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Learn more about Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy by visiting their website

What comes to mind when you hear the term “highly gifted student?”

If you imagine a young scholar blessed with exceptional abilities, then you are largely correct.

Representing only 2% of the population, highly gifted individuals come from all socio-economic groups, backgrounds, and cultures – and they also come with unique social, emotional and intellectual needs.

Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy was chartered to nurture this community of non-traditional learners. Established in 2000 as a public, non-profit charter school, Scholars Academy opened its doors with 60 students and today has grown to serve nearly 400 gifted scholars on a campus in south Charlotte.

The student experience is aligned with the Scholars’ core values, which include respect, diversity, collaboration, creativity and innovation. Classes range from kindergarten to 8th grade.

“I love being here because I know I can do what’s right for students,” Karen Ely, Scholars Academy’s Student Services Director, said of her experience at the school. “As an educator, I have to be free to be able to do that.”

The Curriculum

The Scholars instructional strategy implements research-based gifted educational practices. Highly gifted students learn differently, and benefit not only from an accelerated curriculum, but also the time and flexibility to dive deeper into material.

Scholars Academy encourages students to be challenged, to display intellectual agility and to exercise a level of critical thinking that ensures active participation in the learning process, all in partnership with their peers. The school observes state standards and testing expectations, but within the school, students are measured against their own growth as an indicator of success.

Social and emotional learning is also a priority, which helps gifted students develop empathy, communication skills, self-awareness and flexibility. Educators at the Scholars call it the “whole child” approach, which is a major part of the school’s mission.

Jaclyn D’Andrea, a first-grade teacher at the Scholars Academy, said homework is designed to be “exploratory,” not punitive or repetitive. A first-grade homework assignment, she said, might be as simple as going to a baseball game and writing about the experience.

Organic learning is critical, she said, because highly gifted students often need to make linear connections between the “what and why.”

D’Andrea said her goal is to make learning “purpose-driven, fun and memorable.”

“I had to spend more time understanding student needs and meeting them where they are,” she said of her transition to Scholars..

Although a particular student may be deemed gifted, D’Andrea said, it does not mean that that student is generally gifted in all subjects.

Report cards, she said, are more narrative in tone, written to emphasize each student’s strengths as well as areas of struggle.

“ I love my job,” D’Andrea said. “My professional development goal is to be here for the next 60 years.”

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are top-of-mind at Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy. To ensure that the school develops a curriculum that is inclusive of the students and families it serves, Scholars addresses DEI in multiple ways, said Dominique Palmer, a member of Scholars Academy’s volunteer Board of Directors who chairs the school’s DEI Committee.

Scholars intentionally teaches inclusive history, emphasizing both modern and historic figures. In addition to diverse classroom curriculum, efforts include bulletin boards to reflect and share the school’s ethnic and racial diversity.

“I want students to be comfortable in the skin that they are in,” Palmer said.

Efforts are also made to connect families through shared experiences. Annually around Veteran’s Day, for example, past and present families and staff can place pictures of loved ones who made a mark through military service in their respective country on a tribute board.


Prospective students are identified by a comprehensive process that includes cognitive testing. Selection is by lottery if the number of qualified applicants exceeds available space.  

For more information on the enrollment process, visit the Scholars Academy website or email admissions@scholarsacademy.org​​​​​​​.

The application period for the 2023-2024 school year is now open. Deadlines to submit an application are as follows:

  • Friday, January 13, 2023, for group test applicants
  • Friday, February 17, 2023, for those applying with private psychological testing

Group Test Dates

There will be two free group test opportunities offered at Scholars Academy.  Prospective students who have applied to take the group test will be scheduled for one of the following dates:

  • Saturday, January 21, 2023
  • Saturday, February 4, 2023

To Learn more about Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, please click here

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