arts program and what it will need if we change it to a conservatory program.
              d. Wellstone – co-locating to MCTC campus, which is where many of our students attend for college credits already. We hope to complete Heritage and Longfellow in November.

         2. The study on EduLog – understanding the makeup of our schools will be presented to the Board in November. Pro Forma budget for 2020- 2021 has begun that will include a projected enrollment, projected revenue (state and federal), and projected expenditures (compensation). The Finance Committee will take up the conversation, and there will be some hard decisions to make.

The 2019-20 Academic Plan was presented. Key points:
Current focus on: 

  • Equity Lens
  • Social and Emotional Learning
  • Early childhood
  • Early literacy and math – there will be a new K-2 math curriculum – more info to come 
  • Professional development around “expanding mindset of core instructional practice to include students who need acceleration and support”
  • Differentiation Specialists: Roles are to build coaches (model, co-plan, co-teach); support teachers in serving ELL, SpEd, Gen Ed, ALs and Multilingual ed; engage in MTSS process (tier 1 core instruction). PD to include: understanding diverse learners, differentiation in service of equity and how we talk about students, cultural and economically diverse students reaching potential, tiered instruction and scaffolding, coaching, students excelling and MTSS. 

Moving forward focus on: 

  • Middle level (6-8)
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • ethnic studies
  • extended learning
  • advanced academic and career pathways

If you have any further questions, or have feedback for the district, please reach out! We are happy to share your questions/thoughts with them – next DPAC meeting Nov 19. 

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs
Jess Khan + Tyra Zuchowski, co-presidents
facebook: @mcgtminneapolis
Minnesota Council for Gifted and Talented

Mark Your Calendars: Fall 2019 Events!

Minneapolis – PAALs Chapter Meeting
Monday, September 23

6 – 8 pm
Lake Nokomis Community School – Keewaydin Campus, auditorium
5209 30th Ave S, Mpls 55417

Join us for our first MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs Chapter Event of the year: Be Reasonable! How to Ask for the Possible From Your Child’s Teacher – with gifted expert and past MCGT President Carol Malueg. 

Also mark your calendar for our other fall events: 

Minneapolis – PAALs Chapter Park Meetup
Sunday, September 29

1 – 3pm
Theodore Wirth Park
1301 Theodore Wirth Pkwy, Golden Valley, MN 55422 – meet at playground 

Join other Minneapolis GT/advanced learner parents and kids for an informal afternoon of playing, socializing and networking! We’ll bring some board games for any older kiddos who aren’t feeling the playground anymore.

Minneapolis – PAALs Chapter Social Hour
Thursday, October 24

7 – 9pm
Wild Mind Artisan Ales 
6031 Pillsbury Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419 

Come be social with us! This is an informal, adults-only night out to meet other parents of gifted/advanced learners in Minneapolis. MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs board members will be on hand to answer any pressing questions you may have.