Pa. approves first private school for the gifted

 (Electronic image via thegraysonschool.org)

(Electronic image via thegraysonschool.org)

Pennsylvania’s academically gifted students can go unchallenged and unfulfilled in public and private schools, but this fall they will have the chance to attend a school designed just for them.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education approved plans last week for the state’s first private school for gifted children.

The Grayson School will open its doors this fall, giving advanced and gifted students the chance to learn in a community of their like-minded peers.

Grayson’s founder, Melissa Bilash, said the school’s curriculum will be based on research of best practices in educating gifted students in grades K-6.

Bilash said the state has identified around 35,000 gifted students, but existing schools aren’t necessarily designed or equipped to work with their specific learning and emotional needs.

“The Main Line and the Philadelphia surrounding area has a large amount of private and high-performing public schools, [but] none of them are reasonably calculated to meet the unique needs of gifted students,” said Bilash.

Bilash said Pennsylvania was in desperate need of a school dedicated to educating gifted students.

“Other states that have private gifted schools tend to have them in abundance,” said Bilash. “Indiana has four gifted schools, Colorado has twelve gifted schools, Pennsylvania has zero.”

It took two years and 10,000 hours to get Grayson approved, according to Bilash. Some of the requirements included writing course outlines for every subject, demonstrating that families are interested in sending their kids to Grayson, and leasing a building filled with all the materials necessary to operate a school.

Grayson will charge $21,800 in tuition this year, relying on that, grants, and donations to fund the school.

The school is accepting applications for the fall, and will continue rolling admissions throughout the year. Admission will be determined on a student-by-student basis, but applicants must submit current IQ scores, recommendations, and work samples.

Bilash said she hopes to enroll twenty to thirty students this fall, but the school aims to expand to grades 7-12 by 2017.

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