The Academy of Talented Scholars
Unique enrichment clusters; strong in the arts.
Inadequate common schoolyard.
P.S. 682, The Academy of Talented Scholars (TAOTS), is a small school where hands on learning is emphasized and academics are fused with arts.
Founding Principal Josephine Sportella-Giusto drew on her 15 years as a teacher to create the blueprint for TAOTS while studying at the New York City Leadership Academy. Central to her vision is the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), a model that is often used with gifted children. SEM students take regular classes as well as a variety of non-academic classes, which include no more than 12 students at a time.
Children, who get to pick the special classes, seemed excited and engaged during our visit. Among the many choices are: Guitar Mania, Italian Dancers, Ju Jitsu, Kindergarten Math Wizards, Shutterbug Society, Spanish Explorers, TAOTS Reporters, TAOTS Top Chefs, World Artists, Young Publishers, Young Yogas and Yoginis, and Zumba. Projects range from kindergartners digging into a slice of watermelon to find out if their estimates of how many seeds were in a slice were correct, to a class that blends creating poetry with painting. When we visited, third graders in the Top Chef cluster were learning how to make sushi while getting a background on Japanese culture. All necessary enrichment equipment is provided by the school, from iPads for the blogging cluster, to guitars for the music cluster.
Teachers often work with the help of trained, parent volunteers. Students also complete writing assignments about what they learned.
The academy was founded in 2009 and shares its building with two other schools; a District 75 school and The Brooklyn School of Inquiry. The building is modern and colorful, both inside and out. Currently, the school is K-3, but the school will continue to expand until it is K-5.
On the second floor, a brightly colored hallway leads straight into the TAOTS main office; a pleasant, airy space with enough seats to accommodate the handful of kids that stop by in the afternoon to wait for their parents.
A partnership with Reach the World, an organization that allows students to connect with world travelers through video conferencing, enhances the social studies curriculum. The school is part of Tribes, a community building organization.
TAOTS is rich in arts and technology. Interactive whiteboards and computers are in most of the classrooms. Students take technology classes, learning how to produce presentations and improve their research skills. Art and music instruction is offered to all students.
School facilities include a home economics room and a science lab. The large double gym, cafeteria, and library are shared with the other two schools occupying the building. The school's uniform policy is loosely enforced.
TAOTS has an active Parent Teacher Organization. Parent volunteers assist with cluster classes and run the library. A math workshop helps parents to better understand the math curriculum.
Special education: TAOTS offers an ASD Nest program and other special education services. The ASD Nest Program serves children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Students with ASD learn in a classroom alongside typically developing children, taught by two teachers who have been trained in the program’s specialized curriculum and teaching strategies. All special education students are integrated in regular classes. The building is handicapped accessible.
After school: In partnership with Project Success, TOATS offers an after school program called the Test Prep Academy. The Academy meets three times a week.
Admissions: Admission is by lottery with priority to District 20 students. (Eliana Mascio, February 2012)