Caroline Daniel has worked at SIG Central for almost 3 years as its Academic Director and is the person who works most closely with all academic aspects of SIG. She has brought a great vision to SIG and we want to tell you more about her.
Caroline has worked in gifted education as a teacher, specialist, and district coordinator in the previous 15 years. She is a certified educator for K-8th grade in general, gifted and talented, and ESL education, as well as principal K-12. Caroline has earned a B.S. in Education; Master’s in Education Administration, and she is currently working toward a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. She lives in New York with her family, and in her spare time she enjoys leisure activities like DIY crafts and baking.
In the role of Academic Director for SIG, Caroline works to create an academic program that allows students to explore their passions and interests through intellectually challenging approaches that empower them to use their talents and special abilities to make a difference in the world. Students arrive at SIG with a wealth of knowledge, drive, and curiosity and yearn to make the world a better place. Caroline’s goal is to ensure that SIG’s academic programming allows them to pursue their imagination and talents and remove some of the barriers that youth so often experience in traditional educational settings.
A short-term and recurring goal that Caroline has is to create curriculum and courses that are relevant for each age group that guides students to become positive contributors and problem solvers for issues of the future. Long-term, she hopes to see students partner with professional mentors in various fields to engage in research that addresses problems we face across all disciplines. She states, “SIG students are natural problem solvers and what a better way to support them than to provide first-hand experiences with professionals in the field, or discipline experts who can offer inspiration to creating visionary futures.”
One thing that Caroline loves about SIG’s academic program is that it allows students to explore a topic from multiple disciplines and perspectives. An example she provided was, “if you take a course on Rare Earth Metals: Abundant Uses for ages 13-14, a student will not only gain a deep geological understanding, but also students will also become an expert on policy and economics as they understand how supply and demand influence the markets and how political influences hinder or aid supply chains.” Students become true experts on topics discussed in the course because they engage in learning that takes a 360 degree approach to the course objectives. Another thing she loves about SIG is that it challenges students to go beyond surface knowledge of a topic or a Google level of expertise to a level of engagement with real problems and solutions for the future. She believes that innovation and new ideas that change the world start with seeds of creative thought, questions, and imagination. SIG courses allow students to take the knowledge they gained from their studies and use it to create novel solutions.
When questioned what she would say to parents and teachers of children of high potential, she recommended encouraging creative thought through academic opportunities and authentic experiences. She elaborated, “You never know where and when ingenuity takes root and when it does, it opens up doors of opportunity for students to explore their talents.”
A tip she shared for teachers of gifted students is to be flexible with curriculum and instruction. She acknowledged that though it’s not the easiest thing to manage in mixed ability classrooms and when new standards are placed from year to year, gifted students deserve a learning environment that is open to their learning interests, acknowledges their prior knowledge, and challenges them beyond mainstream outcomes. She emphasized that it’s smart to start in small doses! “For example, apply the SCAMPER strategy to a product or add a preassessment to a lesson to see where gifted students should begin new learning. Each step toward a differentiated or personalized approach for gifted learners will allow them to showcase their talents and maximize their potential.
Caroline loves to receive feedback and input into our academic program at SIG and encourages all involved to let her know how we can continue to help our students engage in relevant and meaningful academic experiences.