Building a Dream: Microschool for the Gifted

We have some exciting news that we’d like to share with you! Ms. Rita Voit and I have dreamt of opening a full day school program for gifted students for decades, and we’re finally ready to invite students to attend our microschool for the 2023 – 2024 Academic Year!

A little history

My younger brother was a profoundly gifted child.  He struggled in school; he simply couldn’t tolerate the boredom he experienced in school each day, and he didn’t see why he needed to “prove” what he knew to his teachers.  He was moved from one Kindergarten class to another, and he almost failed second grade.  He hated school. Despite accomodations which allowed him to attend math class with the 6th grade accelerated math students in 3rd grade and  options to study independently in the library, he was miserable.  


When he was about 9 years old, he decided that he wanted to go to college; he felt like this would solve all of his problems.  Our mom reasoned with him; if he wanted to go to college, he’d have to take the SAT and find a way to satisfy the high-school requirements that every other applicant had.  He took this to heart, and he studied for the SAT and took three SAT IIs as an alternative to a high school diploma.  He’d met her challenge, and to him, that meant he could “go to college.”


It wasn’t that simple though.  There’s no “normal” route to enrolling an 11-year old child at college, and the notion itself came with its own challenges and concerns.  But, by that point, he was skipping school, preferring to spend the day hiding in the utility room than to go to school.  When he made it to school, he was skipping class and trying (and sometimes succeeding) at leaving the building.   He made it clear that no one could force him to go to school, and if he was forced to go to school, he was going to make it difficult for everyone in the building while he was there.  


He wasn’t going to make it through school.  The school wasn’t able to provide him with the acceleration he needed, and he wasn’t making friends in school either.  At the time, going to college was the “best” and only option for him to study at a level suitable for him, and he desperately needed that challenge.  


Sending a child to college at 11 years old sounds impressive, but the reality is far from that.  College isn’t designed for an 11 year old child.  He was in class with students twice his age.  He thrived academically; he loved the challenge, he formed strong bonds with his professors, and he was generally happy.  He originally enrolled in a geography class during Rutgers condensed winter session; the subject matter wasn’t exactly his cup-of-tea, but the professor was willing to have him in her class.  On his first day, he met a statistics professor that invited him to sit in on his class. He was able to apply for credit at the end of the semester.  He earned As in both classes he took.


After that, it became even more clear he couldn’t go back to public school, and he didn’t.  He completed his education through a combination of homeschooling, online classes, and classes at Rutgers University.  

Starting college at 11 was the best option for him at that time, but we wanted to create a better option.

We started HEROES in 2007 to find other kids like him — to find a friend for him – and to connect with other families with profoundly gifted children.  There had to be someone else out there with a kid like him, and there was. 

He wasn’t the only child who needed something more.  As HEROES grew, it became very clear that these children we met needed something that didn’t exist — a school in which they could learn and grow at a pace suitable for them, that understood the challenges that come with being gifted, and that connected them with like-minded peers.  

 Rutgers University sponsored an annual conference each year for our students, we ran several scholarship programs and talent searches, and we facilitated a variety of social programs for hundreds of gifted children and their families.  While my younger brother inspired HEROES, every gifted child I’ve met and worked with has continued to inspire and motivate me every day.  

Over the years, we explored several different ways to open our dream school; however, NJ charter school laws make it impossible to restrict admission to gifted and talented students as enrollment in charter schools must be based on a lottery system.  More than fifteen years ago, we had an offer from Rutgers University to open a school for our students; however, that opportunity came and went as administration at Rutgers University changed.  In 2013, we made the big leap to open HEROES Academy, offering primarily weekend programming to gifted and talented students.  

Opening HEROES Academy in New Brunswick was a big step towards our ultimate dream; we haven’t lost sight of that original dream.  We’ve spent the last ten years refining our curriculum and building HEROES.  We knew that our dream school couldn’t exist in our original location in New Brunswick.  Moving to Monroe Twp. was the last significant step necessary to proceed with a more comprehensive program — a program that would replace the Monday through Friday public or private school that most of our students are also enrolled in — a school that would allow our students to learn at a pace and place appropriate for them for all of their subjects all of the time.   

With the complications of COVID-19, we continued to hold off on opening our microschool dreams, but we’re now happy to announce that we’re ready to invite students to join us for the 2023 – 2024 Academic Year as full-time students in HEROES Academy’s Microschool for Gifted and Talented Students.

What is the HEROES Academy microschool?

A microschool is a reinvention of the one room schoolhouse model with mixed age classes, typically catering to students with specific needs or families with shared values. Because of their small size, microschools offer more flexibility for an individual student’s needs. 

The HEROES Microschool for Gifted and Talented Students is specifically for gifted and high ability students.  At HEROES Academy, we focus on developing logic, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills through a rigorous curriculum designed specifically for gifted students. 

We are accepting a maximum of 8 students for this program.  Students will receive a combination of private and small group instruction for math, reading and writing, work collaboratively for engineering, history, and social sciences, and join together across all abilities for academically focused games and social activities.

Our school program will meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 AM to 3 PM.  

Who is the HEROES Microschool for?

The HEROES Microschool is a perfect fit for gifted and talented students who want to challenge themselves academically and build relationships with like-minded peers.  We are accepting applications from gifted and talented students ages 6 to 10.  Our microschool will grow with our students, offering higher level classes and programs as our initial class of students grows and learns.  

My child won’t be 6 until later in the fall, can they still apply?

Yes!  Students can begin the application process at five years old and matriculate into the program after their 6th birthday, making this a fantastic option for students who just missed the Kindergarten cut-off, completed Kindergarten at a private school, and are unable to continue on with 1st grade in their local public school due to school policy.

My child is enrolled in HEROES Academy’s weekend programs.  Do they still need to fill out an application? 

Yes.  All students must submit an application; however, currently enrolled weekend students do not need to complete an academic evaluation as part of their application.  Priority will be given to current HEROES students; we are accepting applications from our current students starting now, and we’ll review those applications as they come in.  We’ll start reviewing applications from the public on December 1st.  

What’s happening to the weekend classes?

Nothing! Our accelerated math and language arts classes on the weekend are here to stay!


Interested? Click here to start the application process.  

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