For many years, Ricks was a very special place, but right now I would think carefully before moving there. They are now searching for their fifth director in four years, having just lost a good one. There are still some very good teachers there, but things are changing rapidly, and not for the better. Think carefully and talk to current parents before signing your kids up.
Giftedness is not about doing more for the sake of more; so, the sudden increase in homework of two hours each night and 3-6 hours on the weekends was pointless to us for our 10yo. We worked closely with the tutor to first determine the objective of the assignments, and (with our kiddo's learning curves in mind) tailor the assignments to reach the objective(s). Doing four pages of timed division is meaningless; doing four problems of division to find patterns that can be repeated while understanding each step is priceless.
On one occasion, my kiddo was punished for bullying. As the story unfolded, it came out that he had been caught defending himself. A teacher spotted his actions AFTER the bully made the first offense. My kiddo was presumed guilty. No apology came from the teacher for being wrong or the student for their actions.
My kiddo being presumed guilty was a common occurrence. Even when the administrators confirmed that the problem child had issues, they did nothing to mitigate the bully's behavior.
This fostered a stunted development in trust.
I feel, from our experience, that in some ways, disrespect and continued bullying received a lot more attention which seemed to continually feed and foster its existence. On the flip side, these experiences forced our kiddo to be more discerning about the people he wanted to call (and continues to call) friends.
The administrators and instructors who keep up with the emerging research on giftedness are priceless; they are integral to the growth and evolution of Ricks as a true Center for the G&T. The individuals who do the same things now that they did even 5 years ago do a great disservice to the students. And the ones who blatantly ignore IEPs and suggestions put forth by psychologists who specialize in giftedness should be given an early retirement.
5 stars for K-2nd; 1 star for 3rd and 4th. Kindergarten through 2nd were exceptionally meaningful years. The teachers and staff were supportive of common quirks related to our kiddo. There were many parent/administration sponsored events addressing the different types and intensities of types of giftedness as well as related challenges. We were exposed to resources and met other families who had similar issues. We were understood and we could relate.
With that alone, I give Ricks 5 stars, but our 3rd and 4th years were emotionally stressful; some related to our child's development but mostly stemming from the teacher's seeming inability to accept emerging research on the giftedness.
While the school is geared for the gifted child, they do not support (read: understaffed with appropriately trained educators) the myriad of issues that may be intricately enmeshed with giftedness. Sensory issues were not tolerated; dyslexia was dismissed as not real, and our kiddo's heightened emotional awareness was relayed to us, in a round about conversation, as a condition that needed medication.
We were made to feel that the problem was easily resolved by studying more, by more discipline, by more therapy, and try medication. We were even told to test for ADHD, which we already did twice. Our child does not have ADHD.
To complement/mitigate the deteriorating classroom experience, we consulted weekly with a tutor and a psychologist; and, we frequently met with the lead teacher and administrators. Each time, we communicated the tutor's and the psychologist's contact information to teacher and administrator so that teacher could consult directly with our "team." Never once did either of our support people receive a call or an email from the lead teacher. Never. A direct order in our child's IEP was violated. While the mission statement is beautiful and meaningful and forward thinking, our classroom experience was a throwback to an archaic approach to giftedness. I encourage researching this school, but before you begin, be realistic about how you will support outside of school. If your child has dyslexia, you will need outside support; Ricks does not offer it. If you have an IEP, sensory issues, or anything else that needs support inside the classroom, visit issues frequently with the teachers and administrators. Best of luck to you.
We love this school and believe its philosophy is phenomenal for gifted kids. We have only been in the early childhood preschool-Kindergarten, but our kids are both so excited to go to school every single day. We can truly say that this school and its "gifted" expertise has changed the course of our lives. In our experience, gifted kids are often overlooked but most affected by traditional school practices. What's best about this school is the incredible emotional and social guidance in regards to gifted kids that the staff provides. They are helping these children build incredible inner resources (that they will need!) to succeed in the "regular" world. The daily guidance provided by the preK and Kindergarten teachers for students is worth every penny. Our kids are learning to overcome their perfectionistic tendencies, be more flexible, etc and all staff guidance is tailored especially to every kids strengths/weaknesses. We are thankful that a school like this exists...for all the kids and parents for whom being gifted was always viewed as more of a curse. Thank you to all the dedicated staff at Ricks.
We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to send our child to the Ricks Center. For him to be with "like-minded" peers has made such a difference in his growth socially this year. His teachers have been phenomenal, and being on campus of DU is icing on the cake. When we talk about our school experience and what our child is learning and experiencing, people can't even believe it. It is truly a special place. There are many good private schools in Denver, but for us, none of them could compare with the whole package that the Ricks Center offers!
Ricks is the best school ever! This is not a school for people who want to stress their children with an overload of rote learning and old school teaching methods. The children learn through experimenting, exploring and thinking creatively to solve problems. If you want your child to be surrounded by other gifted learners and grow in a safe environment, then Ricks will be the perfect home for your family! We absolutely love it!!!!