Admissions FAQ

Q1: Do you offer Financial Aid?

A: We are not able to offer financial aid at this time, however, at any point, a donor may come forward, so qualified families interested in the school should apply. We are working hard on establishing Financial Aid for the 2019-2020 academic school year. We will be working very creatively with any families wishing to enroll and not being able to afford it to come up with a solution. Students with IQ of 145+ may qualify for additional assistance.

Q2: Are there any discounts?

A: There are a few:

  • Until we are certified by the state, you may be able to take up to $750 of our tuition as a tax deduction.

  • Siblings: 5% less for both, 7% off cumulative tuition if more than 2 in a family.

  • If a parent or legal guardian is a full-time teacher at an accredited university in Chicago, or is an active member of the armed services, they receive a further 2% discount over their total.

  • 2% off for paying for the entire academic school year in full.

  • Full time teachers at the school get free tuition for one child.

  • Part time teachers at the school get free part time tuition for one child.

Q3: Are there any application fees?

A: No, there are no application fees at this time.

Q4: Is lunch included in tuition?

A: We will not be offering a lunch program by default to all students. If there is adequate interest of 10 or more families in paid lunch, we will work to select an organic, healthy, allergy compliant, locally-sourced-food-conscious provider to bring in lunch - we do have one identified already. This data will be collected during enrollment. If there is enough student volume to bring in lunch, it will be an additional fee, else it can be always brought from home, and must be in compliance with our FARE allergy policy.

Q5: Will there be future tuition increases?

A: We anticipate the tuition schedule to go up only with inflation every year, no more than 1-3%. Our goal is to keep costs as affordable as possible for all families. In fact, we are guessing that tuition will in 2 years when we achieve enrollment volumes that allow the economy of scale, and do hope to reduce our tuition at that point for all.

Q6: Are there uniforms?

A: There are no uniforms. However, all admitted families will have to respect the dress code as described in the handbook.

Q7: What other costs might there be?

A: From time to time, families will be asked but not required to bring personal items related to physical education such as dance shoes, yoga mats, and so on. There may be additional costs for some field trips. For example, students aged 11 and up will have an optional overnight trip. Backpack, water bottle will need to be provided by families for their children. Besides that, basic supplies are included. Before and after care is an additional cost, please see the appropriate FAQ.

Q8: Do you offer Before/After Care and Clubs?

A: Yes. Click here for Before/Aftercare and Clubs Costs.

Q9: What happens if I have 3 children, and only one has a qualifying score, while the other children are close but not quite over the cut-off?

A: We aim to support the gifted learner and their family. We feel that it would be a disservice to the learner, family, and community to have siblings attend multiple schools. As we are focused on ability, not age-based groupings, we will attempt to place the siblings in our program, conditionally, to be evaluated after the first term, and will sit down with the family to discuss their feelings about fit and comfort. Since most siblings in a family are within 5% of IQ according to studies (see below), though we will evaluate a sibling at the time of the interviews as well, most likely, the siblings of a child with 130 IQ will still be gifted, and on average, more so than the cut off in most of the other area gifted programs.

The thing to keep in mind is that not all gifted students are academically gifted across all subjects, nor do they all learn at the same speed in all subjects. Plenty of gifted students of the same age will be at different grade levels. Therefore, we group not by age, but by ability. Therefore, a student will be matched academically to be with students that best fit their attained achievement and learning speed, not just their IQ. Our teaches are skilled in differentiation and there is a great amount of individualization in our school.

Our sibling admission policy has been applauded by every gifted mental health professional and teacher we have spoken with. We admit siblings because we want the gifted learner and their family to feel accepted in a single community and not to divide siblings into categories. When families are spending time in the car delivering children to multiple schools, with multiple conflicting school-wide events, then they lose quality time as a family and we lose their participation in our community. Our goal is to provide, long term, a place where a family with gifted learners can send all of their students for their entire primary education because this doesn't exist today. To that end, we will eventually add early education options, and will build out our Middle and High School into regular options.

Sibling IQ in gifted families has been studied and the current evidence is that biological siblings within a family are usually within 5% of IQ of each other. It should also be noted that at 130 IQ our entrance criteria are higher by 5 IQ points than many other gifted schools and many CPS SEES. Many gifted children do not test well or do not cooperate with the testing, especially in the early years.

When it comes to siblings, we will look, as is in the case of all applicants, at all the various areas of their development and at what they will bring to our community as individuals and at how well we can meet their needs as a school, and many other admissions criteria besides just giftedness. 

Q10: Do you accept 2e (twice exceptional) students?

