Field Trip: Schilling School nurtures gifted students from the Tri-State and the world

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The students pored over a single frame in their film analysis class, making dozens of observations about the mood it conveyed, the care that the filmmakers put into creating a well-worn toy chest, the pragmatic need to add a light source within it in order to see the actor peering out.

The class was nothing out of the ordinary for high school students taking an elective, perhaps watching the title character in "Citizen Kane" recall his beloved sled. But these students were fifth through eighth graders in a class entitled Pixar Film Analysis breaking down the opening montage of "Toy Story III."

The children attend Schilling School for Gifted Children, a 17-year-old, K-12 charter school whose only hard and fast prerequisite for admission is an IQ of 130 or higher. Just 2 percent of Americans are estimated to have IQs in that range, putting the students in rare company. Just 54 are enrolled this year kindergarten through high school, with an annual tuition of $14,250.

Sandra Kelly-Schilling created the school in 1997 for three very personal reasons: her three gifted sons. Despite the best efforts of the public school district in which they started their educations, the boys weren't being challenged enough, Kelly-Schilling decided.

"We just needed a more radical acceleration," she said.

All that was left to do was make a school from scratch. 

Insiders can read how Kelly-Schilling crafted the school and how its students fare.

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