Sycamore School, Indiana’s only private, independent school for gifted students in Preschool through Grade 8, exists so that academically gifted children can experience the enriched, accelerated education they need to reach their potential and to lead responsible, constructive, fulfilling lives.
Address: 1750 West 64th St., Indianapolis
Phone: (317) 202-2500
Q&A with Sycamore School:
What makes Sycamore unique?
At Sycamore School, we understand that gifted children need a special education, and our mission reflects our focus and drive: “Sycamore School exists so that academically gifted students can experience the enriched, accelerated education they need to reach their potential and to lead responsible, constructive, fulfilling lives.” There are few schools in the country with such a clear focus and unique commitment to providing an appropriate education for gifted learners. All that we do, in and out of the classroom, is focused on helping gifted students realize their fullest potential while being known and loved.
What is Sycamore’s educational philosophy?
Our mission is to educate academically gifted students, and our educational philosophy is reflective of that mission. Gifted learners have special intellectual, social, and emotional needs. They need an open, enriched educational environment designed to develop superior thinking skills and the opportunity to complete a broad range of academic and artistic projects and products. Differentiation and hands-on, experiential learning are hallmarks of gifted education at Sycamore. Additionally, all of our teachers have completed or are working on the completion of their high-ability licensure.
What is Sycamore’s age/grade range?
We enroll students in Preschool (age 3 by September 1) through Grade 8.
What is your enrollment policy? Are there any key dates parents should be aware of?
While we still can enroll students for the 2021-2022 school year, we are also accepting applications for enrollment in the Fall of 2022. Parents can apply online at www.sycamoreschool.org/admissions/how-to-apply. In addition to a parent questionnaire, a current teacher recommendation (if available), a recent report card (if available), and standardized achievement test results (if available), screening or testing for giftedness is used in assessing candidacy. For admission to Preschool, this involves a preschool screening and observation conducted at Sycamore. For admission to Prekindergarten through 8th grade, this involves IQ testing with a full-scale IQ at or near the Very Superior range. All applicants must demonstrate age-appropriate social and emotional development and behavior that would enable the child to function effectively in a classroom environment.
What are the standard school day hours? Does Sycamore offer flexible day/hour options? Is before/after school care available?
The school day for Preschool through Grade 4 is 8:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m. There is a half-day option of 8:15-11:15 a.m. for Preschool and Prekindergarten, and extended care is available from 11:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m. for families who choose the half-day option. The school day for Middle School (Grades 5-8) is 8:10 a.m.-3:20 p.m. We offer Quest for before and after school care, and there is a fee for this service. We also offer an extensive Extended Program that includes after school activities, which include academic teams, athletics, and other enrichment opportunities. Families can learn more at www.sycamoreschool.org/extended-programs.
How many children are in each class? How are children divided up up?
Sycamore School has three divisions–Early Childhood (Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten), Lower School (grades 1-4), and Middle School (grades 5-8). In Preschool, there are two classrooms, each with a maximum of 15 students with a full-time lead teacher and two full-time assistants. In Prekindergarten, there are two classrooms, each with a maximum of 18 students with a full-time lead teacher and two full-time assistants. In Kindergarten through Fourth Grade, there are two classrooms, each with a maximum of 20 students with a full-time lead teacher and a full-time assistant teacher. In Middle School, the maximum enrollment for a grade typically is 40 students. Students in Middle School no longer have a traditional homeroom but often are in classes of no more than 20 students.
What is the teacher/child ratio?
The student/teacher ratio for Preschool is 5:1. For Prekindergarten this ratio is 6:1. For Kindergarten through Grade 4, the ratio is 10:1. For Middle School (grades 5-8), the ratio is 12:1
What are the teacher’s credentials?
All of our teachers have completed or are working on the completion of their high-ability licensure. Sycamore has an ongoing commitment to leadership in developing and improving teaching methods, learning strategies, and curricula in gifted education. Its teachers are dedicated to learning from others in gifted education and to sharing their experience and expertise with the larger community for the educational enrichment of all children. Sycamore is actively involved in the Indiana Association for the Gifted (IAG) and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).
Is parental participation required?
All parents automatically are members of our parent association, the Sycamore School Association (SSA). Many of our parents opt to volunteer in many ways to support the school, and parent giving to our annual fund is at a high level. Parental participation is not required, but parental engagement is very much commonplace at Sycamore.
