Genius-in-Residence Program



A few times per year, we invite an expert to spend time with our students talking about — and, critically, working in — their area of expertise.  A Genius-in-Residence’s time at Grayson is an extended hands-on encounter that provides our students an exceptional opportunity to learn from people who are not only knowledgeable about, but, in fact, leaders in their fields.  

At Grayson, a Genius-in-Residence is not simply a speaker at a special assembly or a “career day” presentation (though we do those, too!).  Rather, students spend time interacting with a specialist, doing activities related to their area of expertise.  The Genius-in-Residence may spend part of a day to several days working with our students, and is an important part of the fabric of the school community during their time with us.  It is this intentional dedication of time and attention to the practitioner which distinguishes this program from other speakers who may visit during the school year.  

Why have a Genius-in-Residence program at Grayson?

The Genius-in-Residence program is designed to directly address several things we know about gifted children and how they like to learn.

First, as we know, gifted students love to be able to do a “deep dive” into a subject — often, their passion for a topic can engage them to pursue it to an almost expert level.  By putting a student in conversation with an adult who not only takes their interest seriously but also shares that passion, the student is validated at a fundamental level: the message is, “What you think is interesting, I think is interesting, too; in fact, it’s so fascinating, it’s what I do with my brain all day long.”  Even if a gifted student does not share precisely that same passion, it is nonetheless both inspiring and instructive for them to see how adults who embrace their own curiosity can make their intellectual pursuits and skills into a career and, indeed, into their life’s work.  

Moreover, in addition to project- and passion-based learning opportunities, best practices in gifted education also include chances to engage in authentic practice with a genuine professional, using the techniques, tools, and language of the discipline.  Reading or hearing about how someone turned their passion into a vocation is exciting, but it is far more impactful to interact with them or actually work with them.  It’s an opportunity that makes a particularly strong impression on students whose intellectual curiosity may have once separated them from their peers elsewhere.  We want our students to see what it looks like to find a thing they love and to run with it — and what it looks like when determined pursuit of that interest results in eminence and discovery.

If you share our belief that students benefit from authentic experiences, and are interested in sharing your expertise for an hour, a day, or for a collaborative project, Melissa Bilash, our Head of School, would love to connect with you.

Past Geniuses-in-Residence

Matter Design — Brandon Clifford and Johanna Lobdell

astronaut school genius in residence

Astronaut Serena Auñon-Chancellor, M.D., M. P. H.

Graham Kanarek Genius in Residence

Astrophysicist Graham C. Kanarek, Ph.D.