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Davidson Academy Online Awarded the Future of School Resilient Districts Prize

Reno-based school among eight inaugural winners of the award recognizing innovative practices during COVID-19

RENO – OCTOBER 12, 2021 – Future of School (FoS), an education intermediary organization mobilizing change in American K-12 education, has awarded Davidson Academy Online (DAO), based in Reno, with one of eight inaugural Resilient Districts Prizes (RDP). The prizes are designed to reward―and support the growth of―innovative practices that made a significant positive impact on student learning during the challenging 2020-21 school year.

“Educators in schools across the country have demonstrated their unbelievable passion, creativity and ingenuity over the course of the pandemic,” said Amy Valentine, CEO and Education Evangelist for Future of School. “Davidson Academy Online is one such shining example, with educators taking on an ambitious initiative even in the face of a uniquely challenging school year. It’s our honor to make DAO one of our inaugural Resilient Districts Prize winners.”

The RDP celebrated the fully-online school for successfully developing creative and engaging ways for students to connect online that supported their social and emotional health and nurtured their relationships with each other and school staff.

“The pandemic eliminated all the opportunities our students had to connect offline. This caused us to rethink how we could do a better job of supporting the needs of our students and our “compassion cushion” approach was born,” said Stacy Hawthorne, Director of Online Learning. DAO’s solutions included a range of online programs, including dance parties and Pop-Up PE classes that inspired connection among students and families.

DAO is one of eight recipients of the RDP nationally. As part of the award, DAO will receive $10,000 to support the continuation of its “compassion cushion” programs. “Taking care of the social and emotional health of our students is just as important as helping them excel academically. We’re grateful to receive support from FoS and the RDP to continue programs that enable our students to thrive and connect,” Hawthorne said.

Throughout the year, RDP educators will have opportunities to share their unique experiences and expertise with a nationwide audience of fellow educators by being interviewed on podcasts, contributing blog posts and articles to national publications, participating in virtual events, and more. It is an exciting opportunity to have their successes and inventive ideas celebrated and shared with peers in the profession.

The other seven RDP recipients are:

International High School at Largo
Prince George’s County Public Schools
Largo, Md.

KIPP Harmony Academy
KIPP Baltimore
Baltimore, Md.

Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District (USD)
Newman, Calif.

Olympic High School
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Charlotte, N.C.

Silverton School District
Silverton, Colo.

South Middle School
Newburgh Enlarged City School District
Newburgh, N.Y.

Spanish River High School
District of Palm Beach County
Boca Raton, Fla.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and the Successful Practices Network (SPN), which provides customized design support, consulting and training related to dropout prevention, trauma skills, career and technical education and literacy, are strategic partners in the Resilient Districts Prize.

“Innovation at the school and district levels is imperative to delivering a learner-centered, equitable education to all learners,” said Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of AASA. “We are pleased to collaborate with Future of School, an organization that is committed to innovation and equity in K-12 education, to recognize the outstanding districts, schools and educators who are putting high-impact ideas, big and small, into practice.”

“The Resilient Districts Prize fills an important role by celebrating educators who were mobilized to develop customized approaches in a challenging environment and providing them the resources to continue their efforts,” said Ray McNulty, President of SPN. “We look forward to further supporting these schools and districts and seeing what they achieve next.”

About Future of School
Future of School (FoS) mobilizes change in American K-12 education from a one-size-fits-all system to one that ensures all students reach their unbounded potential no matter where their learning takes place. By amplifying technology’s impact on students and educators, FoS informs, inspires and spearheads much needed transformation. Learn more at

About the Davidson Academy
In 2006 the Davidson Academy opened as a unique type of public school located on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, called a “university school for profoundly gifted pupils” (Nevada Revised Statute 388C), for middle and high school profoundly gifted students. In 2017, the Academy expanded with an online campus for profoundly gifted students living anywhere in the United States. For more information about the Davidson Academy, please visit

For inquiries about the Davidson Academy, please contact The Davidson Academy was recently named the best public high school in America by and has been featured in the Washington Post, CNN, NBC News, and multiple publications, blogs and podcasts.