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Bloomington Public Schools
Gifted & Talented Newsletter
Fall 2020

Please click at the bottom to expand this newsletter in its entirety.
Families Unite!
If you would like to collaborate with other GT program families, click on the appropriate link and add your contact information to this directory. Parent efforts are being made to create small "base groups" so students can have personal interaction with a few classmates on a regular basis to do homework or other school projects. Feel free to use this directory to reach out to one another for support and to plan activities this school year! Please know that this is optional and it is up to parents to monitor and manage.
Testing for 2021-22 GT Programs
Current 5th and 8th graders MUST reapply for middle and high school
GT programs!
This year the GT Department plans to hold face-to-face testing on Wednesdays, October 7, 14, 21, 28 and Saturday, October 10th for the following programs:
  • Elements (Grades 2 & 3)
  • Dimensions Academy Elementary (Grades 4 & 5)
  • Dimensions Academy Middle School (Grades 6-8)
  • Nobel Middle School (Grades 6-8)
  • Nobel High School (Grades 9-10)

This round of testing does not include Dimensions Academy High School STEM and Humanities programs. Information on these two high school programs will be communicated at a later date.

Virtual testing options will also be made available. Families should plan to attend informational meetings (see schedule below) and complete a Google form indicating your testing preferences.
A member of the GT Department will follow up with you regarding testing specifics.
Upcoming Informational Events
Tuesday, September 29 - Elementary GT Programs Informational Mtg.
Elements (Grades 2&3) & Dimensions Academy (Grades 4&5) 6:30-7:30p.m.
Join virtually @

Monday, October 5 - Middle School GT Programs Informational Mtg.
Dimensions Academy 6:00-6:45p.m. Join virtually:
Nobel 7:00-7:45p.m. Join virtually:

Tuesday, October 6 - Kennedy High School GT Nobel Program Info. Mtg.
Nobel 7:00-8:00p.m. Join virtually:
Educational Opportunities for GT Families

Online Chat Nights for MCGT Members
CHAT (Connect Help Advocate Talk) zoom discussions will be available to members only on a monthly (or more) basis. CHATs are informal discussions on specific topics facilitate by experts.

  • September 29: Dr. Liz Adams, Gifted Dyslexia from a Neuropsychologist's Perspective
  • October 12: Dr. Mary Wandrei, Parenting Your Fantastic Beasts: Tips from New Scamander
  • November 4: Dr. Danika Maddox, Managing Anxiety at Home: Tips and Strategies
Future Topics: Supporting LGBTQ Gifted Youth, Successful Acceleration, and many more

No Registration necessary but must be a MCGT member to participate.
Not an MCGT member? Join Now!
MCGT 2020 Sept 12 Virtual Mini-Conference: What Now? Supporting your Gifted Child's Education during COVID-19
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, September 12, 2020, 9am - 12pm
Dr. Richard Cash
Assisting Your Child in Trying Times 
Children who can balance their affect (feelings), behaviors, and cognition (ways of thinking) will be most successful during trying times. Learn how to help your child develop and maintain self-regulatory balance in this ever-changing world.

Dr. Diane Heacox
Tips for Supporting and Enhancing Distance Learning
Navigating the changing educational landscape and variety of instructional approaches can be a confusing picture. Learn how to best support your children in learning, particularly in the new world of remote learning experiences. 

MCGT Members: $10
Includes access to event Zoom recordings for four months after the event.

Non-members, $20 per person
Non-members will not have access to the recordings after the event.

Not an MCGT member? Join Now!
MCGT's 2020 Annual Conference is going Virtual! SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, October 24 9:30-12:30
Intensity, Social Emotional Health, and Gifted Children facilitated by Dr. Matt Zakreski

This 1/2 day virtual conference will focus on social emotional health and well being of gifted children and their families.

MCGT Members: $20
(MCGT Membership includes access to the presentation for 4 months)

Non Members: $40

Registration is now open through the MCGT's Website!

