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Dear editor, We are writing to express appreciation for the transformation of the Napa Valley Unified School District GATE program into Advanced Learner Programs and Services (ALPS), providing increasing accountability and safety nets for advanced students in the district. This program also brings advanced learning strategies to any students who can benefit from these strategies.

We encourage interested families to attend the ALPS/GATE open houses in October, visit the new ALPS website or call the ALPS/GATE office (253-3353) to discover how this program has changed. The ALPS website (www.ves.nvusd.k12.ca.us/gate) has a PowerPoint on it explaining changes made and how to request help for children who need a stretch in their learning, regardless of what their grades or test scores are.

Four years ago we could not find a single gifted education specialist in Napa County available to help us change our child’s classwork. We had to find solutions ourselves for gifted learning needs and do things that few parents can do to advocate for their children. Now, parents can ask for and receive help from the ALPS program for children like this.

Last year, more than 30 district teachers participated in training in gifted education best practices offered by the district, with support from NCOE. More trainings will follow. Ten teachers received their state certification in gifted education and deserve special acknowledgement: Lisa Groom, Chantal LaCrampe, Megan Burton, Shauna Kadel, Amy Keane, Debbie Baldwin, Steve Weaver, Shari Costanzo, Ronnie Riddell and Dana Cope.

Seven teachers completed two of the three courses needed for this credential and deserve acknowledgement too: Sara Euser,  Madeleine Gomez, Sally Zikmund, Allison Roman, Renee Palagi, Wendy Sandy and Louann Talbert.

Napa Valley Opera House helped families thank these teachers who worked so hard to learn gifted education best practices by giving them tickets to a show.

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Additionally, we wish to thank to the district administrators and trustees and the GATE District advisory committee members who made these changes possible. Thank you also to Napa Valley College for readmitting highly gifted students aged 11-15 to college classes on a case-by-case basis. The new ALPS program slogan is “All children get what all children need.” This is a program all can love.

Debbie and Andy Starr / Yountville

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