A TAG Team Feature
By: Isabelle Mokotoff and Saaniah Hardy
North Springs upperclassmen reflect on the TAG (Talented and Gifted) Program of years past as largely ineffective. This is because, as proclaimed by the organization which runs the TAG Program on a state-wide level (Georgia Department of Education), “many gifted education decisions and procedures are left to the discretion of local school systems so that they may address the unique needs of their communities.” Unfortunately, up until this year, North Springs has been highly uninvolved in the TAG Program, leaving students in the TAG cohort who weren’t serviced by other programs (like A.P. or Honors tracks) to fend for themselves educationally and extracurricularly. Some North Springs students might not even know that the program existed in the past! But that all changed when some of North Springs’ most innovative teachers (Ms. Kaminsky, Mrs. Arruda, Ms. Pekatos, and Mr. Throne) put their brilliant brains together and completely revamped the program, making for a story so big that The Oracle needed two staff writers to cover it.
The purpose of TAG is to help students expand their studies and gain opportunities, through a mix of seminars, internships and enrichment activities. And, to ensure that the TAG Program has a designated space for its students to thrive, the TAG Room was designed by Rooms To Go. This room serves many purposes as it hosts study sessions, student seminars, lectures, and TAG testing. Spartans should note that only TAG students are allowed into this room with adult supervision.
You may be wondering: “What is a TAG seminar?!”. The Oracle staff members definitely were, so we got the inside scoop. Seminars are offered to TAG students during lunches four days each week; TAG students must attend nine seminars each semester. TAG seminars cover topics from serious to silly, and, as varied as they are, Ms. Kaminsky agrees that they all have one underlying factor: “Seminars are designed to pursue deeper understandings of special topics usually chosen in conjunction with student input. This year we offered seminars involving choosing college majors, interview skills, resume building, Harry Potter, and analysis of comic books”.
Through TAG’s Directed Study Program, TAG students can tailor-make their own course to pursue their own passions. Our TAG Spartans are already working on their creative ideas to make their own positive impact on the world. TAG student Virginia Fuss dreams of one day becoming an architect. In TAG, she is given the resources to explore into this field through an eco-friendly lens. Fuss gushes about how beautifully natural surroundings can be incorporated into architecture: “the house I built in the mountains has solar panels that follow the sun’s movement and the one I built in the desert traps in the cold night air and circulates it throughout the house as an non-traditional air conditioning system”.
Student Lindy Feintuch is collaborating with our CBI (Community Based Instruction) teachers and students to “get a better understanding of developmental and learning disabilities”. Feintuch praises the program, detailing how it better prepares her for her intended career: “Through interviews of the students and their teachers and literature reviews, I can practice the research skills that will help me as I pursue a pre-med track in college”.
Finally, Isha Perry studies the effects of poverty on a child’s brain development and neural pathways, researching public health criteria to see if poverty can be classified as a public health issue. Perry also highlights the merits of Directed Study, pointing out that with her research, she can forge her own path in the scientific field by “exploring the idea on whether or not it is feasible to declare poverty as a public health issue.”
Always moving toward the future of the TAG Program, Ms. Pekatos notes: “I would love to have more students in directed study where students design their own course and study the stuff that they’re really passionate about, whether that be more researched-based or design-heavy”. Next year she’s hoping, with the added flexibility in the schedule, that more students can pursue what they find fun.