On Friday, March 13th, 100 percent of Fusion Academy courses were taught on campus. By Monday, March 16th, all courses were taught 100 percent online.
Fusion Academy is a private institution that was uniquely prepared for the immediate transition from physical to online learning in the wake of COVID-19. In the matter of a single weekend, instructors and staff of the Columbia campus worked together to assist students in adjusting to their new normal. A stark advantage that Fusion Academy possesses is the individualized approach of the courses taught.
Designed with the specific needs of every single student in mind, the nontraditional teaching model of the school emphasizes personalized support and caters to children of all learning proficiencies. Whether the students participate in a one-on-one classes with instructors or small group courses, each child has the opportunity to engage with academic material using a technique best suited for his or her individual needs. A foundational principle of Fusion Academy is providing holistic education. This approach allows the instructor and family to work together to create the best possible plan for the students success. Fusion Academy has over 50 campuses throughout the country, each branch dedicated to addressing specific personal goals for the emotional, mental, and academic development of young scholars.
Lisa Gottlieb has had the opportunity to not only provide insight into the many benefits of the academy as the Head of School but is also a witness to its power in her own home. Gottlieb began her extensive career as an instructor in the Howard County school system for eighteen years—teaching English and serving as a resource instructor for gifted and accelerated students. Throughout her time in education, she noticed that her own daughter was experiencing intense anxiety and challenges in the traditional classroom. After years of researching various teaching methods and settings, Gottlieb branched her professional practices to different forms of education, including working at alternative and private schools and in administration.
Intertwining the love for her daughter and her professional development, Gottlieb sought ways to find a learning environment that could both offer the support her daughter needed and educational flexibility. Gottlieb later became an executive function coach, assisting other parents and teachers who have children that have struggled to succeed in a traditional classroom. When Gottlieb was invited to Fusion Academy to conduct a development program for the instructors, she had no idea how important the school would become to her.
As she began researching the school, she fell in love with it’s staff, values, and methods of teaching. Realizing that Fusion Academy was a perfect fit for her own daughter, Gottlieb was ecstatic to see how the students were given the intensive support they needed. She witnessed how students who have had painful experiences in traditional school environments found peace. It became evident to Gottlieb that the guidance provided by the instructors at Fusion Academy was totally unique, fully embodying the school’s motto: “Love. Motivate. Teach.” Gottlieb later applied and became the Head of School, and has served as the local leader for the past two years. As more parents have learned of the individualized guidance that Fusion provides, the school has steadily expanded.
Fusion Academy students have the opportunity to take a wide variety of courses, now offered online. Along with core academic courses such as English and Mathematics, students are given the option to participate in art, music, technology, and wellness courses. In their virtual “homework cafe,” students are able to socialize with each other, play videogames, watch films, and discuss school while maintaining social distancing.
Despite missing the excitement and energy that the children bring to the school, Gottlieb is immensely proud of the staff and students at Fusion Academy. She notes that many of the students attending the school have anxiety, ADHD, dyslexia, and other challenges that can cause tension in a traditional school setting; coupling these challenges with the spread of COVID-19, this is an unprecedented and confusing time for adolescents. Even against these odds, students at Fusion Academy are doing well and keeping themselves connected to each other. “When I heard my daughter on a Zoom call with one of the instructors, I could hear the joy in her voice,” Gottlieb shares, adding, “The instructors at Fusion are committed to being a support team for our kids. It’s amazing to see the re-ignition of passion and curiosity in the eyes of students.”