G.A.T.E. Students Advance Their Education

by Karla Shirvanian '10

For the eighth consecutive year, Azusa Pacific University welcomed the Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) Summer School Program to campus June 24-July 18. The summer school program is a partnership between APU and the Azusa Unified School District (AUSD) to promote the pursuit of higher learning for Azusa youth. It provides a unique opportunity for students from third grade through high school to participate in an enriched curriculum taught by AUSD and APU faculty.

"I think the G.A.T.E. Program is important in order to encourage kids towards the college path just like other people do," said Maria Pacino, Ed.D., chair of the Department of Advanced Studies in Education and G.A.T.E. summer school coordinator. "We try to provide a university environment to entice them to come to school, not necessarily just APU, but any college. APU works with the community to provide this opportunity through the partnership with the AUSD."

Established in 2001 by Alice Watkins, Ph.D., former dean of APU's School of Education, and then assistant superintendent of AUSD, the G.A.T.E. program has consistently grown and this year has drawn more than 150 local youth to learn content and skills beyond the required yearly academic work. In support of this advanced learning opportunity, APU offers six full scholarships to AUSD students from Azusa and Gladstone high schools.

"The G.A.T.E. program is a very expansive program and builds skills. It can be fun and it is a very good experience for anyone who wants to explore college and see what college life or what a campus is like," said Joseph, 14, freshman writing class student.

APU professors Scott Kinnes, Ph.D., and Adrien Lowery, Ph.D., taught high school science and English courses which also provide college credit. AUSD faculty taught the elementary and middle school classes. High school students also participated in a variety of experiential field trips, including visits to the Intercommunity Hospital and the Long Beach Marina boat experience, sponsored by the Azusa/Glendora Rotary club. For the first year, middle school students visited the Jet Propulsion Lab and the elementary students traveled to the Aviation Museum in Chino.

"This is my fourth summer teaching this class and it is really important. It gets [the students] off to a good start in their college academics and stimulates them to stretch themselves in their writing and critical thinking," said Lowery. "It is also helps them see a broader world of thought in their writing, that there are ways even in academic writing that will stretch them and give them a chance to express themselves more clearly and more thoughtfully. I also think it is really great that we are connecting with the community and doing this with the high school kids in our own city. It is a great way for us to be relevant right here in our backyard."