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CTY expands efforts to connect with Baltimore's brightest students

Baltimore Emerging Scholars program removes barriers by bringing resources to students in their own schools

A boy smiles and looks into the camera while completing a school assignment

Image caption: Santino Vaughan, a student at Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School in Central Baltimore, is one of 180 students who have participated in the CTY Baltimore Emerging Scholars program since 2014.

Image credit: Howard Korn

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is broadening its efforts to identify Baltimore City students with advanced learning abilities and connect these bright students and their teachers with quality gifted resources and programs.

A growing partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools is bringing CTY to students in 10 city schools this school year through the Baltimore Emerging Scholars program. New initiatives are also under way to help families and teachers provide their academically advanced students with the extra challenge and support they need.

"It isn't that academically advanced students don't exist in Baltimore; we know they're here. It's that we are failing to identify and engage these children and their families."
Ashley Flynn
CTY program manager

The partnership is helping CTY reach families that might not have otherwise heard about the organization and identify students for its summer, online, and family programs through nontraditional means. And it's helping support the school system's brightest students at no cost to the school system or its families, said Dennis Jutras, coordinator for the City Schools' Gifted and Advanced Learning program.

"As a leader in gifted education and research associated with gifted learners, CTY represents an incredibly valuable resource within the boundaries of our school district," Jutras said. "To not develop a working relationship that allows city schools to benefit from CTY's expertise and for CTY not to learn what works in an urban district would be a failure on the part of both organizations."

On a recent Saturday morning, CTY and BCPS co-hosted a series of workshops on writing, science, and gifted education to give local families a hands-on experience with CTY programming and connect them with school resources. The free event attracted nearly 250 parents and students.

Last week on a Baltimore City Public Schools professional development day, CTY experts led workshops at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for dozens of teachers from across the district, sharing strategies for teaching bright students and managing their unique social and emotional needs. Teachers learned activities that can build students' observational skills, common areas of strength and weakness for advanced students, and counseling strategies for teachers to apply in their own classrooms.

Meanwhile, before and after school on weekdays, 120 bright second-, third-, and fourth-graders throughout the city are enhancing their critical-thinking skills through courses in astronomy, architecture, and engineering as part of the Baltimore Emerging Scholars program. Founded in 2014, the 25-week program expanded from three to 10 elementary schools this year.

"It isn't that academically advanced students don't exist in Baltimore; we know they're here," said CTY program manager Ashley Flynn. "It's that we are failing to identify and engage these children and their families."

Baltimore Emerging Scholars helps remove barriers for families by bringing programs to students in their own schools, Flynn said.

Luke Kasim, CTY's director of recruitment, said the center is working to develop strong partnerships with other Maryland school districts.

"We're developing a menu of options that CTY can provide to schools," he said, "and right now we're listening and learning what schools need, and positioning ourselves as a resource for students, teachers, and families."