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A look inside the Young Scholars Model at Lakeville Area Schools

May 7, 2024

Young Scholars small group lesson

Lakeville Area Schools is in its fourth year of utilizing the Young Scholars (YS) Model for K-2 learners. The Young Scholars Model is an evidence-based talent development model that goes beyond just test scores; it acknowledges that there are many ways students exhibit high academic potential. It aims to provide advanced learning opportunities for those students that foster complex thinking, especially for learners historically underserved* in gifted education.

Young Scholars student working in a small group lesson

The district began implementing the YS Model during the 2020-21 school year at Christina Huddleston Elementary and Lake Marion Elementary. These schools were selected for initial implementation due to the large number of students enrolled from historically underserved student groups. This school year, Oak Hills Elementary began its initial implementation of the YS Model. 

“One of the most important aspects during the implementation phase of Young Scholars at Oak Hills Elementary has been developing relationships with our amazing classroom teachers,” said Jill Houghton, Young Scholars Specialist at Oak Hills Elementary. “Our partnership is essential to effectively identify, nurture, and develop student talent at OHE.”

The YS Model uses targeted creative and critical thinking lessons to identify historically underserved students exhibiting high academic potential. Next, a Young Scholars Specialist works with identified students in small groups to cultivate advanced thinking skills. 

Young Scholars whole class lesson

“As young scholars progress through the model, they grow in confidence while building positive, supportive peer relationships. They also enhance their academic capacity through rigorous learning experiences,” said Nicole McKenzie, Young Scholars Specialist at Christina Huddleston Elementary and Lake Marion Elementary. 

“By providing scaffolded advanced learning opportunities, I witness our Young Scholars rise to new challenges and experience success,” said Houghton. 

Along with small group sessions, the model includes whole class lessons taught by a Young Scholars Specialist, allowing all K-2 students in the building to benefit. 

Young Scholars Specialist working with a student during a whole class lesson

“Whole class lessons allow for myself and classroom teachers to collaborate, enhancing literacy and math curriculum to meet specific learning targets,” said McKenzie. “We are able to differentiate these lessons for student readiness, providing scaffolds and extension to meet individual needs.” 

“Lakeville’s Young Scholars Model is on the leading edge of talent development, providing professional development to gifted and talented educators statewide,” said McKenzie. “Our families, teachers and leaders are excited about the work we are doing.”

*Underserved students include those from racially, culturally, linguistically, and/or economically diverse backgrounds, as well as twice exceptional (2e) learners.