Chicago Gifted
Community Center 
creating connections - creating community

School Profiles

The following information is provided from local schools who are members of CGCC. Each was asked to answer the following as it relates to gifted and talented students:

  • Practices related to identification
  • The delivery of instruction
  • Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies
  • Independent study options
  • Parental involvement
  • Any other goals and objectives 

School's profiled:

Greenfields Academy

Fusion Academy

The Avery Coonley School

Science & Arts Academy

Vanguard Academy

Greenfields Academy, Chicago

Practices related to identification

Our curriculum is differentiated for all children.  

The delivery of instruction

Our school day has three main parts.  Morning is core skills time during which students (age 7+) generally work independently on their personal reading, writing, and math goals, using a blend of online and offline tools to track progress and assess mastery.  Lunch time is used for community building and includes town hall meetings, socratic discussions, and civilization stories, as well as free time and fresh air.  Afternoons are for project work, and students are expected to use this time to work towards the completion of a long-term challenge such a writing and coding an animated short for presentation at a film festival, or designing and producing a unique new chocolate bar for presentation to a candy company.  

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

Our classrooms are multi-age and progression from one level to the next is based on completion of all the expectations for that level.  For instance, our elementary classroom contains 7-10 year olds, who are grouped into "Travelers" and "Navigators" (roughly ages 7-8 and 9-10, respectively).  To progress from one level to the next, or into the next classroom, students must earn badges by: demonstrating mastery in specific core skills, successfully completing a given number of book clubs and published written pieces, and showcasing their ability to be a community member through challenges related to social/emotional skills and executive function.  Age is only a guideline for placement and progression, readiness is more important.  

Independent study options 

Much of the Greenfields curriculum involves independent study. Students have choice over what they read, what they write, and how to go about completing their learning goals.  Our projects have a challenge (for instance, start a business) but are intentionally open-ended so that students can customize to their interests.  Some of our progression badges require students to discover what they are most curious about and explore it further so that they can present to their peers.  Middle and high school students incorporate off-site internships and apprenticeships into their curriculum.  

Parental involvement

None is required, but it's always encouraged.  We have several active parent committees who support the school in things like making curriculum choices, planning fields trips and speakers, designing parent education events, and hosting fun family socials.  Parents are regularly invited to the school to participate in student showcases of their work at the end of each project.  

Any other goals and objectives

We believe the most important role for a student is to stay curious, challenge yourself, and make a difference.  By following these three tenets, our students emerge with a lifelong love of learning as well as the mindset and skills to make a difference in our ever-changing world

Fusion Academy, Chicago (Lincoln Park), Evanston, Lake Forest and Oak Brook

Practices related to identification

In our one student to one teacher academic environment, our teachers focus on that student’s learning style, interests, challenges and strengths. Every student at Fusion has their unique needs and learning methods. This information is gathered upon initial meeting with family, through outside assessments, teacher observations and then given to the child’s teachers in what we call a Formalized Education Plan.

The delivery of instruction

The delivery of instruction: There’s nothing typical about the way we teach. In a Fusion one-to-one classroom, the educational experience is completely customized to ignite a student’s passion for learning. Classes are self-paced, and course material is presented in ways that suit students’ individual interests, strengths and challenges.

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

At Fusion, each classroom is designed to inspire and engage students in the material being taught. And unlike in traditional schools, the classroom is designed for one teacher and one student to focus on a single topic for the entire period. One-to-one classrooms let students set their own learning pace – which is essential for keeping gifted learners engaged. Flexible scheduling allows students to complete courses more quickly, graduating early if they choose. There are no distractions or stressors to impede connection and learning. However, we also have an intentional social space for students, what we call our Homework CafĂ©. This is a social space where students work on their assignments from their teachers in a group based setting and are part of other student clubs and projects during these times. 

Because our 1 to 1 instruction is customized we have students moving at a more accelerated pace, going year round and therefore finishing school earlier. There are many factors involved in the decision making around the student’s academic journey at Fusion, specifically what is in the best interest of the student and family.

