Apr / 17

Unlocking Academic Potential Through Non-Traditional Learning Settings With Robin Podway and Lauren Reveley [IEP 024]

IEPcontent Podcast 0

Traditional schools are not for everyone. For many students, being in a non-traditional learning setting is much more effective and accommodating to the way they learn.

We’re joined by Robin Podway and Lauren Reveley from Fusion Academy Private School. Fusion Academy is a revolutionary private high school that offers one-to-one teaching where students can flourish emotionally, socially, and academically.

Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.

What We Discuss in this Episode:

  • How Fusion focuses on educating students through love, compassion, and personalized plans
  • What the Homework Café offers at Fusion
  • Are 1-to-1 academic settings a good thing?
  • What socialization looks like at this revolutionary learning center
  • Lauren and Robin’s journey that led them to Fusion
  • Why traditional school is not for every student
  • What a typical weekly schedule looks like (including field trips on Fridays)
  • Transformation stories Lauren and Robin have experienced with students

Resources Mentioned:

Melanie Whitney’s episode

Contact Information:

Fusion Academy ? Huntington Beach

Thank you for listening!

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 Full Show Transcript

Vickie Brett:                      Welcome to The Inclusive Education Project. I am Vickie Brett.

Amanda Selogie:              I’m Amanda Selogie. We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission to change the conversation about education, civil rights and modern activism.

Vickie Brett:                      Each week we’re going to explore new topics, which are going to educate and empower others.

Amanda Selogie:              And give them a platform to enact change in education, and level the playing field.

Vickie Brett:                      Welcome back to The Inclusive Education Project podcast. Just before we get into our special guest today, because we do have special guests. I feel like we’re doing that a lot, but I like having people that I can talk to, other than Amanda. Oh, just kidding.

Amanda Selogie:              How rude, geez. It’s not like you don’t see me every single day. I’m just kidding. You’re not going to see me for the rest of the day and the weekend. Don’t you feel good about that?

Vickie Brett:                      I don’t want to see you on the weekend. No, yeah, you have a fun weekend planned. What are you doing?

Amanda Selogie:              I am going up to San Francisco, although I just found out that my flight is three hours delayed. That’s going to be fun, because it’s raining there all day. My mom’s birthday was this week, and she’s a huge Dodger fan, so we’re going to Dodgers/Giants game tomorrow.

My sister just texted me that apparently the game tonight is canceled, so who knows what’s going to happen. We are literally going to be on a boat twice, because we’re going to Alcatraz, and doing some Dodgers yacht party after the game. And at the game, it’s going to rain tomorrow, so that’s going to be a-

Vickie Brett:                      What’s Plan B? You need to look something up, like maybe a museum or something. Do they have MOMA? No, it’s the San Francisco Modern Art Museum.

Amanda Selogie:              I mean, or we can just find a bar. I’m just kidding. Well, it’s San Francisco. We’ll figure something out, I guess. Who knows? Maybe my flight will be canceled, and I’ll always be here.

Vickie Brett:                      Well, anyway, should we get into this? Let’s talk about where we are. Amanda and I, today, are at Fusion Academy Huntington Beach, and we have two special guests. Why don’t you guys introduce yourselves and say hi.

Robin Podway:                 Hi, I’m Robin Podway, Head of School.

Lauren:                               Hey guys, thanks so much for having us. I’m Lauren, and I’m the Director of Admissions and Outreach.

Amanda Selogie:              We had the benefit … I’ve dealt with Fusion a number of times, but we met Lauren and just obviously fell in love with her passion and for everything that she does. We love Fusion. It’s such a one of a kind program, and we’re always talking about thinking outside the box, and that’s exactly what Fusion does.

Do you guys want to talk a little bit about … For anyone whose not aware of what Fusion is, what is Fusion?

Lauren:                               Definitely. Fusion has been around since the 80’s, actually. We just started replicating our campuses about eight years ago. We are a private school, full accredited. Every class here is taught one to one, so one teacher to one student.

Amanda Selogie:              That’s amazing.

Lauren:                               Amazing. We’re super relational-based, so kind of the underlying basis of what we do is loving kids, motivating them, and ultimately teaching them through relationships. When a student has a relationship with their teacher, and they know their teacher, and they like their teacher … And vice versa, when the teacher gets to know the student, their strengths, their challenges, their best learning styles, we can completely individualize their education and build on their passions and build on their strengths to create a completely individualized learning experience. It’s a lot of fun.

Vickie Brett:                      And you start at a crucial time, right? I think you have as young as seventh graders, I think? Middle school?

Lauren:                               Yeah, middle school and high school. We’re sixth through 12th grade.

Vickie Brett:                      Tough time just overall, that you’re seeing these kids, which is great. I think sometimes when they need that support to flourish.

Lauren:                               100%, yeah. We’ve seen kind of this model attract a variety of different students, but like you said, these are crucial years, middle school and high school. They’re tough years for a lot of kids. We’re attracting a wide variety of students for a wide variety of different reasons, but underlying theme is that they’re just not fitting into the traditional school model for whatever reason.

We see a lot of anxiety, depression, ADHD, learning differences, really bright and gifted kids who are bored in school, or unchallenged, and even to professional athletes. We have actresses, athletes, professional surfers, who need a flexible school and Fusion can offer that for them, too.

Amanda Selogie:              I love that you guys really think about the whole child and not just their academics, right? I think … I love that you said you guys focus on loving the child, because how often are schools just … And unfortunately, they’re so focused on reading, writing and arithmetic that we lose touch with the fact that these are kids. It’s such a crazy thing that we don’t have more schools that focus on that. We love it.

Lauren:                               It’s so true. I’ve been working at Fusion since June, so a little bit shy of a year. Already, it’s been so amazing to see students when they’re in a safe environment, where they are loved and where they are known, and where they are cared for. What that can do for their future … I mean, we’ve seen complete turnaround, complete changes of students who came to us really struggling.

Just by creating that loving environment, it can totally shift everything. It’s been really cool to see. Two, thinking to the future, or other issues, how can we create in our world or in our community, a loving and safe environment for each other. It’s kind of the platform of a big social change, I hope, maybe one day.

Vickie Brett:                      Yeah, which we always talk about. That opportunity or inclusion that hopefully makes a better community, and just to see that you found your way to Fusion, Robin and I was going to ask you how did you … I know you’ve been with Fusion for a while. What attracted you to Fusion?

Lauren:                               My background is at the intersection of psychology and education. I have a master’s degree in both. I completed my teaching credential program in special education literally as Fusion Academy Los Angeles was opening. Fusion Academy Los Angeles was the first replication from … We started out as an individual school in Solano Beach, and then we now have 44 schools across the country. One just opened while we were having this conversation.

Fusion LA was the first one, and they literally opened right when I finished my credentialing. It was perfect because my role, when I started at that school, was as Director of Homework Café. Our Homework Café is the central space in our school where our students have their classes one to one with their teachers, but then they spend an equal amount of time in the Homework Café and the social spaces doing all their homework on campus.

That’s another sort of really important piece of our program. When kids are struggling, oftentimes, there’s a family component, or even a component where we have plenty of kids that would be doing just fine in the traditional system, if they would just do their work.

Amanda Selogie:              Right.

Lauren:                               So we have a social program that’s run in our Homework Café that’s all around that. I entered Fusion nine years ago, now, in the West LA school as Director of Homework Café.

Amanda Selogie:              One thing I love about Fusion is that it’s … Even though you guys have so many locations, it still feels like one school. A lot of times you get franchises, so to speak, and you may have, for instance, a restaurant that is fabulous, but the minute they get franchised, they kind of lose that special touch. But I don’t see that with Fusion. It’s still run with the same heart, and with the same soul, and the same ideas and principles that really is what makes it work and why … Yeah, by the end of the year, they’ll probably have 100.

I mean, it’s looking at the core values of the school, I think, is what’s important. We oftentimes have a lot of myths about different types of schooling. One of the ones that a lot of school districts love to say is something like, “Fusion one on one, I mean, that’s so restrictive for a kid.” What would you say to someone who said that that was a reason Fusion wouldn’t be a good idea?

Lauren:                               It’s an interesting question. The only thing that’s happening at Fusion that’s one to one is the direct instruction in specific academic content areas. Since it’s middle and high school, these are students that would be moving from classroom to classroom.

Amanda Selogie:              Right.

Lauren:                               There’s a whole lot of activity that happens, there’s a whole lot of potential group learning that’s happening in the social spaces. But I would say that one of the things that works so well at Fusion for kids who have not had success in the traditional system, is the fact that there’s no one … And I don’t know if this is going to answer your question, because I don’t know that I have the perfect answer to that question.

There’s no one in the room that is able to see a student’s response to a question, how a student is moving through the content, so there’s no judgment. There’s no ranking, there’s no competition. Those are the things that make this environment work, and they’re what make adolescents so much better. If you pull competition and ranking out of a middle or a high school environment, you shift people’s ability to like each other, and to support each other.

I don’t think I can specifically answer the question, how do we make it not restrictive.

Amanda Selogie:              I think you actually did answer it. I think when a school or a parent might think of, “Oh, it’s one on one,” they think the only people that the kid’s going to interact with are the only thing they’re responsible for is just that interaction with that one teacher. In everything that you guys have explained, and everything that Fusion is, it’s not like that. There’s so much interaction.

I mean, we’re here in the school right now, and even though you guys are going through construction, there’s lots going on. Every time we’ve toured, there’s always lots going on. If you guys follow Fusion on Instagram, which you should if you’re not, they’re always talking about all the activities. I saw the one when you guys did the pie in the face. What were you guys doing that for?

Lauren:                               Oh, that was Pi Day.

Amanda Selogie:              Oh, Pi Day, yes.

Lauren:                               Yep.

Amanda Selogie:              So there’s so many opportunities, because when we think about something being restrictive, we think about the child not having the opportunities to have that engagement with other peers or adults because you learn a lot from that too, but you guys have all of that.

Lauren:                               Absolutely. I would say, you know, I get that question from parents a lot. Students at Fusion spend a whole lot more time with other students, building their social relationships, working on projects together, than you do in a traditional high school. In a traditional high school, you have a 30-40 minute lunch, and you have five minute passing periods. Other than that, the only time you ever spend together is time outside of school. Here at Fusion, every student spends half their time in social spaces.

Vickie Brett:                      That’s helpful for a lot of our kiddos that we see that have those individualized education programs, and that’s what’s so great about you guys is that you’re able to see the child for who the child is, what they’re learning differences are, and then are able to try to curtail a program. IEPs do that all the time with specialized academic instruction. They’re pulling the kid out, or the child has a period or two of this SAI, and that’s supposed to be individualized, but when you have five other kids plus the child that’s supposed to get the SAI, it’s not truly that.

When you’re able to come here to Fusion, that’s something that is put out right at front. That core instruction time? Yes, one to one, this teacher/instructor will get to know your child, and kind of see the fear behind their eyes when they’re getting into algebra, or where a teacher may not necessarily notice that visual cue, but they’ll see the kid that’s just like, “Not gonna do this,” and then just pushes the papers off and walks out.

Okay, yeah, you know that kid … It may be stemming from frustration, but here, that attention almost to detail, that makes the difference is so useful, and I think that that’s why we always try and encourage parents to see different schools. For us, especially for some of our Orange County families, we go to Fusion and say they’re on the short list only because we’ve seen the growth of some of those kiddos that we’ve been able to help.

Lauren:                               Yeah, I’ve had a number of kids that have come to Fusion when they were at risk of not graduating, or worse. Really struggling through life. All those kids have since graduated and gone off to college. You see those successes, and that’s the reason we do what we do, and we know that that’s the reason you guys do what you do. It’s what the goal for the kid, looking at that goal, and finding the way to get them at that goal rather than, “Well, they’re in school because they have to be in school.”

Vickie Brett:                      So Lauren, same question to you, what was your journey over to fusion? I know you’re almost coming up to your year anniversary. Congrats.

Lauren:                               Yes, thank you, almost a year. It’s been a really fun journey. I graduated San Diego State University with a communications and marketing degree. The day I graduated, I was kind of hit with, “Oh my God, what now?” I mean, up until then I felt like my whole life had been planned out for me, and I had this weird, almost out-of-body experience. I have all the freedom now.

Vickie Brett:                      Right.

Lauren:                               The world’s at my fingertips, nothing is structured anymore. I can just do whatever. The most natural thing, for me, in that moment was to buy a one way ticket to Australia. I ended up moving to Australia. I lived there for two years. I was working in medical devices. I’ve always put a little bit of pressure on myself career-wise in the way that I need to do something that motivates me in my soul.

Working in medical devices was an amazing experience, and I was learning and growing in that realm, working with spine surgeons and coordinating surgeon education events. But my heart, at the end of the day, it just wasn’t getting the growth that it needed, if that makes sense. At the end of two years, after a crazy fun Australia journey, I moved home. I started this job with Fusion, and was so excited because not only have I received the growth that I’ve craved for so long, but my heart is growing along with my head.

I am learning new things about different professionals, and about different mental health … The whole mental health world, the whole education world, the whole special education world. It’s been a really amazing, and really rewarding experience for me. I am so thankful for this every day.

Vickie Brett:                      That is amazing, because it’s a great story that you can share with your students. We get in our heads that okay, you go to college and then you get a job, and then you buy a house, and then you have 2.5 kids. That’s happiness. We had a guest on … Shout out to my friend, Mel, who was on a couple of episodes ago, and this was her whole background in getting these, as an adjunct professor at Cal. State Long Beach, getting these 18 year olds … She’s just like, “Why are you here?”

The answer she always gets is, “My parents told me to.” They don’t know. She’s like, “What drives you? Why is it that you feel like higher education is something,” and that’s something that you can personally attest to and just say, “Look, this is what I thought. Everything was planned out,” and then you just made a decision and it led you to where your passion is, which is amazing.

Lauren:                               Yeah, and you’re so right. You said it perfectly. There’s a lot of pressure built in to status quo, or keeping up with the Joneses, and find your path. It’s always where are you going to college? What’s your major going to be? What career path are you going to follow? Who are you going to marry? How many kids are you going to have? It’s always kind of what’s next. Yeah, kind of like you said, being directly a part of that, every goes through that. But you’re right, it’s a good story, and a good reminder to be able to relate with our kids here, who feel that same kind of lostness, if that’s a word. Is that a word?

Amanda Selogie:              No, yeah. I mean, that’s what’s happening. We often have kids who are really struggling in trying to figure out, even in high school, who they are. They don’t think that they are good at school, even though they actually may be very bright kids. Those are the ones that often get lost, because it’s not the traditional intelligence of reading, writing and math.

Something that we hear a lot from school districts and talking about why programs that are alternative programs, are always … Maybe they’re not a preferable, because they say, “Well, the kid’s going to miss out on things.” Do you want your kid to miss out on the traditional high school experience? Not only do you guys have plenty of activities, but some of these kids are not even participating anyway. They’re not taking advantage of these “opportunities”, or maybe they’re at risk of not being in school at all.

We need to be finding a better way, because the traditional high school experience … Half the people that go through that traditional high school experience don’t even enjoy it. How many people do you talk to who say, “I hated high school.” I mean, I can say I really enjoyed high school, but I was involved in so many things, things that I liked. Not necessarily all things that I was fantastic at, but things that I enjoyed doing, I took advantage. But not everyone does.

Robin Podway:                 We just yesterday … So our seniors … We have a couple of Fusion-specific classes, and we have a two semester Life Skills class that all our seniors need to go through that culminates in a senior portfolio. They do that, they present sort of their understanding of their high school years, to teachers, to administrators, to students, to whomever is available at the time.

Yesterday we had a presentation from one of our students who talked about his experience in high school, and how it was to come to Fusion. As it’s not uncommon for kids to come to us, in fact almost all of them come to us, having not been successful. What he shared about his … And it was public high school experience, had to do with how being a boy, he had to completely shut down his emotional experience, which think we’re seeing in so many arenas coming forward today. It was so beautiful to see this young man be able to say … They say because of Fusion, because that is how they feel.

But, it’s because they’re seen. It’s because we value … One of the things that I went out in the world is that we ask … The title of our teachers is Teacher/Mentor. We ask our teachers to be experts. We want our teachers to be experts in their field, but we also expect them to mentor our students, and our curriculum has that built into it, and our training has that built into it. For this young man, and I’ve seen this time and time again, kids say, “No, I don’t miss the traditional high school experience, because the traditional high school experience hurts.”

It doesn’t hurt everybody, but it hurts a lot of people these days.

Vickie Brett:                      And there’s only so much time and attention that a teacher, even at a public school setting, can even give to … They have 30 kids in each class, and there’s six different periods that they teach. It’s just like those obvious cues, they’re like, “She was lively one day, and then she completely shut down.” But what if it was always that shy kid that you had no idea about?

Obviously, that’s out in our world now with everything that’s been going on in the attention to mental health, but that component of being a mentor, I think, is so useful because I have mentors still. I don’t think you could ever be too old to have a mentor, because some of it is just that life experience that if somebody could just give you a heads up.

You don’t have to listen to it, I mean I’m definitely the type of person that’s like, “Oh, don’t put your hand on the stove. Wait, what?” Okay, that’s how I learn. But at least you have that information beforehand, and I think that’s what we’ve seen with some of the teacher/mentors here at Fusion. The way that you even structure classes, they don’t have to take seven periods of any academics. It can be broken up, and Fridays are a little bit different, if you want to kind of talk about-

Robin Podway:                 Yeah, so we have a traditional block schedule. A student would take an English class maybe on Monday, Wednesday. Their math classes, if they had a class, on Tuesday. They would also have it on Thursday. For many of our students, they don’t even have classes on Friday. Fridays are reserved for field trips, or if they have some work that they need to complete, or for kids to work on a project together.

That’s how most of our students schedules are. There are kids that do have Friday classes, in which case they’d have two sessions of that class so that they were just on the same track-

Vickie Brett:                      Okay, yeah.

Robin Podway:                 Yeah, but a lot of our kids, they only have four days and then they have a three day weekend. In a way, we kind of say they can earn their three day weekend by making sure they get all their work done throughout the week. That allows us to have … Kids are available to do these group activities that we try to organize for Fridays.

Amanda Selogie:              You guys are still able to complete the amount of content that would be needed. I can definitely already hear someone in the public school system saying, “Well how are you getting through enough content if you’re not having five days of school?” How much of the time in a traditional classroom is probably … I don’t want to say dead time, or quiet time, but it’s not … You’re probably able to get through a lot more when it’s done the way that you guys do.

Robin Podway:                 I think you answered that question. Yes, we don’t spend one minute doing classroom management, not one minute. Because you have one, your kids are right in front of you. What can they possibly do. Yeah, if you pulled out all the time, the teachers are getting kids to sit down and handing out papers, and getting them on the right page, and then getting one to be paying attention, and that one to be quiet, and that one to sit down after they stood up and, “Can I go to the bathroom?” You take all of that out, you’re probably down to an equivalent amount of hours.

Amanda Selogie:              You know what I like about that is that it’s teaching kids, these students, that it’s not about the amount of time you spend on something, it’s about the quality of time. We learned this in law school, and I am sure people learning in college too, and everything. There’s always someone that’s going to be in the library longer than you. There’s always going to be someone that’s going to be at the office longer than you. But does that mean that they’re doing as much amount of work?

No, because you see people who are in the library for eight hours, and they’re getting up and they’re chatting people, and they’re on Gchat, and they’re doing this and that. So, the eight hours of studying amounts down to four. That idea, the skill of being able to complete good quality work in a shorter amount of time, is a skill that needs to be built and taught. It’s not something that we inherently, necessarily already know.

I think that that’s something that is very useful that Fusion is kind of subconsciously, I guess, teaching these kids that it’s not about the amount of time. I think we’re seeing that a lot with companies like Google coming about doing more of these flexible schedules in jobs. It’s no longer you have to have a nine to five job, you’re there nine to five, because that’s not always going to work. Just like school doesn’t work for everyone, that kind of environment. I love that it kind of teaches that.

Robin Podway:                 Yeah, and if I can just add … Well, I’ll just got to one of the two things that comes to mind. Generally, kids are here for a school day. They might not start until 9:30 or even 10:30, or if they have sleep issues, maybe they don’t start until after lunch. But they’re generally here for six, seven hours. Sometimes, even longer because they like it here.

If you have a class, and then you have an hour in the Homework Café to do your independent work, and then you have another class, it generally looks like school. It can be flexible in that … Like in oftentimes with athletes. They need to be free on Fridays. They need to be able to go travel on Friday so they can play their game on Saturday.

Or, we have a couple of equestrian students who … They come at 7:30 in the morning, and they’re done by 10:30, and they’re on a horse for the rest of the day. We do have that … We have flexible schedules, but it is a consistent flexibility. Kids are still doing semesters, it’s just that having rolling enrollment, so their semester can start at a different time besides September 1st. It’s a very consistent environment. I just think it’s important, because when you’re not looking at it, it’s easy to imagine that it’s all over the place.

Vickie Brett:                      Well, it’s the expectation that’s being set. I think that you guys make that very clear. I’m sure when parents come through and kind of get the tour, and not even really a spiel, because you guys are so passionate about it. It’s like different every time. You’re saying, “Let us meet your kid. Why don’t you bring them here?” Because oftentimes as attorneys, obviously, the child is our client but the parent is our client on behalf of the child.

