DCSD Advanced Academics & Gifted Ed

Happy Fall! October, 2021

Douglas County School District Advanced Academics & Gifted Education

Equity of Access

Opportunity ~ Agency ~ Empowerment


We seek out, surface, and nurture the potential in each student from all races, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations.


We partner with staff, students, families, and our community to design/refine/implement equitable and culturally responsive systems of identification and programming for high potential/advanced/gifted students from all demographic groups in all schools.

Director's Corner

Happy Fall!

It’s difficult to believe that we are nearing the end of the first quarter of this school year! It has been a joy to be in schools and school events watching the incredible learning and connecting your children are participating in this year.

Advanced Learning Plans (ALP)

All Advanced Learning Plans PreK-12 have been updated for the 2021 - 2022 school year.

The Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) is a legal document [22-20-R-12.00,C.R.S.] outlining programming for identified gifted students and is used as a guide for educational planning and decision-making. An ALP shall be developed for every gifted student according to the student’s determined area(s) of giftedness, interests, and instructional, and affective needs. The ALP is updated annually with new academic and affective goals based on individual student data and learning needs. Parents and students play a collaborative role in ALP development.

For high school students, the ALP may be blended with an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) if all contents of the ALP are inclusive in the ICAP, including achievement and affective goals.(CDE 2021).

If you have not had an opportunity to provide information and feedback on your child’s ALP, please connect with the Gifted Education Facilitator at your child’s school.

Find out more about Advanced Learning Plans HERE.

We appreciate your continued communication and collaboration as we partner to support your children.

With gratitude,

Natasha Langjahr Straayer

Parenting Gifted Children

The Superpower of Self-Advocacy

By Deb Douglas, from Sengifted.org, September, 2021

This fall, send your kids back to school with a new superpower --- SELF-ADVOCACY!!!

Self-advocacy is a critical skill that empowers students to speak up, set their own goals, and find support in realizing their dreams. “My favorite definition comes from Loring C. Brinckerhoff: Self-advocacy is the process of recognizing and meeting the needs specific to your learning ability without compromising the dignity of yourself or others.”

In an ideal situation, this year’s teacher has experience meeting the needs of gifted learners and is aware of your child’s unique strengths and struggles, interests, preferences, and quirks. But unfortunately, many of our brightest kids aren’t in the ideal situation. Still, when given the tools and insights they need, students can improve whatever situation they’re in. They can learn to successfully self-advocate – to tell the adults around them when, where, and how they want their education to be differentiated – without compromising anyone’s dignity.

Read the full article HERE.

The Importance of Play for Your Whole Family

It’s easy to think of examples of how play helps young children and preschoolers. But what about older kids, teens, and even adults? The importance of play for your entire family is significant and the focus this PODCAST by Colleen Kessler from Raising Lifelong Learners.

Play helps:

Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.

Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.

Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.


District News

Elementary Reading Programs Under Consideration in DCSD

Last year, in order to prepare to meet the new requirements of the READ Act, DCSD selected three core reading programs to pilot in some of our elementary schools. The three programs were selected from the approved list of core resources from the Colorado Department of Education following a thorough review process, and these programs were formally approved by the DCSD Board of Education in the spring of 2021. Please visit the DCSD website to find out more information and watch recordings from the vendors.

DCSD Elementary Reading Program Pilots

Elementary Discovery Program Application Process Is Open!

The Discovery application process for the 2022-2023 school year is now open!

The Douglas County School District Elementary Discovery Program is designed to meet the needs of gifted elementary school students who require intensity of instruction and acceleration beyond what can reasonably be expected from regular school gifted programming.

If you think your child may need this level of gifted programming, please find out more on our website linked HERE.

Join DCAGT (Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented) on their Facebook page on October 25th, 2021 from 6:00-7:00pm for a presentation and question/answer session all about the Discovery Program.

Engagement Opportunities

Douglas County Gifted Education Advisory Council (DCGEAC)--Still seeking members!

Our next quarterly DCGEAC meeting is scheduled virtually Wednesday, November 17, 4:30-6:30 P.M. Meetings are open to the public so if you are interested, you are welcome! Send an email to Heather Groff at hagroff@dcsdk12.org to receive the link.


  • Provide information, support, and resources to empower students, families, and educators toward successful lifelong learning/development through a variety of outreach methods, opportunities, and activities.

  • Serve in an advisory capacity to DCSD regarding new policies, trends, programming, and concerns.

  • Provide a collaborative voice to advocate for gifted students, policies, programming, and issues and act as a liaison between families/community and DCSD.

We have parents with gifted children that represent each of our feeders in elementary and secondary schools, charter schools in each region. We are also seeking high school students from each region to add their voices. Please see the openings below and let us know if you are interested by filling out the self nomination form HERE. Please email Heather Groff at hagroff@dcsdk12.org with any questions. We look forward to partnering with you!

Castle View Feeder: Elementary

Chaparral Feeder: Elementary, Secondary, Discovery

Douglas County Feeder: Elementary

Highlands Ranch Feeder: Elementary

Legend Feeder: currently filled

Mountain Vista Feeder: Elementary

Ponderosa Feeder: Elementary

Rock Canyon Feeder: currently filled

ThunderRidge Feeder: Elementary

Charter: currently filled

Secondary Students (grades 6-12):

Castle Rock (DCHS, CVHS)

Highlands Ranch (HRHS, MVHS, RCHS, TRHS)

Parker (CHS, LHS, PHS)


Connect with Other Parents of Gifted Children

Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented (DCAGT)

Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented (DCAGT) is an affiliate of the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented (CAGT), which is an affiliate of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).

