Da Vinci Center for Gifted Children

Da Vinci Center - Where Genius Finds A Friend

Located in the heart of the beautiful island town of Alameda, we have 10,000 square feet for daily experiential learning.

Please contact Head of School, Catherine Cook, at 510-219-9410 or ourgiftedchildren@yahoo.com for an initial parent phone conversation and to book an intake interview.  Sincere thanks for your interest in our gifted community.

The secret of education lies in respecting the pupil.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever felt a little different from others? 

Common Questions and Answers:

1)  What time is your regular school day and do you have extended care?

Our regular school day for 2019/2020 will run from 8:15 am to 4:00 pm each day.  We do provide extended care until 6 pm. 

2) Do students go on field trips?

Students go on field trips every month!  Trips are usually directly related to the curricula students are studying and we alternate days of the so kids don't miss the same classes each month.  We also make trips to local businesses, parks, libraries and community sponsored program events. Part time kids may participate in all field trips even if it is not their designated attendance day!

3) Does my child have to be tested as gifted to enroll in Da Vinci?

No, we do not require mandatory testing.  Research shows that parents are the best indicators of a child's giftedness so if you're here you're probably right!  We offer a free intake assessment to see if your child would thrive at Da Vinci and we have both qualitative and quantitative testing partners in the Bay Area for families who wish to engage in the formal assessment process. Testing is not recommended until children are at least 5 years of age. Please click on our Gifted Support tab for the professionals whom we think are terrific for testing if this is something you wish to pursue.

4) What grades and ages do you serve?

We serve gifted children ages 4 to 14.  We offer students the opportunity to stay at Da Vinci until they are 14 years old and then help them transition to one of our partner schools in the Bay Area for high school.  We do not have "grades" at Da Vinci in the lower/middle school - most children experience asynchronous development so they may be years ahead of peers in a particular subject yet behind peers in something else so students are placed in small groups with other kids of similar ability levels.  We meet students where they are and teach at their level to ensure intellectual stimulation and challenge as well as offer plenty of support. We have very young children learning college level math for example, so curricula extends well through high school to college level content and is not dependent upon age.

5) What topics and subjects do students study?

We offer a far broader range of topics than traditional schools.  We teach zoology, geography, matter and astronomy, physics, art, music, in-depth science and labs, biology, drama, research skills and self-selected research exploration, all levels of math, English and Language Arts, poetry, story-writing, 21st century computer skills, Lego Engineering, agriculture, gardening, social-emotional curricula, non-violent communication, multiple languages, and more!   

6) What exactly is the Intake Assessment?

We first have a conversation with parents either at a parent meeting or over the phone.  We then conduct an intake assessment that is simply an hour or so where Dr. Catherine Cook, Head of School, spends time with your child.  We look for the child's interests and engage in play or art, talk to the child about the way he or she learns best, discover their preferences for subjects at school, their previous experiences in school if applicable, ask them about friends and where they are most comfortable, ask about their passions and challenges. We are looking for the characteristics of gifted listed on our website derived from Dr. Silverman, but most importantly we are looking for the right fit for our unique population.  Time usually goes very quickly at the interview and kids have lots of fun!  From there if we all decide it is a great fit, students come for an academic visit to see how they would adapt to our setting with other kids present and parents visit classes to observe our curricula and teaching team.  If we all think it is a great fit and you have found your community, then a formal enrollment to attend Da Vinci is offered.

7) Do you accept students with IEPs or disabilities?

Absolutely.  Many profoundly and exceptionally gifted children have disabilities (what we refer to as learning differences) in addition to being gifted - these children are called Twice Exceptional or 2E. Since we have highly individualized curricula and plans designed to meet every gifted child's unique needs, no child ever feels "different" or singled out by participating in the varied strategies, accommodations and use of assistive technology in the classroom every day. Our use of nonviolent communication and social-emotional curricula also directly addresses students' needs for regulating their bodies and for positively contributing to the community.  We specialize in helping 2e kids to thrive, succeed and love learning!

9) So Why Da Vinci?

As we head into our 14th year of operation, you will not find a lower teacher to student ratio in the Bay Area! Only 5 to 7 students per class! We come in far below other private school ratios that have 20-30 kids in each class.  We provide highly individualized care and attention, intellectually stimulating lessons of high interest at each student's level, hands-on experiential learning and labs, a wide variety of enrichment classes, monthly field trips, student self-selected research projects, and community presentations every semester.  There is plenty of play, exposure to multi-age gifted peers, outdoor connection to nature, and social-emotional support.  We use NVC (Nonviolent Communication) to support schoolwide to support each student's social-emotional growth.  We are a research based school specifically serving profoundly and exceptionally gifted children.  We provide extreme acceleration if that is what your child needs, and we specialize in 2E (twice exceptional) students.  Many students transition into partner high schools in the Bay Area between ages 10-14.  We have created a highly unique home-style school environment in our beautiful 10,000 square foot facility.  Kids go the local park for a full hour each day and have outdoor PE classes there.  The President/Founder, Dr. Catherine Cook, MSEd., Ed.D has over 25 years of experience as an award winning teacher and administrator and she has personally designed a one-of-a-kind educational model consisting of three interconnected domains that successfully meet the ubiquitous needs of gifted children. The Head of School, Dr. Karl Debro, EdD, is an expert in diversity and inclusion.

Email ourgiftedchildren@yahoo.com or call 510-219-9410 for more information.