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Trailblazers… We are meeting the needs of students!

Our gifted children are, for most of their school days, sitting there in a classroom listening to things they’ve already learned.


A friend posted this article on Facebook. What a profound message! I have to admit, I’ve been on both sides…the teacher who felt gift kids were hard to teach, and the parent wondering if my gifted child was having her needs met. 

Schools spend a lot of resources helping our struggling students. We have tons of resources, specialists and programs to support the students and teachers. Kids can get interventions multiple times a week, if not daily. Our gifted students are lucky to get a small segment of time focused on their needs. And our potentially gifted – nothing. 

That is where we differ!  In the Trailblazer Pathway, we can honestly say our gifted and potentially gifted students are getting their needs met! By leveraging resources, teachers, schedules and curriculum, we are providing Trailblazer students with a learning experience unlike anywhere else. We use a “move on when ready” approach to keep the learning fast paced and exciting.  We are not accelerating through to the next grade level materials, but instead opening time in the year to explore areas of interest and learning – because we love to learn! 

Our students have just finished their third week of school. Trailblazer third, fourth and fifth grade classes are already ahead of their counterpart classes. In less than a month, they have already explored writing for global audiences, extended research and presentation methods, engineering, team building, coding, and so much more – in addition to the required curriculum. 

Another unique aspect of the Trailblazer Pathway is that the extension activities and ongoing projects are NOT graded. Students are scored on rubrics and reflections that are shared with parents, but not added to the grade book. Our goal and philosophy is that we learn and explore because we love to learn and explore. 

Here is the BEST part… We had a zero budget! We have literally gotten this initiative off the ground with nothing more than the support of our principal (he has been amazing through this journey and we couldn’t have made this happen without him), our system, our parents and of course our students!!

We are not a magnet school or a charter school. We aren’t a huge metro school with a huge metro budget. We are a public school in a small city with the same struggling budget of most of every other school. 

If you would like to know more, come see us!

Danielle White, Assistant Principal and Trailblazer Coordinator

S. L. Mason Elementary ~Valdosta, GA 


Getting Started with Morning Meetings

This morning I had the opportunity to sit with Mrs. Cooper’s 2nd grade class for their morning meeting. According to Responsive Classrooms, a successful morning meeting has 4 parts:

1. Greeting

2. Sharing

3. Group Activity

4. Morning Message

Since we are just learning about Morning Meetings, we focused on the Greeting and the Morning Message. We sat together on the carpet and turned to great each other by name – we even had a little fun by greeting each other in Spanish!  
Next, we watched a short video. I have created a YouTube playlist with a growing collection of PBIS/Character Education/social skills video clips. We watch the Sharing and Respecting Others Clip.
After we watched the video, we talked about how and when you could share during the Morning Meeting. Mrs. Cooper has a stuffed animal named Chocolate. If you are holding Chocolate, you are sharing and the others are listening. We took turns sharing times we were a “Bear or Moose” (not sharing or respecting others) and where in our school did we have the opportunity to be a Bear/Moose or a Raccoon/Bunny. This was the meat of our Morning Message – Share and respect others, Be a Raccoon or a Bunny today!

I look forward to joining more morning meetings! Let’s share morning meeting ideas to meet the social and emotional needs of our students!
For more information about Resoponsive Classrooms – Check out this quick read: