Da Vinci Academy: Through the years...
Built on 5 acres of land on the border of Elgin and South Elgin, Illinois, Da Vinci Academy rose from farmland into a thriving independent school for gifted and talented Preschool - 8th grade students serving the Fox Valley Region.
Deb Butcher, the parent of gifted children, stepped forward to organize other parents and educators who were growing increasingly frustrated with their experience in a traditional school setting. They identified a lack of opportunities for gifted and high achieving children and were committed to building the right educational environment.
Ms. Butcher worked closely with a long-time educator and the school's first headmaster to develop the philosophy that would inspire students and teachers and define their new school. "Giving gifted students a solid educational foundation to build upon and prepare them for success throughout life. Four important aspects of development - academic, creative, emotional and social - enable the gifted child to reach his or her potential. All four aspects are incorporated in the child's learning experience at Da Vinci Academy." Their vision was made a reality when Da Vinci Academy opened its doors for the 2000-2001 school year.
Da Vinci Academy, an independent school, maintains the highest standards of excellence in education and collaborates with organizations sharing their philosophy. A non-profit 501c(3) organization governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees, they are also member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). In 2010 Da Vinci Academy completed the rigorous accreditation process through Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS). NAIS and ISACS not only serve as accreditation organizations with standards for membership, but also provide guidelines and expertise on curricular, administrative, and governance issues.
What began with 72 students in Preschool through 8th grade has grown to 115 in 2014. More than 100 students have graduated from the 8th grade, and hundreds more have passed through the hallways since 2000. Due to rapid growth, three classrooms were added to the north end of the building in preparation for the 2002-2003 school year. A 2012 remodeling project added space to each of the three classrooms on the west side of the building, and the security system was upgraded for all entrances to the building. Da Vinci Academy welcomed a new Head of School for 2012-2013 and under his direction Da Vinci Renaissance began.
This 2013 construction project included the addition of a three-classroom modular building, enhanced with two new SMART Boards at the north end of the campus. Two classrooms were enlarged and a Collaboration, Creativity, Curiosity, and Innovation Lab (C3I) was created. All of these changes support a significant move towards authentic learning through hands-on and project-based experiences.
In 2014, additional changes were made possible by a successful Fund-A-Project auction event, resulting in an improved technology infrastructure and tools available to the students, including outfitting many more classrooms with SMART Board technology and new computers.
The 2015 school year opened with a new Head of School and a vision to continue to build the school enrollment through excellence in gifted programming.
Along the way Da Vinci Academy has grown and changed, but holds true to its mission: Foster individual personal and academic growth in an environment designed for gifted learners to cultivate curiosity and creativity through a challenging student-centered curriculum.