About Us 

Colleen Harsin, Director's Bio

As director of the Davidson Academy, Colleen Harsin, M.A., MSW, oversees the educational environment of a growing student body of profoundly gifted students, many who have moved across the country to attend this free, public day school. Ms. Harsin works with the students, their parents, Academy teachers and staff members to optimally match educational options to each student's needs in order to challenge each of them to reach their full potential.

Prior to her work at the Davidson Academy, Ms. Harsin was instrumental in the development and expansion of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development’s Young Scholars program, in which consultants work directly with profoundly gifted young people, their parents, and educators in the areas of educational advocacy and planning, talent and interest development, and socio-emotional well-being. She developed Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People: A Guidebook, and worked with Nancy Robinson, Ph.D., to produce, Considering the Options: A Guidebook for Investigating Early College Entrance. Both of these guidebooks continue to serve as tools for parents to address the broader educational needs of exceptional students.

“I have always been committed to trying to improve educational opportunities for underrepresented, overlooked populations,” Harsin said. “At the Davidson Academy we do have a one-of-a-kind, break-the-mold curriculum. My hope is to have pieces of our model utilized in other schools.”

Ms. Harsin graduated summa cum laude from the University of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She moved to Reno in 1995 to pursue graduate studies in psychology and social work, receiving master’s degrees in both disciplines from the University of Nevada, Reno. She has been working with students, families, and educators in the context of Davidson Institute for Talent Development and Davidson Academy programs and services since 2000.

Ms. Harsin has presented at the annual conference of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), as well as various other national, regional and state conferences on gifted education. Since 2003, she has actively participated in the focus groups assembled at the Templeton Summits, held every other year in support of the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration. These summit meetings have informed A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students. She has been a contributor to and/or quoted in a number of published texts, including Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds, Early Entrance to College: A Guide to Success, and Dumbing Down America: The War on Our Nation’s Brightest Young Minds and What We Can Do to Fight Back. In the context of her continued commitment to supporting educational opportunities for exceptional students, Ms. Harsin served three years as a member of the Advisory Council for the National Merit Scholarship Competition and is currently on the Board of Directors for the organization.