For Immediate Release
Groundbreaking new school focuses on teaching emotional intelligence to gifted children in a small school environment, plugging hole for children whose needs cannot be met easily at traditional schools.
Palo Alto, CA – May 5, 2009 – In a Peninsula of high IQs, a new lab school, Synapse Institute, focuses on EQ. The curriculum focuses on social-emotional skills and teamwork, while challenging each individual at the highest level. “Traditional schools don’t always work for bright children who are often exceptionally gifted academically, but, for one reason or another, need a more nurturing, individualized and smaller school environment to flourish,” Gigi Carlson, director of Synapse, says.
This new school has achieved astonishing results. A child, once suffering from shyness and previously unable to speak in group settings, mingles easily with peers, as does a child with Aspergers. “No one today could pick those children out from the rest of the group,” Carlson says. Instruction involves experiential, hands-on learning. For example, a math unit teaching money and subtraction to children around age six would involve children being out of their seats, on a pretend journey to shop and make change, and going on a field trip to the local bank, according to teacher Katie Gibbons.
The day starts with yoga or Tai-chi, followed by joke time, which encourages children to build a sense of humor and connect socially with each other. The activities are structured in three-hour subject periods, likened to graduate school classes.
Founders of Synapse are associated with Six Seconds, a nonprofit organization that promotes learning and practicing emotional intelligence. They include Karen McCown, the former director and co-founder of Nueva., a school for gifted/talented children,, and Anabel Jensen, President of Six Seconds and formerly executive director of Nueva School.
After a pilot grade of initially four children this fall, by the end of the school year, Synapse increased to 10 children. Enrollment for the same grade has increased to two classes of 12 children each for next year. The school is expanding to fill classes from ages five to a new middle school for children age 11-12. “Middle school is often a challenging time that can make or break a child’s self-esteem and social abilities, being on the cusp of so many changes. We are really excited to be able to offer a school to this age group next fall,” McCown says.
Gibbons says she is much happier teaching at Synapse than in a traditional school setting, where she felt like teachers and children were part of a “learning factory” tasked with the production of a one-size-fits-all cognitive product. At Synapse, Gibbons says she feels filled by the children, and the fact that, as a teacher, she is helping to engage their hearts, not just their minds,
“I haven’t been able to find anything like it in the Bay Area, public or private,” Greg Friedman, parent of a Synapse student, says.
“There is such a need for a school environment like this. The response has been overwhelming. We hope to be replicating this throughout the country within five years,” Jensen says.
About Synapse and Six Seconds.
Synapse ( www.6seconds.org/synapse ) is the lab school for Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network ( www.6seconds.org ). Founded in 1997 to support the global emotional intelligence movement and promote a more caring, positive environment in schools and organizations, Six Seconds is a 501(c)3 organization, with offices in San Mateo, California and 7 countries. Synapse began its class offerings in September 2008.