A: Did you know that there are no 2E schools in Illinois? A parent of a twice exceptional child always has to pick between homeschooling, a therapeutic school, or a mainstream school. We feel that this needs to change, but we are not yet able to help fully for all 2e children at this time. Nor can we completely walk away. So, we will have to answer in 2 sections here. First, we will tell you about our special pilot, and next we will tell you about our full-time admissions policy.

We are very excited to share that we are going to run a single language arts class designed for 2e children that do not have behavioral challenges in the fall of 2019, for just 6-8 students. It will be the first of its kind in the entire state and it will be for just 10 weeks, for 45 minutes a week, in a stand-alone program. This is a start.

For every single child being considered for full-time admission, label or no label, we do a child observation 1:1 with a teacher and in a social setting, and a parent interview. Our admissions committee includes mental health professionals and educators and thoroughly reviews application materials including report cards, a teacher recommendation, and any applicable health documents. We will not admit any child if we do not feel we can serve them appropriately in our setting. Our setting is not a therapeutic setting. Children are expected to have age-appropriate social and emotional skills, self help skills, and behavior. We will not admit a child that we feel will negatively impact others’ school experience. Every child is unique and we look at each child not through the lens of a label but with an open mind. Each family will need to sign off on our code of conduct.

Every child is a sum of their strengths and weaknesses, and our goal is to teach to those strengths while scaffolding the weaker areas, to allow for global growth. There are certain mild challenges that children may have, that would simply not come into play at our school. An example would be, that we don’t require a uniform, so a child is able to attend while wearing clothing that aggravates them the least. We have no homework, so there wouldn’t be struggles at home to complete it. We provide plenty of breaks for all children, and give children as many choices as possible around their studies. We come up with their plan of study in collaboration with you. We don’t do unnecessary repetition. We don’t do group lessons, causing children to wait for a long time without being engaged. In fact, engagement is our top priority. We don’t require rigid seating arrangements, or limit water or bathroom breaks. We try to hire teachers who have some educational or professional background in the mental health field, because gifted kids are so complex. So, in some ways, we may be a friendlier environment than traditional schools. We have tiny student: teacher ratios, so that teachers can properly differentiate, so the children receive a huge amount of 1:1 time and attention and groups are easy to manage. We focus on having a well-organized, quiet environment and we can provide visual supports, etc, as needed.

A special note about dyslexia and or small motor differences: We are big fans of assistive technology for children with challenges related to the mechanics of reading and writing, and we prefer to focus not on the mechanics but on the comprehension and complexity of their ideas. A child with dyslexia may need a parent to pay for in-school services to work on moving the specific related skills forward using their recommended therapeutic method, for set, tolerable amounts of time, while we find a way for the student to still participate in all other activity at their intellectual, not mechanical capacity. Our strength is to collaborate with each family and their team and to work together to maximize each child’s potential. Beyond small challenges, we are not equipped to admit at this time.

Testing Info:

* If your child was given another standard test, please contact our admissions team.

** If submitting this data, you will have to submit more than one of the starred categories.

  • The Academic Attainment and IQ Qualifications will be accepted from any licensed psychologist. For a list of local psychologists that have a strong understanding of the gifted, please click here.

  • The last test date must be within 3 years of  your application submission date.

  • All CPS students receive the NWEA MAP data through annual testing. You may need to request this from your school’s main office if applicable. This test is also available for free for 5th grade and up private school students through CPS, though the schedule options are limited.

  • Public service announcement: you should know if your child's IQ or even SEES is 145 or higher on Standard IQ tests, or has equivalent achievement of 3+ years ahead of age peers, that Davidson Institute Young Scholars is free and a great source of advocacy and support for your student.

  • Siblings below the 130 cut-off are admitted as long as they pass our overall screning. We believe that in order to support our gifted learners and their families the best, we need to admit siblings so that familes do not spend all of their family time on school commutes and so that they have time to be involved in the gifted student's community. We believe that gifted differentiated education model is the best for any student. This is our only admissions loophole. It is widely believed that siblings are usually within 5% of IQ of each other anyway but not all children test well.

  • We recommend, but do not require a full Neuropsychology assessment prior to enrolment. The recommendations from such an assessment allow us to have an in-depth conversation about meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of your child.

  • If you feel that your child qualifies as gifted but that there are circumstances which make it difficult to convey the gift via the standard criteria, please reach out to admissions to discuss your situation.

  • If you encounter difficulties with the testing process, please don’t hesitate to contact admissions to discuss options and help finding alternative arrangements with other providers. We generally know wait lists and turn around reporting times at several testers.