High Profile

Every Child Has a Gift

Gifted University helps youngsters explore their talents

Imagine a state-of-the-art facility that offers a space for children to learn a variety of extracurricular activities right in their own community. Gifted University provides just that — and more. This learning center gives its students the means to explore and cultivate their individual talents, gifts and interests, while also offering classes, open play and other activities for children as young as 6 months old.

071714highpro5Igniting your children’s passion for learning can be a daunting task when hauling them around town to lessons or practices, sometimes missing out on a specific activity because it isn’t in your immediate area. Gifted University aims to change that status quo.

Co-founders and husband-and-wife superduo Joe and Shelly Webster brainstormed the idea of such a place when their oldest daughter was interested in dance, Spanish and piano. Once they crunched the numbers — and factored in drive time from lesson to lesson — they realized the astronomical cost, both of time and money, and the logistical nightmare of schedules and trips.

“We really wanted to have one location where everything [was] right there,” Shelly said. “When we realized how much this would help our family as well as other families, it really put a flame under us to get going on this.”

So the two compiled a board composed of educators, curriculum writers, parents and pediatricians, and breathed life into Gifted University. Aligning with public schools in the area, Gifted University complements what students are learning by offering additional enrichment classes in a supportive, engaging and exciting environment, where they can feel confident in their individuality and their gifts.

071714highpro3“We believe that every child has a gift,” Shelly said. “Everybody has something that they do very well. Sometimes it comes naturally, and sometimes they explore and realize they really love it. We wanted to create an environment where kids can explore their natural talents and gifts. It would be amazing if they could all do things that they’re gifted in and love to do. We really want parents to embrace that and to support their children while they discover their gifts and develop their gifts with confidence.”

Gifted University’s programs cover a broad spectrum of topics that include music, dance, art, sports, foreign language, STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — courses, tutoring, academic enrichment classes and early education classes, all taught by esteemed teachers, professionals and industry giants who are bringing in a wealth of experience to the center.

“Our instructors’ backgrounds and areas of expertise is one of the very special things about Gifted University,” Joe said. “At one time, the only way we parents would have had access to talent of this caliber would’ve been to read about it in magazines or see them perform at a concert, but instead we get to work with them daily and watch them share their gifts with our students.”

These teachers, who all undergo a nationwide background and criminal history check, and are CPR-certified, include an instructor with a Ph.D. in physics, dancers, engineers, touring musicians and other experts.

In addition to after-school classes, Gifted University is fostering imaginative family time from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., offering early educational programs and activities. Giftedville is a little city at the university that features a bakery, fire station and other themed areas for imaginative, open play. Parent-and-me classes, such as art classes with finger-painting, dance classes with creative movement, and more, are also offered.

“We’re really passionate about learning, passionate about kids loving education, and passionate about every child discovering their gifts and embracing those gifts,” Shelly said. “Once you have kids, you begin to notice, ‘Wow, my kid really does this well, and they really love it,’ and you see their joy when they do it. As parents, you really understand how gifted kids are, especially when they’re young, and how that can change as they get older if they’re not allowed to really explore that. So we want kids to explore their gifts in a fun, exciting, safe and supportive environment. The community support and response has been amazing! A lot of parents are already preregistering.”

071714highpro2Gifted University’s individualized programs are designed to fit a family’s budget and schedule. They are all customizable, so parents have the option of introducing children to multiple disciplines all at once. Class start dates and times coincide with the school year, and registration is open.

Gifted University is located in Suite 200 at 13848 Tilden Road in Winter Garden. For more information or to sign up for after-school extracurricular activities, call 407-877-4438, email thegifted@gifteduniversity.org or visit http://www.gifteduniversity.org on the Web. You also can join the mailing lists and receive complimentary passes to Giftedville, exclusive savings codes and event invitations.