Bardstown Ind. to create all-day STEAM academy for gifted and talented students, others in grades 4-7; steps taken to ensure diverse student group

Kentucky Standard, Bardstown, April 29, 2016

Bardstown Board of Education approves TIGER Academy
By Trey Crumbie
The Bardstown Independent School District is attempting to introduce more students into the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

At its monthly school board meeting last Tuesday, the Bardstown Board of Education approved the TIGER Academy.

TIGER stands for Teaching Innovative Gifted Education with Relevance.

Amy Adams, the gifted and talented programs coordinator for the district, said the TIGER Academy was born out of the district’s three-year push to get students interested within the STEM fields, which began three years ago funded by the Bardstown Foundation for Excellence in Public Education.

Originally, the STEM initiative only focused on certain students, but now the expansion will be much broader.

“I think our academy is going to be unique in a couple of ways,” Adams said. “To my knowledge, there is no other academy around us, or possibly in even the state of Kentucky, that is going to have a STEAM immersion program that will go and cover as many students and as many grade levels as we are proposing to do.”

The TIGER Academy will include a full day of instruction for students in the fourth through seventh grades. During the full-day instruction, students will get special lessons in math and science, and will do various hands-on lab activities.

Adams said the TIGER Academy would create a special environment for higher functioning students.

“Gifted students … have a lot of social and emotional needs,” she said. “They might look different than other students’ needs, but they’re very real. They have to have time with like-minded peers.”

Adams also said the full-day instruction would allow students to make and fix mistakes.

“Our highest functioning kids have real issues with perfectionism,” she said.

About 90 to 100 students will be picked for TIGER Academy, based on the Gifted and Talented criteria set by the Kentucky Department of Education.

In an effort to court women and minorities to join the TIGER Academy, those who are deemed “high functioning,” but do not qualify for gifted and talented services are allowed in the academy.

Adams told the school board that the academy would help Bardstown students secure jobs once they graduate.

“The vast majority of jobs that are waiting for our students, they don’t even exist yet,” she said. “But we know they’re going to be in a STEAM-related field of study of some kind.”

Students will also be able to showcase what they learn as a part of the TIGER Academy through community involvement projects.

One of the components of the TIGER Academy involves the hiring of a dedicated teacher for the academy who will help develop a curriculum. The new hire will be paid by the foundation for three years. It will then be re-examined to see whether the position will continue for the future.

Those who are not in the full-day instruction will still get to experience what the TIGER Academy has to offer. Pre-school students up through the eighth grade will get “outreach,” which will feature the teacher heading into classrooms or grade-level assemblies to provide teachers with STEAM assignments made beforehand.

The anticipated start date is in August.

“There’s a lot of work to do between now and then,” Adams said in an interview last week.

In the same interview, Bardstown City Schools Superintendent Brent Holsclaw said the district makes a point to reach and develop every student, regardless of his or her needs.

“Every student is not the same,” he said. “This is not a factory line.”

In related news:

• Holsclaw recognized several academic achievements of various students within the school district as part of the superintendent’s district report during the board meeting.

• The board set the Bardstown High School graduation date for June 4 at 11 a.m. at Garnis Martin Field.

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