Stephanie O'Brien

Dear Parents and Incoming 6th Grade Gifted Students,

We are excited to welcome you and your child to the Apogee  gifted program at Ladue Middle School. This page will give you some information about our gifted program. Please contact us if you have any further questions.

The Middle School Gifted program is called Apogee, and is taught by Donna Bancroft,  Kathleen Mercury and Stephanie O'Brien. If your child is currently in Idea Lab, s/he automatically qualify for Apogee. (If you have any questions about identification for the gifted program, email Brooke Bilby, the Gifted Program Coordinator, at

Our program, like Idea Lab, takes a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching essential skills. Apogee students are assessed on knowledge development, communication,
product development, technology usage, intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, and thinking skills.

Apogee is a scheduled class that meets every day at the same time.  Literature is embedded into our 6th grade Apogee program.  

Our main units of study

Who Am I, a personal investigation into each child's strengths and skills, complemented by reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

The Hero's Journey, an in-depth study of the monomyth archetype across art forms and cultures

Me & My Brain, a study of the brain's structures, functions, and changes during adolescence that can help students understand their sense of self

Monstersa study of monsters and the symbolic use of monsters throughout history and popular culture.

Crime Scene Investigation
In this unit, students will discover how science is used to solve crimes through hands-on activities. Students will learn about DNA comparison, shoe prints, chromatography, arson investigation, fingerprinting, and other methods used in crime scene investigation. This unit combines the excitement of solving a mystery with careful experimentation, logical thinking, and real-life connections to forensic science. At the culmination of the unit, students will use their critical thinking skills to find out who committed a "crime" at LMS. To crack the case, students examine evidence left at the scene, interview suspects (staff members), and use critical thinking to connect all of the clues and eliminate suspects.

Work time for projects is included in class as much as possible. Homework is given as needed to finish projects and complete readings.  Student work will be assessed using the Apogee Assessment Tool in addition to specific criteria for each unit.

In addition to the class, we want to be an advocate for your child, and provide resources for you and your child as you make the transition to middle school. We provide periodic Parent Support Meetings that allow parents to learn more about the needs of gifted children while networking with other parents of gifted children. These meetings occur once a quarter. At each meeting, we present a topic of relevance to our gifted parents reflecting current research about issues related to gifted children.

Feel free to take a look at our other pages on this site to see what else we're doing.  We're passionate about working with gifted kids and we love to share what we do!


Donna Matthews (
Stephanie O'Brien (
Kathleen Mercury (
Teachers of the Gifted
Ladue Middle School