Da Vinci, School + Psychological Support
The education program and counseling support services that Da Vinci provide for children with ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia are exceptional. The curriculum and teaching practices the staff utilize are tailored to the individual child needs, but allow for optimum learning for each child within a small classroom environment. The class size and weekly reviews of lessons help gauge what the child has retained throughout the week, as well as recognize problem areas that need to be addressed from a counseling stand point.
While providing exceptional educational opportunities, they also provide counseling to the students, assisting them in the management and control of their specific learning disabilities. By providing the children with the appropriate tools, they are setting them up for success as they get older and mature into society.
Here is a success story about our eight year old daughter. Before she started classes at Da Vinci, she attended a local DODDS facility. Although she was completing her studies and passing, her anger was out of control, her attention span was almost non-existent, and she lacked the appropriate social skills to function within her peer group. Even though her teachers wanted to help her more, they could not do so as they had a large class of 20+ students. Once those issues were brought to our attention, she was prescribed 27mg of Concerta and 10mg of Ritalin a day to function and maintain focus in class. Even though her behavior and attentiveness improved in class, homework was almost impossible to accomplish. After school, her medication had worn off and she was extremely difficult to instruct. She struggled to do just two or three pages of school work over a two to three hour time period. The psychiatrist (who only saw her once every 3 to 5 months for 30 minutes) was insisting that we give her 10mg more of Ritalin to accomplish her studies at home, as well as a sleep aid to assist with her sleep schedule. At seven years old, that is entirely to much medication and this made us extremely uncomfortable. We do not want our child taking such high dosages. At that point, we decided to explore Da Vinci International School at the recommendation of a friend of ours. Within 3 months of her attending Da Vinci, she was on ZERO medication, her focus and anger management had already begun to improve. To date, our daughter has gain weight, is a happy loving child, and she has been maintaining an overall A average. She isn't perfect; however, she is always thinking of someone else other than herself. My child hugs and kisses me now. Something she has not done since she was three years old. The outbursts and tantrums are almost non-existent. She is learning how to control herself and verbalize her feelings, wants, and needs. Da Vinci International School has provided our daughter with the skills and opportunities otherwise not available in a normal educational environment that ensure her success.
The services provided by this educational institution go above and beyond your normal school environment. The educational success, mental maturity and social skills are detrimental to our children who require some special attention. The small classroom environments allow for this, and is worth every dime spent. Our children are the priority, and Da Vinci believes that. The cost of the counseling is a small amount in comparison to the tuition. Our daughter’s success is a testament to the services provided by Da Vinci International School. I feel that the lessons learned at Da Vinci are priceless, as they are preparing our countries future leaders with the tools they require to succeed in their adult lives and be productive members of society.
A High Schooler's Point of View
These are letters one of our high-schoolers wrote to herself, the first one was when she first came to our school, the second one was a year after.
Dear Carly, Why are you so unhappy? Why do you cry yourself to sleep every night? Why do you fee like you are no good enough for anybody? Why do you feel so alone even though you are surrounded by a hundred people? Why do you feel like you are the only person in the world that is going through this? You don’t remember the sound of your own laugh. When was the last time you even had a real smile? What did you do to deserve all this? When is this going to stop?
Dear Carly. Honestly, I don’t think you have ever been happier. You finally realised how lucky and blessed you are to have the things you do. You have a loving family and supportive friends that will always be there for you no matter what. You really changed your outlook on life, and I am really proud of you.
Carly Thompson, finished High School this school year 2013-2014 at Da Vinci International School. She did 11th and 12th grade in one year.
A Teacher's Point of View
My Name is Lizette Sainz, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I studied in California State University of Los Angeles and received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in elementary teaching. Before coming to Japan, I worked in a public elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District for about 5 years. Since, I moved overseas I have been working at Da Vinci International School. Throughout the past 3 years, I have had the opportunity to work with all elementary school grades.