Independent study options

We believe in the power of relationship based learning that can only truly happen face to face, on a Fusion campus, with that teacher. With that said, we know that there are times students just can’t make it to the school because of other situations in their life. We do offer virtual learning options that can be discussed further with the Head of School. We also have a lot of flexibility around a student’s schedule at Fusion and what classes. We support students who do a hybrid program where they take certain classes at Fusion and are also engaged in other independent study options online or in other settings. 


Parental involvement

We consider Fusion a family. That includes all of our teachers, staff, students and parents. We host a lot of family fun events to bring everyone together because we love it. As our Fusion Founder has stressed from the 1st Fusion school she opened, that we are a tribe; that we need to make sure we are having a wacky fun time together, supporting each other and making our student happy!

Any other goals and objectives

At Fusion, learning isn’t confined to a classroom and creative expression is a big part of what makes us tick. We encourage others to come tour and experience our “Fusion Vibe.”

The Avery Coonley School, Downers Grove

Practices related to identification

Your child’s journey at The Avery Coonley School begins with the online inquiry and application form (these can be found at

If your child is applying for our Early Childhood Program, the Admissions Office will contact you to schedule a screening date. 

If your child is applying to Kindergarten through 8th grade, you will be notified of testing procedures and deadlines. To qualify for the next step in the admissions process, children must have a full scale IQ score in the 95th percentile or above with consistent subtest scores.  

For children applying to grades 1-8, copies of report cards, achievement test results and recommendations are also required.  More information about the admissions process can be found at

The delivery of instruction 

At The Avery Coonley School we understand that gifted education is more than simply an accelerated curriculum. We strive to educate the whole child and foster the unique talents and meet the special needs of gifted learners. Our classrooms, lessons, and expectations are designed in the best interest of gifted learners:

  • ACS classes consist of like-minded peer groups where academic motivation is the norm. We are a place where it is "cool to be smart.”
  • Perfectionism is a characteristic of many gifted children. Risk-taking is encouraged and acknowledged here and mistakes are viewed as invitations to learn.
  • Flexibility within the classroom (both physical setting and climate) creates a relaxed yet challenging environment that encourages responsibility and autonomy.
  • A multitude of opportunities exist for hands-on, less-structured learning experiences, including many long-term and cross-curricular projects, dramatizations, and fairs.
  • Students are allowed to quickly explore higher levels of thinking with fewer rote-learning activities and repetitions. Boredom is not an option.
  • Opportunities for both independent and collaborative group work encourage students to engage their own interests and benefit from different perspectives.
  • Emphasis on both divergent and convergent thinking encourages creative problem solving.


Student to Teacher Ratio Early Childhood Program – seven to one

Junior Kindergarten Program – eight to one

Kindergarten – eleven to one

Groups One to Eight – Sixteen to one


Faculty & Administration

Approximately 70% of the School's faculty and administration holds a master's degree; the average length of service is 12 years.

The School is a member of National Association of Independent Schools, Independent Schools Association of the Central States, Lake Michigan Association of Independent Schools, Independent School Management, National Association for Gifted Children, and Illinois Association for Gifted Children.

Middle School faculty act as advisors to students, offering guidance in areas of academics, study skills, time management, and peer relations.

ACS is governed by a Board of Trustees which holds regular meetings each month except during March, July, August, and December. At these meetings, financial statements are reviewed, committee reports are received, and questions of policy are discussed and acted upon.


Student Activities 

Student Council provides leadership training and opportunities for school and community service for students in Groups 1-8. ACS students enjoy participating in a number of academic competitions, including spelling bees, geography bees, and numerous math competitions.

Many clubs and activities allow ACS students to pursue their interests in greater depth. These options generally include Art Club, Book Club, Chess Club, Choir, Computer Club, Intramurals, MATHCOUNTS, Orchestra, STEAM, Tech/Video Club, and Yearbook. Sports offered include soccer (co-ed), volleyball (girls), basketball (boys and girls), and track and field (co-ed).

