Where Gifted Minds Grow

Feynman School Celebrates 10 Years of Developing High-Ability Learners

Article by Danielle S. Tepper

Photography by Howard Lansat

Originally published in Potomac Lifestyle

Is your little one blazing through books? Solving puzzles designed for much older children? Incessantly peppering you with questions? Well, what kid doesn’t do the latter, but it’s the nature of those questions that could tip you off: Your child may be gifted.

At Feynman School in Potomac, your child is encouraged to find answers and then some in a curriculum that celebrates their inquisitive nature, inspires creativity and urges them to think critically about the world. Turns out, Feynman might just be the answer for you and them.

“We work with kids who are really advanced […] and at the same time, really joyful,” says co-founder Robert Gold. “They love coming to school every day.”

Co-founder Susan Gold adds, “They often don’t want to go home.”

The challenge for a gifted child, according to the Golds, is frequently that they’re not being challenged enough. In fact, one sign for parents to watch for is boredom. Another? Insatiable curiosity. A third, hitting certain milestones at an advanced rate.

“There’s no stereotypical ‘gifted’ child,” Robert says. “Our role here is not to label. That said, some kids might receive a computer and say, 'Oh, look what it does.' Our students might want to get inside and wonder, 'How does it work?'”

Feynman students from preschool through eighth grade are invited to join their intellectual peers in a low-stress environment to explore everywhere their minds might take them. Named for the Nobel Prize-winning physics professor Richard Feynman, the school introduces science at a very early age through a robust STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program. While second graders aren’t yet analyzing the theory of relativity, they build and test simple machines, learning about the concepts of force, motion and energy. The student body has steadily grown; there were only eight students when the school opened in 2010; today, that has increased to 115. The Golds hope to expand to include high school students someday—but until then, an education at Feynman helps students be placed into prestigious high schools and magnet programs, prepared to be at the top of their class.

Acknowledging that mainstream public education is aimed largely at the masses, the Golds strive to provide an alternative to large class sizes and standardized testing, both of which can have an adverse effect on academic development.

“These students just stagnate, and their spark for learning gets extinguished,” Susan says. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen. We want parents to know that their gifted student's needs will absolutely be met here.”

To learn more about whether Feynman might be the answer for your child, visit FeynmanSchool.org.

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