I allowed my youngest son to start taking college classes when he was only 11 years old because there was no other place that could offer him the academic challenge he craved. But I wouldn't want another mother to experience the agony and worry that I lived through when I made that decision. I wanted to allow these bright children to find the challenge they craved in classes that they could take with other children close to their age
The Birth of HEROES
Rita Voit founded HEROES in 2007 but her passion for serving gifted children began decades earlier. As the mother of three profoundly gifted children she knew that although each child had different interests they all needed to find ways to connect with peers who shared similar interests and passions. What started as typical ‘Involved Mom” activities -- playgroup organizer, homeroom mom, Girl Scout leader, PTA volunteer, book club creator, day camp program director and elected school board member, grew into something much bigger.
In 2007 Ms Voit hosted her first social event exclusively for members of Johns Hopkins University’s Study of Exceptional Talent (“SET”) and Davidsons Young Scholars (“DYS”). This simple pot luck dinner was followed by other social programs— game nights, movie nights, pizza after public lectures, rock climbing, outdoor laser lag and pool parties for up to 700 people. For many children, these events provided their first opportunity to meet other kids their age who shared similar interests.
Q's First Day of College
HEROES Launches the Writing Talent Search
Students participated in the Writing Talent Search by writing an essay which was graded by instructors from the Writing Department at Rutgers University - New Brunswick.
For the qualifying round, participating students received a writing assignment designed by Associate Director of Rutgers Writing Department, Michael Goller according to the guidelines for the first writing assignment given to students enrolled in Expository Writing (355:101). After receiving the writing assignment, students had two weeks to submit their essays through the HEROES web-site. Essays were graded according to a grading rubic modeled after the one used for freshman composition. Students receive a grade as well as comments from the graders.
Finalists selected from the qualifying round competed for four scholarships during a proctored final round held at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. All finalists and semi-finalists were invited to the awards program where they were recognized with medals, certificates and letters of commendation and received information about educational opportunities.
In conjunction with the Academic Talent Search, HEROES awarded three scholarships totaling $1,600 which may be used to take a course at any accredited university or participate in a program offered by an educational organization dedicated to serving the academically gifted. Rutgers University's Summer Session awarded one $500 scholarship which may be used to take a Summer Session course at Rutgers University - New Brunsiwick.
HEROES Launches the Academic Talent Search
Students participated in the Academic Talent Search by taking the SAT before their 16th birthday. Qualified students were invited to an awards program in September at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. At the awards program they were recognized for their outstanding academic achievement with medals, certificates, letters of commendation and received information about educational opportunities.
In conjunction with the Academic Talent Search, HEROES awarded four scholarships worth $500 each which may be used to take a course at any accredited university or participate in a program offered by an educational organization dedicated to serving the academically gifted. Rutgers University's Office of Continuing Studies also awarded one $1,200 scholarship which may be used to take a course at Rutgers University - New Brunswick.
Grand Opening - HEROES Academy
After spending years trying to open a school for the gifted with public funds or grant funding, Ms Voit concluded that the only way that New Jersey would have a school exclusively for gifted students was to choose between owning a home or building a school. So in October 2013, Ms Voit moved into a friend’s basement and opened the HEROES Academy for the Gifted in New Brunswick with her daughter Danielle.
Drawing upon connections built over almost two decades of volunteer work, Ms Voit recruited instructors and researchers from Rutgers University to teach. Driven by a passionate commitment to build a school that would nurture children's natural creativity and thirst for knowledge, HEROES Academy offers children an opportunity to explore exciting topics that are normally denied them due to their age.
HEROES understands the special requirements of the gifted both as scholars and children. HEROES programs are designed from the perspective of a mother who constantly asks herself “What would I have wanted for my children? What type of school do I want for my grandchildren?” HEROES provides an inclusive, nurturing, community where students are placed in mixed age groups according to demonstrated ability rather than age.