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Davidson Academy Online Overview Video Transcript

The following transcript is for the Davidson Academy Online School Overview Video.

Narrator: The Davidson Academy of Reno has been recognized as the best educational opportunity for families with profoundly gifted middle and high school students. And now, the academy has an online campus that is a complete game changer for gifted students from around the country.

Colleen Harsin, Davidson Academy Director: We have a new online high school option that we started for the 2017-2018 school year, recognizing that not all families are in a position to move to Reno to access the Reno campus.

Bob Davidson, Davidson Academy Founder: So, instead of them coming to the school, we’re going to bring the school to them. The curriculum is specially crafted to be at a level and a pace that fits the special needs of the profoundly gifted.

Stacy Hawthorne, Director of Online Learning: Most of our middle school courses are taught at a high school level, and most of our high school level courses are at a college level.

Narrator: This fully accredited online option builds off of the one-of-a-kind educational framework put in place by Davidson Academy since 2006.

Erin Vienneau, Director of Curriculum: We’ve hired people who are online specialists to take the curriculum that we use in the building and adapt that for an online environment.

Stacy Hawthorne: It was a three-year process before we opened the online courses, and most of that was built in research. We spent a lot of time looking at best practices for gifted education, best practices for technology in gifted education, and best practices for online learning.

Tracy Sangster, Davidson Academy Online Instructor: We’re taking what we know works, at the brick and mortar, and making sure it works in the online form. And now we’re also getting to the point where we’re developing original curriculum for our online students as well.

Bob Davidson: Not only can we replicate what we’ve done in the academy, but in some cases, actually bring a little extra through our online program.

Amanda Zhu, Davidson Academy Online Student: You’re able to kind of take higher level courses. So things that you wouldn’t be able to take in a public school.

Alan Kappler, Davidson Academy Online Student: It’s a lot like the schedule that you might have at a college.

Nate Welsh, Davidson Academy Online Student: The classes are all geared towards my personal learning levels.

Narrator: All classes are grouped by ability, not age. It is the most highly tailored and unique school in the country for profoundly gifted students.

Maxwell Zhu, Davidson Academy Online Parent: We were looking for places that can offer a more personalized program, which Davidson provides.

Stacy Hawthorne: So at the Davidson Academy, we don’t group students by age. That’s very important to us that students are placed in courses that are academically appropriate for them. So each student goes through a personalized learning plan process, every year, but the one when they join us is the most important.

Colleen Harsin: And that’s how we navigate placing them in courses without having to limit them to age, grade-based levels.

Albert T. Lee, Davidson Academy Online Instructor: When you talk about differentiated education, that’s really what it is. It’s not looking at the age, it’s looking at the ability.

Maxwell Zhu: This is exactly what we are looking for.

Erica Shumaker, Davidson Academy Counselor: Coming from the college classroom, I feel like the level that my 12 and 13 year old students are doing is on par with what my 18 and 19 year old students were doing. And it kind of blows my mind, every single time it happens.

Elizabeth Kappler, Davidson Academy Online Parent: The teachers here, I think, really push each individual student, even within a class, to their own level. Narrator: The result is a robust online community where students thrive. Our technology provides classroom instruction with highly qualified instructors. Where students are interacting with each other and their teachers.

Erin Vienneau: One of the differences between our online school and all the other online schools that are out there, since there are a lot these days, aside from the level of curriculum, of course, is also the interaction time.

Stacy Hawthorne: The research shows that social interaction is one of the benefits for online learning for gifted students because it’s often that there aren’t a lot of other students their age level.

Bob Davidson: We’ve specially designed and built our online program to be very collaborative. It is much more interactive than others.

Stacy Hawthorne: Those live sessions are not times for teachers to deliver content, they’re times for students and the teachers to interact with the content. So students should expect to be talking quite a bit, presenting, sharing their ideas during those live sessions.

Elizabeth Kappler: All the students see each other, and they see the teachers on the video during class. The discussions, I mean he loved his humanities classes, the discussions they had and the readings were just so engaging. As a parent, that’s what you want. You want your child to be in a learning environment where they’re thriving and enjoying and growing.

Tracy Sangster: It’s being able to have a group of people in their own age group that they can speak to at their own intellectual level.

