DCSD Advanced Academics & Gifted Ed

Welcome Back to a New School Year! August, 2022

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

We are thrilled to be back and engaging with students, staff, and you. The first month of the school year has provided us many opportunities to connect and collaborate in all schools across the district. As we celebrate a more typical "back to school" experience for the for the first time since 2019, we remain committed to supporting ACCESS, AGENCY, and EMPOWERMENT to and for learning opportunities that surface and nurture the potential in each of our students.

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

With gratitude,

Natasha Langjahr Straayer

Parenting Gifted Children

For Mothers of Neurodivergent Children, Community is Crucial By Megan Champion

When my twins were barely three, I took them (and my six week old) to the beach. Before we left the house that morning, I was rushing around with a baby on my hip, packing and getting breakfast ready. That day, I was serving the twins waffles with peanut butter. When the food was ready, they sat down and my son immediately began screaming.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, alarmed. “What’s the problem?” He couldn’t answer, but his screaming went from sad to angry in a second. Before long, he was in full-scale meltdown mode, thrashing his little body all around and trying to throw his food.

For some context, I spent my whole life working with kids: first as a babysitter, then a daycare worker, preschool intern, and finally, as an elementary school teacher for 15 years. I knew kids – or so I thought. But the day my child screamed for two hours over the way the peanut butter was spread on that waffle, I realized how little I actually knew.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

District News

DCSD’s Elementary Discovery Program: 2023-2024 Application Process Now Open

The DCSD Elementary Discovery Program is a center based gifted program designed to meet the needs of highly advanced gifted elementary school students (grades 2 - 6) who require intensity of instruction and acceleration beyond what can reasonably be expected from gifted programming and services provided through their school. Student’s placement in this program receive their typical school day instruction in a self-contained classroom with other highly gifted students.

Want to know more about the program and/or explore if it might be right for your student(s)? You can find further information and resources on the DCSD Gifted Education Website.

You can also join us for our virtual information night on Monday, September 12 from 6:00-7:00pm. Please use this Google form to RSVP for this event, further details and the link to join will be sent directly to your email.

Advanced Learning Plans

Every neighborhood school has a Gifted and Talented Facilitator who will be collaborating with you, your child and your child's teacher to finalize ALP goals before September 30. In the spring, GT Facilitators gathered information from your child's previous teacher to provide insight into areas in which challenge and growth might be translated into goals for this school year. This month, your school's GT Facilitator will be reaching out to gather additional information and help create academic and social emotional goals for the year. A copy of the collaborative ALP will be provided to you.

Engagement Opportunities

Colorado Department of Education: WE ARE SEEKING YOUR VOICE

The Members of the Exceptional Student Services Unit want to hear from you!

Join us for a virtual listening session to help us gain a better understanding of the needs of our

BIPOC* parents/families of students with exceptionalities.

The objectives of the listening session are to:

  • Discuss students' and families' equitable, diverse, and inclusive experiences with special and gifted education identification and services.
  • Understand families' knowledge regarding equitable, diverse, inclusive, special, and gifted education identification and services.
  • Clarify families' needs and solicit input from Colorado’s BIPOC and bilingual community.
  • Use the information we have gathered to provide support and resources to this community.

SESSION DATES/TIMES (all sessions will be held virtually)

Session 1: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022 (10 - 11 AM)

Session 2: Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 (5 - 6 PM)

Session 3: Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022 (Noon - 1 PM)

Session 4: Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, for SPANISH speaking families/parents (1 - 2 PM)

Register HERE.

More information HERE.

Spanish flyer HERE.

*BIPOC is an acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Douglas County Gifted Education Advisory Council (DCGEAC)

Our first quarterly DCGEAC meeting is scheduled _______________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.

Mission: To gather, communicate, and disseminate information to stakeholders, as well as advocate, influence, support, and ensure accountability for quality programming for gifted learners in Douglas County School District.


  • 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 and homeschool. 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, Secondary

Highlands Ranch Feeder: Elementary

Legend Feeder: Secondary

Mountain Vista Feeder: Elementary--not Discovery

Ponderosa Feeder: Elementary

Rock Canyon Feeder: currently filled

ThunderRidge Feeder: Elementary

Charter: currently filled

High School Students:

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 will be returning soon!

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.

More information coming soon!

