At The Grayson School, a Focus on Gifted Learners
All gifted, all day is the mantra at this Broomall independent school.
Does this sound like your child?
She can do logarithms on a whiteboard, but hasn’t yet mastered how to tell time. He was reading at 3, but is feeling stifled in school — and, more importantly, feels ostracized because he’s not connecting with other kids.
You know your child needs something different: a place that can challenge her strengths by letting her continue to excel in math without limiting her achievement. A place where his peers feel more like him because they share his passion for learning.
For kids like yours, The Grayson School is that place.
Gifted learners are different, both from other kids and from one another. And when parents discover Grayson — Pennsylvania’s only independent school just for gifted learners, which opened in 2015 — they often feel they’re no longer alone.
“They’re just so thrilled to talk to someone who believes them,” said Jill Williford Wurman, Grayson’s Director of Research.
Many families struggle to find the right fit for their gifted child. Traditional schools may not be able to meet a gifted child’s needs, especially if a student is more than a year ahead. They don’t only think faster than others, they think differently, making connections across disciplines and between complex ideas.
In a conventional classroom, an advanced student may feel stifled, or have difficulties socially because a subject they’re immersed in doesn’t appeal to other kids their age. That’s one of the reasons parents can be so emotional when their children come to Grayson: often for the first time, their child can be in the company of intellectual peers, which can make a huge difference in how socially connected they feel.
“Advanced intellect is treated very differently from other abilities: nobody tells a child in gym class not to run as fast as they can because they’re going to make everyone else feel badly,” Wurman said. “That kind of thing does not happen here.”
Grayson’s teachers and staff understand these students because they are highly trained in the latest research on gifted kids — more than 500 hours each year, according to Melissa Bilash, Grayson’s Founder and Executive Director.
We provide an environment that gives students what they need at their level academically and also provides them with like-minded peers who can run at similar rates,” Bilash said. “We give you the opportunity to explore your passions, discover new areas of interest, and learn as much as you can.”
The school offers pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and plans to add an upper school in the next year, but class grouping happens as much by ability level as age.
Gifted students can have uneven abilities — for example, a third grader who reads at the sixth grade level may be on-level in math — making it difficult for conventional schools to meet their academic needs and offer challenge. Grayson’s programming is designed to be responsive to such students, who are ready move forward rather than waiting for peers to catch up.
At Grayson, the mantra is to embrace “spectacular failure,” both to spur learning and to build academic resilience.
Grayson’s teachers work to challenge students at all levels, including teaching things like study habits, so students move to the next level of their education both engaged and fully prepared. The curriculum includes daily project-based learning, so there’s a focus on trial and error.
“Failure must be encouraged in order to facilitate progress, but progress must be steered toward precision,” said Mac McDermott, Projects and History Teacher at Grayson. “The good thing is that precision is largely trainable, like drawing — it’s a new way of seeing, really.
“They will make mistakes, which is fine; but inaction is the only unacceptable outcome. That leads to zero progress.”
Photographs by Ivory Tree Portraits.
Want to know more about Grayson’s all-gifted, all-day curriculum?
Visit us online, or attend an event: our April 19 all-school open house, or our special screening of Rise on April 30. See our calendar for details.