Not an MCGT member? Join Now!
Now Accepting Applications!
Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth is offering engaging online learning experiences for gifted and talented students in grades 1 – 12. 
Similar to our in-person programs, these classes have been specifically designed for bright, motivated and curious students. Each course will provide an intensive, inquiry-based curriculum that challenges students to explore new topics, generate creative solutions to real-world issues, and apply their knowledge in unique ways. MITY’s online programs will also enable students to meet like-minded peers and socialize through non-academic fun activities. To learn about specific opportunities and how to apply, click on the program below that matches your student’s current grade level.
Elementary Gifted Programs Welcome New Faces!
New Ridgeview Principal Carey Seeley
Greetings Bloomington GT families,
I'm thrilled to be the new principal at Ridgeview Elementary school! I'm coming most recently from the Minneapolis Public Schools where I was the Assistant Principal at Armatage Montessori. We had a large population of GT identified students and a fabulous staff that did an amazing job of differentiating and challenging these students. Prior to this role, I served in several leadership positions at the District level. I was the Director of Elementary Education for two years and the Instructional Supports Manager, where I managed a group of dynamic instructional coaches. I have also worked as a literacy coach at Seward Montessori school and was a first grade teacher and Reading Recovery teacher for ten years in Richfield Public Schools.
I am passionate about serving students and families and look forward to partnering with your family and getting to know your children! Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns. This is going to be an exciting and challenging year, but we are all in this together!
Third grade Ridgeview teacher Sara Schearer
Hello! I am very excited to be a part of the Elements program at Ridgeview Elementary. This will be my third year at Ridgeview Elementary. The past two years I was in the DA program. I think this will be a great transition and I look forward to getting to know the students this year.

My summer has been busy taking classes, both to help teach online and to get my certificate in Gifted and Talented Education from Hamline University. My family and I have also spent a lot of time up north at our family cabin and taking lots of walks with our dog Zelda through our Como Park Neighborhood.  

This fall has lots of transitions for us too - my middle daughter Zoe will be starting the University of Minnesota and (hopefully) living in the dorms. My oldest daughter Katie is a theater and English student at the U of M and my youngest daughter Maddie will be a junior at Cretin-Derham Hall in Saint Paul.
Fourth grade Ridgeview teacher Mel Chau
I am about to begin my 25th year as a teacher in Bloomington Schools, and I feel just as excited today as I did my very first year! This will be my 10th year in the GT Program here at Ridgeview. Before this, I spent 15 years at Normandale Hills teaching fourth and fifth graders. Hands down, Bloomington students and families are the best! 

Besides spending time with my school kiddos, my biggest pride and joy is definitely my family. My husband Quyen and I have two boys of our own. Nate is about to turn 21 and is a junior at Bethel University. Our other son Nolan is a senior this year at Jefferson High School. 

When I’m not cheering on my boys in their activities, I spend my time running or hiking with our dog Bailey. I also love to read, preferably on our deck in the sunshine. When I do have the TV on, it’s usually to Food Network. My boys are wonderful guinea pigs and definitely practice their honesty as I try new recipes on them.

I’m looking forward to another fantastic year of learning and wonder with the fourth & fifth graders here at Ridgeview! Growing and creating together with them brings immeasurable joy to my life!

Second grade Oak Grove teacher Rebecca Theisen
Rebecca has been an educator in Bloomington for 13 years. She began her career in the district teaching both 4th and 5th grades at Ridgeview Elementary, then spent eight years teaching 4th grade at Valley View Elementary. During the past two years, she worked as a literacy coach for Washburn and Oak Grove Elementary Schools. She is thrilled to be transitioning to the Elements program at OGE and working with the incredible students, families and staff in this community. Rebecca lives in Minneapolis with her husband, two sons (Theo - 8, and Gus - 6) and their dog, Mabel.
New Elementary GT Coordinator Tim Kaari
Hello DA and Elements families,

My brief background: Prior to my time in Bloomington I taught for 8 years in Minneapolis; during my last 5 years there I served as the gifted coordinator at my school. I came to Bloomington in 2005 to teach in the new DA program at Hillcrest, then moved with the program to Ridgeview. I've also served as a peer coach and technology integrationist during my time in Bloomington. No matter my role, I have always been a passionate advocate for gifted students and their families. I am very excited about this new opportunity and look forward to partnering with you!
When not working, I enjoy traveling, reading, running, gardening and just being outside in any way. My wife, Amy, works at the University of Minnesota and we have two cats.
Investwrite Contest Winner, Quynh Nguyen
Last winter and spring Mrs. Schearer's 5th graders participated in the StockMarket Game and InvestWrite competition. It was quite a year to watch the Stock Market rise and fall as our world changed. Students start with $100,000 in game-money and are able to invest in real-time stocks. This is always a great way for students to understand the ups and downs of businesses and the stock market.

