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Author gives guidance to teachers on learning model
Author Sally Reis speaks to a group of Sardis Elementary School teachers about the School Enrichment Model, which promotes student engagement and achievement. - photo by Tom Reed

This week, some Hall County educators were able to go straight to the source for more information about how to improve their school’s learning environment.

Sally Reis, who is the co-author of “The Schoolwide Enrichment Model,” spent time Wednesday and Thursday in area schools discussing the model.

“The major goal of the model is to apply gifted education (techniques) to educate all students,” said Reis, who is the principle researcher for the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Under the main umbrella of the program is the Enrichment Triad Model, which is the one being utilized locally. Under the triad are three types of enrichment opportunities: Type I enrichment involves exposing students to new ideas; type II, group training activities and the development of creative and critical thinking; and type III, individual or small group investigation of student-selected problems.

Because the model allows individual schools the flexibility of developing their own enrichment programs, the model is traditionally found in charter or magnet schools. The programs — or clusters — can be about anything that is of interest to students, from poetry to robotics to studying the history of a neighborhood.

Currently, the triad model is in various stages of implementation within Hall schools.

“Spout Springs Elementary is in the exploration stage of charter development, but they are leaning toward the SEM. Chestatee Middle School, which has already begun using some elements of the SEM in their academies of inquiry and talent development, has applied for charter school status,” said Sally Krisel, Hall County Schools director of teaching and learning.

“Sardis (Enrichment School) was Hall County’s second charter school. They are in their first year of utilizing the SEM to promote engagement and achievement by tying instruction to children’s areas of strength and interest.”

Jan Hughes, Sardis principal, said school staff are having a bit of trouble taking the program to the next level by having more type III enrichment opportunities.

“This is evolutionary. You can’t expect kids that have been told what, when, where, and how to do it to be able to be able to come up with this stuff without guidance (during their first year),” Reis said.

“My advice really is to give it time. They have to get to know how it is and what to do. The idea of this is, if you get a creative idea, do something with it.”