KEYS to the future

By Heather Pagni

It all began when three Kyrene moms started meeting in local coffee shops to talk about their gifted children and their kids’ education. Now Kyrene Exceptional Youth Supporters, acronym KEYS, is official, and its membership has blossomed to a whopping 50.

KEYS’ mission, say its supporters, is to unite parents of gifted children, with the goal of improving education opportunities locally. The members say they feel gifted children are not being served in Kyrene schools.

Beth Kroeger, a founding member, said many people don’t grasp the needs of gifted children.

“We are trying to have the district understand that the gifted learn differently, on a different timetable and by a different method than a regular education child,” Kroeger said. 

The members are working toward a number of goals for the next academic year, but the lack of gifted education from kindergarten through second grade tops the list.

Julie Burnett, a founding member, said young, advanced children are not identified in the first three years of elementary school.

“Kyrene formally identifies gifted children in third grade,” Burnett said. “We would like children starting in kindergarten to be identified and have services that would possibly be in the classroom.”

KEYS members also hope to improve the gifted programs in Kyrene middle schools.

Kroeger said the honor programs now offered in middle school use the same material as a regular class, but require a lot more work.

“It is not specific to the needs of the gifted,” Kroeger said. “By state mandate it says they should have an identified gifted program with gifted teachers.”

KEYS members meet monthly with the school district to discuss issues like these.

Kroeger said she feels it is extremely important to build a positive relationship with the district, and not just be complaining parents.

“We feel very positive in our meeting with the district. They seem to be receptive, and we would like to continue that relationship, but in a way that we are making forward steps,” Kroeger said.

KEYS members have not had any of their goals met by the district yet, but they are still in the planning stage and have made some accomplishments.

“I think we have accomplished making our group known in a very positive way to the district which is very important,” Kroeger said.

“They understand that we want to be a benefit to them and that we would like to have the needs of the gifted met.”

For more information about KEYS or to find out how you can become a member, e-mail k-e-y-s@cox.net.