Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences

First Advisor

Paul Michalec, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Patricia Gatto-Walden, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Markus Hunt, M.Ed.

Fourth Advisor

Norma Hafenstein, Ph.D.


Gifted, Holistic development, Individualized learning, Empowerment, Implicit curriculum, Instructional dialogue, Emotional development, Creativity, Well-being, Advanced development, Educational criticism, Neuro-diversity


There is systemic oppression of gifted children in many traditional school models resulting in disenfranchisement (Chu & Myers, 2015; Delisle, 2014). Yet, how can teachers be responsive to aspects of student development that they cannot see or do not understand? All students deserve instruction responsive to their unique strengths and needs, inclusive of gifted students. This study explores the aspirations and practices of a school designed to empower diverse gifted children. The selected school site is located in an urban area in the western United States and has been serving gifted students with a creative approach for more than 25 years. Currently the school enrolls approximately 250 kindergarten through eighth grade students. Eisner's educational criticism and connoisseurship research approach is utilized to grow understanding of the program's intricacies. Primary data sources include educator interviews, campus observations and artifacts. The study informs a program evaluation highlighting gaps and tensions between intentions and practices and success relative to the interpretive frame, Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration and social baseline theory. In the end, themes emerged from descriptions, interpretations and evaluation which facilitate recommendations for other schools and educators aiming to empower diverse gifted students.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

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