Tag Archives: Academy

Enriching the Hearts and Minds of Gifted Youth: IEA Academy

By Jen Mounday

Jen Mounday is the Program Coordinator for IEA’s Academy program. Academy provides young gifted students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and the application of knowledge.

Academy students and instructors dressed up for Halloween – Nico made his own robot costume!

I was a classroom teacher before coming to IEA to be a Program Coordinator. From my years teaching, I naturally developed a mental catalogue of gifted students and the impressions they made on me over time. My experience in the classroom left me well acquainted with the gifted child: the voracious reader, the classical music lover, the Spanish speaking whiz, the student who challenges, the one who ponders—the child who has the uncanny power to shape you through their own quest for answers and truth. The memories I have working alongside gifted and talented kids are ever in my mind’s eye as I coordinate enrichment programs for this demographic.

IEA’s Academy welcomes kindergarten through eighth grade students into classrooms of like-minded peers. As much as I grouped students homogeneously when I was a classroom teacher, I have realized that there is nothing like an Academy classroom. Observe and you will see astronomy PhDs teaching astrophysics to a group of eleven-year-olds; the students are engaged, asking questions and driving the lesson deeper. It’s the power of the Academy classroom that is meeting a need in our community—drawing highly able students beyond the mainstream classroom framework and up a bit higher.

The 2012 fall quarter for Academy included multiple levels of chemistry and neuro-energy. Students worked with molecular model kits to identify molecular make up. In Neuro-Energy II: Intro to Computer Programming, students learned the basics of Java Script to build a website. I watched in one class as a second grader stood transfixed, looking at the projector screen as the instructor demonstrated how to create digital clocks using code. The student was grinning, captivated, bouncing up and down on his heels, like he’d just seen Santa.

Our classes are unique, much like the students and the instructors themselves. Sometimes the novelty of the program is all it takes to get students excited about the classes. In Academy, there are no limits. Instructors, specialists in their field, encourage as many questions as can be asked and are willing to go off on a tangent or two to satisfy interest. Our students can come, just as they are, to talk literature, chemistry, robotics, or math and be heard, embraced, and understood. And naturally, by the end of each quarter, Academy students build relationships through a process of discovery. Over the course of grappling with content that is typically off limits to their peer group, they become a community.

We do our best to extend this community beyond the classes as well. Last week, we held Academy Family Night here at the IEA office. It was an evening for the families to get to know each other and parents to hear from our president, Elizabeth Jones, on the social and emotional needs of gifted youth. It was an evening of learning and togetherness. Parents shared their experiences of raising gifted children, found support in each other and offered their gratitude for our programs. We will continue to hold parent nights each month through May.

We know that enrichment programs like Academy are often the bright spark in the gifted child’s week. We at the Institute for Educational Advancement are happy to provide that spark for our local community and beyond.

The Winter Session of Academy will run from January 12 to March 7. The schedule and applications are available on the Academy page of our website. Enroll your child today!

What enrichment programs have you found to inspire your son or daughter? Please share with us in the comment section below.

The Many Faces of Gifted: Phillip

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted child has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs, depicting the many faces of gifted. Academy – mentioned in this story – provides young students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and application of knowledge.


Academy Student

Although ten-year-old Phillip is only a fourth grader, he knows what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’s studying now for his future. Phillip wants to be a chemist and is taking high level enrichment classes through IEA’s Academy.

IEA has partnered with h-bar tutoring in Pasadena to offer exciting, instructive, hands-on classes year-round for motivated students like Phillip in grades 2-8.

Phillip has taken most of the classes Academy has offered. His first class was Neuro- Energy. “I took this class because it appealed to my doctor side,” he said. “I liked all of the classes, but my favorite is Scientists Like Me because it taught me a lot about many important scientists, like Eratosthenes.”

Classes are developed and taught by content area specialists – many of whom are Caltech PhD students – and typically focus on math, science or history. Recent courses include Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Mysteries of History, Rocket to Calculus and Sustainable Earth. New classes are introduced all the time; Playwriting, Astronomy and Theatre have been added for this year’s summer session.

Parents often find out about Academy classes through word of mouth from other parents. “Phillip’s classmate’s mom told me about it, and I am very happy to know that IEA exists,” Phillip’s mom, Ming, said. Ming has since spread the word; at least two of Phillip’s classmates have also taken Academy classes, and another friend will be starting this summer.

In addition to Academy classes, Phillip keeps busy with choir, basketball, piano, art, golf and Boy Scouts. He likes watching the Olympics and the NBA and will travel to China this summer.

When I asked Ming if she’s seen a difference in Phillip since he’s been taking Academy classes, she said, “Yes, he seems more confident and comfortable exploring new subjects and has become a more independent learner.”

It is true that Phillip and the other Academy students are engaged and motivated learners, but they are still kids. So, Phillip answered three important questions for me:

  1. What is your favorite food?
    Pasta Carbonara with white wine sauce
  2. What is your favorite TV show or book?
    The Hunger Games series
  3. If you could create your own Academy class, what would it be?
    An aerodynamic/paper airplane class

Academy classes run year-round at our office in South Pasadena, California. This summer, Academy will have two sessions: June 18 to July 6 and July 16 to August 2. Kids can take one to four classes in one or both of the sessions. For more information, an application and class schedules, visit the Academy page of our website. Sign up today!

Have your kids participated in enrichment classes? What was their experience? Please share with us in the comments below.

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