Come Out and Meet the Candidates!


Come Out and Meet the Candidates for School Board

We are hosting a meet and greet – and all 6 candidates running for Columbus City School Board will be in attendance.  This will be a chance to hear from the candidates prior to the November 7th General Election. Please come out and hear from the candidates about the issues that you consider important.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 26th from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

AIMS Middle School

680 Jack Gibbs Blvd, Columbus OH 43215

May PACE Meeting Minutes


President: Erica Reaves
Vice President: Kristin Allison
Secretary: Alice Speegle

The position of Treasurer is open. If you would like to be Treasurer let us know!

Please be thinking about options for PACE meetings, topics, times, days, speakers, etc. You can let us know through email or the website.


Amanda Reidenbaugh
Denise Staffilino
Kate Webster

Amanda: Sharing a copy of an article from The Washington Post titled Top 10 Skills Middle School Students Need to Thrive, and How Parents Can Help.

Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself. Don’t be afraid to find out what your student loves and is passionate about. How can you get that to involve them in their school? Provide opportunities to practice reading and writing.

Organizational skills: Don’t be afraid to get in that backpack at any age. They need to know how to sew a button, teach self care. Organization, executive function wise – it helps to have a homework folder that is a different color than the rest. Have a place to record assignments (Google calendar, planner)  and help your student learn to chunk assignments. Don’t be afraid to allow your child to fail safely. Working hard means that you are using your gift, not that you aren’t gifted. Help to foster self-advocacy in your child. If they attend a high performing high school they have to be able to ask for help. Making good friend choices is in the article – working in teams and learning how to collaborate. You have to try different ways to find out how to take notes and mark text. Building a habit takes practice. At CGA flexible learning time has been a conundrum to help students figure out how to organize and chunk assignments. They want you to help them find that structure.

Kate: About ninth grade you can’t dump out the backpack! A lot of our gifted students can be highly successful without being organized, without studying, and when they aren’t able to succeed when they get to high school their identity can take a hit. Especially in high school when content becomes more abstract and topics may not be in an area of giftedness. Have the conversation with them about who they are who they want to be. It isn’t enough to say “you need to be organized”. You need to have conversations about what is important to them, what are the consequences and payoffs of their behavior. Having some skills to talk to resistant teens can come in really handy. You may find that your child is resistant to talking about it because their former strategies aren’t working any more. Find time and space to have a routine and talk about being organized and who they are and keeping those conversations open.

Getting your students active and taking time for self care, getting off screens, ride together in a car to have some one on one time. Whatever it is you can do together to loosen them up and talk is where you can have some genuine conversations about who they are and who they want to be and how to get there. Just when you think they don’t want to talk to you, that is when they want to talk about who they want to be.

Academics are definitely part of who they are and you want to find challenges for them – but ultimately the question is “what makes you happy”.

Denise: Thinking about how do you teach responsibility is that it is a lifelong thing that you develop and you are a role model. When they are in grade school you make connections to show how it is important. You show responsibility in your family unit and in your life. You can talk about real life experiences – like your job, and why that is important.

Kate: Yes, share what you are doing and why.

Denise: Transitions is an ongoing process. There are several different things you can do. You can visit the places they are looking at. Often gifted kids have a heightened sense and often have fear. You can think through the anxieties and work through those feelings to decide what you would do. You can buddy up with another friend.

Amanda: It is helpful to think of yourself as a coach. Be future focused. Identify the future and identify the steps you need to take to get there. Recognize the anxiety. If you made a bad choice it’s okay. You need to take accountability for it. You need to apologize if you feel it. And then you need to move on. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? You move on. Getting them to see school as a necessary step to where they want to be is so important.

Denise:  You as parents are transitioning as well. Looking at the whole picture what might be different is when children are in situations where they are really challenged for the first time. There is a honeymoon window, then there is a real transition time. They may not be getting everything right, but they learn they are smart because of their potential – not because they know everything. We tend to be reactionary band emotional so when suddenly they aren’t getting everything we start second guessing ourselves. If you don’t shed that insecurity your student might start to think they aren’t getting it. It is a great opportunity to talk about the social emotional too.

Amanda: Transitions are often difficult for parents. Your principal and teachers are invested in your child and care about them. They want to have the conversation.

