By Denise Dick
Youngstown Christian School will open a new facility this fall to focus on an underserved segment of the student population: gifted children.
The Lewis School of Gifted Learning Potential will open in Trinity United Methodist Church near Front and Market streets downtown. Named for children’s author C.S. Lewis, the school will serve students in third through sixth grades with plans for 40 students the first year.
The school is for students who have been identified as gifted but who are looking for more options than what’s available in their home or traditional schools, said Sara M. Reichard, a teacher of gifted students at Youngstown Christian who will lead the new school.
“We look at the entire student,” Reichard said.
Because the school is small — third- and fourth-grade students will be in one class with fifth- and sixth-graders in another — teachers will be able to offer more individual attention.
Each student will have an education plan, developed with input from parents, mapping out the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
“The student is not going to be a number,” Reichard said. “It’s highly individualized.”
Plans call for the school to expand to seventh grade in 2015 and eighth grade in 2016 as the original students mature to those grades and new students enter the earlier grades, but enrollment won’t grow beyond 100 students.
To apply to the private school, a student must submit qualifying scores on a state-approved test, a completed enrollment application, school transcripts and a teacher-referral form. Information is available on the school’s website, lewis.youngstownchristian.org/, or by calling the school at 330-788-8088.
Tuition is $5,500 per year, and assistance may be available. Educational Choice vouchers are accepted if a student qualifies through the admissions process.
Youngstown Christian is working with several partners on the new school including Oh Wow! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology; Youngstown State University’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; YSU’s Dana School of Music, the C.S. Lewis Institute of Northeast Ohio; YSU’s Beeghly College of Education; and Trinity United Methodist Church.
Reichard said that though the Lewis School won’t be an arts school, the arts will play a role.
Michael Crist, director of Dana School of Music, said the school will be involved with providing student teachers.
“We want to foster music at all levels at all ages,” he said.
In these days of reduced school budgets, gifted programs sometimes get short shrift, he said.
“Gifted programs today have become almost secondary especially in the arts,” Crist said.
Students who study music often do well in school particularly in math and science, Crist said. Even students who don’t opt to pursue music as a career may benefit from having music in their lives.
“They may be involved in music in church,” he said.