What Makes TESF Different
than most mainstream gifted programs?
We believe that the unique and diverse needs of gifted students should not only be celebrated, but specifically catered to in order to foster a love for life-long learning amongst all of our bright, young scholars.
Studies have shown that students who fall into the category of gifted and talented respond differently to direct classroom instruction. These findings are not just interesting facts for us--they are our guiding principles. You will notice several aspects of the Thomas Edison School of Fairfax method that separate us from mainstream AAP programs:
We feel that genuine human connection is a key ingredient to a meaningful educational experience. For this reason, we keep our classes small with a teacher to student ratio of no more than 1:8. Small class sizes also allow for an effective measurement model where teacher’s observations of student social and emotional behavior as well as their experience of the program are considered as pivotal elements of our assessment process.
1. Intentionally Small Class Sizes
When your student is at school, we aim to have their full attention as enthusiastic investigators and avid question-askers. We want their learning to follow them home, but we do not believe that written homework is always the best way to go. Students who experience firsthand how the knowledge gained in the classroom is applicable in a non-academic setting are far more likely to continue seeking knowledge out for themselves. This being said, your child will receive a very limited amount of sit down homework. Instead, you can expect your student to come home with tasks that will require them to start relevant conversations at home, spend time independently reading, or focusing on cultivating healthy habits.
2. Not Your Average Homework Policy
One of the largest complaints about mainstream gifted programs is that the individual pacing needs of each student are not always perfectly accounted for. In a large class setting - even when all of the students in the class population are high level learners - it’s difficult to avoid “teaching to the middle.”
At TESF, however, we pride ourselves on the ability to adjust quickly to our students’ changing needs. For example, if it is observed that a student who excels at mathematics needs more time and focus in science related activities, their personalized learning plan will accommodate for this without any detriment to the student’s experience. In other words, the pace of instruction is always set to match what each student needs in order to stay challenged and engaged.
3. Individually Paced Instruction
Rather than follow a linear path through an isolated content area, our material is structured around conceptual frameworks, allowing for opportunities to generalize, integrate, and apply ideas in an organic manner. This allows for students to make the higher-order connections that students with gifted minds often crave and require in order to remain interested and intellectually stimulated.
An integrated approach allows students to continue making these real life connections across discipline lines. For example, although the topic of the day’s lesson may be the scientific phenomenon of acid rain, students will be placed in a hypothetical situation in which they are faced with a series of choices. In order to make the best choices for the desired outcome, students must work individually and collectively to gather and interpret all of the information needed to act. Instead of delegating numbers strictly to math class and reading comprehension to language arts, all areas of intelligence and interpretation will be activated in each of the core subject areas.
4. Integrated Academic Model
Above all else, we seek to foster a community of thoughtful and creative individuals who find strength when surrounded by their peers. Thomas Edison students will have plenty of opportunities to attend enriching field trips with their classmates, participate in friendly competitions such as reading contests and science fairs, and enjoy extracurricular activities on special days throughout the academic year.
We want our students to view themselves as important, valued members not only of their school community, but of the larger community they live in. Community engagement opportunities such as writing letters to public health workers and promoting holiday donation drives allow students to view themselves as important members of their community, even at such a young age!