Please make sure you also read this week's newsletter, which should arrive in your inbox today.
I wish to take few moments to explain some enrollment and facilities changes that will happen next year. It's always hard to encapsulate big ideas in an email, but I will do my best to articulate them.
- In order to better serve core 4 students by providing a transition into middle school and at the same time address our growing enrollment* (a short blurb can be found below explaining this), next year we will split 5th and 6th grade into separate classes. Our current group of 30 5th graders and 30 6th graders will soon be replaced by 40 in each grade level, thus demanding more classroom space.
- This year's 4th graders (next year's 5th graders), will stay together with a single teacher, similar to how core 3 currently operates. Next year's 6th graders (our current 5th graders) will stay together but continue to rotate with their humanities, science and math teachers, just like this year. I shared this with the 3rd through 6th graders last Monday and Tuesday during class time. They asked great questions and even made further suggestions.
- In order to provide a classroom space for the new 5th grade class, we will be building a wall to section off approximately half of the Innovation Lab (the computer lab shared with Da Vinci Science, not the Innovation Station, which is our art and makerspace). This centrally located space will ensure these students have a learning space that meets their needs without further taking away play space for classroom space.
- For the current 2014-2015 school year, DVIA expanded its full-time independent study program (students who are homeschooled 5 days/week) to 25 students under the leadership of Janette Kiso. For next year, we are planning to expand Full-time I.S. to 50 students with the addition of another teacher. This will enable the teachers to focus on a smaller grade level span of students and result in more students per grade level, which will increase collaborative opportunities and class offerings for those students. We are working on some facilities options for this program and have enjoyed collaborating with Vistamar School this year to meet our facility needs.
- In order to find teaching candidates that are a "just right fit" for our school, each year we undergo a tiered approach to hiring. After resume-screening more than 100 applications, I conducted phone interviews with approximately 40 candidates over the past 3 weeks. I then chose approximately 15 to invite to an event that we call our Hiring Symposium, which will take place over 3-4 days this year. Each candidate spends approximately 4 hours engaged in the following activities: teaching a sample lesson to a class of students, reflecting on their lesson, engaging in a collaborative group activity with other candidates, reflecting on that group activity, completing an assessment of their teaching and project knowledge and being interviewed by a group of DVIA parents. The DVIA staff debriefs about each candidate and ultimately, a decision is made about the individual(s) we believe will be a great fit for our students, families and staff.
- As you read in last Sunday's newsletter, Tyler Phipps, DVIA's Dean of Students announced that he and his family (with new baby Frankie) are moving to Temecula at the end of this year. I am saddened to lose Tyler's leadership and commitment to DVIA and wish his family the very best. A rigorous process will take place to ensure we find the just-right fit in the next Dean of Students to continue Tyler's great leadership and support for DVIA students and community. More information will be announced to the community in the coming weeks.
*More about DVIA's growing enrollment:
As most of you know, especially those of you who have been at DVIA for several years, when DVIA opened 4 years ago, we began with a larger number of students in K-1 than in the grades above that. This decision by our then leader, Nicole Tempel Assisi, allowed for enough enrollment year after year for collaboration between grade level teams and guaranteed a healthy budget. We have enjoyed opportunities to add Art and Makerspace staff and classroom space, Response to Instruction (reading intervention) staff and classroom space, counseling staff, workshops and increased curriculum, facilities and play options, events like Parent Educator Conferences and community building opportunities and so much more. These things wouldn't have been possible with a bare-bones enrollment structure.
With all these great things comes a downside we have wrestled with in the past few years: space! We are stretching the physical limits of our campus! It is likely that DVIA will be in our current location for three more years as construction on the high school campus takes place and then for a period of time after when the current DV Design/DV Communications campus is spruced up a bit. The current plan is to use our current space plus the addition of the 5th grade classroom in the Innovation Lab for the next two years. In the 2017-2018 school year, we will experience our final enrollment growth when the current full group of 4th and 5th graders "bubble up" into a full group of 7th and 8th graders. It is my projection that by that time, we will have the space to do so as Da Vinci Science will have relocated to 201 N. Douglas, Wiseburn High School's home of the Da Vinci Schools (high schools that is).
I hope I was clear enough in this explanation. Please feel free to stop me with questions and clarifications! And thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy explanation!
Enjoy your week,