Kathleen Casper, a Tacoma Public Schools highly capable teacher, will receive her Golden Apple Award at the 21st awards ceremony Friday, February 1, at the Playhouse at The Seattle Center.
KCTS 9 sponsors the annual Golden Apple Awards program which honors Excellence in Education. The awards include individual winners, programs and schools making a positive difference in Washington state education.
Casper is a board member of Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted and writes and presents nationally on the topics regarding gifted education.
Casper teaches about 100 highly capable students at a couple schools. Through a fellowship for a combined civics leadership program called Institute of a Democratic Future, she created a study unit called "Civilizations, Social Justice and Change" focusing on ancient civilizations and modern issues. Her classes hosted speakers from the community, used Internet and library resources to research issues and wrote letters to lawmakers suggesting solutions.
Casper, who herself was in highly capable programs as is her four children says, "I know how important it is to offer gifted children opportunities to work with other gifted kids and to have challenging and meaningful experiences that connect them with the deeper issues and offer them ways to give back to the community."
Students engaged in real-world activities that ranged from speaking to the City Council to volunteering at a soup kitchen. In the unit's culminating project, students created their own model civilizations that reflected their solutions to a variety of social skills. They not only learned about historical and contemporary issues, they have discovered first-hand how their actions can make a positive difference.
"These are kids who have social issues and anxieties and care very deeply about the world around them," says Casper. "They have big ideas and think hard about things that interest them."
Currently, students are working on a project called "The Apprentice Game," which is losely based on the Donald Trump TV show "Celebrity Apprentice" where the students work together in teams to compete on creating projects earning funds for local non-profits such as St. Leo's Food Connection, Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society and United Way. A donor donates directly to one of the non-profits which is apart of the colaboration which the donor asks the teams to create a product for the selected business. The donor chooses the winning product for the business. She hopes to expand this project further.
It has been a great way for everyone to benefit," says Casper. "It's very important for gifted kids to practice taking turns as leaders and to learn to work well with others in team situations."