For many parents, the most painful part of schooling is the struggles of their own child. Sitting in neat industrial rows with dozens of other students, some of whom function more as a distraction than a support, students are expected to prosper. Enduring the battering of cliques, shifting alliances, and hormonal changes, students are asked to compete for the attention of an over-worked/under-paid teacher. Socially, a parent’s nightmare consists of watching their child fall behind academically, as they live on an island of isolation. Other students grow while forming friendships, engage in activities, or explore new interests. These “prospering” students may go on to form resilience or “Grit,” one of the key components of lifetime success in the areas of academics, professional and personal growth. Other students are faced with challenges in academics, social interaction, and the development of resilience.

Attentive parents work to overcome these barriers and give their child every opportunity to grow and prosper. However, most parents are not child psychologists, master teachers with decades of experience, or education researchers. They struggle to find the tools necessary to help their child. They may attend parent support groups, read popular articles and books on education, or partner with their local school. And, for many of these parents their hard work pays off for their child.

For other families, another solution is necessary. Dr. Benjamin Bloom, a well-respected researcher in the field of education, points out that students who receive one-to-one tutoring typically perform significantly better than peers in a typical classroom. That is, when students are taught one-to-one, their academic performance improves. However, no one wants to be tutored by a cold and distant instructor.

Dr. Louis Cozolino, a Pepperdine researcher, wrote in, The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom, that “Secure relationships not only trigger brain growth, but also serve as emotional regulation that enhances learning” (p. 17). Dr. Cozolino goes on to point out that children who are at high-risk also develop resilience when one or two adults become invested in their success. Dr. Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania researcher, points out in her book GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance that resilience, or Grit, is to “…fall down seven times, but rise eight” (p. 275). Therefore, a combination of a one-to-one educational environment, with supportive educators, focused on helping students get up the “eighth time” would be a powerful resource. Particularly, for any family with a student who is underachieving, overachieving, or facing stressors that interfere with their academic performance.

Fortunately, a ground-breaking educational movement built on these principals has begun. The leader in this revolutionary method is the Fusion Academy, grade 6-12 school. In this environment, students are instructed on a one-to-one basis, with mandatory coursework focused on developing healthy lifestyle and dietary habits, and an environment where socialization meets the student at their current level, and fosters growth.

Students experience intensive exploration, not only in their core courses, but in art studios, recording studios, and yoga studios. The immersion in the Arts enables students to emotionally connect with themselves and others. Additionally, students become part of a culture of independent learners, where students balance each hour of in-person instruction with on-site homework completion environments. That is, students interact with other students in a social setting or a library-like setting, depending upon their needs. More importantly, family relationships are no longer strained by a nightly “homework fight.”

Experiencing this environment is more telling than research and words. For parents looking for an environment focused where supportive relationships build academic strengths and resilience, a visit to one of these schools is recommended. Walking the halls of a Fusion Academy is not only different from every other school visit, it allows families to truly understand the model, and how it prepares their child for their future.

“Even though you may sometimes feel alone, one can never go through this life alone.  While it may be better to give than to receive, it is still really important to receive from those who are there to help us along our path.” – Dr. Michael Fowlin, Clinical Psychologist

Hear more about resilience, celebrating people as individuals, and embracing our differences with speaker Mykee Fowlin at Fusion Academy’s Educational Inspiration Event on March 6th at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA. Click here for all the details and to RSVP.

David Cambridge began his career running residential programs for teens facing emotional and behavioral challenges. After teacher shortages impacted the program, David stepped into the classroom and became a Special Education math and science teacher. With a focus on classroom experiences that had real-world applications and fun experiments, students found a love for science and math.

David brought this same style to a local all-boys elite private school in the Main Line area. As a teacher and Dean of Students, he strived to keep students engaged in both school and activities. During the next several years David also worked as a charter school Business Administrator and a Special Education Director at a school for students with Emotional Support, Autism Support, and Deaf/Hard of Hearing needs.

David holds a Bachelor of Arts from Penn State University, a Master of Science in Biology (focused on Molecular Biology), a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Saint Joseph’s University, and most recently, an MBA from West Chester University. In addition, David holds multiple Pennsylvania Department of Education accreditations, including three Math/Science Instruction Certifications, Supervision of Curriculum and Instruction Certification, a Principal Certification, and a Superintendent Qualification Letter.

David lives in the Main Line area with his wife, daughter, and at last count, three dogs, three cats, and a guinea pig. David and his family are active in student activities and animal rescue. When not arranging activities and trips, they are often assisting David’s Veterinarian wife.

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