Davidson Day School
Founded: 1999 (originally named Acclaim Academy)
Grades served: Junior kindergarten-12
Total enrollment: 350
This year Davidson Day School will graduate its first senior class—of twelve students.
The school opened in 1999 as Acclaim Academy and moved to its new campus, which includes a seven-acre park on Lake Davidson, in 2007. The rigorous college-prep curriculum has individualized learning plans for each student. A student who is reading above grade level, for example, will be given different assignments to challenge him or her.
"We don't have a one-size-fits-all academic program," Cotter says. "We recognize that kids all have different ways of learning."
Accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools, the school uses project-based learning to ensure kids comprehend the deeper importance of subjects. "The goal of our school is not just worrying about SAT scores and getting them into college," Cotter says. "We want to make sure they're good human beings who will be able to lead."
With a total enrollment of 350, Davidson Day offers upper-school classes as small as four students. "If you're taking an AP class with only three other kids, you're getting some good attention," Cotter says.
Beginning in seventh grade, each student is given a laptop to use for research and homework. Students are free to incorporate YouTube videos, for example, into their assignments. In the younger grades, teachers integrate technology into their classroom goals and use mobile laptop labs. There are many changes on the horizon at Davidson Day, where enrollment has risen steadily. It will finish building a ten-classroom wing, which will increase the school's capacity to 560 students. Its recently opened auditorium and athletic center will allow it to add more sports teams. The school also hopes to build a dock on Lake Davidson and start a crew team and sailing club.
Eventually, Cotter says, Davidson Day plans to purchase additional land and build a separate high school.