Gifted & Talented


The district of Mahwah is committed to meeting the needs of our gifted learners, and has created an environment that addresses our student's unique learning styles. 

Identification begins in kindergarten through observations, Renzulli Rating Scales, student performance, and portfolios; however, the process is ongoing.  At the K-3 level we address the needs of gifted and talented children through differentiated instruction and by the gifted coordinator and media specialists "pushing-in." With the guidance and assistance of our gifted coordinator, teachers receive professional development and support in the classroom to meet the needs of identified students.  

At the 4–12 grade levels the special needs of gifted and talented children are addressed through a comprehensive differentiated program. All students in grades 4-12 are annually considered for inclusion into gifted programming.

Gifted programs are provided in three areas including:

As a district we believe in the importance of universal screening, and we use specific methods appropriate to each of the three program areas including placement tests, cognitive ability tests, creative thinking tests, extensive teacher evaluations through Renzulli Scales, and evaluation of student portfolios. We utlize the local norm data. Local norm comparisons also are consistent with the definition of giftedness first advanced in the influential U.S. Department of Education “National Excellence” report, which recommended identifying student abilities only in comparison “with others of their age, experience, or environment.”   The CogAT is administered to all students in the spring of grades 3 and 5, and we use local norms for proper identification. All assessements are aligned with program goals. Thus, a math assessment  and quantitative battery will be used to identify advanced math students. The identification process is ongoing to ensure we are always meeting the needs of our students. Final selection is made by a District-wide Selection Committee composed of classroom teachers, teachers of the gifted, special subject teachers, a Child Study Team member, and the Coordinator of Gifted and Talented Programs.



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Gifted Coordinator

Kelly De Bello

Mrs. De Bello has worked in the education field for 20 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Secondary Education from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. In 2004, she earned a Master's degree in Educational Leadership, Planning and Policy with a specialty in gifted education from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education. She has previously taught students in both private and public school settings, ranging from grade 6 to post-graduate. For 6 years, Mrs. De Bello worked as an educational adviser for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program, where she helped high-achieving students nationwide meet the Foundation's mission to reach their full potential through education (see In her current position as Gifted Coordinator for Mahwah Township Public Schools, she serves students in K-3 and at the middle school level, helping them access their high potential through various challenging learning opportunities through the school year.

About Me - Maureen Schaffner

I have spent my entire career at Joyce Kilmer School where I have been the Accelerated Math teacher for many years, and I am excited to add on the role of Gifted and Talented Teacher for grades 4 and 5.  I attended Seton Hall University as an undergraduate and received my degree in Elementary Education.  My graduate studies were at Montclair State University where I received my Master's Degree in Mathematics with an Education Concentration.  I love to see students excited about and engaged in their learning, and I look forward to those "a-ha" moments when students make new connections and strengthen their understanding.