Gifted and Talented Program celebrates success and growth

“We are invested in understanding bias in the identification process and committed to ensuring students
from diverse backgrounds are being noticed," said Dr. Vanessa Giddings, the District’s Executive Director
of Student Support Services. The program is also focused on providing equitable and high-quality
experiences for every student in the district.
One exciting initiative is the development of a Portrait of a Graduate vision, which supports traditional
content mastery through six competencies (skills + attributes) that include Empathetic Collaborator,
Resilient Risk-Taker, Creative Problem-Solver, Agile Thinker, Confident Communicator, and Courageous
Leader. Giddings notes that this framework will allow gifted students to thrive and reach their full potential.
The district has also made strides in creating a supportive environment for gifted students at every level:
  • Elementary schools have evolved the program to provide equitable, wraparound support to gifted
    learners and their families, with all elementary students receiving regular services from G/T
    teachers and specialists.
  • At the middle and high school levels, students have access to personalized goal-setting meetings
    with general education teachers and specialists. Advanced placement options, student
    internships, Career & Technical Education (CTE) opportunities, and dual enrollment opportunities
    engage students in their passionate interests.
  • The cluster grouping model has been revitalized at the campuses with multiple sections, and G/T
    students receive accelerated curriculum and support from multiple staff members, including a G/T
    program specialist, full-time G/T elementary teachers, instructional specialists, interventionists, a
    STEM coordinator, and cluster-group teachers.

The Durango School District 9-R is committed to ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds are
being noticed. The G/T program manuals support clear communication to staff and families about all
program components. Giddings emphasizes that the district is not only invested in creating a supportive
environment for gifted students but is also committed to ensuring that all students receive an excellent

“Providing equitable and high-quality experiences for every student is a goal of our entire district,” she
said. “With a commitment to excellence and a passion for their students, our Gifted and Talented program
is a model for inclusive education.”