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

Be Reasonable! How to ask for the Impossible from your Child’s Teacher

Join us on September 23 for our first MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs Chapter Event of the year – With gifted expert and past MCGT President Carol Malueg. 

As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our children are getting the best education possible. We want better programs, more resources, more individualized attention, and we want it now! “Why does my child’s teacher ignore my emails, cut my phone calls short, and hide under the desk when she sees me coming? This is MY CHILD we’re talking about!”  If this sounds a little (or a lot) like you, come talk with me, one parent to another, and we’ll look at a teacher’s day from another angle. Discover ways to get your child’s needs met while taking into account the three major obstacles to change in the classroom; 1) time, 2) training, and 3) resources. Fill your advocacy tool-kit with tried and true ideas from been-there-done-that parents and teachers, and learn how to ask for a little to get a lot.

Hear brief chapter updates, and engage with other Minneapolis parents of gifted/advanced learners – we’ll save space at the end for parents to break into smaller groups to connect and share ideas and resources.

Free and open to all; donations welcome. No childcare provided.  

Monday, September 23; 6 – 8pm,
Lake Nokomis Community School – Keewaydin Campus, auditorium
5209 30th Ave S, Mpls 55417

Information from May 9, 2019 MPS-MCGT Joint Meeting

The slideshow from the MPS Talent Development and MCGT-Minneapolis meeting at the Davis Center on May 14, 2019 is now available. Please click the image below to review slides.

Slideshow will open in new tab

Thank you to all who helped make this a successful meeting!

An extra Special “Thank You!” to Superintendent Graff, who stayed for the entire meeting and beyond, engaging with parents and their questions directly.

The attendance surpassed all expectations, and we so appreciate the interest and demand for information, and the time Christina Ramsey and Kelly McQuillen from the Talent Development Department spent both presenting and answering questions.

As always, please contact us at [email protected] with any questions or requests for more information.

Standing Room Only!

Information Session on MPS Level 3 & 4 Advanced Learner Program

Co-hosted by MCGT Minneapolis – PAALs & the MPS Talent Development Department

***Important updates: CHILDCARE will be available for ages 4+
TRANSLATORS available for Somali, Hmong and Spanish***

Thank you, Minneapolis Public Schools for providing these!

Join us to learn more about K-12 MPS Level 3 and 4 services. We’ll talk about how to support your advanced learner in the classroom and at home, additions to the program for 2019-20, and subject and grade acceleration options.

**Please share widely with your school and networks!**

Childcare will not be available.

Location – Davis Center Assembly Room
Minneapolis Public Schools Davis Center
1250 West Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411

Differentiation Specialists in all MPS schools!

Adding Differentiation Specialists to each building and having at least one teacher per grade in every school certified in advanced differentiation practices were two of the big things our MCGT board has been advocating for with Minneapolis Public Schools. We are so excited that these changes are in the process of being implemented for our students!

Check out the recent article from the Southwest Journal featuring board member Kristin Farrell on the topic:

Minneapolis School Board Candidate Questions

NOTE: Minneapolis – PAALS sent out a questionnaire to all MPS School Board Candidates on the ballot in 2018. This was formatted similarly to the candidate questionnaire sent to candidates in 2014.

Kimberly Caprini was the only candidate who responded to this year’s questions. The following are her responses. 

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALS does not endorse any School Board candidates. This information is provided in an attempt to aid Minneapolis voters in their ballot decisions.

MCGT Minneapolis – PAALS DOES support both funding referendum questions put to voters on November 6, and urges all Minneapolis voters to support our Minneapolis Public Schools.

1) Minneapolis Public Schools promises an inspirational education experience in a safe, welcoming environment for all diverse learners to acquire the tools and skills necessary to confidently engage in the global community. What will your priorities be to support this promise being a reality for all students? What do you see as necessary for this promise to be fulfilled for the advanced learners within the district?

Our students deserve the best academic experience possible.
To provide the environment for our learners to gain skills needed for their future, we first need to support teachers with classroom management. Some schools’ large class sizes are causing lost instruction time and reduction in necessary teacher-student relationships. This also includes my goal to hire more Social Workers, Counselors, Psychologists and Family therapists to meet students’ needs and therefore assist in students’ educational outcomes.

The district’s renewed interest in differentiated (or personalized) instruction benefits learners by meeting them where they are at,
 and advancing their educational growth.  Teachers cluster students to provide instruction at the appropriate levels.

The learning environment is also enhanced using methods such as the IB model (which I helped to bring to Olson Middle School),  better curriculum (I’m advocating for a stronger math curriculum in elementary schools and diverse social studies curriculum in high schools),  and more access to a broader range of classes like advanced classes as well as career and tech opportunities.

I believe that sometimes we are too bound by the ways we measure academic growth. I advocate for teaching to the standards, not to the test.
I also strongly advocate for additional funding through the referendums and advocacy to the state legislature.

These priorities will all improve the learning environment for our advanced learners.

2) MPS is currently working on a new strategic vision for the district.  What do you like about the vision thus far?  What are you curious about? What will you challenge?

I am excited that the district is reviewing its strategies and am watching the work closely. Because this is a draft, it is difficult to discuss specifics.  Within the vision I appreciate the focus on a base core instruction (predictable staffing) and related increases in opportunities for students (accelerated learning opportunities and band/orchestra).  I like the focus on increasing social and emotional supports. The lack of these are a barrier many students as well as the students in the classroom. Focusing on the whole child, rather than simply test scores is beneficial.  

I am curious about it all.  So many of the goals are exciting, but the work is to define the details, which matter to the students and families.  I am curious to find out if the elementary and middle schools will change format. I’ve heard there is flexibility and I would like to know how that flexibility will be implemented.  I’d like to better understand how success will be measured (Will we include social and emotional data? Will we include parent satisfaction survey data?).