Nate Welsh: The teachers go out of their way in every class, I’ve noticed this, to ensure that we are interacting and working with each other. Whether it’s in math, doing problems together. Or in language arts, doing peer review on our essays. Or in social studies working together on group presentations.

Alan Kappler: The fourth unit in the seventh grade English class is actually humor, satire, and irony. And the course material is really fun to work through, you have amazing conversations in the class.

Erica Shumaker: It’s been really fun, to hear student voices, and to get them to be more comfortable, and to get them to interact with me and with each other.

Nate Welsh: It’s a big part of the experience and we make sure that we’re connecting with each other. And we even socialize a bit out of the classroom as well.

Narrator: School of course is not just equations, problem solving, and essays. It’s also about connections, friendships, and social interaction.

Nate Welsh: Socially, it can be a little bit hard at first to connect with the other students. But if you reach out and take that first step and messaging your peers, then you’ll find that you can foster actual friendships. And there have been a couple of students that I’ve been able to keep in contact with over the summer and during the school year.

Amanda Zhu: You really just kind of start talking about academics and then it leads to friendship.

Stacy Hawthorne: One of the first things that we added last year, which despite all the research and all the design that we put into the school, this was never something that we discussed, but we have lunch. This year we have it twice a week. Last year we had once a week. We open up the video conferencing platform and the students come, and they just hang out and chat.

Amanda Zhu: It’s at a certain time every week. And you get to go on, and eat lunch, and just talk with everyone.

Narrator: And the Academy looks to connect the online students with the Reno campus at every opportunity.

Colleen Harsin: I think the biggest example of what we’re doing to link the Reno campus with the online campus is doing a joint yearbook class.

Stacy Hawthorne: So, they are designing the yearbook. We had our first online-Reno campus combined yearbook last year. And so those students worked together, they designed pages, they have a partner at the Reno campus, and they partner up and build the whole yearbook together.

Narrator: They even link students via tele-robot.

Albert Lee: We don’t have an online class for the student to take Calculus III. So there’s a robot that this student is going to operate, from Portland, to attend lectures in Reno. Which is amazing.

Stacy Hawthorne: We purchased a tele-presence robot that the student logs into every day, drives himself into the class that’s happening in the Reno campus. So we have a student doing that in Calculus III right now and a student doing that in Advanced Spanish.

Narrator: In addition to connecting with each other. Students get a supportive structure of administrators, [school] counselors, and teachers to guide them along their educational careers.

Colleen Harsin: We found that all students need support. All young people, regardless of how bright they are, really do need this support of adults around them. So rather than leave them to fend for themselves, what we offer here is a support network.

Albert Lee: We have bi-weekly staff meetings, and in those staff meetings, we discuss school issues, organization issues, but then we also discuss student issues. So if there is something that somebody observes, it’s brought up very quickly and we want to nip things in the bud before it gets out of control.

Erica Shumaker: Even though it’s online, and it has a lot of technology component to it, I think there’s a lot of personal care and a lot that goes into the learning, and really making students feel like they’re apart of the school.

Elizabeth Kappler: You know, they really go out of their way, I think, to support the kids and connect with the students and the parents.

Maxwell Zhu: There are always going to be things, no matter how great the staff is, there are always surprises. But whenever that arises, I hear people are just so supportive.

Amanda Zhu: We speak every week with our guidance counselor. And we’re able to talk to her and kind of distress about our problems.

Nate Welsh: There’s a student counselor that I met with weekly to help with organization and making sure I’m doing good with my classes and keeping on track.

Stacy Hawthorne: Additionally, all of our teachers have office hours each week so that students can reach out to them for support as they need them.

Elizabeth Kappler: And the teachers and administrators all really care for the students.

Erica Shumaker: We want students to be their best and we want students to succeed and do the best that they can in our school and outside out school. We really want to set them up to be successful in both arenas of life.

Maxwell Zhu: I don’t think you can anywhere else, this kind of really, really personalized program.

Elizabeth Kappler: I love seeing my son be excited to go to school every day. He loves to log on to the computer and attend class.

Narrator: If the Davidson Academy seems like it might be the educational answer you’ve been searching for, the first step is to apply and see if we’re the right fit.

Stacy Hawthorne: The earlier parents apply, the easier it is, the easier it to get them through the assessment process and work through the P-L-P process.

Narrator: To learn more, visit the academy’s website or contact us today.