Gifted Services

“Every student has the right to learn something new every day, although, unfortunately we know that too many advanced students are simply marking time in the classroom until new material is presented to them.”

–National Association for Gifted Children


Eastern Carver County Schools recognizes this right to continuous learning, and we are dedicated to ensuring that each learner is prepared for life-long success. “Exceptional, personalized learning” is more than a marketing tagline—it is a guide for transformative learning in our district.

What sets Eastern Carver County Schools apart…

  • We know that different children develop abilities at different rates—this includes traditional academic skills like math and reading as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and social/emotional development.
  • We know that the best learning happens when students are challenged just beyond what they can do easily, but that point is different for each individual learner, that point is different for different areas of learning, and that point is constantly changing.
  • We know that today’s students will need to continue to learn throughout life in order to be successful. Helping them grow in independence as learners will best prepare them for their future successes.

In our innovative approach, Gifted Services educators in each of our schools work together across our pre K-12 system and work with teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and students to focus on the individual needs of each of our learners as they learn and grow toward realizing their immense potential.

Elementary Gifted Services

All learners have different interests, talents, and needs. Gifted Services Facilitators in Eastern Carver County elementary schools work alongside classroom teachers to guide high ability students as they personalize their own learning and grow toward their maximum potential. Students work at the level that is right for them–whether that’s at grade level with support or many years beyond traditional grade level. Students with especially strong abilities work collaboratively and independently to connect their interests, talents, and passions with the rigorous standards they are mastering. They engage in extensions, in-depth study and special interest projects as they grow to be self-directed and collaborative learners.

Extended Learning Opportunities

  • Thinking strategies like Patient Problem Solving and using logic
  • Real-world simulations like the BizTown, Stock Market Game and Debate
  • Research opportunities like iWonder and Genius Hour
  • Extension activities in areas like literature and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
  • Special events like the Creativity Festival, Young Authors’ Conference, STEMLink field trip, and Environmental Institute at the National Wildlife Refuge


Social and Emotional Needs

Advanced learners often have unique social and emotional needs. Gifted Services Facilitators and classroom teachers help students develop strategies to recognize and monitor their unique needs including perfectionism, worry, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, peer relationships, and executive functioning.

Middle School Gifted Services

Gifted Services at Chaska Middle School East, Chaska Middle School West, and Pioneer Ridge Middle School support the intellectual, social and emotional needs of high ability learners. Students design and extend their learning to meet and exceed grade-level standards, question different perspectives, and develop skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity that will make them successful in their futures.                            

Social and Emotional Needs

During adolescence, cognitive, emotional, and physical development often proceed at different rates. For intellectually advanced students, this uneven development is often paired with heightened intensity to create inner experiences very different from others of the same age. To meet these needs, affective support is embedded throughout the school day to help students reach their full potential emotionally, socially, and intellectually.

Rigorous Curriculum

Students in Eastern Carver County middle schools challenge themselves by taking advanced classes, personalizing their learning, and engaging in curriculum enrichment opportunities. Accelerated learning experiences in all curricular areas meet the needs of high ability learners. Students who master middle school curriculum begin to earn high school credits–an opportunity that is unique among west metro school districts.                       

Personalized and differentiated instruction allows advanced learners to drive their own learning. They pursue passion areas in greater depth and through a range of authentic, real world experiences. Students work with rigorous standards, creating personalized pathways and pacing as they co-design their learning journeys.

Extended Learning Opportunities

Students extend their learning through academic enrichment and extracurricular opportunities, both during and outside of the school day. These unique experiences provide additional challenges and opportunities to grow socially and emotionally.

  • Academic competitions like Knowledge Bowl, Geography Bee, History Day, and Stock Market Game
  • Visual and performing art experiences like jazz band, Middle School musical, Art club, Fine Arts night
  • Authentic curriculum extensions like passion projects, service learning, and project based learning
  • Special programs like Young Authors Conference and Community Education’s Academy for High Achievers
High School Gifted Services

Students at Chaska and Chanhassen High School have a broad range of opportunities to challenge themselves academically as they explore and pursue their interests and passions.

Accelerated Courses

High school accelerated (X) classes compact standards into less time for students who have strong skills, motivation, and interest in the subject. By removing much of the practice and repetition, Physics X and Chemistry X allow students to master two years of standards in one year. English X compacts standards from three year-long courses into two years while adding depth, rigor, and independence to the learning process. Student in X classes earn credits based on the standards they master—not the amount of time spent in the class—which opens space in later years to take additional courses and pursue their interests.

Advanced Placement Courses

Students in Advanced Placement (AP) courses use college-level resources to learn college-level content, but do it in the setting of the high school with specially-trained high school teachers. AP courses challenge learners to sharpen their academic skills, think critically, and engage deeply in topics of interest. Each spring, students have the opportunity to take AP Exams to possibly earn college credit. Chaska and Chanhassen offer 24 AP courses—more than any neighboring school district.

Progression by Readiness, Not Age

In math, world language, art, music, and other areas with sequential courses, students take the class they’re ready for—even if it’s years ahead of their traditional grade level.

Independent Study

Sometimes students have unique interests and passions for which we don’t offer a course. Through our Independent Study program, learners can design their own elective course. Working with mentor teachers, students drive decisions about what they will learn, how they will learn it, and how they will demonstrate their learning. They gain valuable self-management and reflection skills as they grow in their independence as learners.                                    

Electives and Capstone Courses

Students can pursue a wide variety of interests in elective courses, culminating in at least one learner-directed and project-based Capstone course. In Capstone courses, students synthesize, extend, and showcase their knowledge, skills and talents in an area of interest, connecting with the community and developing a product for a real-world audience. Chaska and Chanhassen are the only west metro high schools that support all students in these real-world projects on their way to graduation. Capstones provide direct preparation for the expectations of college and the work force.

Co-curricular Activities

By participating in activities like debate (Chaska / Chanhassen), speech (Chaska / Chanhassen), drama (Chaska / Chanhassen), knowledge bowl (Chaska / Chanhassen), music (Chaska / Chanhassen), quiz bowl (Chaska / Chanhassen), and robotics (Chaska / Chanhassen), students pursue their passions and engage with peers who have similar interests.

Elementary Gifted Service Facilitators

Anna Edlund
Bluff Creek Elementary
(952) 556-6652
Amy McGinnis
Chanhassen Elementary
(952) 556-6759
Joan Wright
Carver Elementary
(952) 556-1980
Emily Stoddart
Clover Ridge Elementary
(952) 556-6956
Mary Hammond
Jonathan Elementary
(952) 556-6554
Gaye Guyton
East Union Elementary, La Academia and Kinder Academy
(952) 556-6307
Kelli Mork
Victoria Elementary
(952) 556-3035

Secondary Personalized Learning Coaches

Chaska Middle School East

Amy Scharenbrock

Chaska Middle School West

Erinn Flowers

Pioneer Ridge Middle School

Carley Bailey

Chanhassen High School

Brie Nelson

Chaska High School

Jessica Stewart