I am staying open to learning more before I challenge it.  Getting back to budget will require changes, and I’d like to reserve judgment so that I have an open mind when the plan solidifies.  

3) Since 2013 (Minnesota Statutes, section 120B.11), school districts must develop a World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) Plan and Annual Report for each school year. For Minnesota to remain competitive, we must have students who are college and career ready, and who are poised to lead the state’s workforce. Per MDE, Minnesota’s overall population is aging and seventy percent (70%) of jobs will require more than a high school diploma by 2018. School boards have responsibility to establish the advisory committee of community members that develops their district’s WBWF plan and related goals.

In your opinion, what skills are important for students to build across their K-12 education as preparation for the 21st Century society and workplace?

I am very familiar with this, as I have been a member of the district’s World’s Best Workforce 2020 Advisory Committee for several years.  This committee works to understand the needs of the students and how the district can meet those needs.

Student need so many skills to prepare for their future including  speaking and listening, critical thinking, …..  I think hands-on experience in labs or shops are critical as well.

4) Conversations about equity and K-12 education are happening across the country. Minnesota’s federally approved ESSA Plan (Every Student Succeeds Act) includes a list of 10 Equity Commitments. Access to services (counseling, student advocates, ELL and GT services, reading and math supports, etc.) and classroom supports receive attention through an equity lens. Minneapolis schools are seeing rapid growth in cultural, socio-economic and linguistic diversity.

What importance does equity have in the day-to-day classroom experiences of educators and students across the school district (primary and secondary)? What should residents of the district understand about the role equity plays in the well-being of our communities and in helping students develop the skills you identified above?

Equity has a effect on students’ classroom experience. Some students do not have access to any advanced options, some students experience racism, some students have incredibly large classes, some experience frequent testing …. and some students are  bored…. In secondary schools, they are frequently tuned in to social justice and may have anger about inequities they see in the world.

I work to educate our Minneapolis community that some students begin far behind, do not speak English or have trauma or learning delays that need additional supports.  Minnesota is rated high on our equitable funding to students with high needs, but we are still unable to provide for the high needs of many of these students. Additionally funding within the city school districts is not balanced.  Keeping Minneapolis at the top of so many “best-of” lists requires that we help all students to succeed so that they can join in the workforce and help to lift our city.

Struggling students may not quickly grasp the skills needed for our workforce and city engagement, but we must provide the supports to get them there.

5) Advocacy on behalf of Minneapolis School District is among school board duties. Board members need to develop strong two-way communications to build trust and support among community, board, superintendent, staff, and students. They also are responsible for addressing issues that affect education on local, state, and national levels. How have past experiences prepared you to fulfill these assorted advocacy duties as a school board member?

I have spent years building strong communications with the board, through committee memberships, meetings and frequently speaking to the board during public comments at their meetings.  I attend most of the district meetings and have met with the superintendent and his staff several times. I work with and for the staff in many buildings, am or have been a member of several school site councils, and read to students. I work with the community in several organizations and events.  I host a few community facebook pages to raise awareness, gather feedback, and provide transparency to the MPS community.  I believe communications to be one of my strong points.

Specifically, I am involved with creating a path towards meeting needs for Middle Grades Sports, needed building and maintenence  improvements, defining educational pathways for students (opening a middle school that pathways to North High School, bringing IB to Olson Middle School, as the associated high school, Henry, is using IB), keeping schools open that serve the needs of the community and bringing families back to undersubscribed schools, as well as advocating for budget to meet the educational needs of students.

As my advocacy grew, and my relationships with others across the city, I also became aware of other needs throughout the city.  I will continue to build relationships with all city stakeholders to understand all of the needs throughout the city.

6) School Board Members must be both listener and ambassador. What would you tell prospective families and/or voting community members who don’t have students currently enrolled in Minneapolis Public Schools?

Again, communications and advocacy are incredibly important to me and the board position I seek. I tell families without students in the schools that the test scores they read about do NOT tell the story of our schools. MPS has teams of people who bring the best to the students day-in and day-out.  MPS, and all districts, have more work to do, but that I will bring my best to improve what needs it and …

7) Many families in the district have chosen to move their Advanced Learners/Gifted Students to private or charter or other districts’ schools because there is insufficient support for them within MPS.  If you are elected to the MPS School Board what will you do to move the district to serve ALL students in ways that insure they will achieve academic success in an environment that challenges them to meet their full potential?

While there are incredible needs that must be met to bring students up to grade-level, there are also needs to meet from the students at and above grade level.  One of the equity lenses I see is meeting students where they are.  I will work for smaller class sizes, a more robust differentiated (or personalized)  learning environment, increased options and not repeating class material in high schools.

8) Where do advanced learners fit within district priorities and accountability (under Minnesota’s ESSA plan) to demonstrate year-to-year growth and to provide personalized learning for all students in elementary and secondary classrooms?

Minnesota’s ESSA plan falls short in identifying the data to help districts define the work needed to attain growth for our advanced learners. They do provide services to aid school districts in identification and best practices for highly able students.  I will bring attention to the needs of all students, including those that score proficient on the MCAs.

9) Why should voters consider you as they choose among candidates for Minneapolis Public Schools’ open board seats?

As a leader in Northside schools for over 12 years and a member of the district’s World’s Best Workforce 2020 Advisory Committee, I am ready to represent all students and families districtwide. I strongly believe in public education and am ready to make Minneapolis Public Schools even stronger through my tireless pursuit of understanding the needs, advocating for solutions, openness and transparency.

Kimberly Caprini
Henry High School Parent
Olson Middle School Parent
Northside School Collective
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