We always say, “Bring the child in.” They’re like, “Are you sure? He’s got a lot of behavioral,” and, “We need to meet him.” I can’t tell you how many times … And I can think of one client, if the mom is listening, yes, I am talking about you. I’m just kidding. Where I’ve met this little girl in the district. She had been in a different state, then came here to California and the district had just kind of mis-categorized her as having a very low IQ.

You meet this little girl … When you have a very low IQ, sometimes, language is difficult. You can’t necessarily effectively communicate with others. She did not have this issue. We were able to help them, and continually help them find that appropriate placement. Sometimes, that’s private school, and sometimes you just have to be out of the realm of public school.

I’ll get parents that are just like, “But I went to public school,” and I’m like, “Yeah, you turned out okay, but maybe when you had dyslexia, you were writing that assignment that should have taken you an hour for four hours. That made you the person that you are today, and your child may need something different, because they are not like you.”

With that said, we’d like to kind of end on a positive story that you guys have, or one of the transformative types of kiddos that you’ve seen come through Fusion, or that you’ve helped in some personal way. I think that that really helps a lot of our listeners when they are taking these things into account, because not all of them have children with special needs, but this might be a program that my child needs, and I’m now hearing about it and need more information.

If you guys want to share a little story. You don’t have to name names, obviously, but if you have a good story.

Lauren:                               Yeah, good question. I can speak to that. It was one of my very first admissions call. Again, I’m the Director of Admissions and Outreach, so any new family whose interested in Fusion, I kind of talk to them, explain our program, bring them in for a tour, etc. This family … I’m kind of new at my job, I’m still a bit rickety, and I got my sea legs. I get a call from a dad who the first words out of his mouth were, “My son is going to hate this school, but my wife made me call you.”

I was like, “Oh my God.” He was like, “Explain your program,” and I kind of explained our program. I deep dive into what we offer, and our mentorship, and we can support students. He explained his son’s situation. They had just moved from out of state, there was some bullying issues, there were some learning differences. This is a super bright, capable, intelligent adolescent, who just kind of got caught in the wrong group.

There was a lot of peer pressures. Moving is a big trigger for a lot of kids, and having to rebuild that community.

Robin Podway:                 Yeah, it’s tough.

Lauren:                               It’s really tough, especially at this age.

Amanda Selogie:              Leaving your friends.

Lauren:                               Oh my gosh, it’s the worst when you’re that age.

Amanda Selogie:              Everything.

Lauren:                               So, I talked to the dad … It was probably an hour and a half long conversation. We just talked about everything. He was so open and so grateful. I got off the call, and immediately burst into tears. I’m like, “I am so thankful that Fusion exists for this student.” I don’t know what else he would do. The family came in, they toured. Dad was still hesitant, Mom was fully on board. The student was like, “Yeah, this seems cool. Whatever.”

Flash forward … Gosh, how long has it been? Maybe eight months now? This student is the lead of our Student Ambassador group.

Amanda Selogie:              That’s awesome.

Lauren:                               He is thriving at Fusion socially. Academically, he’s been a mentor for other students in his classes. His teachers are amazed by his ability to … They are challenged … Totally. They are challenged by him, and they love teaching him because he’s so curious.

I think that at the end of the day, it’s what Fusion’s really good at, is kind of bringing out that curiosity and asking questions about yourself, about your academics. We want to cultivate you as a whole person. Being able to see that transformation of just this one student, the first one to pop into my mind, has been really cool.

Amanda Selogie:              In such a short amount of time, too.

Lauren:                               Yeah.

Amanda Selogie:              Not even the full school year.

Lauren:                               Yeah, it’s been really neat.

Speaker 5:                         That’s awesome.

Robin Podway:                 I want to add some stuff about that student, can I do that?

Amanda Selogie:              Yeah.

Robin Podway:                 When he came here, he had had some circumstances at prior schools where he was considered … He had done some stuff that was seen as dangerous. He’s a real science-y guy, super gifted guy, knows how to do science-y, dangerous stuff, like every scientist does. But he was also bullied, and he didn’t make great social decisions.

Yeah, but when those two pieces came together, he ended up getting a reputation in a number of different schools, and-

Lauren:                               Sometimes boys are just teenagers, too.

