Tallwood is proud to have over 250 students who have been identified as gifted because of their high intellectual or artistic capabilities. The THS Gifted Program offers gifted and talented students a wide variety of wonderful choices. Academically challenging classes, independent study, exciting music and theatre opportunities, and superior visual art experiences are just some of the many possibilities for students.

Mrs. Walker's Gifted Blog
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For more information about the VBCPS Gifted Program:

Gifted Courses at Tallwood High School

Gifted Cluster Classes:

Gifted resource teachers in each comprehensive high school serve as teachers and advocates for gifted learners. At grades 9-10, gifted learners are clustered (scheduling permitted) in order to provide some time in their academic schedule to work with their intellectual peers. The gifted resource teacher in each school collaborates with the regular education teachers to differentiate curriculum and instruction to meet the cognitive and affective needs all students in the cluster classroom. Regular education teachers with a cluster of gifted students in one or more class sections are considered to be a cluster teacher.
Mrs. Walker collaborates with all cluster teachers to develop specific units and lessons that provide creative, rigorous, and challenging instruction necessary to stimulate high-level thinking skills. The gifted resource teacher works with cluster classroom teachers on a continuing basis to introduce and use gifted instructional strategies, plan and implement differentiated curriculum, instruction, and assessments, and provide an understanding of the unique need of gifted students. Tallwood HS offers two mind expanding semester credit courses for gifted students during Blocks 3A and 3B.

SPARKS and Think Tank:

Every unit of SPARKS and Think Tank is designed to provide opportunities for gifted high school students to advance their critical reading and thinking skills as they listen, question, explore, cooperate, solve problems, and conduct discussions. Lessons support maximum student participation and encourage students to listen and speak to one another rather than directing everything through the teacher. The structure of the lessons fosters independent learning. The learning experience is differentiated in order to appropriately challenge and optimize learning opportunities for all students. This is accomplished by means of a natural exchange among students utilizing whole class and small group discussions as well as individual thinking and writing assignments. To register for one of these unique semester credit classes, see your Guidance Counselor or Mrs. Walker.

Both SPARKS and Think Tank classes are each worth ½ Elective Credit and are facilitated by Mrs. Walker and meet in the Gifted Resource Room in the LMC. NEW this year, these classes will be taught in an online blended format.  Both of these specially designed courses provide students with critical reading and thinking skills that will help students make the most of their high school experience and remain with them when they enter college. SPARKS is available to students in Grades 11 and 12 and is offered Semester 1 during Block 3A. Think Tank is open to students in Grades 9 and 10 and is offered Semester 2 during Block 3A. For more information contact Mrs. Walker @

Governor's School for the Arts – NORFOLK

Students in Grades 9 -11 are invited to audition for the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk. Held concurrently with our school year, participants come to PAHS for three blocks and then ride the GSA bus to Norfolk for their specialized studies in Dance, Instrumental Music, Musical Theatre, Theatre, Visual Arts, or Vocal Music Application for audition forms are available in the Library. For more information visit the Governor's School website at or see Mrs. Walker.

Governor's Summer Program

Gifted and talented students have the opportunity to attend one of the Summer Residential Governor's Schools hosted by the Virginia State Department of Education. Four and five week immersions in visual and performing arts, humanities, foreign languages, mathematics, science, and technology as well as mentorship opportunities in engineering, marine science, and medicine are offered at college and university campuses across the state. Applications for these programs are available in October.

One of the most important aspects of the Summer Residential Governor’s Schools programs is the opportunity for participants to live, study, and get to know other students with similar interests and abilities from across Virginia.  Both co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are designed to encourage students’ interests and abilities. Recreation and free time are provided outside of the academic environment enabling students to enjoy what may be their first summer living away from home. For more information on Summer Residential Governor’s Schools, visit the SRGS website or see Mrs. Walker.

The Gifted Resource Office

The Gifted Office is located in the Library Media Center, next to the checkout desk. There are computer programs to help students prepare for the SAT/PSAT, Calculus, and Chemistry as well as a Gifted Resource Library stocked with books about colleges, scholarship opportunities, and other information that is helpful to both gifted students and their parents. Students are encouraged to visit anytime during their Lunch or Study Block with a Yellow Gifted Pass or permission from the classroom teacher.  Planning for college, need help with a resume, college or scholarship application or course selection? Please see Mrs. Walker for your yearly pass to a place designed for YOU.

Gifted Identification

If you were identified gifted in elementary school or middle school, you are part of the Gifted Program in high school. The Gifted Program includes students identified as gifted in general intellectual aptitude as well as students with exceptional talent in music, dance, art, or theater. Please take a moment to drop by the LMC during your Study Block or on your way to lunch and meet Mrs. Walker. A warm welcome awaits you.

The Referral Process

If you have yet to be identified and are interested in the process, please stop by the LMC and talk with Mrs. Walker. A teacher, a parent/guardian, a peer, the student support team, or any person who has knowledge of a student’s abilities may initiate a referral. The Eligibility/Placement Committee reviews parent and teacher recommendations and observations, test scores, and other information tol assist them with eligibility decisions. Confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

Our Gifted Resource Teacher: Mrs. Lisa A. Walker, M.A.

Mrs. Lisa Walker received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from the University of Rhode Island, magna cum laude and her Master's in English Literature from The Pennsylvania State University, cum laude, where she was a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of English.  While at PSU, she taught English Composition, Developmental Writing, Business and Technical Writing and Adult Education. Moving to Virginia Beach with her Naval Flight Officer husband Robert in 1984, she worked as an Adjunct Instructor of English and a Cooperating Teacher for Secondary Education at Virginia Wesleyan College until 1999.

In 1994, Mrs. Walker became Tallwood High School’s first full-time Gifted Resource Teacher (GRT), and received her Gifted Education Endorsement from the University of Virginia in 1996. She was awarded the 2002-03 VBCPS Outstanding Gifted Teacher of the Year Award as well as the 2002-03 Region II Outstanding Gifted Teacher of the Year Award.  A local, national and international presenter, she is a dedicated gifted education advocate. She is the proud mother of two grown sons, Andrew and Ethan and two grandsons, Liam and Enda. Her hobbies are reading, gardening and classical choral singing.  Please contact her at with any questions or concerns.