April 12


Welcome back! Today as the sun is coming out and the trees are budding, I have been thinking a lot about curiosity.  Spring always brings to mind children looking at newly budded flowers, the return of bugs to explore, and baby lambs.  After being in the house for so long, it’s great to get outside and enjoy the world once again.  Curiosity: The Force Within a Hungry Mind by Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell talks about the importance of curiosity in our students and ten ways to stimulate a student’s curiosity.  I hope that while you read it, you will find ways to import curiosity into the interactions you have with your student/s.

Happy Spring! And here’s to no more snow this year!

Valerie Sharir

March 14

25 signs

As parents of gifted students, we worry about the education that our child is getting.  Is it stimulating, interesting, what s/he needs? Having raised 3 gifted children myself, I understand all the questions that go through your mind.  Dr. Gail Post has a very good article about these very questions called 25 Signs Your Gifted Child is Misunderstood at School.  It is worth the read.  By the way, I’m sending it to our teachers also so that they can be clear about what they are seeing in gifted students.

Valerie Sharir

February 1

Upcoming Event– Super Saturday!

LC PAGE, our local affiliate for the PA Gifted Education organization, is having a Super Saturday event at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster on Saturday, March 19, from 9:00 AM to Noon.  Gifted students from all over the country will be there to explore such topics as electricity, robotics, meteorology, forensic science, art, and more. Here is the flier from the event:

Super Saturday

This is always a fun morning. Directions for registration are on the flier.

Ms. Sharir

January 8

New Marking Period/Semester

We are nearing the halfway mark in our school year as 2nd quarter is coming to an end.  I wanted to let you know that there are new topics for the Spring SEE Seminars that you can check out.  Also, GSGS is going well for the students; we seem to be in the swing of things, remembering when to come.  I have been having a great time working with the kids in this session format this year!  It is wonderful to get to see them on a regular basis and work on units of study that can carry over from one week to the next.

I wanted to share an article from Lisa van Gemert about how to approach resolutions.  She has 7 Tips for New Year’s Resolutions that are good to read and think about.  Of course, it doesn’t matter what time of year you make a resolution, just that you do and follow through.  I think I heard that I liked was that instead of making a year’s resolution, make a month’s resolution.  That way you have a better chance to succeed and can tweak it at the end of the month.

If you have questions about the SEE Seminars, you can always contact me at valerie_sharir@elanco.org.

Have a good January!

Valerie Sharir

December 2

A Family Idea for Lovers of Reading

Good morning!

I came across this article about Little Free Libraries that was very interesting.  I had not heard about this movement yet could see that it might be a great way to share those books you’ve read and to get new ones.  This may be a good idea as a family project to work on over the long winter break that is coming up.

I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Valerie Sharir


November 3

Autopsy of a Brain

Happy Fall!

This time of year brings one season to a close while opening up a beautiful one of foggy mornings, dew on the grass, leaves turning colors, pumpkins everywhere.

Yesterday in 9th grade we were looking at an autopsy of a brain and how they prepare one for testing.  It was interesting to see and we got discussing what scientists can (and cannot) see when they autopsy a brain.  No matter how thinly you slice it, how strong your microscope is, you can see the neurons and dendrites, watch the neurotransmitters, but you can’t see what a person is thinking.  Our thoughts, and how neurotransmitters move them along, is still a big mystery.  Yet we all have thoughts all the time.

I read an interesting article that I wanted to share with you about the pressure gifted students put themselves under through their own thought processes.  The article is called “Pressure to be Super Smart” by Paula Prober.  Living with a gifted child, you know how exasperating it can be at times when nothing is good enough, things are too easy and boring, no one understands the child at school and the child would rather hang out with adults that his/her peers in school.  The questions, the flood of information, the intensities can wear you down.

Yet, let’s try to look at what is going on in the mind of your child while all this external vocalization is going on.  Inside, the thoughts go something like this: “live up to the label, always get the best grades, know everything before you learn it, be the winner, always do your best, find all learning to be easy, not disappoint anyone, do the right thing, always be kind, solve all problems, know all the answers first, attend an elite university, win a Nobel prize, be clever and funny, make no mistakes (be perfect), never fail (did I mention, be perfect?), save the world.” (Prober)  My favorite complaint from teachers is “How is this kid gifted? In my class he/she’s not very good.”  Can you imagine the pressure to be gifted when you are actually “just normal” in one area? No one is gifted in all areas, even if they are able to perform well in all areas, they are not gifted in all they do. And we should not put that pressure on a child.

