When students arrive at Fusion Academy in Rockville, they immediately feel welcome. Joy Funk, director of First Impressions, greets them warmly by name in an entry area that bears no resemblance to the front office of most schools. On the wall behind her stylish desk sits a surfboard-shaped mosaic, the pieces of which spell the word "Fusion." It’s a nod to the school’s California beginnings, explains Head of School Joseph Kavitski.
“The mosaic is a powerful visual representation of our community—a collage of distinctive, creative and irreplaceable elements that form a one-of-a-kind school where every kid can flourish," he says. "No matter the shape, size or color, each part fits together to create something beautiful.”
Likewise, this transformational school helps students discover their unique path to life-changing success, like pieces of a diverse mosaic that complement a whole.
At Fusion, teachers are known as teacher-mentors, and each class is taught in a one-to-one arrangement. They believe positive relationships are the key to unlocking the potential in every student, and their one-to-one ratio in the classroom grants Fusion the ability to customize every aspect of a student’s experience. This includes how they learn best, the start and end time of their day and more.
“While we offer 1:1 education, we’re so much more," says Olga Marable, director of Admissions and Outreach for Fusion Rockville. "We’re a community of learning dedicated to creating a supportive campus environment where every kid can flourish emotionally, academically and socially.”
Everything about the physical space of Fusion is the result of a careful, deliberate design process. It’s what Joseph calls the “psychology of the space,” and it’s done to achieve an atmosphere where everyone feels safe, cared for, engaged and confident in themselves as learners. Officially, the inviting warmth incorporates aspects of feng shui. Unofficially, it feels like home.
Pictures of students and their teachers adorn the walls. Students lounge on bean bag chairs in the Homework Cafe or collaborate to solve creative challenges. They can compose music in the state-of-the-art music studio or pursue other passions in the school’s other specialized spaces, a yoga studio and art studio.
The staff makes a point of knowing each student’s name and personal story, including dreams and challenges.
“Unless that student feels seen, heard and truly understood, learning and growth won’t happen,” Joseph says. “Learning should not be a painful experience, and it doesn’t have to be. We believe each and every student deserves to feel empowered, and we do our best to customize our students’ education experience as much as possible so they can truly learn to love learning again.”
A prime example is Fusion’s innovative Homework Café, two relaxed and comfortable spaces where students can complete assignments with teacher assistance and socialize with their friends. The Fusion team finds that keeping homework at school eliminates nightly homework battles, improves the quality of family time, and keeps kids excited about learning. This is also a space for clubs, student meetings, games, wellness practices and activities led by the director of Homework Cafe.
While plenty of students are enrolled full-time at Fusion, others come there to retake a single class, catch up over the summer, attend tutoring sessions, or try something new. Everyone's journey that led them to Fusion is different.
A Fusion parent says: “Fusion provided the flexible class schedule that [our daughter] needed while keeping a high level of academic excellence. During the individualized classes, the teachers … focus on the student’s needs, developing the topics through interactive discussions and connections to real-life experiences and examples.”
For her daughter, this parent says, Fusion was “life-changing.”
By the Numbers
Fusion Academy in Rockville, for sixth through 12th graders, is one of 50-plus Fusion locations nationwide. Students can choose from 250-plus classes, some traditional and some unique. Fusion Rockville just finished its second year and graduated 16 seniors.