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Gifted Services for Talent Development

For over 30 years, parents and teachers of Austin have valued Gifted Services for Talent Development to enrich their students' educational experience. As the coordinator, I am committed to continue to provide comprehensive services that meet the needs of our students - academically, cognitively, creatively, and emotionally.

It is the philosophy of the APS Gifted & Talented Services to match advanced academic services to students' learning-needs by responding to how students demonstrate their knowledge on universal assessments which includes, but is not limited to, Scantron Math and Reading, FASTBridge, Mondo Benchmark, and CogAT assessments. Therefore, there is not a formal identification process or an evaluation to determine if a student is identified to receive gifted services or not.

Austin Public Schools analyzes all academic and ability data to determine a student's eligibility for advanced academics. Many academically talented students receive services that are flexible, such as small groups that meet periodically through the week in grades K-4. In addition, we offer full-time gifted services in Grades 1-4 for the students who qualify for this program.

To learn more about the Gifted Services for Talent Development program at Austin, click here:

APS Gifted Services for Talent Development Flier

MITY Scholarship Applications

Each year two students from Austin Public Schools are awarded scholarships to attend the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) Expand Your Mind Summer Enrichment Camps. The Hormel Foundation sponsors the two scholarships. MITY Expand Your Mind Summer Enrichment Camps are held at Macalester College. Scholarships include tuition and room and board for the two-week session. This opportunity is available to students in grades 7-11. o Students who are interested in this opportunity must complete the application form and return it to their school office (or the Educational Services office at Austin High School) by 2/14/20. All applicants will be notified after the applications are judged.

MITY Application

Our Mission Statement

The Gifted Services for Talent Development Program of Austin Public Schools will work in cooperation with staff, family and community to create an environment designed to assist individuals in achieving their maximum potential through modifications in their educational program.

Our Mission Statement

Austin Public Schools Gifted Service Model

Austin Public Schools uses a multi-tiered system called Response to Intervention [RtI] to determine the appropriate intervention or challenge to best meet a student's needs. Below is a visual of the RtI model:

RTI Model Illustration

Kindergarten - 4th Grade

In the Kindergarten Center and four elementary buildings, we will 'cluster' students of similar ability in small groups of five to eight students. In the cluster, students who are academically advanced will be able to work with other students of similar ability in small group instruction or cross-grade grouping options in Math and Reading. Teachers will be able to differentiate the curriculum to meet their needs.

The Gifted Services for Talent Development Interventionists provide instructional services using the RtI Model. Based on pre-assessment data, students will be placed in small groups whose needs will be best met by the classroom teacher or by the Gifted Services for Talent Development Interventionist. The groups are flexible; he/she may be in one small group for one unit and in a different group for the next unit so that students' needs are met.

In 2014-15 Austin Public Schools began providing a learning environment where our elementary-aged, intellectually gifted learners have the opportunity to access advanced academic services on a daily, full-time basis. Housed at Southgate Elementary School, Pi Academy provides personalized instruction for our intellectually gifted learners who demonstrate exceptionally high levels on ability and achievement tests. Pi Academy is an ungraded environment for students in 1st-4th grades, designed to promote continuous growth. Students receive an integrated approach to learning Mathematics and Language Arts at their level with an accelerated pace, compacted curriculum, and inquiry-based instruction. All 1st-4th grade student data is reviewed on a yearly basis, and students who qualify for this program and their families are invited to an informational meeting in February.

At the kindergarten center and elementary buildings, Gifted Services for Talent Development Interventionists work with small groups to develop students' critical thinking and problem solving skills; these groups are known as Young Scholars. Young Scholar groups target students that have demonstrated high-ability in their Nonverbal reasoning skills on the CogAT assessment and in observation in whole group lessons. The Young Scholars model provides equity of opportunity for students with demonstrated high-ability to have access to complex, in-depth instruction. Young Scholars nurtures the development of the students' ability so they are able to access other advanced academic options later in their school experience.
More Information
Kindergarten Levels of Service

Elementary (Grades 1-4) Levels of Service

PI Academy Flier

Young Scholars Flier

5th - 6th Grade

All of Austin’s 5th and 6th graders attend I.J. Holton Intermediate School. Students are placed in classes based upon data (i.e. MCA, Scantron…) and teacher recommendation. Content teachers provide differentiation in their instruction as well as support for social and emotional growth.