Denise: Many kids identify themselves as smart because they “already know” – but they are gifted because of their potential. Schools like CGA and the district program are there to help students reach their potential and continue their learning.

Many students come and they are unfamiliar with failing. It helps to have them fail in a safe environment.

Kate: Some students take high school classes in grade school. Talk to someone safe about it and go to your child and again have the conversation about what they want and how to get there. Wherever you are you can be successful. It’s okay if you don’t have a 4.0. Having one now doesn’t mean you will be successful in college. There are so many different ways you can take on college and be successful.

Getting a 36 in Reading and a 29 in Math doesn’t mean you suck at math! When kids get older different gifts get recognized. They might be recognized for leadership, which can mean being passionate and involved – not just student body president. Gifted kids may not get the recognition they are used to.

Sometimes in high school and college students go through this phase where you go through a phase where you feel like you can’t do it. Then the students figure out what is expected in the class. Then they figure out what is needed. Gifted kids might need tutors. They might advocate for help or for challenge. They can ask to tweak projects to make it more relevant for them. A lot of time teachers are open to that.

Erica: Remember to praise their efforts – not just the wins. Everyone is not going to love you. You will have coworkers you don’t really like. You will have your dream job and not like your boss.

You have to watch because there may be subjects they are not successful in (like gym) and then you have a crisis moment.

Amanda: Harvard did a great study that says it doesn’t matter what you think about your kid. It matters what they think you think.

Kate: You might think you are reinforcing your child by saying a lot of positive things but they aren’t getting the message. We would problem solve in high school. With someone you don’t like you have to find something they can offer you. Fortunately counsellors can tell some of the success stories about teachers kids are having difficulties with.

If you can reinforce being optimistic with your child. Unfortunately we see more and more depression in our schools. For all of our kids we need to reinforce being optimistic. Anxiety is high. We need to help them reframe how they are thinking.

If you can help students to frame things as permanent versus temporary. What can we do to move on? Is it pervasive or specific? You are not “always going to be bad at math”. Personal versus impersonal – where is the locus of control? Is that teacher being mean to you or does he treat everybody like that? You have to help them reframe, talk out loud as you are fulfilling your responsibilities. Our gifted kids are really good at understanding that – and they are good at twisting that. Help them untwist it.

Article The Social and Emotional Transition to Middle School

Denise: Chipwood has a book called that helps us reframe our children and recognize that their age and developmental stage may be different.

Personalities also play into all of this. You know your child and his or her strengths and insecurities.

Amanda: If you are trying to find out what makes your child tick (especially high schoolers) and you ask them and they say “I don’t know” ask them “if you knew, what would you say?”

Kate: Social Emotional issues are so heightened during transitions. If you can look for a few anchors with your child, such as starting some routines while your child is still willing. Another thing is looking for an activity outside of school, dance, choir, club sports, math league. Summer programs aren’t year round but some kids form relationships by going the same place each summer. Especially in CCS where our kids jump around it is important to make anchor friends outside of our schools. They can also learn to work hard and fail at something they are passionate about and have that social anchor.

Erica: I do a lot of role playing with my child to make sure she know how to react when situations come up.

Denise: You give them the language to deal with difficult situations.

Amanda: You teach your children about the impact of language. Reputation is important. Words can impact reputation. If they say things people may have to take it seriously.

Kate: Keep talking about it. They keep changing and entering new social circles. You have to go back and address it over and over. Keep making it relevant.

Amanda: Check the backpack. Check the social media. Colleges are watching. They do make decisions because of it.

It is scary that anyone can access our students on social media apps.

Erica: If you don’t get them by 8 years old someone else will. The parent is their first teacher. Everything should be on the table. As far as social media we need to have that conversation about sexting 10,000 times.

We can’t be responsible for every decision they make but we can help them find the answers. Walk away.

Kate: Especially as your kids get older make sure that as the information becomes more complicated and you have so many more things to juggle that your email is updated with the office, you are coming to face to face meetings, and reading the emails. Go to parent teacher conferences, even if your kid is getting straight a’s. Schedule a tour for college, sit in on a class, try to go when things are in session. Then you have some frame of reference when you are talking with your students.

Be really involved in that and demand a response.

You can go in and talk with teachers even if your kid is being successful. Maybe they stay up all night to make A’s and you need to talk about it.