Many community service initiatives take place throughout the year, most prompted by student leadership and interest at all grade levels.


Many of the activities at ACS date back to the very earliest days of the school. These much-anticipated events become milestones for the students and form some of the fondest memories for alumni. They also provide valuable opportunities for students, teachers, staff, and parents to gather together for friendship and fun. School wide activities include the Halloween Parade, Thanksgiving Program, Holiday Presentations and Sing-A-Long, Shakespeare, Greek, and Americana Fests, Spring Fair, and Grandparents’ Day. Group specific activities include First Group Circus, Second Group Maple Tapping, Third Group trip to Wisconsin, Fourth Group Native American Fair, Fifth Group Egyptian Mastaba, Sixth Group World’s Fair, Seventh Group trip to Washington, D.C., and Eighth Group trip to Quebec.  

Parental involvement

There are several opportunities to be involved as a parent of an Avery Coonley Student. Our Home and School Association organizes and sponsors several popular events, including our Fall Fest, Holiday House, Fun Run, and Enrichment programming. We have volunteer opportunities available through our Development Office, including assisting with our annual Auction. Last but not least, we always have a need for Room Parents, Parent Ambassadors, and chaperones.  

Any other goals and objectives

We believe that the joy and excitement of learning must begin early in life. We place a high premium on developing the desire in our students to become critical thinkers and independent, life-long learners.   We assist our students in realizing their intellectual, emotional, social, creative, and physical potential by promoting academic achievement, character development, self-reliance, self-confidence, independent thought, and personal fitness.  We recognize and are sensitive to the unique needs of gifted children. Within a traditional structure, we provide acceleration and enrichment, and foster a supportive atmosphere that provides opportunities for creativity, problem-solving, and risk-taking.  We believe that diversity is the foundation for a strong, competent, and compassionate community. Therefore, we value racial, religious, economic, and cultural diversity in our student body, faculty, and staff.  We strive to build a community that encourages understanding and mutual respect and nurtures appreciation of the individual, civility, gratitude, honesty, kindness and consideration, responsibility, and 

Science & Arts Academy, Des Plaines

Practices related to identification

Science & Arts Academy is an independent day school serving the needs of gifted students in Junior Kindergarten through 8th grade. The best way to learn more about Science & Arts Academy is by visiting the school. School tours are offered daily, and Open House events are offered twice per year (November and January). To sign up for a visit, please click here.

Administration of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is required as a part of the application process for students entering kindergarten through eighth grade. (IQ testing is not required for entry into the Junior Kindergarten program). The IQ test serves as a helpful measure of a child’s cognitive ability and potential. Children with a full scale IQ score of 125 or above are considered for admission to SAA. Please keep in mind that IQ testing is only one component of the application process, as we consider all aspects of the applicant’s qualifications when making admissions decisions.

In addition to the IQ evaluation, the following materials are requested as a part of an application to SAA:

  • Latest School Report Card/Progress Update
  • Teacher Recommendation Form
  • Principal Recommendation Form
  • Writing Sample
  • Standardized test scores (as available) 

Applicants will also have an opportunity to spend a “shadow day” at SAA, where they will attend classes, meet other children and teachers, and experience first-hand what it could be like to attend the school. For more details about the application process, please visit:


The delivery of instruction

SAA fosters excellence in a carefully balanced program, utilizing methodologies and approaches to learning that assist gifted children in understanding the full capacity of their intellectual, artistic, physical, emotional, social and creative potential. The SAA experience is defined by the integration of three distinguishing characteristics: Academic Challenge, Artistic Expression, and Personal and Social Development, made possible through the support and partnership of our Community of Learners.

Academic Challenge: 

SAA maintains an unwavering commitment to the academic needs of the gifted student. Highly qualified instructors provide challenges appropriate to each student’s ability and intellect. Differentiated instruction allows teachers to tailor learning to best meet the needs of the student. Depth, breadth, enrichment, and acceleration are incorporated in all academic areas.

