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Teaching the Profoundly Gifted at Davidson Academy in Reno-Tahoe

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If you’re the parent of a profoundly gifted child, then there’s one school you must know about: Davidson Academy. It provides unparalleled secondary education opportunities for the top one percent of students. Located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, enrollees gain access to custom-tailored learning. This includes grade placement based on achievement rather than age. The result? An educational environment that fosters excellence.

How do educators achieve such high standards? By encouraging the development of critical thinking skills and fostering innovation in all fields. According to Director Colleen Harsin, “Each student at the Davidson Academy has a Prospective Learning Plan. [It] takes their interests and abilities into account as they progress through the rigorous core subjects. This allows for personalization … as they tailor their electives and extend beyond core requirements to explore subjects and opportunities in uncommon ways.”

Keep reading to learn more about the gold standard the Davidson Academy has set for an exemplary education.

Providing Unique Educational Opportunities

What does the school’s dedication to personalized education mean for students? They gain access to unprecedented and exciting learning opportunities. These include taking university courses and gaining lab experience. Students may also pursue internships in their fields of interest.

Founded in 2006 by Jan and Bob Davidson, the school’s curriculum remains centered around custom-tailored pedagogy. As Bob Davidson explains, “The group we are dealing with is so rare that a school may see a child like this every 20 or 30 years. Even a big school may see a child like this every ten years, and it is really beyond their normal experience.”

In other words, one-size-fits-all education underserves these students. So, the Davidsons decided to do something about it. The idea for the Academy was born.

Raising the Bar on Education at Davidson Academy

Of course, the Academy has had to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its student body. Some enrollees have proven so advanced that the Academy has had to retool its curriculum at times. When this happens, teachers and staff rise to the occasion with enthusiasm.

The long line of Academy alumni employed by companies across the nation attests to the school’s success. As Northern Nevada continues to transform into a technology hub, the institution has also supported the local need for a cutting-edge workforce.

Harsin explains, “Northern Nevada continues to be particularly well-positioned for growth, development, and diversification. When the Davidsons were seeking the best location to start a school for profoundly gifted students, they were inspired by the ‘can-do’ nature of the business and education climate in Nevada.” For example, the school’s mission and vision required revamping the very definition of a school to include a third option, a “university school for profoundly gifted pupils.”

An Opportunity-Rich Location

The Academy’s university campus location provides advanced educational opportunities and a safe place where kids can meet peers and make friends. Each student’s strengths, abilities, and interests are celebrated, creating a safe space for growth. No wonder families relocate for a Davidson education.

“We are thrilled that the Academy attracts local students, as well as students and their families who have moved from other areas of the country in order to access the Academy,” observes Harsin. “Many families who have come to Northern Nevada for the Academy continue to work and play here well after their students have graduated. We see it as a notable win-win for the community!”

Matthew Moore is a doctrinal training analyst at Valiant Integrated Services. A parent of a recently graduated senior, he seconds Harsin’s assessment. His 17-year-old daughter graduated from the Academy after attending for six years. He observes, “The admission requirements are pretty stringent. But I think there are many talented parents who come to this area to give their children this opportunity. They all love the area. Especially access to the outdoors and the Tahoe region.”

Making Strides to Reach More Students

The Academy draws students from all over the United States. A full-time online high school option first became available during the 2017-2018 school year. That said, the benefits of living in the area prove plentiful. Harsin explains, “Davidson Academy Online is a tuition-based option for students outside of Nevada but is free for students living in Nevada. Eligibility criteria for Davidson Academy admission is available on our public website www.davidsonacademy.unr.edu.” If you’re the parent of a profoundly gifted student, it’s well worth your time to explore these resources further.

Are you interested in learning more about education in Nevada at Davidson Academy? Perhaps you’d like the inside scoop on relocating to Northern Nevada? Submit your resume today to learn more about this thriving innovation hub and the many educational opportunities available here. 

Engrid Barnett is an award-winning travel writer and digital content marketer based in Western Nevada. Recognized by the Nevada Press Association in 2019, her work has been featured in Nevada Magazine, Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Tahoe South, Rova, American Trails, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and more.

Follow along with us each month for Engrid’s special “Work-Life” review – featured exclusively on WorkLivePlayRenoTahoe.com

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