I founded Renaissance Village Academy because I am passionately devoted to meeting the needs of gifted, profoundly gifted, and highly-motivated students. I wrote my first paper on the importance of specialized programs for gifted students when I was 15, following a family tradition. My grandaunt, who started teaching in 1916, wrote a similar paper in 1932, long before Sputnik brought the need to nurture these students to national attention.
I’ve experienced GATE programs firsthand, both as a student and as a teacher. I was in the Mentally Gifted Minors program in California beginning in the 3rd grade. I taught in the public school system for 20 years here in San Diego. Fifteen of those years were spent working with the profoundly gifted in San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) Seminar Program. These experiences inform my philosophy towards homework – less is more. Just because children are gifted doesn’t mean they need to do twice as much work as others. The quality of the assignments is of greater importance than the quantity thereof.
Credentials & Education
- National Board Certification, Generalist/Early Adolescence, 2001
- Mathematics Supplementary Authorization, 1992
- SDUSD GATE Certification, June 1991
- Social Science Supplementary Authorization, November 1989
- California Professional Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, December 1988
- English Supplementary Authorization, December 1988
- Masters of Arts in Teaching – National University, San Diego, 2003
(Emphasis in Educational Technology)
- Credential Program, San Diego State University, December 1988
- Bachelor of Arts – Magna Cum Laude, UC Irvine, September 1986
(Major in Russian Civilization, Minor in Linguistics)
But this doesn’t really tell you much about me. My husband and I have two cats, Ouroboros (Ourie) and T’Other, whom I dote on. I love to read – I inhale books, hence a school library already in excess of 4000 books. My favorite books are science fiction and non-fiction history. I also love to travel. In 2005 and 2007 I organized and chaperoned trips for 6th and 7th graders to Europe. We stayed in Youth Hostels, including a 13th century castle built by King John (famous as the evil prince in Robin Hood).
For four years I went to an Apache reservation to weave Burden Baskets with Evalena Henry, whose work is in the Smithsonian. I grow vegetables and fruits in my backyard, using the fresh produce in soups that I can for use throughout the year. And when I’ve time, which isn’t often now that I’ve started RVA, I work on counted cross-stitch projects.
About Our Name…
The name Renaissance Village Academy was chosen with care to reflect the goals of the school. We want to create and nurture Renaissance men and women, citizens who understand the world around them in all its glory and diversity, the natural world, the social world, and the political world.
Too often today children are pigeonholed at an early age, focusing only on a favorite subject or two rather than the wider view. We take as our models the polymaths Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Jefferson.
The best way to help children grow and learn is to create a sense of community where we all look out for one another – hence Village (as in “It takes a village….”). The Tribes Program is used to foster inclusion, which will, over time, become influence, and ultimately acceptance / affection.
Finally, the name Academy takes its inspiration from Plato’s Academy in Athens, where Plato taught his followers to think using the Socratic method.
“Information is abundant, Wisdom is scarce.”
Knowledge without thought is just information. In order to understand that knowledge and to make decisions based upon it, children must learn how to think about what they’ve learned, how to judge the accuracy / biases of their sources, and how to weigh conflicting information to form their own conclusions.
The Mission of RVA
(NOTE: Mission Statements are a way to let you know a school’s goals, but the format is limiting. We invite you to read Our Philosophy to get a more complete idea of what RVA is all about.)
The mission of Renaissance Village Academy is to provide gifted, profoundly gifted, and highly motivated students with the experiences and knowledge they will need to be successful navigating the complexities of the world from an international perspective.
They will be guided to develop compassion and tolerance through study of other languages and cultures. RVA students will be taught in a way that recognizes their intellectual gifts while acknowledging that they are still maturing. The enthusiasm their teachers have for learning will provide them with role models for becoming life-long learners themselves.
Renaissance Village Academy (RVA) is an exciting new schooling option for parents seeking to challenge their gifted, profoundly gifted, and highly motivated children.
Tired of watching your bright child being bored at school?
Bright students can often become complacent about their school performances, rarely pushing their ability to change (or not change) anything, or question views about the world around them, and become disinterested. At RVA, we will question almost every assumption children come in with, asking them to analyze and justify what they believe, and ultimately to take responsibility for their own learning.
Personalized and Motivating Education for the Gifted
Renaissance Village Academy is a private school in San Diego offering a full academic program for gifted and/or motivated students working at grade levels K – 8, with math placement and educational pacing based on each child’s needs. We emphasize critical thinking, hands-on activities, analysis, and writing, with courses in drama, music, PE, morphology (Greek and Latin roots), astronomy, debate, and foreign language.
We maintain small class sizes to enable us to individualize lessons in a way no public school can match. RVA also welcomes and has direct experience with teaching bright children with Asperger’s, and others on the highly-functional end of the Autism spectrum.
It is our goal to offer gifted, profoundly gifted, and highly talented children with the experiences and knowledge they will need to be successful navigating the complexities of the world from an international perspective—they will be guided to develop tolerance and compassion through study of other languages and cultures.
If one phrase were to define RVA’s educational philosophy, it would be “Wake up!” Students are often complacent, about their academic performances, about their ability to change (or not change) anything, about their views of America and the world.
RVA will question almost every assumption they come in with, asking them to analyze and justify what they believe. In these interactions, they’re allowed to question our beliefs as well in an interchange that expresses mutual respect.
Questioning means active engagement. Questioning beliefs can overthrow long-held prejudices. Once students learn to ASK relevant, appropriate, and substantial questions, then they have learned how to learn.
That is to say, over time students need to learn to take responsibility for their own learning. As Plutarch said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
We can provide the match, the impetus, through modeling for the children what it is to be always curious, always wondering, always questioning. Our job is to make school interesting enough and engaging enough that children want to be there.
It’s not uncommon at the end of the day to hear someone in my class say, “Is school over already?” They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Applied here, it might read, “You can lead a kid to school, but you can’t make him think.” RVA shows our students the joy and power that comes with being able to think clearly.
Another tenet of our educational philosophy is borrowed from Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” We apply this not only to our students when we challenge them academically, but also to ourselves.
Complacency is the bane of teaching; to keep it energized, focused and interesting for the students, the teacher needs to be constantly stretching herself – to learn new things, to accommodate different learning styles, etc. If there’s no discomfort, you assume everything is all right and may never realize that you’re missing something. For the students, it means convincing them that they often need to change their habits if they wish to be successful. Complacency is unacceptable; there’s always room for growth.
And this leads naturally to an idea that comes from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” This means excellence in all areas, not just academics. We want them to be excellent thinkers, analyzers, and evaluators. If we can get them to internalize these philosophies, they will be better people and better citizens.