Robin Podway:                 … Bad kid. Even a diagnosis that was so wrong … Anyway, since he’s been here, those things have come forward, where he put together some chemicals that … I mean, it was all sort of through a science class, and some stuff from home, and there was nothing really dangerous. But in a traditional system, people would have gone [inaudible 00:30:17], and he would have been punished.

Because we take the time to notice, we kind of saw that, “Oh, he’s trying to impress these people because he’s trying to make social connections, and it’s working.” Yeah, we’re going to talk to you about how you have to be careful about the choices that you make. We want to help you learn about how to make better choices. We also realize you’re not a bad person. We realize you’re trying to make connections, and we see that it’s working for you.

We’re a high school. We deal with discipline. We have to deal with discipline. But, we look at each child and what really is motivating their behavior moreso than just the behavior itself.

Vickie Brett:                      And that just hits on the ultimate nature versus nurture, where you’re able to pay attention to those details, and see and take a step back and say, “Oh, okay.” Because very few children just all of a sudden are just defiant out of nowhere. It stems from frustration. “I’m a third grader. I don’t know what’s going on in my classroom. I can’t read, and I think it’s just going to be easier and they’re going to send me home if I just throw this desk over.”

I mean, that’s a very well thought out … That’s essentially what we see, right? We see, “I can’t read, so what am I going to do? I’m either going to say I don’t know and just put my head down, or I’m going to just elope from this classroom.” We’ve had kiddos, as young as kindergarten, say, “Well, my mom will come pick me up if I just kick this paper off the table.” And it’s just like, oh my gosh.

Here, you’re able to really take a step back and say, “Oh, this was a social component, so we’re just going to make sure in the future that he’s safe about the decisions that he’s making,” but he was able to explain, “This is why I did this,” and then you’re able to kind of go back and say, “Oh my gosh. Look at how easy it was for them to just put this label on him, and then just put him in the corner.”

Amanda Selogie:              In a traditional school, it would have been discouraged from probably even seeking out opportunities to use that interest in maybe science, and maybe technology, and using that as a motivator for maybe what he’s going to do in his life. But being given the opportunity to use it in a positive way, you never know. I mean, he could go and cure cancer one day. We don’t know. It’s all about giving kids that opportunity. It’s the opportunity that meets their actual needs, because all kids are so different. That is absolutely what we love about Fusion.

We thank you so much for being on the pod today. We’re glad to come here and be on location.

Robin Podway:                 Thank you. Thanks for-

Vickie Brett:                      And location … Like, we are in their music room, right? This is like soundproof-

Lauren:                               Recording studio.

Vickie Brett:                      Recording … Yeah, cool thing.

Amanda Selogie:              Like, an actual studio.

Lauren:                               Thank you guys so much, too, for hosting us and for also being you. We were kind of gushing about you earlier, but your passion and your knowledge, and everything that you guys are doing for the community is just so inspiring. So thank you for being you.

Amanda Selogie:              If someone is interested in learning more about Fusion, or speaking to either one of you, how can they get ahold of you?

Lauren:                               Our website is probably best: FusionHuntingtonBeach.com. My information is on there. Robin’s information is on there. You can call us, call our campus directly. We’d love to have you.

Amanda Selogie:              Thank you. Oh, awesome. That’s great. In case you guys have been listening to us, but haven’t subscribed yet, just a friendly reminder to go ahead and subscribe. The information will be in the show notes as well. Remember, we are very vocal on social media, so go ahead and make sure to find us on social media as well.

Vickie Brett:                      I think we’re supposed to say, “Rate and review as well, if you like.”

Amanda Selogie:              Oh yeah.

Vickie Brett:                      We’re supposed to say that. Anyway, I wanted to end on a quote that I had bungled this morning, when I was talking. It’s from Albert Einstein. I think it really solidifies everything that we were talking about today, where he said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

How often do you see that? Those are the kids and the parents that we see, where they’ve just been told over and over. At a certain point, sometimes believe it. But you guys give those kids that opportunity to be able to turn their lives around. We appreciate community partners like you guys, in helping us accomplish goals for our kids. So, thank you. Well, I think that’s it, right?

Amanda Selogie:              Yeah.

Vickie Brett:                      Okay, well you’ll hear us next week. Remember I always say, “See you next week,” but no one is seeing anybody, anyway. Okay. We’re ending this now.

Amanda Selogie:              Bye.

Vickie Brett:                      Bye.

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