Advanced Academics Center set to open

Administrators at Sandusky Schools unveiled their new gifted school Wednesday.
Alissa Widman Neese
Aug 16, 2013


A guided tour gave about 20 individuals their first glimpse of classrooms at the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies, located in a revamped wing of the Jackson Junior High School building at Jackson and West Madison streets. Most guests of the tour were parents and their children, who will become members of the center’s inaugural class later this month.   

As Susan Weimer and her daughter Emily, 11, weaved through classrooms in the old “cafeteria wing,” they smiled in excitement.    Emily, a future center student identified as   gifted in reading, said she can’t wait to use the classroom laptops and other technology she saw Wednesday. She also anticipates meeting new teachers and classmates.   

Susan, meanwhile, said she’s looking forward to the educational challenges and opportunities Emily will encounter. “I really think it will be good for her to interact with college professors and participate in the different activities they described,” Susan said. “Honestly, I was a little apprehensive at first, because the whole concept is so new, but I’m so at ease now that I’m finally seeing and hearing everything come together.”   

When it opens Aug. 26, the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies will be the only full-time gifted school in the area for students in fourth through sixth grades. The program is state-funded and will likely expand to include third and seventh grades in 2014.      About 70 students have already enrolled and more are still testing for entry, Sandusky Schools superintendent Eugene Sanders said.  “Education is changing and this is our innovative response to this change,” Sanders said.   

The Dorn Foundation, a local nonprofit, recently awarded Sandusky Schools a $1 million grant, with half the funds to support the center’s unique academic initiatives. It will establish the “Dorn Fellowship Series,” a collaboration with college staff across the region, providing on-site learning activities weekly for students at the center. The program begins in January.     

Tara Toft, a Venice Heights Elementary School teacher for 15 years, will be the center’s principal. Four fulltime gifted teachers from Sandusky Schools will join her, as well as five teachers shared with the district’s other elementary schools   during the day for art, music, computer and physical education classes.    “I already know some of the teachers from Venice, so that makes me feel good,” Kaishaun Hunter, 10, told his mother during Wednesday’s tour.     

The former Jackson Junior High School building received several updates to accommodate the new gifted school, including new ceilings and lighting and a fresh coat of paint, said Julie McDonald, chief academic officer at Sandusky Schools.    The main hallway will become a college-style “common area” with comfortable furniture and bright white walls, soon to be covered in completed student assignments. The upgrades cost about $40,000.    The building housed the district’s eighth-graders until 2009, according to the district’s website.    It then housed preschool classes until this past year, when the classes were moved to elementary buildings.



Are there enough gifted students in Sandusky to fill the classrooms here?

Licorice Schtick

This facility will not just serve Sandusky residents. This is good news for the entire county.


This is correct. My granddaughter got accepted and does not live in Sandusky.

44870 South

Looks pretty nice...Kudos Sandusky!


It shouldn't matter if classrooms are full. Gifted students deserve the same treatment as other special needs kids! If we want to compete in the world we have to give our brightest and most motivated students as many educational opportunities as possible.
I wish this was available when my oldest was in school. I would have transferred in a heartbeat!


MENSA bound!

Peachy Keen

Yeah, I would have been glad if they had introduced this back when my kids were in school, too. They were good students, got very good grades, but had to put up with some very obnoxious "gifted kids" acting out in class because they were "bored" due to their "superior intelligence" and all! Heaven forbid the little geniuses had to behave and follow the classroom rules like everyone else...they somehow got away with their frequent bad behavior because they weren't "challenged" enough at school! Heck, even the special needs inclusion students behaved better than the little eggheads! This facility is a great thing, all right...for all the kids who no longer have to put up with their annoying classmates with higher IQ's! LOL!

Licorice Schtick

^ Not gifted.


The current definition of "gifted" identifies students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities


Gifted kids are special needs? I don't think all 'gifted' kids are the same. I would imagine many kids are bored in school not just gifted ones. I think you are confusing the term gifted with ADD. I don't think you can just get your kid transferred there either. I imagine they actually have to be gifted.


Best of luck to students & staff this school year! Go streaks!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I wish this project the best of luck and will be happy to support it with time or product.


That's nice. I hope
that house next to the school cleans up their front yard.