Next PACE Meeting Thursday, May 25, 2017

May PACE Meeting
Thursday, May 25, 2017, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Buckeye Middle School
2950 Parsons Ave. Columbus, OH 43207

School Transitions

Elementary to Middle School, Middle to High School, on to higher education, even the transition from one year to the next, can be difficult for some students.  Please join us at this month’s meeting for guidance in helping your students navigate these changes.  Gifted professionals, school administrators, and counselors will share their tips for making these transitions.

Reminder – it is election time at PACE.  Next year’s officers will be elected at the May meeting.  Please contact PACE ( if you are interested in this opportunity!

March PACE Meeting Minutes

Primary election is May 1. April 3rd is the last day to register. October 10th is the last day to register to vote for fall elections.

If you are interested in running for PACE board you can email

March 31st is the last days for scholarship paperwork for summer programs.

Dominic Paretti from 2013, General Assembly

We have been able to adjust identification, develop the Gifted Academy. Continuing the facilities process is next, and working on an operating budget. In 2013 and 2014 we were very busy correcting the auditing in the district. Putting together the finance committee was an important part of being transparent and accountable. That allowed our superintendent and our district focus on Third grade reading guarantee and the things the district need to do. Raising the bar, enhancing wrap around services – nurses, social workers, ELL employees.

Ramona Reyes from 2009

First Hispanic member of the board.  Came from public school education in a migrant farming family. She was able to get a scholarship through Campbell’s Soup for The Ohio State University. Always advocated for having a voice.

Works for Nationwide Insurance, currently in human resources. Currently working with Our Lady of Guadalupe for wrap around services, expanding the food pantry to help Hispanic and other minority populations on the west side. About 26 schools buildings have been opened in her tenure on the school board. She has also been present for school closings. Every year we are growing by 200 to 300 students in schools. Competing with charter schools has led us to giving more options for school programs. We have the best preK in the city. We have increased participation in career tech. We offer 37 programs from arts to brick laying. We have tripled services for students identified as gifted by providing more gifted services. We are a model for special education in Ohio, as recognized by the state. I support staffing with the right, qualified, professionally developed teachers. We have more than 70% of our teachers with a Masters degree. I will put our teachers up against any other teachers.

Some of our challenges are being met by our collaboration with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide services to students that need it.

We need to continue conversations with our communities to ensure safety outside our schools.

Amy Harkins

Former secretary and Vice President of PACE and current school board candidate. A mother of a former Eclipse student. Currently teachers Junior Achievement and is a Reading Buddy. Created a program where adults came in to talk with middle schoolers about their careers. Wants to be on school board to give back to the community. After her son did not get into CAHS he chose to go to boarding school. She feels students should be able to get the education they need in their own community.

Erin Upchurch

Parent, social worker, and teacher at OSU. Her goal is for all students to have  access to quality and life giving education regardless of zip code, abilities, or learning style. With her daughter’s experiences in the Eclipse program she was able to gain confidence. Availability of gifted education opportunities is important. is the website if you want more information.

There is a donut hole for 9 and 10 in terms of gifted services. What should be done about that?

RR: For a schools to be successful it takes the whole school area. Not just teachers, not just kids, also parents and our community. We are currently looking at expansion of schools that work well. It takes space and money. We have to value every program, medicine, academics, etc. We are working to make programs better.

We have gifted kid sin every school. We have intelligent, bright students in every school. Do not close your door. Ask the people in charge what they are doing to make programming better.

DP: it’s not the school gaps, it’s the community gaps. Partnerships can be made by schools with corporations, non-profits, etc to get what we need. We need to be constantly asking what can we do better, what can we build?

Gifted and talented along with behavioral health.

AH: While the school is nice, the gifted programming is what is keeping our students identified as gifted in the district. I think we definitely need to look at replicating our successful schools.

Comment: Something to consider for special needs is keeping them in the same schools, not reassigning them frequently.

Question: I’m sure you saw the Supreme Court ruling for special needs. Will that affect our services?

DP: I want better tools to identify special needs. The federal government is changing rapidly and we are expanding to be in more contact with that. We are the highest achieving urban district in the state. We have always had representation through the big 8 schools. I want to make sure that we keep capitalizing on our successes.

RR: We are a model for special Ed. We have expanded our special Ed facilities and programming. We take it very seriously because we are growing. I think we have 7500 students identified as special needs. Becoming a model means you also have a say when you come to the table and make decisions. We have an eye to make sure that our performance stays strong.

