Serving the Needs of Gifted Students in a Non-Traditional Setting


The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School,, better known as PA Cyber, began as Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in the fall of 2000. PA Cyber is dedicated to the success of all students who have not had their needs met in a traditional educational environment and providing the best possible online education by achieving its five core values of education: Service, Excellence, Professionalism, Integrity, and Innovation.


PA Cyber’s curriculum consists of asynchronous and synchronous courses that use interactive textbooks, web investigations, podcasts, PowerPoint and video presentations and other state-of-the-art technology to provide students with a unique perspective. Courses are self-paced, four-unit modules designed to teach students the essential skills needed to advance toward graduation. A Pennsylvania-certified teacher acts as the facilitator of the classroom, offering guidance via email and discussion boards as necessary. Virtual courses, also taught by a certified teacher, offer students the opportunity to participate in a live, interactive classroom with other students in a more structured atmosphere similar to college courses.


PA Cyber structures its programs to best meet the needs of the students. Among the school’s departments are guidance, special education, PE, admissions and registrar, response to intervention team, student assistance teach, Title I tutoring, and gifted and talented (GATE). Not only do PA Cyber students have access to teachers and instructors, each student is assigned an Instructional Supervisor (IS), who provides students with educational and technological guidance.


The GATE program at PA Cyber began in 2005 and currently serves 260 students. The program is given a considerable budget, a great deal of innovative freedom, and the support and cooperation of the administration and staff. The goal of gifted education programs at PA Cyber is to provide students with acceleration and/or enrichment programs and to gear the programs according to their intellectual and academic abilities and needs. Student response to the various GATE programs is extremely positive.


Because PA Cyber is non-traditional, the GATE team emphasizes that parents are often the first line of identification, and investigates each parent’s request. The IS bases identiPA Cyber’s unique cyber curriculum delivery allows students to accelerate painlessly to the most challenging grade level. Many online enrichment activities are also available to GATE students that allow them to investigate their interests, explore a new topic, or develop a new hobby. Face-to-face courses may include job shadowing, art, music and craft classes. GATE students have access to academic games and educational events offered throughout the state. PA Cyber has recently created a peer coaching program to provide additional advisors to students.


For more information on the GATE program at PA Cyber you are welcome to contact Marian Acon, GATE Educational Consultant, at, Karie Walaan, GATE Co-Coordinator/STARR/Enrichment Supervisor, at, or Julie Lamantia, GATE Co-Coordinator, at, or visit


Myth:  Cyber schools are not a good option for gifted students as they limit socialization, social skills, extra-curricular activities, and traditional student experiences. 

Fact:  “Research studies on distance learning have scarcely dealt with gifted learners, but the findings concerning the effects on gifted students are inspiring. Across studies, positive effects on students include better cognitive skills, increased personal responsibility for learning, and exposure to a greater diversity of people and perspective.”  Source: Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom: A Guide to Alternative Programs and Services

“Many gifted students are opting for distance learning courses because their school offerings are limited. Others want to get more courses in a particular area or interest or talent. But most middle- or high-school students who seek distance learning courses are accelerated in school and need early access to high school or college level work.”
Source: Learning Beyond the Local School: Distance Learning Programs for Academically Gifted Students

Online Learning: A Smart Way to Nurture Gifted Kids

Can Distance Learning Meet the Needs of Gifted Elementary Math Students?

Gifted Adolescents’ Talent Development Through Distance Learning

Learning Beyond the Local School: Distance Learning Programs for Academically Gifted Students

Serving Gifted Learners Beyond the Traditional Classroom: A Guide to Alternative Programs and Services

Davidson Institute Updates


Davidson Young Scholar Applications Available

The Davidson Young Scholars program helps profoundly gifted students discover others with similar interests and abilities, utilizing their unique skills and talents to maximize their educational potential and make a difference in the lives of others. Students and their parents are supported in the areas of educational advocacy, social and emotional development, and talent development.


For more information on the Young Scholars Program, or to download an application, please visit


Davidson Academy of Nevada 2009-2010 School Year Applications Available

Located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, the Academy is the first public school of its kind for profoundly gifted students. If you know a student who is interested in applying to The Davidson Academy, the application for 2009-2010 is now available at


In addition, informational tours of The Davidson Academy of Nevada will be hosted on November 21, December 11, January 22, February 19, and March 26 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. RSVPs are required. Please RSVP at, where you can also sign up for the Academy’s monthly eNewsletter. If you would like more information about the Academy or the tours, please email

2009 Davidson Fellows Scholarship Applications Available

Applications due March 4, 2009

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people under the age of 18 who has completed a significant piece of work in mathematics, science, technology, music, literature, philosophy or any other graduate-level work considered outside the box that has the potential to benefit society. For more information on the Davidson Fellows, or to download an application, please visit


Meet the 2008 Davidson Fellows

2009 THINK Summer Institute Applications Available

Early acceptance deadline January 14, 2009


The Davidson Institute is seeking profoundly gifted students, ages 13 through 16, who are interested in attending the 2009 THINK Summer Institute! THINK is a three-week residential summer program on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno where students can earn six college credits by completing two university-level courses taught by university professors. The 2009 THINK Summer Institute will run from July 11 through August 1. Tuition is $2,700 and covers course credits, room and board and the cost of planned programs and activities. Financial assistance is available based on need.


To download an application or to learn more about THINK, please visit

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NOTE: The appearance of selected programs and/or resources in the Davidson Institute's Educators Guild Newsletter does not imply an endorsement or affiliation. Programs and resources are highlighted for informational purposes only.

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