CHAT, which stands for Connect Help Advocate Talk, is an advocacy organization that was founded by parents of gifted students in Bozeman, Montana. It is a registered nonprofit corporation in the State of Montana with voting members, and a 501(c)(3) organization. Members may include parents of gifted learners, staff and/or educators of gifted learners, and interested community members. Please see the Downloads section of this website for CHAT's Articles & By-laws.
By working collaboratively with the Bozeman School District and other learning institutions in Southwest Montana, CHAT members seek to better understand the academic, social and emotional needs of gifted learners, and produce timely, effective action to meet these needs.
CHAT's vision conceives that all gifted learners through 12th grade in Bozeman and the surrounding area:
Are fully engaged, inspired, motivated, and appropriately challenged academically;
Interact with teachers and administrators that empower them to learn by process and appropriately-differentiated project-based learning; and
Are treated with empathy, understanding and support of their unique social and emotional needs by all people with whom they interact in the home, school and extracurricular environments.
Ultimately with this level of support and with the formation of meaningful interpersonal relationships, all gifted learners will strive for, and achieve, their potential.
We, as CHAT members, strive to accomplish our mission by:
Identifying and sharing resources to educate ourselves, students, teachers and administration on how best to meet the needs of gifted learners;
Encouraging professional development for all administration and staff, so they may accurately understand how best to support gifted students in the classroom;
Supporting consistent programming intervention from Pre-K through 12th grade that proactively meets the diverse needs of these students;
Fostering an accurate understanding of the experience of giftedness for these learners, as well as the broader community;
Advocating for the appropriate recognition and validation of these learners’ academic, social and emotional needs, so that supportive policies at the local, state, and national levels may be implemented;
Creating social opportunities for gifted learners to connect with similar peers;
Networking and partnering with other individuals and organizations who share a passion for supporting gifted learners; and
Raising funds for initiatives needed to support gifted learners in Bozeman and the surrounding area in Southwest Montana.
State funding for gifted education in Montana is limited. Currently, the state provides $250,000 to the Office of Public Instruction to be granted to school districts in support of gifted education. This translates into approximately $25 per gifted student for the year. Each district in the state can choose to apply for its share of the funds, but in order to receive the grant, the district has to commit matching funds from its general fund.
Some districts, particularly rural ones, do not apply for the grant at all. Other districts apply for the grant, and may or may not supplement the grant with additional funds from the general fund.
Overall, the big picture is that very little funding exists in Montana, whether at the state level or at the district level, for gifted education.
Two bills were introduced in the House during the 2017 legislative session (the sessions are every two years): HB 116, to increase funding for gifted education to $1.5 million per year, and HJ 1, to authorize a study to examine how the state might improve its funding structure for programs serving special education and gifted education students. HB 116 was tabled. HJ 1 was approved (a copy of the bill is in the Downloads section of this website), and the Education Interim Committee is determining how the study will be conducted (notes from their 1/22/18 meeting available in Downloads); the results of the study should be available prior to the 2019 session. Please note that CHAT's efforts in the legislative arena are limited to keeping members informed about legislative developments impacting gifted education and encouraging members to voice their perspectives. If you have an interest in helping with these efforts, please contact us.
Please let us know if you come across online or summer programs that are tailored to, or helpful for, gifted students; we would love to add to this list.
Books that CHAT members have found helpful include:
This is where we will post the full meeting schedule for the current (or upcoming) school year, as well as minutes from our past meetings, starting from March 2017. Please click on a file to download.
This is where we will post other documents that we think are useful to families. Please click on a file to download.
Check out the Meetings & Events section of our website and attend the next one