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Davidson Academy Overview Video Transcript

The following transcript is for the Davidson Academy Overview Video.

Narrator: The Davidson Academy is a one-of-a-kind school for profoundly gifted students with an online campus for students living anywhere in the United States and a day school located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus for local residents.

Bob Davidson, Founder of the Davidson Academy: Our goal was to do something meaningful in the area of education.

Jazz Patel, Davidson Academy Parent: We did a lot of research on gifted schools and programs. There are other institutions for gifted kids, however this was unique.

Magali Rivera, Davidson Academy Parent: What we needed was not just an academic challenge, but social peers.

Pia Ruda, Davidson Academy Parent: And having a school full of profoundly gifted students is just an amazing environment to be in.

Sarah MacHarg, Davidson Academy Student: When you come to this school you’re surrounded by a community of teachers and students who want to learn or want you to learn as much as you do, and I think that that’s something you can’t get anywhere else.

Ami Patel, Davidson Academy Student: The people here, the staff, the students, the teachers, the entire community, it’s not like any other school.

Colleen Harsin, Davidson Academy Director: the most rewarding aspect of working with profoundly gifted young people is really allowing them to be themselves.

Narrator: Curriculum is designed specifically for academy middle and high school classes and focuses on higher level thinking.

Colleen Harsin: Our classes are typically 15 students or less and it’s definitely a very critical thinking oriented type of approach.

Erin Vienneau, Director of Curriculum: My middle school students, when they first come to the Academy, they grow about three years in English in their first year here.

Darren Ripley, Davidson Academy Instructor: So all of our curricula are developed with the idea of we want to see your process, we want to see how your mind works.

Felix Ruda, Davidson Academy Student: History, it’s not at all about memorizing dates or anything, it’s mainly about thinking critically, like drawing big picture connections to the present day, so I’m finding that really interesting.

Brett Guisti, Davidson Academy Instructor: Teaching at the Academy is what, as a college student going into teaching, what we dreamed that teaching would be like.

Narrator: The Davidson Academy provides profoundly gifted students an appropriately challenging education.

Pia Ruda: At the Davidson Academy, the students are grouped by ability, not by age, and that’s a true game changer.

Erin Vienneau: In August, before school starts, we have placement testing for math and science, and any student is welcome to take any level test they want.

Narrator: The Personalized Learning Plan or PLP is developed for every student here at Davidson.

Colleen Harsin: So what that means, is we place students based on their abilities rather than their age or their traditional grade level.

Aiden Choi, Davidson Academy Student: The PLP, the Personalized Learning Program, is very different because the students are organizing their classes based on ability level.

Sarah MacHarg: When I came in, I was in Algebra I, that was the first class I took, I was 9, that’s fine. But I also have some friends who were like 9 or 10 when they came in and they started in Calculus. So you have these opportunities available here, that aren’t necessarily available at other schools.

Erin Vienneau: Age has nothing to do with placement ever. It is merely a matter of what level are you in every subject. And the cool thing about that is once we get that process finished, we’ve got what we call ability grouping and then everybody is at a pretty similar level in the class.

Andy Choi, Davidson Academy Parent: And because they do the personalized learning, they are able to just really excel in everything that they want to do and they don’t put a limit to that.

Narrator: Located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, students learn at an accelerated pace, while working side by side with their intellectual peers. And with the addition of our online program, the Davidson Academy can reach hundreds of students with the same curriculum.

Dr. Marc Johnson, University of Nevada, Reno President: That they’re not just coming into a challenging environment, but they’re coming into a caring environment where they can be all they can be surrounded by people who really care about the individual needs of each student.

Brett Guisti: Every teacher knows most every other student. We’ve got our meetings once a week, our staff meetings where if there’s something going on with a kid, you can bring it up and see if other teachers are seeing the same things.

Sarah MacHarg: The quality of the teachers I think is what stands out above everything. The teachers that I’ve had over the last nine years have been absolutely fantastic.

Aiden Choi: I think the teachers are my favorite part of the Academy just because, not only are they super devoted to the material that they are teaching and they’re very passionate about their subjects, but they’re also very kind people and they really do take care of the students here, which was so reassuring when I first came to the Academy.

Felix Ruda: One thing that I was really pleasantly surprised by was how kind and approachable the teachers are. They’re not at all intimidating.

Michelle Liu, Davidson Academy Student: All the teachers are really friendly and funny and willing to work with you.

Ashley Ingle, Davidson Academy Instructor: I think a lot of students might feel a bit lonely at their other schools and that won’t happen here.

Jazz Patel: There’s a trust between the teachers and the students here that I think is very hard to foster elsewhere.

Media Labbauf, Davidson Academy Parent: We never felt that connection with their previous teachers in other schools.

Magali Rivera: They’ve just been incredible role models for my kids and I just didn’t – that’s sort of icing on the cake – I didn’t expect that.

Narrator: Students are provided tailored advisement through their tenure at the Academy, encouraging students in both academic and extracurricular activities to better prepare them for their future endeavors.

Colleen Harsin: All young people, regardless of how bright they are, really do need the support of adults around them so rather than leave them to fend for themselves, what we offer here is a support network.

Pia Ruda: So the teachers really get to know the students and they can truly take a very individualized approach in their learning.

Magali Rivera: It’s not just the teachers, but the administrative staff is amazing.

Media Labbauf: They’re always very supportive when it comes to all aspects of our kids’ lives.

