Although estimates show that 5% of the students on the island are gifted, the population of gifted children in the schools of Puerto Rico has been somewhat neglected for many years. It was not until the year 2010 that a law was passed to create awareness of the particular needs of these students.
Academia Maria Reina and Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola have developed an enrichment program for gifted students (PEPED). The program works after school and brings together students who have been identified as gifted and talented. According to the definition adopted in Puerto Rico, gifted students are those who show exceptional talent to perform at high levels in academic, creative, or artistic areas. Percentiles on standardized tests and psychological assessments help begin the process of identifying such students.
Teachers and staff of both institutions have been duly trained at the University of Connecticut to work with this type of student. The program follows the model of “Enrichment Clusters,” where, on the basis of the particular interests of the student, a variety of learning experiences, activities, materials and environments that promote the enjoyment and enthusiasm for learning are designed. The students are divided into groups to develop interests that are not usually addressed within the regular curriculum, thus expanding their knowledge in science, mathematics, writing, logic, the environment, and the arts, among other areas. The students then develop a final presentation on the subject of investigation or project on which they have worked during the program. The teacher serves a guide, accompanying young people in their quest to develop projects and initiatives that foster creativity and imagination, as well as to develop their talents to the fullest. The students say that they feel free to express themselves in this program; they are expanding their knowledge and can work on something that they really like and motivates them. The program also includes workshops to support parents and students, conducted by the AMR psychologist and the CSI professional counselor.