APU Hosts Local Youth for Seventh Annual G.A.T.E. Summer School Program

by Lauren Vroom '09

On June 24, Azusa Pacific University welcomed local youth to campus for the seventh annual Gifted and Talented Education (G.A.T.E.) summer school program. Students from third grade through high school were invited to participate in a five-week educational experience taught by selected Azusa Unified School District (AUSD) and APU faculty. Established in 2001 by Alice Watkins, Ph.D., former dean of APU’s School of Education, and then assistant superintendent of AUSD, the G.A.T.E. Program has flourished into the popular summertime enrichment destination for the Azusa community. Since the start of the program, enrollment has grown from 60 students to 260 in 2005, and has continued to bring in over 250 students each year since.

“Each year, I’m impressed with the students, teachers, parents, and their commitment to a quality education for all children in a diverse community,” said Maria Pacino, Ed.D., chair of the Department of Advanced Studies in Education and G.A.T.E. summer school coordinator. APU professors Scott Kinnes, Ph.D., and Adrien Lowery, Ph.D., taught high school science and English courses, while AUSD teachers, including 2005 Teacher of the Year Kelly Maynard, taught elementary and middle school classes.

“It is rare to see kids this excited about learning,” Maynard said. ”Coming to APU's campus sparks in them an anticipation of their future as a potential college student.”

Throughout the summer, high school students were able to participate in a variety of experiential field trips, including visits to the Intercommunity Hospital on July 1 and the Long Beach Marina boat experience, sponsored by the Azusa/Glendora Rotary club, on July 15. Middle and elementary school students took field trips for the first time in G.A.T.E. history, visiting the Jet Propulsion Lab at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena on July 9 and the Aviation Museum in Chino on July 10. The 2008 G.A.T.E. summer school program was another outstanding success, sending these bright students off with a zest for learning and hopefully, the beginnings of plans for their futures in college.