Dr. Jillian Gates came to Alaska for adventure and wound up teaching some of the state’s brightest young minds.


KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week educates fourth- and fifth-graders in the highly gifted program at Rogers Park Elementary School in Anchorage.


Typically, Gates says, bookwork and academics come easy for her kids.


“My real focus is how do you work together? Because when you’re a highly gifted child often you believe that your idea is the best idea and when you’re in a room of highly gifted children, there are lots of good ideas,” Gates said.


Those ideas are eventually brought to life in her project-based classroom.


“It’s definitely more fun at school to do projects like this instead of just opening a textbook,” said student Bryce Lybarger.


There are no textbooks or homework in Dr. Gates’ class. Instead, students are given a specific amount of time to finish a project.


Overall, Gates credits her interaction with students as the key to her success.


“I really try to get to know them as fast as I can and as deeply as I can and then we go from there — we figure out together what works for them, where they need to grow, where I need to stretch them, where I can give them an opportunity to shine,” Gates explained.


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