Calendar of Events

SENGinar - Habits of Mind: Growing Capacities for Giftedness

Tue, Sep 13, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Online Webinar

$40 Register HERE.

The past two years have been a roller coaster of frequently disrupted opportunities for interdependent learning experiences. This session will focus on Habits of Mind, 16 essential thinking dispositions that will help our students become more thoughtfully engaged with collaborative and creative work as they continue to discover their talents and strengths as learners.

About the Presenters:

Art Costa and Bena Kallick have co-authored many books on Habits of Mind. As co-founders of the Institute for Habits of Mind, they provide services to certify schools, individual practitioners, and train teachers from around the world. They are well known for their work in the area of thinking and are passionate about their mission to educate a more thoughtful world.

Conversations with CAGT

WE ARE BACK FOR SEASON 3!! We hope you had a great summer and maybe had a chance to view some of the recorded conversations in our archives – there are a TON!

This season the format is a bit different as we will be presenting live CWCs on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

This season we have new sessions with more amazing gifted experts from Colorado, the nation and around the world. If you missed any conversations, or want to view them again, we have archived Season 1 and Season 2 for your convenience, just click the link and peruse the many topics available for your viewing. We hope you can tune in live each first and third Tuesday on our Facebook page to view our Conversations with CAGT in real time at 5:00. You will be able to ask the CWC guest speaker any questions you might have about their session. Please come join us!

9/6/2022 Della Remack – The Learning Galaxy

9/20/2022 – Stefanie Tolan – Dimensions of Intelligence

*Click here to go to CAGT News for information on our next CWC!

Colorado Association for Gifted Children

Family Institute Registration is Open!

Family Institute is designed specifically for parents, guardians, grandparents and any adult who plays an integral role in raising their gifted children. During the event, our presenters will share their expertise about how to support the unique academic and social-emotional needs of these children when at home.

We’re excited to announce that the Family Institute, like the CAGT Conference, will be back in person this year, which means that we’ll be offering the same high-quality experience you’ve come to expect from our events in the past. The Family Institute takes place on Monday, October 17th from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm. at the Embassy Suites, John Q. Hammons Conference Center in Loveland. This year, it is $30 for up to two members of one household to attend. What a deal!

This year, our internationally-renowned keynote speaker(s) for the Family Institute are Dr. Ed Amend, Dr. Gilman Whiting, and Jenny Hecht, LCSW.

There will be an opening session with pertinent information from our CAGT representatives, followed by breakout sessions featuring our keynote speakers with choices of relevant topics to fit your family's needs. There also will be optional networking opportunities before and after the presentations.

Click here to get the all the info, including the schedule, and to register.

Flyer for Family Institute located HERE

Student Art Contest

September is here, and we hope that many students are already working on their pieces to submit for our 4th annual Student Art Contest. Whether you submitted something in our prior contests or want to do so this year, here’s your chance to have your art displayed and viewed by educators and families from gifted communities throughout our state at the 44th CAGT Annual Conference!

CAGT would like to invite our gifted and talented art students from around Colorado to share their artistic talents with the attendees at this year’s conference. Students who attend any K-12 school or homeschool can create their artistic interpretation of our conference theme, Unconventionally, Unconditionally Gifted and share it with us this fall at CAGT’s Annual Conference, October 16-18, 2022. This is a wonderful opportunity for students who have already been identified gifted in art and for students who are in the process of being identified.

Click here to get all the information. Submissions are due by Monday, September 19th.

Can't wait to see all of the amazing artwork!

Specific Interest Resources

New Gifted & Distractable Vlog! Transitions - what are they, why are they challenging, and what can we do to help?

Aug 15, 2022 This month's Gifted & Distractible Vlog explores a topic I'm sure is on a LOT of your minds with so many of you starting a new school year: transitions.

Tune in to find out​... ​ Making Transitions Easier for our Twice Exceptional Learners (and our Twice Exceptional Selves)

  • what transitions actually are and why they matter
  • why transitions are hard for 2e people
  • the cycle that frequently occurs when 2e people attempt transitions
  • what we as teachers, parents, and 2e adults can do to make transitions easier and more comfortable

For more awesome gifted and twice-exceptional relevant resources, subscribe to our newsletter at withunderstandingcomescalm.com/newsletters