Cultivating Curiosity. Igniting Excellence.
DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science is a year-round, tuition-free, public charter school located in Ham Lake, Minnesota. We offer an enriched learning experience utilizing the Core Knowledge Curriculum and Singapore Math in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Data from frequent assessments and test scores allow DaVinci Academy to recognize each child’s strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum. By collecting this information, DaVinci Academy staff and students are able to work together promoting proficiency and challenging students to their fullest potential.
DaVinci Academy offers a full year of science and art for all of its students — along with many other enrichment activities offered both during and after school. The families of DaVinci Academy show a strong interest in promoting the school’s success by dedicating their time and volunteering for many activities throughout the year.
DaVinci School Pillars
DaVinci Academy will incorporate an arts and science focus across the curriculum to help students understand and appreciate the significance of these two disciplines in everyday life.
Research studies point to strong relationships between learning in the arts and fundamental cognitive skills and capabilities used to master other core subjects, including reading, writing and mathematics. Students at DaVinci Academy will follow the Core Knowledge curriculum, which has an increased focus on the arts.
Scientific literacy is increasingly important in the workplace. Jobs at all levels require people to think critically, solve problems and use technology effectively. Furthermore, we need a scientific-literate public to compete successfully in the global marketplace.
DaVinci Academy is committed to delivering an enhanced learning experience to each of its students, every day of the school year. Several key educational tools used at our school help ensure we meet this challenge.
Core Knowledge Sequence
DaVinci Academy utilizes the Core Knowledge Sequence throughout its curriculum. Inherent in Core Knowledge is the understanding that knowledge builds upon knowledge. Students receive a solid foundation in all subjects, and then enhance that knowledge by building on what they already know. The Core Knowledge curriculum provides a clear outline of the specific, important knowledge in all subjects that students need to learn, grade by grade. Through this discipline, students become familiar with a broad range of knowledge, enabling them, regardless of background, to be comfortable in our national literate culture.
Data-driven instruction, in which DaVinci Academy utilizes teacher-created, standards-based interim assessments for all students, is another key element of our enriched learning experience. Teachers analyze assessment results for each student to identify standards the student has mastered as well as those requiring additional instruction. Teachers then work with their grade level and/or curriculum teams to effectively re-teach and reassess students for subject mastery. This process is an effective, proven pathway to academic achievement and leads to dramatic gains in student performance.
Intersessions and Innovative Projects
DaVinci Academy incorporates intersessions twice during the year which provide students with an enhanced focus on arts and science in everyday life. Topics vary annually, but have included physics, engineering, sculpture, astronomy, theater, video gaming history and environmental studies, to name a few. Through these experiences, students gain a better appreciation of how the knowledge they master in the classroom translates to things they will encounter throughout their lives.
Teachers also use hands-on approaches to allow students to interact with the subject materials and make it more meaningful for themselves, thereby increasing retention. This approach has included a bartering fair for the first grade students to explain bartering in ancient Egypt; a student puppet show of The Three Bears completed a fairy tale unit; the use of real deer hearts allowed students to explore the circulatory system; students used Skype to communicate with a classroom in Mexico during Spanish class. These are the types of innovative approaches DaVinci Academy teachers use to enrich the learning experience we offer every student at our school.
Not all students are alike. Based on this knowledge, differentiated instruction applies an approach to teaching and learning that provides students with multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas. The differentiated instruction model requires teachers to be flexible in their approach to teaching and in their presentation of information to the learners. Classroom teaching is a blend of whole-class, group and individual instruction. At DaVinci Academy, differentiated instruction is utilized in every subject.
DaVinci Academy has established a learning community of students, teachers and parents that model and encourage strong character development. This includes a respect for diversity and a sense of responsibility to the community and all of society. We meet the needs of our students through our curriculum, our unique learning approach and positive student reinforcement which emphasizes the importance of good behavior, builds self-esteem and inspires confidence. This, in turn, assists parents and the community in raising children to be confident, successful adults. They will possess strong problem solving skills, leadership capabilities and an ability to reach their full potential.
DaVinci Academy began like many other charter schools in Minnesota — by a parent who was looking for a different way for her students to learn. Kathy Reinartz, mother of two, had done extensive research on differentiated education and knew that many children would benefit from such an individualized approach to learning.
Prior to founding DaVinci Academy, Ms. Reinartz was involved in another charter school in Columbia Heights. It was there she learned of the Core Knowledge sequence and curriculum. Core Knowledge provides a clear and sequenced curriculum, building on knowledge year after year.
Because the northern suburbs were home to many technology firms, it seemed logical to give a science and technology priority to the new school. But as Leonardo DaVinci himself knew, the science cannot exist without the arts. As such, DaVinci Academy also gives priority to arts instruction, which fosters creative thought processes and helps students to become more well-rounded individuals.
In July 2007, the charter proposal for DaVinci Academy was submitted to the State Department of Education. Of the 21 other charter proposals submitted at that time, only 11 were approved.
DaVinci Academy opened in September 2008, with 160 students enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade. By the end of the first year, DaVinci Academy had a student body of nearly 190 students. Seventh grade was added in 2009 and eighth grade in 2010, bringing total enrollment in the 2010-11 school year to 375 students. That enrollment expanded to 410 students in the 2011-12 school year, with two sections of each kindergarten through sixth grades, and one section of grades seven and eight.