Los Angeles Area Da Vinci Charter High Schools to Open August 18

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Two new public charter high schools, Da Vinci Science and Da Vinci Design, will open their doors on Aug. 18 to approximately 420 students in 9th and 10th grades. The schools, located at 13500 Aviation Boulevard, will offer a hands-on, project-based curriculum with internships and mentoring opportunities with many of the area's top universities, aerospace and tech companies, as well as arts institutions.

Two new public charter high schools, Da Vinci Science and Da Vinci Design, will open their doors on Aug. 18 to approximately 420 students in 9th and 10th grades. The schools, located at 13500 Aviation Boulevard, will offer a hands-on, project-based curriculum with internships and mentoring opportunities with many of the area's top universities, aerospace and tech companies, as well as arts institutions. Students in both schools will also have the opportunity to concurrently enroll in college courses and earn their AA degree upon graduation.

Da Vinci Science will specialize in science, technology, engineering and math. Da Vinci Design will focus on the arts and humanities.

Named by incoming students for Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance Man, who moved effortlessly between the worlds of science and art, the schools are founded on the principles of collaboration, community, and edu-creation -- education through creation or learning by doing.

"This is truly a school/community/industry/higher education partnership," said Matthew Wunder, Da Vinci's Executive Director. "Our vision is to leverage each student's unique gifts so they will be successful in college and the global marketplace. We will offer every student a rigorous college prep curriculum that is integrated with real-world active learning."

Unlike many traditional schools where students spend their days sitting at desks, listening to lectures and memorizing facts, Da Vinci students will learn by doing in a collaborative environment that invites curiosity, creative thinking and problem solving. The schools will be organized into small learning communities of 64 students per teaching team. Class time will be flexible - expanding and contracting as needed so students can work on projects, develop valuable research skills, form ideas, find solutions, and give presentations.

Students will participate in a variety of internship opportunities and learn from the many local businesses nearby, including aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, which has agreed to mentor students in electronics and robotics.

Da Vinci has also established relationships with Boeing, Raytheon, Belkin, Booz Allen Hamilton, Mattel, Art Center College of Design, Loyola Marymount University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Vistamar School.

Members of Da Vinci's Board of Trustees include: Chet Pipkin, founder and CEO of Belkin International, Inc.; Art Lofton, Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems; and Donald Brann, former superintendent of the Wiseburn School District and a current council member of the City of El Segundo.

Da Vinci Schools are opening after almost two years of research, planning, fundraising and personnel recruitment. The schools are independently run by a nonprofit group created by the Wiseburn School District. Da Vinci's founding principal, Nicole Tempel, has successfully launched two Southern California charter high schools. As Assistant Principal of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Tempel led the effort assuring 100% graduation and college acceptance for students. She also significantly increased parent involvement and doubled English proficiency for English language learners. All of Da Vinci's 20 teachers are credentialed and many have substantial experience in project-based learning environments.

Occupying the old Dana Middle School facility, Da Vinci has undergone extensive renovation and has wireless laptop computing across the entire campus. Da Vinci will also offer intramural sports, after school clubs, tutoring programs and ongoing college and career counseling.

Entry into the schools was selected by lottery. Da Vinci plans to add a grade level each year until 2012, when each school would have about 570 students in grades nine through 12.

Charters are publicly funded but independently run schools that are granted greater flexibility in exchange for a promise to improve student achievement. Da Vinci students will participate in all statewide academic assessments, including STAR testing, as well as regular internal assessments to measure academic growth.

For the new principal, everything is right on target for the first day of school.

"We've spent a long time preparing for this. I can't wait to get to know the students," Tempel said.

For additional information about Da Vinci Schools, call (310) 725-5800 or visit Da Vinci online at http://www.davincischools.org or on Facebook.

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Matt Wunder, Executive Director
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