Darko is the brainchild of Shimon Shain, a local educator and the founder of MasterMind LA, a well known tutoring and coaching company that mentors students and teachers alike on the latest cutting edge developments in Jewish Education. MasterMind LA is responsible for bringing Rabbi Jonathan Rietti to Los Angeles and implementing his Lashon HaTorah program at Darko, Yavneh, Hillel’s Kesher program and many other local Jewish schools.
Advanced, Creative and Innovative
The Darko Center for Advanced and Creative Learners breaks the mold with its innovative and collaborative approach to education. The Darko classroom is equipped with multi-sensory learning materials which cover all core Judaic and general studies subjects and skills. The level of difficulty is variable, so that an easier form or idea could be grasped by a younger child, while an older or more advanced child would be challenged at a different level. This enables a concept to be perceived at a younger age, and then learnt more fully at an older age. Also, the Darko teacher ensures that the child's exposure to a concept is wholesome, i.e. the child is exposed to multiple facets of the idea at the same time.
The Darko Classroom
A typical Darko classroom has children within a variety of ages within a few year spread. This allows a child to observe or consult older peers for guidance, and to help younger peers as needed, which instills confidence. The role of the teacher is to provide adequate tools and suitably arranged materials that arouse and satisfy the children's curiosity. The teachers help indirectly, while older students serve as the real coaches. To learn from an older child instead of an adult poses much less pressure on the child to perform to expectations, and is not as intimidating. The teacher can correct any misconceptions developed by the children. The empirical evidence that this method works can be found by questioning any family with multi-age siblings; the parents teach and train their first child, but the second and younger children are coached by their older brothers and sisters and manage to learn everything several months ahead of the schedule set by the oldest child.
Darko prides itself as being Jewish Montessori where students participate in hands on learning and spend more time actively engaged in curriculum, than sitting at desks. This past year the students participated in science courses offered at the L.A. Science Center, learned about spatial relationships with Lego robotics accompanied by a trip to Legoland, and re-enforced mathematical skills through working on fractions during challah making. Additionally, the students focused on pre-geometry concepts during woodworking and technical skills, including computers and graphics put to use during Claymation classes.
Darko’s Judaic and general studies curriculum is fully integrated. When the children learn about the first day of creation (when Hashem created light), the teachers take the opportunity to teach all about the science of gravity and light. When the children learn about day three of creation (when Hashem created land and oceans), the teachers take the opportunity to teach geography.
Warm Caring Enviorment
Children learn in a warm caring environment where no child is embarrassed or humiliated because of their learning style. Each child is treated as an individual and not in a conformed mold. Our style is unique and each child feels successful and is inspired and complimented on their individual achievements. The children come home from their day of studies looking forward to coming back the next day because they feel good about themselves and their environment. As parents, teachers and educators what more can we ask for.
Darko is currently accepting boys and girls ages 5-13. For more information or to schedule a tour contact us at: 323-244-4136 or email: info@DarkoLA.org