Charter schools have come up a couple of times. What are we learning from parents choosing charters?

AH: I recently saw a documentary about charter schools where there was a lot of project based work. I don’t see why we wouldn’t try to learn from any innovative teaching.

RR: There is a very small number of successful charters in Ohio. We are always looking for the successes that other schools are doing. One of the issues of being the largest district in the state is that there are not necessarily many models to follow. We can’t duplicate every model but we have to see what fits. We listen to parents and work to get what they want. We haven’t been able to implement every desire but I think we do a pretty good job of seeing what works and what doesn’t. I challenge everything. I want to know, “if you build it will they come?” My job is to be listening and responding to what parents want.

I have no problem with charter schools as long as they follow the same regulations as any other school that is funded with taxpayers dollars.

Question: obviously you are in this for kids. What is your overall passion for running?

AH: my passion is behind our city. People want to live in the city limits, companies are investing. But our schools don’t necessarily meet the expectations. Sometimes you don’t feel like you are getting what you need.

RR: there are a lot of people that don’t want to run for the board when times are tough. Lots of people want to come up when times are good. You are a policy maker. You are making decisions about how you spend money, you make decisions about curriculum. You aren’t walking into the schools telling people what to do.

I don’t feel like the information about our success is getting through. We have 52,000 kids! Sure things are going to go through the cracks. But it takes a lot of work, it takes advocacy. This is a big job. Our budget is bigger than the city council.

Question: of course we need parent engagement in effective, impactful ways. How can we reach those parents?

RR: a few years ago I had the PTA president put together PTA in a box. Everybody could start a PTA with the information.

AH: if you want parents involved you have to talk about the childcare option. Meetings are not everyone’s cup of tea. Adding more fun things would help.

March PACE Meeting

March PACE Meeting
Thursday, March 23, 2017, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Wedgewood Middle School
3800 Briggs Rd., Columbus, OH 43228

Meet the School Board Candidates

An invitation has been extended to all Columbus City School Board candidates to join us at our meeting this month and most have accepted.  This will be a chance to hear from the candidates prior to the May 2nd open primary election.  The top six candidates from the primary will be in the November 7th general election.  Please join us and hear from the candidates about the issues that you consider to be important.

Next PACE Meeting Thursday, February 23, 2017

February PACE Meeting
Thursday, February 23, 2017, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center
Building 64/3rd Floor
250 Cleveland Ave. Columbus, OH 43215

Perfectionism and the Gifted Child

Mrs. Heather K. Clark, Director of Teaching and Learning at Northridge Local Schools, will be discussing social and emotional Issues facing gifted learners: Over-excitabilities, Asynchronous Development and Perfectionism.  Her session will also be an interactive time for parents to learn some effective tools to help their gifted child, and themselves, in this area.

Next PACE Meeting Thursday, January 26, 2017

January PACE Meeting
Thursday, January 26, 2017, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Berwick Alternative K-8 School
2655 Scottwood Rd. Columbus, OH 43209

Summer Enrichment Programs

Thinking about ways to keep your child engaged over the summer months?  We have reached out to these organizations to invite them to provide information about their summer programs: The Support for Talented Students, OAGC (Ohio Association for Gifted Children), OWLJ Camp (for middle schoolers at Ohio Wesleyan University), Direct Martin Essex School for the Gifted Summer Program at Otterbein University, Columbus College of Art and Design, COSI, The Columbus Zoo, CATCO Performing Arts Theater, Thurber House and The Ohio State University.  Join us to see what your child might be interested in.

Next PACE Meeting Thursday, December 1, 2016

December PACE Meeting
Thursday, December 1, 2016, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Eastmoor Academy
417 S. Weyant Ave. Columbus, OH 43213

Selective Admissions School Fair

Five Columbus City Schools are part of the Selective Admissions lottery program, which provides an opportunity for gifted and talented students to apply through a selective lottery.  Eastmoor Academy and Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS) are academic high school options.  For our gifted and talented arts students, there are opportunities on the high school (Fort Hays Arts and Academic High School), middle school (Arts Impact Middle School [AIMS]) and elementary (Duxberry Park Arts Impact) levels.  These schools, as well as Central Enrollment, will all have representatives at this meeting to help you plan and navigate the Columbus City Schools Selective Admissions process.