Artistic Expression: 

SAA provides gifted students with unique opportunities for artistic expression and exploration, which foster creativity and broaden curiosity. Artistic expression is highly valued at SAA, as students at every grade level participate in year-round art, drama, and music. Students develop their talents and gain greater self-confidence through these immersive experiences, cultivating a fondness and appreciation for the visual and performing arts.

Personal and Social Development: 

SAA understands the most effective learning occurs within the context of supportive relationships. SAA provides the tools to help all gifted students acquire and apply the knowledge and skills to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Throughout the SAA experience, students gain the confidence to be successful at each stage of their development.

Community of Learners: 

SAA is a community of learners, all working together to advance the mission of the school. Intellectually and creatively talented students have the opportunity to be in the company of likeminded peers with similar abilities and interests. Small classes are led by skilled educators with expertise and knowledge in supporting gifted children. Parents work together to support the students, the school, and one another. A broad selection of extracurricular activities further develops a sense of community, as students interact outside of school hours with peers across multiple grade levels. The SAA community of learners provides an environment in which all students are known, valued, and understood.


Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

Students move throughout the building during the day, going to different classes taught by subject area expert teachers. First and second graders and mixed together into cross-grade level homeroom classes, as are third and fourth graders. Math classes throughout the school may contain students from different grade levels and, along with Language Arts, are grouped by ability, allowing each child to be challenged at his or her individual level. Differentiated instruction across all subject areas and grade levels allows teachers to tailor learning to best meet the needs of all students.

All SAA teachers are responsible for developing and adjusting the curriculum to match the changing needs and interests of the students. Within each grade level and each class, there exists a range of skill levels. SAA is prepared to take students where they are and provide an appropriate level of challenge to each student. As a result, SAA does not ascribe to a “one size fits all” acceleration policy.

Independent study options 

Lessons offer a degree of flexibility so that students can be free to explore their questions and interests in greater depth. Middle school students also get to self-select an elective class.

Parental involvement

The Family & School Association (FSA) is a school-wide parent organization that supports and enhances the mission of Science & Arts Academy. The FSA works to create a community atmosphere by providing opportunities for increased engagement and involvement among students, parents, faculty and staff. SAA parents are encouraged to share their time, talents, and treasure with the school to enhance the supportive environment in which SAA students thrive.

Any other goals and objectives

In addition to the school-year program, Science & Arts Academy also offers a robust summer program. Summer Adventures in Learning pairs enrichment programming with physical education activities to create a unique summer camp experience for 3-year-olds to children entering 8th grade. Science & Arts Academy's summer program is open to the community - all children are welcome to enroll, regardless of the school they attend during the academic year or their achievement level.

Vanguard Gifted Academy, Batavia

Practices related to identification

At Vanguard students entering at 5 are evaluated by teachers and then tested at age 6.  All other students entering the school at 6 or older need to have IQ testing.  We are looking for an IQ of 125+ 

The delivery of instruction

Instruction is delivered in small group teacher-led mini-lessons, teacher-led whole group problem solving, through the use of technology, and through personal and partner exploration

Grouping, cross grade work, and acceleration policies

All groups are of mixed ages. Vanguard has three learning Bands based upon developmental stages: primary, intermediate, and middle. Mini-lessons for foundational skills and concepts are given at each student's learning level regardless of age. Problem-based learning is most often completed with Band level students. By eliminating the age = level learning correlation and teaching children at their personal learning level the "acceleration" concept is no longer needed.

Independent study options 

Students have opportunities to engage in independent study within the curriculum exploration and during independent project work.

Parental involvement

Parents are asked to help on occasion with transportation, Showcase Nights, or field trips. Attending the 4 Showcases each year is the most important part of parent participation.

Any other goals and objectives

Vanguard's goal is to open the minds of the gifted learners unleashing their individual potential so they may become well-adjusted adults invested in bettering our world.


© Chicago Gifted Community Center
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software