Gifted and Talented at Skinner

ALL schools in the district, including Skinner Middle School, are responsible for meeting the needs of identified gifted and talented students. Services range from pull-out programs and cluster grouping for instruction, to a variety of enrichment opportunities. The gifted education teacher collaborates with classroom teachers in differentiating instruction as appropriate for gifted students, and may implement curriculum materials developed by the Gifted and Talented Department to enrich and extend learning for gifted, talented, and/or advanced students. The gifted education teacher, in collaboration with the classroom teacher, parent and student develop and support the implementation of advanced learning plans which document programming for each individual child.

For more information about gifted programing at Skinner, please contact Ms. Valerie Davis via email.

Click here for the DPS Gifted Education website.

Gifted and Talented Programming at Skinner includes:


  • Honors classes in Language Arts, Math, and Science Skinner offers differentiation for gifted students through advanced curriculum in these three core subject areas. Placement in these classes requires teacher recommendations in addition to test scores. Curriculum includes grade level academic standards while working at a faster pace to include depth and complexity in the various subject matters. These classes are designed to meet the needs of the ALP (Advanced Learning Plan).
  • Acceleration Grade level acceleration is available for those students who require advanced instruction in math. This path places 8th grade students in high school geometry taught by a teacher at Skinner.
  • Universal Screening in 6th grade for potentially gifted students Gifted and Talented children are present in all student groups, regardless of gender, disability, English language proficiency, economic status, ethnic or cultural background.
  • Mathletics, Math Olympiad, and Math Counts These programs are designed for students to use and learn advanced mathematics concepts while engaging in friendly competition with other middle schools. In Mathletics and Math Olympiad students compete with other DPS schools. In Math Counts students compete against other middle schools across the state.
  • Science Fairs All Skinner Scholars compete in the school science fair. Students receiving high scores for superior projects are able to advance to the Metro Science Fair held at Auraria Campus in Denver. Skinner has had several students win distinguished project awards at this event, including scholarship money. Skinner has had scholars advance to the State of Colorado Science Fair to showcase their projects.
  • Science Olympiad This program is run through the honors science classrooms. Students participate in small teams, based upon interest, using problems provided from the Science Olympiad Program. The teams create solutions to the problems using research and present these on a Saturday in February to a state wide competition located in Ft. Collins, CO.
  • Spelling Bee The spelling bee club meets once a week after school on Thursdays beginning in October through the end of February. Skinner hosts the first district spelling bee in December each year. Students compete in two oral bees and one written bee with other DPS students. Students who qualify have the opportunity to advance to state and national bees.
  • Advanced elective courses Skinner scholars are able to differentiate elective classes by interest and choice. Classes include jazz band, leadership, drama including participation in the DPS Shakespeare Festival, yearbook, woodworking, STEM, advanced Spanish class for native speakers, and choir. The jazz band performs in venues around Denver in addition to concerts at school.
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Skinner employs a full time STEM teacher to work in all three grade levels. Students are able to advance through the curriculum at their own pace and increase base knowledge levels by choice and interest. The teacher collaborates with the science teachers to develop and implement STEM lessons that use multidisciplinary techniques.
  • Affected needs lunch groups The GT specialist offers small group programming focusing on National GT tandards for providing affective support for identified students. The groups meet weekly during lunch and cover a wide variety of topics.
  • Jobs for the Future Programming for all Skinner scholars embedded into learning family times is a program that focuses on advanced learning opportunities once students leave high school and allows students exposure to a variety of careers.
  • 7th grade girls only: Girls Engineering STEM Convention This convention is held every May for 7th grade girls. The Society of Women Engineers sponsors this event.


Students attend hands-on sessions in a variety of STEM activities to explore careers they may have not considered.

  • Anomaly (Minion)Con GT students can opt to attend this science fiction convention. Students choose sessions to attend which include author talks, writing workshops, costuming workshops, science experiments, and drama. The theme of this convention is under the umbrella of Steampunk.
  • 8th grade only – Legislative Day sponsored by The Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented GT students interested in politics are able to apply to attend this day at the Colorado State Capitol. Selected students are paired with a state legislator and are able to sit on the main floor in either the Colorado House of Representatives or the Senate during the Opening Session of the day. Skinner has paired with the legislators from the NW quadrant of Denver to provide a unique experience for those attending.
  • Academic Mentors This program is sponsored through the Community Resources program and is designed to pair students with a mentor in a career field the student is passionate about. Previous Skinner students have had mentorships with architects, web designers, songwriters, psychologists, and engineers.
  • Guest speakers/programs The GT coordinator helps teachers acquire guest speakers and/or programs throughout the year to provide students with exposure to different topics of interest. Past speakers have included a nuclear engineer, an astrophysicist, a nurse, Skyping from McMurdo Station in Antarctica, and authors for reading/writing workshops sponsored by local bookstores.
  • Neighborhood Center at Skinner The Neighborhood Center provides after school programming catering to high end learners. Those programs include, but not limited to, robotics club, solar cars, Destination Imagination, and mentors from School of Mines and/or Regis University.
  • Administration of College & Career Exploration for Skinner Students (ACCESS) Through guided, hands-on learning, students will research, engage, and reflect on potential careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Art, Business, and Social Justice. Each Friday, instructors will lead an after school program to help enrolled students form a future vision, while confronting relevant teen/pre-teen issues. Consistently visiting local businesses and recruiting community leaders as speakers will enable students to reflect and refine their personal portfolios.

Websites for GT Resources: Free download for the book, Is There an Engineer Inside You? DPS Shakespeare Festival Information Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented GT information for parents, students, and teachers. National Association of Gifted Children; info for administrators, teachers, parents Social Emotional Needs of the Gifted, including gifted adults Exquisite Minds- Creative and Gifted Children Articles for parents, teachers, brain games Podcasts about pop culture for nerds. Appropriate for teens – adults. Games for students, listed by age level.

Facebook links: The Colorado Association for gifted and talented. Search for that organization, then like the page. The Spanish page can be found under Asociación de Colorado para Dotados y Talentosos. Sharon Barnes is a therapist who specializes working with gifted children as well as adults. Articles and webinars on the sensitive needs of the gifted can be found on her website including information to become her client. Integrating the mind, heart, body, spirit and social self. Patricia Gatto-Walden is a private therapist for gifted children. Dr. George Betts is a nationally known expert in gifted education. He lives in Greeley, CO. This website explains what giftedness means and has additional resources for parents.