This year, Quynh Nguyen was the Minnesota state winner of the Investwrite contest. Her essay on “How to Pick a Stock” gave advice to those looking to invest in the stock market. Students needed to think about all they learned about the stock market and then show what stocks they would pick. She offered tips on researching stocks that took into account trends in current events and analyzed the stability of the companies to decide what stocks to pick. Using her criteria, Quynh recommends picking Tesla and Microsoft in the future!
Middle School GT Programs Welcome New Faces!
With the addition of Bloomington Online School (BOS), middle school gifted & talented (GT) students are now found in three very unique programs. Several of our teachers with GT experience have shifted over to BOS. Part of their new teaching assignment will include working with “clusters” of GT students that have been grouped together into a couple of sections. Because of the staff reshuffle, several new hires were made in both the Dimensions Academy and Nobel Program. Let’s welcome the new hires and recognize those who will now be teaching GT students in BOS!     
Bloomington Online School
Kjersten Beckett, 6th & 8th Grade Language Arts
Greg Erbisch, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies
Tim Girod, 8th Grade Science
Betsy Hawes, 6th Grade Science
Ali Pekarna, 6th & 7th Grade Language Arts
Courtney Tapper, 6th Grade LA & Soc St
Stephanie MacPhail, 7th Grade Science
Dimensions Academy
Chris Carufel, 8th
Grade Science
Andrew Ferri, 7th Grade
Language Arts
Larry Hunter, 7th
Grade Science
Peter Knutson, 6th Grade
Social Studies
Rebecca Hoehn, 7th Grade Nobel Social Studies
Jennifer Johnson, 7th & 8th Grade Nobel LA
Christina Lindstrom, 6th & 8th Grade Nobel Soc. St.
Middle School Robotics Opportunity
Middle School Competitive Robotics

New middle school FIRST Technical Challenge (FTC) teams are being assembled to design, build, code, and compete in this year’s game: Ultimate Goal. Watch the game reveal live this Saturday (9/12) at 11:00 am on FIRSTtv! Once formed, “neighborhood teams” will be supported by the greater Bloomington robotics community and have access to a plethora of FIRST team resources. If you have never competed in robotics before, this is the year to do it, because the rules have changed! All competitions are going virtual. It’ll be new for everyone!!!

Parent mentors are needed for this to happen! Mentors don’t need to have robotics experience or any technical skills whatsoever - the students will develop those skills throughout the season and rely on the experience of others. Organizational skills, enthusiasm, and a sense of curiosity will get you through. Tons of mentor resources and videos are also available through FIRST and Minnesota partner High Tech Kids. Team costs/fees are typically divided amongst team members but some scholarship money is available locally. A few robot kits are also available to cut costs even further. 

Students and parent mentors: please express your interest by filling out this short survey. A robotics representative will reach out to you as soon as possible.

Congratulations to staff and students
Distinguished Educator Award
Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium Distinguished Educator Award is being given to Jim Hanson, Bloomington Public Schools – retired teacher. The award is given by his peers in the geospatial community. 

Mr. Hanson continues to support our 8th grade GT social studies teachers through the Esri GIS enrichment contest.
Matthew Oullett
Ian Rash
DA Students Win the ESRI GIS State Mapping Competition!
The COVID 19 pandemic did not prevent two middle school DA Social Studies students from becoming state champions! We would like to congratulate Matthew Oullet and Ian Rash, students in Ms. Laurie Bohn’s 8th grade DA social studies class at Olson Middle School. They won 1st place at this year’s Minnesota on the Map ArcGIS Online Competition. The duo also received a $100 Amazon certificate for the achievement. 

Their entry, Investigating the Relationship Between Civic Engagement and Newspaper Readership, will now move on to represent Minnesota in Esri's national 2020 ArcGIS Online Competition. It is the second year in a row that DA students have won the state contest and moved students onto the national competition! 
Emily Strahan
Esther George
DA Students perform well at National History Day Minnesota Competition
Several of our middle school DA kids have had tremendous success at the National History Day Minnesota competition. Emily Strahan, a student in Ms. Allison Lindman’s 7th grade DA social studies class at Oak Grove Middle School. Her submission, Give Us Bread But Give Us Roses! The Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, won 1st Place in the Junior Individual Website category. Emily moved on to represent Minnesota at the National online competition! 

