Welcome to a new year, our 8th year as a school and Da Vinci Schools' 10th year as an organization!
I'm extremely happy to share that in June, we received a 5-year renewal of our charter, the maximum length a charter can be granted in the state of California. Additionally, I am thrilled to announce that we have changed our name! You read that correctly...we are now named Da Vinci Connect! "Da Vinci Innovation Academy" served us well, but we are no longer as innovative, since hybrid-style homeschool programs are becoming more popular by the day and the word "innovation" can bring a connotation of STEM, technology and science-based learning, which are awesome foci but not our mission. The word "academy"... well, we were never one of those! What we are is a hub for like-minded families seeking involvement in their children's education, flexible schedules, friends, collaborators, and individuals who understand your commitment and your needs. We are about connecting. Connecting students with each other and the real world through collaborative projects, parent educators with each other through workshops and social events, students and parent educators with passionate and caring teachers, and so much more. We are about connecting--it's central to our mission, our habits, our ways of being. It's who we are! Our staff truly feels like this name is mission aligned to who we are and what we do. We can't wait for you to see all the ways we plan to connect great learning, great fun, great community and all the best of at-home learning with at-school learning! Welcome to what will surely be a fantastic year as Da Vinci Connect!
We hire the best educators and this year we have 4 awesome additions. Please help me welcome Julia Rivera, Core 2 teacher, Kelsey Grady, Core 2 teacher, Jordan Steinmann, Core 5 teacher, and Raphael Tangalos, Inclusion Specialist. Be sure to meet them and welcome them to our community!
As promised, we continue to reflect and revise! We are excited to open "The Parent Center @ DV Connect," run by Theresa Leone. Not only will she continue to welcome students in The Reading Zone, but she is here to support you as parent educators. Whether you want to sip a cup of coffee while perusing resources, lesson plan with fellow parents, attend a workshop or pick Theresa's brain for teaching strategies-be sure to check out our parent center soon! Please look for the email she sent on Friday, August 10th with more information.
As promised, we listened to your feedback about work journals and created a more streamlined system, including a "one stop shop" for locating those pesky things! You can even record once the things you do daily instead of writing them over and over again and we made a FAQ page to answer the questions we all seem to get confused about! Very soon you'll see a Work Journal page on the Parent Educator Resource Site and all work journals for the year will be posted.
As promised, we are offering Parent Educator Conferences, a Speak Series for parents, a Career Speaker Series for students (all dates are posted on the calendar already!) and we are remaining true to our practice of project-based learning and supporting social emotional learning through compassionate communication.
This year, we are focused on fine-tuning our Collaborative Program including identifying family needs as well as marketing and recruitment, in order to increase enrollment and thus class size by age bands. Teachers will continue to work closely with families to provide homeschool support, consistent meeting days and times (previously this changed annually, which proved challenging for families seeking flexible schedules) as well as Thursday field trips, hikes and social events. Our awesome Collaborative teachers already have the first month of Thursdays planned, with park socials, hikes, mural painting and visits to a museum and historical location! Their new Collaborative classroom will be their home base, and they will share Hybrid classrooms for Wednesday workshops. I'm looking forward to working with Collaborative families to further develop the unique identity of this program!
Our Hybrid program will offer math each morning in order to accommodate varying math levels and present a more cohesive program. Additionally, students will dabble in a variety of interests through "Explorations" classes and they will still tackle reading, writing, listening, discussing, presenting and critical thinking each school day through their projects. As promised, teachers will provide workshops and individualized supports to families throughout the year, in a variety of ways.
Our FAN events are growing each year and we already have many on the calendar. We are excited and hope you are too! We already have 3 connecting, social events planned (the kick-off party, concerts in the park and Comedy and Magic Club--more info below!).
On that note, we hope you can join us at our Kick-Off Party August 15th from 3:00-6:00pm!
We'll have DV Connect t-shirts (plus a chance to vote for new shirt patterns!), a drum circle, rock painting, a photo booth, a potluck snack buffet (sign up here
), and a chance to make new friends and reconnect with old friends. It's going to be so much fun--don't miss it!
Our teachers have been working hard on some very exciting projects! In honor of our organization's 10th anniversary and the announcement of our new name, we will be exploring our namesake, Leonardo da Vinci, in every space! All the projects are different but they are unified in that it's important for us, and students, to know who da Vinci was and why we are named after him. We can't wait to show you what we can do with all the learning he brought to the world!
Finally, I want to take some time to revisit a topic from last Spring. Those of you returning may remember that a concern was raised by a few families regarding whether the air quality in our classrooms was acceptable. In March and April, we conducted extensive testing of our middle school classrooms. The testing showed there was no observed condition that would create an unsafe environment. Out of an abundance of caution, we hired experts to thoroughly clean and then test all classrooms on campus. After deep cleaning again this summer, we even repeated testing in July to ensure we continue to see safe air quality levels, and the reports again concluded "there is no observed condition involving mold that would create an unsafe environment. Air sample data is comparable and acceptable when compared to overall exterior conditions." Furthermore, during the summer, I met with our facilities team and Da Vinci Schools' Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operations Officer and we determined that despite safe air quality levels, due to heightened sensitivity to the topic and the fact that some families who homeschool do so for medical reasons, it just makes sense to no longer use one of our classrooms, despite the fact that that all classrooms have been declared safe. Therefore, one middle school class has been relocated to a different room on campus and all classrooms continue to be safe and filled with the kind of staff and learning we want for our children. I'd like to lastly just state that as most of you know, I'm not just your principal but I'm also a mom at our school. I have two daughters and one of them shares the middle school classrooms. I take safety seriously, I take learning seriously and while I understand that a variety of needs exist within our school community, your child's health (academic, physical, emotional and social) is why I do this job every day.
If you have additional questions or concerns, feel free to find me on campus--I make myself available every day by greeting families at drop off and pick up, I have an open-door policy (even though the door is closed to conserve the air conditioning) and I love connecting with each of you!
Be sure to read below for more important information!