Prober’s article has some suggestions on how to calm the wheeling thoughts of a gifted child, the pressure that child puts on him/herself.  It is worth the read and worth a discussion (or two) with your child.  As always, if you have questions, feel free to ask.

Valerie Sharir

October 19

Brick Walls

Somewhere, between breezing through elementary school and middle school or even the beginning of high school, gifted students can hit a brick wall.  As parents of these children, it is very frustrating to see.  I remember when my oldest child, my son, went to middle school and came home with an F in health.  He had done all the work but did not turn it in since the teacher never asked for it (there was a bin that it was to be put into).  That led to an interesting conversation with the health teacher!  While I wanted to defend my son, I also wanted to defend the teacher and her right to have her classroom procedures followed.

Sometimes it’s an easy fix (put your finished homework papers in the bin each day) but what if it’s not? What if there seems to be no easy fix, rather a general overall breakdown of the system that has sustained your child up to this point?

It is not uncommon for gifted children to underachieve at some point in their academic career.  What does this mean? Not work up to the potential that they have demonstrated in the past.  So, are they no longer “gifted”? No, just being challenged in a way that they have not had to deal with before.  Earlier in their academic career, they were able to listen, participate in class, they were taught by one teacher or two who spent most of the day with them and got to know them very well.  But at some point, the classes get harder, the material gets more challenging (especially when they start taking honors or advanced classes), and the one thing that they really need is something they have never had to develop– study skills.  You may be asking yourself how can a kid get to 8th grade and not know how to study? That might be like asking a sculptor why they can’t do bronze work when they do so well with clay or marble.  Because they have never learned how to do bronze work.

All students get to a point where they run into vocabulary that is new, concepts are more abstract and complex, and just listening is no longer the best way to learn.  According to Carolyn Coil in her book Motivating Underachievers (Pieces of Learning, 2001), we all underachieve in some way but the students I am talking about here show “a significant gap between their ability and what they produce and achieve in the classroom” (8).  While there may be many causes, common behaviors are:

  • lack of motivation for schoolwork
  • bored with school
  • low self-esteem
  • fear of failure
  • lack of basic study skills
  • “isn’t cool to be smart”

So what to do? There are many strategies that work in helping students become achievers again.  It depends on the student, the situation, and the environment.  The key is not to wait; underachievement won’t go away all by itself.  Teachers are just as eager as parents to see a student do his/her best and are willing to work with the parents and the student to reach that goal.  Open dialogue is the beginning to finding out what is behind the lack of working to potential and changing it.  If you have questions about your child, feel free to contact me.  Together we will make the educational experience a good one for your student.

Valerie Sharir

7th-12th gifted support teacher

September 9

SEE Seminars

Just to let you know, I have posted the SEE Seminars for the Fall.  You will find the titles and descriptions under the SEE high school or middle school pages.  You can let me know by email if you are interested in attending.

Don’t wait– registrations need to be turned in soon.

August 19

Welcome back to the 2015-2016 school year!

I want to welcome all the 7th-12th gifted students back to Garden Spot Middle School and High School.   I am looking forward to working with all of you this school year.  I think it will be an exciting one!

For parents, I found an interesting article called “The Upsides of Giftedness” by Celi Trépanier.  She takes the time to remind us about the wonders of having a gifted child.

For students, a reminder:  Be yourself. Remember that pencils are made with erasures for a reason– we all make mistakes.  Erasures are not all the same, just as students are not all the same.  You may be the one white erasure in the class, so be the best erasure you can be. Speak up for yourself– you have a right to learn new things every day!  If you are the blue pencil, enjoy your “blueness” and celebrate what comes along with that, your uniqueness.  You may be surprised to learn that there are others in class who are just waiting for someone to lead the way to better learning.  Be that someone.  And remember that teachers want their students to succeed but they may never have had to teach someone just like you before.  Help them help you.  Talk to your teacher.  Shine but always ask questions.  Lastly, learning does not take place only between the hours of 7:30 to 2:30.  You can learn all the time, wherever and whenever you are.


I have moved up to room 1009, right between the middle school and the high school now so stop in to say hello.  I look forward to seeing you!

Ms. Sharir