How do teachers communicate with parents? How often do parents receive updates?
Parents and teachers communicate very frequently at Sycamore. This usually is done in person, via phone, and via email. During the pandemic, parents are not in the building, but teachers are communicating with parents via phone, email, Zoom, etc. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled twice per year, but much more frequent communication is the norm at Sycamore. Additionally, the school issues a weekly electronic newsletter to parents and maintains a school portal that is full of valuable information.
Does Sycamore offer support for students with special needs?
Several students at Sycamore are identified as “twice exceptional” (2e), which means that they are identified as gifted but also have an identified educational need of some other type. Examples might include anxiety, ADD/ADHD, depression, dyslexia, etc. While Sycamore does not offer special education services, we do have a full-time school psychologist and a full-time learning resource specialist, both of whom help meet the academic and social/emotional needs of our students
How much time do the children spend outside?
Students in Early Childhood (Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten), First Grade, and Second Grade have two 20-minute recess periods each day. Students in Third Grade and Fourth Grade have one 30-minute recess period each day. Students in Middle School have a combined lunch/recess period that lasts just under one full hour each day. Additionally, during the pandemic, we have increased the utilization of our 16-acre campus by having additional classes outside, utilizing existing outdoor labs and spaces, and expanding to newly created outdoor spaces.
Sycamore School is a gifted school, but how can parents figure out whether or not their child is a gifted student?
Parents often are the best identifiers of giftedness in their children, but our website (www.sycamoreschool.org/admissions/who-is-a-gifted-child) provides several resources to help parents better understand giftedness and the identification of gifted students. Our 12 Signs of Gifted Students are a great starting point. Additionally, each applicant will complete a Preschool screening or an individual IQ test that will help us identify academic giftedness also.
Are meals and/or snacks provided?
Snacks are provided daily for Preschool and Pre-kindergarten. Meals are not provided, but in a typical year the school does offer hot lunch for a fee to all students. Currently, all students must bring a nut-free lunch and a water bottle each day.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
While we highly encourage parents to keep working with their children on potty training, and while we will continue to work with Sycamore students also, being potty-trained is not a requirement. In fact, due to gifted students often being perfectionists, it is not uncommon for gifted students to be a bit more delayed in potty training than other children.
What are Sycamore’s safety policies? What extra safety measures is Sycamore taking during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our full reopening plan is available at https://www.sycamoreschool.org/reopening-sycamore, and it includes safety measures such as the following:
- Social distancing
- Proper and frequent handwashing; discouragement of face touching
- No handshaking or hugging
- Face coverings for all students and staff in the building
- Little to no sharing of supplies and equipment; cleaning when necessary
- Outside instruction when possible
- Lunch in classrooms
- Limited student activity in communal spaces (hallways, lockers, Hagerman Commons)
- Assigned restrooms
- Temporary cancellation of in-person after-school activities, clubs, and teams
- Before and after school care provided based on prioritized need, with pre-registration required, cohorting, distancing, and health and hygiene measures
- HVAC upgrades to increase the amount of fresh air (complete air exchange every 10 minutes)
- Touchless faucets and dispensers in all Early Childhood classrooms
- Hand sanitizer stations at key locations
- Plexiglass partitions at entrances and in identified offices
- Placement of social distancing floor stickers
- Purchase of a Clorox 360 machine to electrostatically disinfect furniture and equipment
- Installation of open-top trash cans
- Touchless paper towel dispensers in all classrooms
- Addition of staff to night cleaning crew
- Faculty cleaning of high-touch areas and materials throughout the day
- Students facing the same direction in classrooms; desks rearranged for social distancing
- Closure of drinking fountains; bottle fillers active (Students should bring water bottles.)
- Signage to remind students about social distancing and hygiene
- Creation of isolation areas for symptomatic students or staff
- Availability of PPE, wipes, thermometers
- Elimination of non-essential volunteers; parents and visitors not allowed inside building
Who should parents contact for more information about Sycamore?
Interested families can contact Duane Emery, Director of Enrollment Management, at 317-202-2510 or [email protected]. Additionally, www.sycamoreschool.org/admissions outlines the admissions process and provides much information about the school.