Does Da Vinci Really “Do Things Differently?”

Brianna Willis, Editor: DVC News

From learning through unique projects, having close relationships with teachers, and taking trips to further cultivate school culture, Da Vinci Schools do things very differently.

Da Vinci is not your average high school. There are not 1,000 students who get into fights daily and see each other as mere strangers. DV is a special school that ensures students are college bound, encouraged to problem solve, take responsibility for their own learning, get a head start on college education, and cultivate a small school environment with a sense of a strong community.

At Da Vinci, there are lots of opportunities to get involved and be a leader on campus. You can start your own club, join leadership, yearbook, or participate in sports on campus.

Debby Erazo attended Morningside High School during her first semester of 9th grade. She later transferred to Da Vinci Communications (DVC) for the second semester of her freshmen year. Having had the opportunity to attend two different high schools, she noticed a difference in the way students got involved.

“Morningside [had] a lot more students, meaning there were a lot more clubs and a lot of things you could do, but there were less people who were willing to do it”, Erazo remarked, “At Da Vinci, although there are less clubs and we don’t have as many programs as large high schools like Morningside do, I feel like there are more people willing to be involved here than in any other school.”

Not only does Da Vinci create an environment where everyone has an equal chance to be a leader, it also encourages students to strive for success through the toughest of circumstances. Da Vinci also creates engaging field trips that allow students to strengthen their relationships with peers and gain knowledge that can help them in their future endeavors, especially college.

Da Vinci Communications is the newest school to DV, founded in 2013. On students’ first day of school, they took a field trip to Fulcrum Adventures in Culver City. Fulcrum is a ropes course that focuses on team building and leadership development. On the field trip, students were encouraged to trust people that they had just met hours before. Not many people can say they started their four years of high school at a ropes course.

All three Da Vinci schools integrate a Project-Based Learning curriculum. According to the Da Vinci Schools website, “Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a learn-by-doing curriculum that integrates core subjects with real-life problems to be solved.” PBL allows students to apply their learning to real world situations and prepare for the professional workforce.

After high school and college, students are not going to sit behind a desk all day and take tests. They will be creating projects, solving problems, and creating professional presentations. Da Vinci maximizes its ability to prepare students for the future by teaching through project based learning and having students produce original and creative material.

Although PBL allows students to be responsible for creating quality work, they would not be able to unlock their hidden potentials without the help of the extraordinary staff that Da Vinci Schools employ. At DV, student-teacher relationships differ from those at most schools, you personally get to know them and the path they walked to get to where they are now. You build connections and even call teachers by their first name, which allows you to think of them as friends and mentors instead of just “instructional” teachers.

Unlike many schools, every single teacher at Da Vinci cares about their students inside and outside of the classroom. The teachers take it upon themselves to make sure that their students are excelling academically and that they are mentally well.

“I feel like [at previous schools], they just gave us assignments and expected us to figure it out for ourselves. Here [at Da Vinci] they give you assignments, they go through it with you, and they help you understand it before you go home,” says Chelsea Hanzy, a former transfer student, “I think that’s great because I would always ask questions at [my old] school and they would tell me to ask a classmate or just not do it. Here, I rarely have to ask teachers questions because they either cover it in class, or I come to office hours and they help me.”

Da Vinci Schools has made sure that they have created a unique environment for students to excel academically and become college ready. DV is unlike any other high school in Los Angeles, and perhaps even in the nation. Like they always say, we do things differently here.