DCAGT's mission is to:

1) foster an understanding of all gifted children, and any subcategories of giftedness (including twice exceptional (2e) children), and their exceptional needs and

2) advocate for gifted children’s needs through partnerships with educators, parents, administrators, legislators, organizations and the general public, and

3) support the educational and social/emotional well-being of gifted children and their families and caregivers.

We do not sell anything, and we do not provide legal advice, educational services, or mental health counseling.

Find our current newsletter here. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

DCAGT Facebook Live SAVE the DATES!

Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented (DCAGT) is our district's GT parent advocacy group. We want to reach and connect the gifted community with opportunities to share experiences and exchange information. We hope that you will join us in our community events.

We will be holding a DCAGT Facebook Live on Monday, October 25th from 6 to 7 P.M. We will be talking about DCSD's Discovery Program. Please join us on our Facebook page or our YouTube channel to join the conversation. You can even send questions to info@dcagt.org prior to the event and you can indicate to you if they prefer to remain anonymous.

SAVE the DATES! Facebook Live and GT 101--Details about upcoming events coming soon!

November 8

December 1

January 10

January 31

February 28

March 30: GT 101

April 11

May 2

May 16

Calendar of Events

Happily Family FREE Online Conference, October 14-18

You'll get 5 days of free support and inspiration from 25 leading parenting experts and authors.

We can’t wait for you to join this conversation about how to raise resilient, connected, mentally and emotionally well kids in difficult times – whether you are a parent, family member, or a professional who works with kids.

The Happily Family Conference is completely online, with experts from the fields of mindfulness, happiness, education, and brain science.

This time you’ll hear from new voices…

  • Rosetta Lee - Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice
  • Kristen Jenson - Protecting Kids from Pornography​​
  • Tracy Gillett - Natural Parenting: Trusting in Your Child, Yourself, and Nature

And wisdom from familiar sources...

  • Dr. Daniel Siegel - Empathy, Attachment, and Knowing Our Kids
  • Jessica Lahey - How to Prevent Addiction
  • Dr. John Duffy - Parenting a Teen in an Anxious World
  • Suzanne Tucker - How to Shift from “Time Outs” to “Time Ins” with Your Toddler or Teen

and many more!

And it’s all for free! Just click and sign up so you don’t miss anything and get your invite to the special pre-conference watch parties!

The conference is NOT about:
- how to be a perfect parent, feeling guilt or shame, or adding more stuff to your to-do list.

The conference IS about:
- worrying less, having more fun, doing less, letting go of perfectionism, being a “good enough parent”, knowing that you’re not alone, and more…

For more information click HERE.

2021 Colorado Free Application Day$ (Oct. 19-21, 2021)

In 2021, Colorado's Free Application Day has expanded to become Free Application Day$! The fourth annual statewide initiative has grown from one day to three days and takes place from Tuesday, Oct. 19 through Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.

Applicants who submit their admission applications to Colorado's colleges and universities during this three day period can do so for free. Just follow the application instructions listed HERE.

And remember, while the application must be submitted during this three-day period to be eligible for the fee waiver, applicants can begin working on their admission applications now! Just save your work online and submit the admission applications from Oct. 19 - 21.

G/T/N Awareness Week Starts October 25th!

You're invited to register today for our first Gifted / Talented / Neurodiverse Awareness Week, powered by THE G WORD. Did we mention it's FREE?

We'll be announcing the full five-day slate of virtual programming in the coming days, so register today to be the first to hear about it in your inbox!

G/T/N Awareness Week is brought to you by our dedicated community of diverse voices - experts, thought leaders, podcasters, partners and advisors.

More information and registration found HERE.

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Parent Day 2021

Saturday, November 13, 2021 Only

7:30 a.m. Check in

8:00 a.m.- 4:45 p.m.

Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center

6700 N. Gaylord Rockies Boulevard, Aurora, CO

You must be fully vaccinated to attend

NAGC21 Parent Day is a one-day event that gives parents, grandparents, and caregivers the tools, resources, and networking opportunities they need to best support their gifted and talented child’s education and development. After attending a special two-hour Parent Program, Parent Day attendees are free to choose from 100+ convention sessions in 16 topic tracks, and to visit the Exhibit Hall.

All attendees must pre-register; there is no on-site registration.

Cost: $50 per adult (Two or more from same family $40 each)

Breakfast and lunch are available for purchase.

Registration closes on Friday, November 5, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Space is limited to a maximum of 175 attendees.

Click here to read all about it and register. NAGC Parent Day Flyer

Colorado Association for Gifted Children Conversations with CAGT

We are back! We have a brand new season with more amazing gifted experts from Colorado, the nation and around the world. And if you missed any conversations, or want to view them again, we have archived Season 1 for your convenience. We hope you can tune in each week on Tuesdays to our Facebook Live page for our Conversations with CAGT live at 5:00 P.M.!

October 12th – Nisia Palatan – Removing Barriers in Education
October 19th – Angelina Paolozza – An Introduction to Addressing Fairness in Ability Tests

Archived webinars from Season 2 are HERE.

You can also watch the recording of archived webinars from Season 1 HERE.

Enrichment Opportunities

Get involved with providing enrichment to your gifted child

Last month we featured three programs you could help support at your school by having parent run before/after school teams and activities. They were Math Olympiad, Battle of the Books and Destination Imagination. Here are a few more ideas.

Specific Interest Resources