The Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 10, 2000
January 10, 2000
VOL. 29, NO. 17


Once and Again, The Name Is CTY

Academic center for gifted children brings back original name

By Charles Beckman

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

No, the name CTY seen reappearing on Hopkins radar isn't the fault of a retrograde Y2K glitch--it's for real. As of Jan. 1, the academic center that provides opportunities for gifted children in second through 10th grades is again known as Center for Talented Youth, its name from 1982 to 1996.

From 1996 to 1999 the unit was known as the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth. The 1996 change occurred because it was believed a new name would match the unit's expanding scope of services.

But the name CTY proved to be virtually indelible in the minds of school administrators, program participants and Hopkins employees, most of whom continued to use it. So, in November 1999, Executive Director Lea Ybarra, acting upon staff and constituent feedback, and a unanimous recommendation by the center's new advisory board, authorized a return to CTY.

The decision to change the name found quick support at Hopkins. "Despite being out of the limelight for a few years, the name CTY is still such a recognizable trademark that it seems absolutely correct to bring it back to center stage," said Vice Provost Stephen McClain, the Hopkins senior administrator responsible for shepherding CTY for many years.

The center, which celebrated 20 years of service last October, is now a far cry from the organization that enrolled 109 students in summer 1979. CTY's just-completed annual talent search enrolled more than 86,000 students, who will take standardized tests appropriate for their advanced abilities. Summer courses saw more than 8,000 enrollments in 1999 for courses at Hopkins and 16 other locations. Another 2,500 students enrolled in math or writing courses through CTY's Distance Education division. CTY also offers 50 one-day conferences for gifted students and their families, a magazine and special diagnostic testing and counseling services for children.

Returning to the CTY name coincides with new activities and objectives. "Primary goals right now are to make our programs accessible to qualifying students from families with limited financial means, as well as to increase the diversity of our student body, so that our programs more closely reflect the face of America," Ybarra said.

Efforts that intensified in 1998 are identifying promising students in some neighborhoods and schools that had previously been overlooked. Urban initiatives to find these academically talented youth are now centering on the cities of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Newark, N.J., and Los Angeles.

A third focus is on developing programs for use within schools. Descartes' Cove, funded in part by AT&T and Baltimore-based Learnware LLC, is a new online math program. The software has all the graphical bells and whistles of popular software programs. Below the surface ornamentation, however, lies a deeper world of fundamental mathematical concepts geared toward challenging academically able middle school students.

"These activities are needed additions to the CTY," says Ybarra. "Meeting our social responsibility as we work with schools only strengthens our core mission of offering distinctive educational opportunities for America's most highly talented youth."

Summing up the changes, Ybarra, executive director since 1997, said, "We welcome the chance to accomplish these goals as we return to a name everyone knows."