Beginning in 5th grade students have more opportunities to participate in clubs or activities that match areas of interest. Examples of opportunities that they have at this level include Geography Bee, VEX Robotics, Math Masters, and Spelling Bee.
More Information
Intermediate (Grades 5-6) Levels of Service

Need a Resource or Have a Question?

Use the following chart to help you find a resource that can help you. Click here for a printable version.

GTE Resource Chart

Gifted Services for Talent Development Advisory Committee

2019-20 Meeting Dates

Meetings are scheduled in the District Board Room from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. All meetings are open to the public.

Grade Acceleration / Early Entrance Guides

Austin Public Schools supports the options of grade acceleration and early entrance to Kindergarten as viable interventions to offer additional challenge for students. To learn more about the policies and procedures for both, select appropriate the link below.

Early Entrance Procedures

Grade Acceleration Procedures

Contact Information

Edwina Harder
Principal on Special Assignment
Gifted Services for Talent Development
Mentorship Coordinator
Elementary Advanced Academics Talent Development Teachers
Woodson Kindergarten Center
Amy Learn

Banfield Elementary School
Sue Conway

Neveln Elementary School
Katie Tharp

Southgate Elementary School
Erin Schoen

Sumner Elementary School
Nikky Tolde

PI Academy
Karla Carroll

Kelli Hamer

Secondary Site Leads for Gifted and Talented Education
IJ Holton Intermediate School
Laurie Herman

Ellis Middle School
Jen Gosha

Austin High School
Lisa Sanders

Project E³

Project E³ is an inter-district enrichment program for qualified students in Austin, Albert Lea, Southland, Lyle, and Hayfield school districts.

Project E3 will provide students with learning opportunities through engaging educational experiences, develop 'citizen scientists' that will put their new knowledge of the natural world to action in their communities, and motivate them to work at their highest potential throughout the year.

Project E3 is an extension of the school year. Students will need to commit to attend 8 Saturdays during the school year and 5 weeks during June and July.

Visit the Project E3 Website to learn more!

Project E3 Staff:

Arik Andersen
Lead Teacher
Austin Public Schools

Kristi Beckman
Integration Coordinator
Austin Public Schools

Valentina Gallegos
Success Coach
Austin Public Schools

Katelyn McGrane
Austin Public Schools

Mark Mikesh
Austin Public Schools

Laura Ramirez
Success Coach
Austin Public Schools

Patty Schafer
Austin Public Schools

Jessica Stanley
Austin Public Schools

What is Giftedness?

Visit Free Spirit Press​ to download a free book, You Know Your Child is Gifted When... by Judy Galbraith. It is a great resource to understand giftedness and learning needs of gifted learners.

There are several other free downloads that teachers and parents can use with gifted learners.

Ongoing Professional Development

Our staff attend a variety of professional development opportunities throughout the year in an ongoing effort to use the most effective instructional practices for our students.

In the 2019-20 School Year:

GT Coordinators Network: Ongoing

NAGC Convention: 11/07/19 - 11/10/19

Annual Minnesota Educators of Gifted and Talented [MEGT] Conference: 1/26/20 - 1/28/20

Gifted and Talented Symposium: 6/2020


Association for Gifted Children

Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented

Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented

Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth [MITY]
7th - 11th grade students may apply for 1 of 2 scholarships offered through the Austin Public Schools

Northwestern University Midwest Academic Talent Search [NUMATS]

SENG: Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program [UMTYMP]
Applicants must take a qualifying exam. Please check the website ( for information and dates.

Austin Public Schools
401 3rd Street NW
Austin, MN  55912
Phone: 507-460-1900
Superintendent: David Krenz
Administrative Assistant: Sharon Alms

Important Phone Numbers
District Enrollment: 507-460-1937