Sarah MacHarg: The academy offers so many resources in terms of academic advising there’s always someone to talk to if you’re having a problem.

Brett G: We have enough support staff that the counselors actually pay attention to the well-being of the children rather than just scheduling standardized testing.

Erin Vienneau: Here our kids meet with counselors regularly – weekly, monthly, whatever they need or want, and there’s a lot of support there as well.

Emhyr Subramanian, Davidson Academy Student: But one of the major things that’s there at the Academy that isn’t there at most other schools, is clubs during lunch and specifically how clubs can be started by students no matter what their interests could be.

Media Labbauf: So many activities, so many clubs and we always felt that there’s always something to do.

Colleen Harsin: Rather than have teachers and administrators choose options that we think the students would be interested in, the students are really the ones that drive that.

Michelle Liu: We have many, many, many student-run clubs and teacher-run clubs and you can attend those however many you like.

Sarah MacHarg: For such a small school, it’s mind boggling how many different student organizations that we have. And also it’s not difficult to make one yourself.

Aiden Choi: Whatever you’re interested in, you will find students interested in that thing as well. And even if your only interest is just being alone and staying away from everybody, you will find someone else who is also interested in that but doing it with you. There’s always the opportunity to find new friends.

Narrator: Being located on the Nevada campus provides opportunities for students to easily continue in subjects where they finished at the high school level.

Colleen Harsin: Being located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno is actually one of the best things about where we are in Reno as an Academy.

Bob Davidson: It does wonders for our students because it opens a whole world of education beyond the classic high school type education.

Sarah MacHarg: You can take classes that you would never have the chance to take in high school. If you want to take a class about medieval Spanish literature, you can and I have, and I have friends who have as well.

Emhyr Subramanian: We are basically treated like UNR students and what this allows us to do is to take UNR courses and basically not ever feel restrained in any of the subjects.

Ami Patel: We have access to everything that the UNR students have access to. We have access to their libraries, their resources, their technology and their labs.

Dr. Johnson: So we have some very well-prepared students coming into the classes and they actually add to the richness of discussions and group projects.

Erin Vienneau: We’ve got some students who have taken Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry, and Biology and Advanced Biology, and then they’re over at the University taking Organic Chem or moving on into higher Biology classes.

Emhyr Subramanian: Last semester, I finished Calculus III at the Davidson Academy, but after that now I’m taking Differential Equations at the University.

Darren Ripley: We have students here who have achieved the equivalent of a major in mathematics, in other words they’ve covered all of the coursework that a math major at the University would, before they graduate from high school.

Bob Davidson: They can take any course at the University that’s appropriate for them at that time. The sky is the limit, and some of our students have achieved pretty high altitude in that sky.

Narrator: Many families relocate to Reno so their students can attend the Academy and tuition is free for Nevada residents.

Colleen Harsin: Families from all over the country have moved to the Reno area to access the Davidson Academy.

Emhyr Subramanian: Despite its small size, it has plenty of different opportunities. I mean that’s why it’s called the “biggest little city in the world”.

Michelle Liu: Reno is a very outdoorsy environment, so it’s actually helped me get into climbing a bit more. It’s helped further my interest in going outdoors and skiing.

Magali Rivera: There’s plenty of things to do socially with other parents, so that was also unexpected.

Andy Choi: Everyone is super welcoming and open to new people and to the new families.

Narrator: For most families, this move has proven to be a pleasant surprise.

Pia Ruda: Everyone has at least come from a different school, maybe a different city, different state, or even a different country so it’s easier to form those friendships than if you were to go to a place where everyone has kind of been from day one.

Jazz Patel: When families do move here, the school first of all is very welcoming, has great interaction programs, and they have events that bring all these families together early on.

Media Labbauf: We really felt that we entered into a second family. I even remember the first ice cream social, the first bar-b-cue we attended, everyone was very friendly.

Colleen Harsin: We find that more often than not, families stay here after their students graduate so there’s really something to be said for that.

Narrator: Moving to Reno, though, is not the only option. The Davidson Academy Online curriculum is quickly becoming the new standard in online learning.

Colleen Harsin: We have a new online high school option, that we started, recognizing that not all families are in a position to move to Reno to access the Reno campus.

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

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

Colleen Harsin: So what we’re trying to do is to bring the Davidson Academy experience to those students who are not in a position to necessarily move to the physical Davidson Academy.

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 online students as well.

Erin Vienneau: Aside from the level of curriculum, of course, is also the interaction time.

Tracy Sangster: One of the other teachers started an online writing center, a tutoring center, so we have some of the older students who are reading over drafts for the younger students and providing them feedback.

Colleen Harsin: I think that the biggest example of what we’re doing to link the Reno campus with the Online campus is doing a joint Yearbook class. As an elective on Fridays, we have both online students and Reno students interacting in the same Yearbook class and they’re working to put together a joint yearbook for this year.

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

Felix Ruda: It’s a really unique educational opportunity and it’s really an amazing place.

Bob Davidson: It’s comforting to know that they’re in an environment where they can prosper, where they can be so happy, and then they can move forward. And, in an environment where they’re making a lot of friends.

Darren Ripley: All of my students who have gone on to the absolute top tier schools, always come back and say that we as an institution have prepared them across the board.

Colleen Harsin: And so by the time they’re graduating, they’re very thrilled to have had the academic experience, but to watch those graduating seniors talk about how they’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and what they’ve learned about themselves is really the most rewarding to me.