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Gifted and Talented Development

We welcome all students and their parents to the GTD page. This site consists of two parts: the first section has district GTD information and the second has VMSS information.

This VMSS site includes information for all students - not only GTD students. There are events for everyone!

This year we are thrilled to have two GTD Coordinators. Ms. Sarah Pelinka will be working with 6th graders and Mrs. Mary Spychalla will be the overall GTD Consultant and the 7/8th GTD Coordinator. Please contact us anytime. We are here to help your child have a successful school year.

District 196 GTD Information

Gifted and talented children are those students with outstanding abilities and capable of higher performance when compared to others of similar age, experience and environment. They have significantly different educational needs from their peers and require educational differentiation as a regular part of their school day to ensure they reach their full potential.

Check out more district GTD information at

Valley GTD Information

VMSS GTD Coordinators work to:

  • Communicate with GT students, their parents, administrators and teachers/staff about GTD topics;
  • Advocate for GTD students to meet their academic, organizational and social emotional needs;
  • Form relationships with GT students and encourage participation in appropriate opportunities;
  • Promote rigorous curriculum that exceeds the national, state and district standards; support content area teachers in offering challenging curriculum;
  • Coordinate a variety of enrichments, academic clubs and competitions, and 
  • Provide a smooth transition between elementary and middle school GTD programming.

What is GTD?
GTD services help meet the needs of identified gifted/talented (GT) and other students by providing academic and affective opportunities within and beyond the classroom. GT students are part of GTD. GT students are identified in elementary school. They continue to be GT throughout middle school.

What does VMSS offer to GT students?
VMSS offers inquiry-based assignments, challenges within and beyond the classroom, enrichment opportunities, flexible grouping, academic cluster classes, accelerated math classes and individual services. Some 6th grade GT students meet with the GTD coordinator frequently to discuss pertinent topics. In addition, some 6, 7, and 8th grade students who have participated in GTD enrichments are chosen to attend selected drop-in sessions during advisory to play board games, solve logic puzzles or work on class assignments.   

How do I know what classes GT students have?
GT students usually have math, science, English (ELA) and social studies courses as all students do. They may be clustered in academic classes which include GT and others. Cluster teachers are experienced in their contact area and have worked with high ability students. They will explain their expectations and describe advanced opportunities within their classes. High performing math students with high national math data are often in accelerated math classes.

My child is concerned because the teachers have not said anything about GTD.
Usually teachers do not use those teams when talking to the entire class just as they do not use the term special ed student or EL (English Language) learner. Sometimes a label can cause stress, pressure to attain a certain level or negative feelings. Some students may think they are in the wrong class when they do not hear GT or GTD but all their schedules are reviewed to ensure they are in appreciate academic sections.

What if my child is bored?
No student should be bored. Valley has a myriad of opportunities available for each child to succeed. If your child would like more rigorous work or curricular extensions, ask the classroom teacher or GTD coordinators.

Can all students participate in enrichments? How do students find out about enrichments?
Enrichments are encouraged for all students. There are things for everyone. Students should ask classroom teachers about class extensions and ask advisors/coaches of specific activities for beyond the classroom enrichments. Announcements are often in the bulletin. Students and parents are encouraged to read it daily.

Mary Spychalla
picture of Mary Spychalla


Mary Spychalla,
Gifted and Talented Services Coordinator Grades 7 & 8



Sarah Pelinka
picture of sarah pelinka


Sarah Pelinka,
Gifted and Talented Services Grade 6