Esther George, a 7th grade student in Ms. Kate Koester’s DA social studies class won a 1st Place Topical Prize in the “Labor History” category for her individual documentary, The Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968. Esther also won a $100 prize for this achievement. We are very proud of Emily and Esther and the following DA students who also received high marks at the competition:
Junior Division Honorable Mention
Zara Bertram (Oak Grove), Individual Paper: Elizabeth Blackwell: The Precedent For Women As Doctors
Jessie Pham (Olson), Individual Paper: The Lady With the Lamp: Lighting the Way for Modern Nursing
Audrey Jensen &
Emily Kwon (Oak Grove), The Bomb that Changed the World
Evelyn Stockinger (Olson), Individual Paper: The Law of Unintended Consequences: Ronald Reagan's War on Drugs
Ben Wadzinski &
Jenny Wen (Oak Grove), The Transcontinental Railroad: Breaking the Barrier of Westward Expansion
High School GT Programs Welcome New Faces!
Dan Richardson DAHS Humanities
Pre AP English & DA Composition
Kathryn Haddad DAHS Humanities
Honors World English10 & Creative Writing
Janell Woods DAHS STEM
Honors Algebra II & Honors PreCalc
Cory Carufel DAHS STEM AP Computer Science Principles & AP Environmental Science
Spring 2020 Graduating DA HS STEM Students
  A committee of NCC professors recognized the following students for excellence in a particular class. 
Clare Koll - College Algebra
Zach Studdiford - Trigonometry
Isaac Stein - Computer Science
Grace Jarvis - College Physics
Robbie Holzman - Geology
Preston Le - Chemistry
Gabe Meier - Calculus 1
Joseph Shetaye - Calculus II
Congratulations to our past students!
AMATYC Competition 2020

Congratulations to Robbie Holzman, 2019-20 DA sophmore, for placing 2nd place in the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC) Student Mathematics League competition at Normandale Community College. 
Dimensions Academy High School alum Colden Longley placed 1st! Colden was a senior at Jefferson High School last school year.
Recommended Resources
How to Learn Math: For Students
How to Learn Math is a free self-paced class, through YouCubed, for learners of all levels of mathematics. It combines important information on the brain with new evidence on the best ways to approach math effectively. Many people have had negative experiences with math. This class will give learners of math the information to become powerful math learners, correct any misconceptions about what math is, and will teach them about their own potential to succeed.
Where can I find free online resources that can personalize learning for my child?
  • Khan Academy (Gr. Pk-12): Once, enrolled, your child can begin with a pre-test that will help to build his/her learning path. After that pre-test is completed, your child can begin right away on their personalized math program. 
  • Sumdog- Sumdog's educational games are used in thousands of schools worldwide. They motivate children to work on math, reading and writing. As children play, they answer questions - each one personalized to that child's needs. Meanwhile, Sumdog's adaptive learning engine guides their progress. And the best bit? Lots of Sumdog is completely free, with no time limit.
Where can I find free online curricular resources (e.g, online textbooks) that my child can explore and investigate topics they are interested in?
  • Amazing Educational Resources: Educational companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings
  • CK12: It’s free, it’s high quality, and it has an amazing library of resources for all ages of students.
  • Audiobooks: Online Audiobooks – classics 
  • Open Culture: 1,300 Online Free Courses from Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard and more 
  • Educational Resources: Online Educational Resources – Video lessons, apps, books, websites 
  • iTunesU: “The iTunes U app gives you access to complete courses from leading universities and other schools — plus the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content — right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Whether you’re majoring in molecular biology at a university, taking Spanish in high school, or just interested in European history, you now have a valuable tool to help you learn anytime, anywhere.”
  • Raising LifeLong Learners website has resources for curriculum, activities, book lists and more for parents and educators of advanced learners
  • Crash Course: This website has 10-15 minute videos on a variety of subjects, ranging from literature to astronomy to world history.
  • CommonLit: This website has fantastic articles from a variety of sources. It also includes questions that students can answer as they read. Parents can create an account (for free) and get data on how their child is doing as a reader and writer.
  • Big History Project: An online course consisting of a collection of videos and resources that take a multi-disciplinary look at history.
Virtual Field Trips
For more information

Erin Boltik - Director of Gifted Talented K-12
Phone: 952-681-6497
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