Working at Da Vinci International School has been an amazing experience. Mr. and Mrs. Arce’s philosophy towards managing the school is easily suited for all children. Assigning an individualized curriculum has helped many of them in our school feel more comfortable, as well as happy to be in school. From my past experience working in a public school and now working here, I can say that the system in Da Vinci International School is what should be taken into consideration in the public schools.
Instead of working by common core state standards, like public schools do, Da Vinci International School’s system works by assigning an individualized curriculum to each child that comes to the school, which depends on the placement test given in the beginning of the school year, and when the child begins attending Da Vinci International School. After taking the placement test the child is placed in the level that they scored on the test. Thereafter, the child is able to start at their appropriate level, and not on the level that everyone their age is expected to be. This type of system works wonders also for children with difficulties because they can work based on their abilities, as well as on their own pace. It allows them to learn the school subjects much better as well as the child enjoys and remembers what they are learning. In comparison, a public schools system works by the child meeting certain standards and not by their needs and abilities.
The difference is that Da Vinci International School takes into consideration what children have to go through on a daily basis; for example, frustration, irritations, anger, low self-esteem, insecurities and so on, and works on both their learning styles, and their inner and outer personalities. This is something that the public school system does not do because they have to follow and meet certain standards by the end of the school year, rather than focus on the children’s needs.
Da Vinci International School works by individualized curriculum and the class is on a 8:1 ratio, and the teaching style and class environment is also very different and unique. On a daily basis, as a teacher I have to make sure my students are working forty-five minutes straight. At this time they are focusing on their work, meanwhile, I work with each and everyone of them with whatever they need help on or use the forty five minutes to work as a whole class and teach the class something that is the same subject. Having a small class size helps both the teacher and student by one: giving the teacher the ability to move around the class and not leave anyone out when needing help, and two: by helping the student get the attention and help they need. Also, taking into consideration that some children have a short attention span, they get a fifteen-minute break or recess to get them back on track. This schedule repeats throughout the day and functions very well with the students. Moreover, by the end of the day the child leaves school happy and is allowed to spend leisure time with their family whether at home or doing extra-curricular activities by not having any homework. Having breaks at school, and not having homework allows the child to work hard in school and motivates them to do well. I am witness that these privileges work as a positive reinforcement.
Academically, the school system allows the students to reach their goals by either reaching their grade level, or even surpassing it. Behavior wise, the student’s goal of working hard throughout the day allows them to earn their break. However, if the goal is not followed through and or is misbehaving then their breaks are gradually taken away or depending on what misbehaviour the student got into they get no break at all. Some of the students tend to lash out because of their inner frustrations and end up to losing their breaks, and our job as their teacher is to help them overcome their frustrations. A way we motivate them to overcome their needs is by having the student earn their breaks back. Again, any type of misbehaviour whether it be lashing out, bullying, or being rude, is all handled by first explaining to the student what they did wrong and then telling them that there are consequences for their actions, which is losing their break and will be allowed to earn it back once they gain control over themselves. This teaches the child that they do have control of their abilities and are also able to learn the differences of what they should and should not do in life.
In Da Vinci International School, the relationship we pertain with the child, the parents, and with each other as employees is extremely important. We want to set an example for the students to perceive and learn from. No matter what the situation, we always keep a very positive and caring attitude. This allows each and everyone one of us to communicate in a respectful matter, trust each other, and keep us all well grounded. After all, the work we do at Da Vinci is to help the students as well as the parents to overcome problems they had elsewhere. Setting a good example is the best thing we can do. Through this the child has a positive outcome in school and in life, and the parents are happy with the difference we’ve made in their lives.
Working at Da Vinci International School has taught me so much personally and professionally. It has made me a more understanding and humble person. It has made me care so much for the students. I believe that the training I have received from Mrs. Arce has really expanded my knowledge on how to teach them. Mrs. Arce has helped me understand different types of personalities, be patient with the children, and use different teaching techniques according to their needs. Da Vinci International School brings a lot of smiles to many children, I am thankful that there is a school that gives a chance and a positive outreach to children with or without learning disabilities.