SCPS High School Gifted Education

December 2021

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The Most Precious Gift

We all experience different emotions when the holidays approach us. Some feel an overwhelming sense of joy, and others may feel anxious, stressed, or depressed. Our feelings may change based on the paths our lives lead us on each year. One thing we can do to experience the utmost joy this holiday season is to be present for others. Over time, the memories of material goods may fade away, but quality time with others will be remembered for years to come.

In this day and age we have a tendency to get wrapped up in our hectic schedules. Our fast paced lives often lead to increased levels of anxiety, stress and unhappiness (Ackerman, 2021). These emotions may creep up on us before we begin to realize it. A way to counter these feelings is to put aside time to “be present.”

What does “being present” mean?

According to Manhattan Mental Health Counseling, being present means being fully conscious of the moment and free from the noise of internal dialogue. Being present in the lives of others means giving someone your time, energy and attention.

What does “being present” look like?

Being present doesn't require much time and effort. It includes any of the following practices:

1) Listen with an open mind and heart

2) Make eye contact with another person

3) Engage in the activity that the other person is doing WITH them

4) Just BE with the person without having to necessarily DO or SAY anything

5) Simply take in and observe the other person while they're in their "element."

~ adapted from Barbara@FollowYourOwnRhythm

Go ahead, give it a try!

This practice may seem nearly impossible this time of year. Once you give it a try, you might realize you have more than enough time to “be present” in the lives of your loved ones. Beginning now, and into the new year, try to incorporate actions toward "being present" in the lives of others. Being present is the most precious gift we can give this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

~the SCPS High School Gifted Instructional Team

Social Connectedness, Excessive Screen Time During Covid-19 and Mental Health

Over the past two decades, screen time has become a predominant activity of people across the globe. This practice increased dramatically during Covid-19 and may be here to stay. There are positive aspects of screen activity, but excessive amounts can have a negative impact on one's mental health. With nearly everything accessible on screen, it's important to keep our digital connectedness in check.

The development of digital platforms has increased the means by which humans make purchases, learn, work, meet, entertain and socialize. During Covid, these platforms provided social connections and interactions while people were isolated in their homes. Screens gave us something to look forward to during dark times.

Since our time in isolation has subsided, it is important to make efforts to reduce screen time and increase time practicing habits that are helpful to a healthy mental well-being. Studies have shown that social interactions and friendships have a healing effect on the mind. After our experiences with Covid-19, try to increase the amount of quality time spent with others- it may be just what the doctor ordered!

Adapted from:

Managing Emotional Intensities of Gifted Students with Mindful Practices

Gifted students view the world with varying degrees of complexity. They analyze experiences deeply which may lead to intense emotional response. Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski researched the emotional responses of gifted students and categorized them into five levels of development. Dabrowski states that overexcitabilities (physical, sensual, creative, intellectual and emotional) in gifted students can affect the level of development that they are able to attain.

Students are exposed to an overwhelming amount of stimuli in our technology- centered world. Gifted students often overanalyze the stimuli which may lead to an elevated emotional responses. Studies have shown that mindfulness practices such as deep listening, gratitude, and storytelling can help students manage their emotional excitabilities and allow them to reach a higher level of development. Read more about managing emotional intensities in the article below.

Recommended Reading

Students 100% Present at Summer Residential Governor’s School Adjudications

This year, adjudications were held at Gayle Middle School. Students sang, acted, played their instruments, and showcased their artistic talents in full force to judges in hopes of attending the prestigious Summer Residential Governor’s School at Radford University. SRGS offers current year tenth- and eleventh-grade students in the Commonwealth of Virginia the opportunity to attend a month-long residential program. The goal of each Governor's School is to provide students who attend different opportunities for intellectual as well as social and emotional growth. In the company of dedicated, highly skilled professionals representing a variety of careers, selected students are encouraged to establish and fulfill their artistic and academic goals. We wish these students luck as they move on to the second round of adjudications. Stafford County will be represented well this coming summer!

A video you won't want to miss...

Johns Hopkins 2021 Commencement Message: "Be Present for Others"

At the 2021 Johns Hopkins Commencement, Michael Bloomberg communicates the importance of interaction with others and togetherness.
Michael Bloomberg, Johns Hopkins University's 2021 Commencement Speaker

Publications from NAGC

The National Association for Gifted Children publishes information for parents of gifted children. Resources include topics such as motivation, social and emotional considerations, and helping children succeed. Click on the link below to access the NAGC parent resource page.

High School Gifted Instructional Team

Kevin Bouffard (BPHS)

Feli Cardenas (NSHS)

Susan Easter (CFHS)

Kali Hamill (MVHS)

Helga Purnell (SHS)

Stephenie Fellinger (SCPS Gifted Facilitator)