Alvin ISD's highly gifted students soar in district's WINGS Academy

Computer science and video game design are topics a middle school or high school student might begin to tackle. But at Alvin ISD, a group of highly gifted elementary school students is mastering the curriculum.
The district developed WINGS Academy for kids with exceptionally high IQ scores who need more of a challenge in the classroom.

Math teacher Kelly Hanse says they learn concepts most of their peers will not learn for years.

"You have to really stay on your toes, really be prepared, and be ready for the unexpected at any time," Hanse said. "Because you never know what they're going to ask you."

The 28 students participating in the WINGS Academy come from different district schools and grade levels but they are all in one class at Pomona Elementary School.

"One of our students, coming in as a second-grader, had the periodic table completely memorized," Hanse told ABC13.
Teachers create individualized learning plans for each student based on their ability, not their age.

"It helps us to learn because not everybody's at the same level," said fourth-grade WINGS Academy student Neil Shaw.

Administrators say these highly intelligent kids only need one or two repetitions of a concept before they are ready to move on.

As a result, they may get bored in a traditional classroom which, can lead to behavior issues. Students are also so smart that they can feel very isolated and alone, but WINGS Academy eliminates those problems.

"Being with kiddos that talk about the same things, (and) are interested in the same things, that just feeds that excitement for learning and it makes them feel accepted," WINGS Academy Coordinator Sammie Gardner said. "Social and emotional is a big part of the program."

The program is only the second of its kind in the Houston area.

This year, grades first through fourth are participating and grade five will be added next year.

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