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DME Sports Academy as a Learning Organization

This essay presents a profile of DME Sports Academy. The discussion draws on the results of field research that included interviews and observations and a review of secondary sources. It incorporates digital articles addressing the larger context of education and multiple creative sources to justify main points. DME Academy is a learning facility that offers conventional education programs and training in a variety of sports. The institution is strongly committed to providing rich learning experiences to help them reach their potential and accomplish their academic and co-curricular goals. It serves a diverse student population ranging from 6th to 12th graders. The faculty and coaches are guided by steadfast values and principles, including discipline, citizenship, and person-centred education (see Figure 1).

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DME Academy Core Values
Fig. 1. DME Academy Core Values (DME Academy, 2021).

DME Academy is distinguished from competitors by its well-rounded education. Consistent with Kos Jr’ (2018) conceptualization of a well-rounded education, the institution exposes students to a rich curriculum that includes diverse subjects such as arts, humanities, sciences, and sports. Many states in the United States transitioned from the traditional approach that emphasized alignment between high school and college requirements to a new model that calls for exposure to a truly well-rounded education to facilitate high school graduation. The emphasis on balanced student development is depicted in the DME ACADEMICS YouTube video on the school’s website (DME Academy, 2021), which provides a brief overview of DME Academy’s blended curriculum model. The focus on curricular and co-curricular activities enables students to balance academic expectations with their unique athletic skill sets.

Unlike the traditional school model that focuses more on serving a large student body with more diverse needs, the DME Academy’s model recognizes that each student is unique. This idea is supported by Kolb’s experiential learning theory, which asserts that “experiential learning occurs through a continual process within the four-stage learning cycle: Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualization, and Active Experimentation” (Sato and Laughlin 2018, 51). Each student creates a personalized learning plan (PLP) with the help of the Head of School and their parents before beginning classes at the school. The strong focus on individual learning within a nurturing and team-oriented atmosphere allows the institution to offer differentiated instruction.

The institution employs a rigorous, optimized hybrid curriculum that offers dual enrolment. Particularly, prepositive students have the choice of attending a traditional classroom or learning from online classes. This approach makes learning more flexible and convenient because students can simultaneously pursue their studies and social responsibilities (Stone et al. 2019). Flexibility is vital for schools in rural communities where students face serious barriers they face to accessing high-quality education and learning resources. DME Academy has an outstanding performance record, evidenced by 99% college matriculation (DME Academy 2021). The flexible learning environment allows DME Academy to provide equitable, high-quality education and training, which in turn increase student achievement and promote independent learners.

DME Academy Overview
Fig. 2. DME Academy Overview (DME Academy 2021).
DME National High School Basketball Team
Fig. 3. DME National High School Basketball Team (DME Academy 2021)

These exceptional student outcomes can be attributed partly to the high student-to-teacher ratio. As illustrated in the figure above, the institution has a learner-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, which exceeds the national average of 16.0 and 11.9 for public and private schools in 2016, respectively (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020). This ratio supports DME Academy’s objective of offering differentiated instruction because it enables teachers to adapt interactive learning resources and instructional activities to match students’ learning styles, interests, and PLPs.

Furthermore, the institution is a model of diversity and inclusion. As demonstrated by the DME Academy’s national high school basketball team, the academy serves students from diverse backgrounds (see Figure 3). International students account for 70% of the student population representing over 25 countries. A diverse learning environment is critical to students’ motivation to learn and intellectual, citizenship, and cultural engagement (Snowball and McKenna 2017). My three roommates from Italy, Spain, and Moldova proved helpful in learning about their cultures and differences. This culturally diverse environment enabled many other students and me to hone my writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

The institution has state of the art facilities and equipment that enhance its appeal to its target audience. DME Academy is a targeted elite sports training facility designed to heighten their potential in the classroom and on the court, field, or rink. Figure 4 offers an overview of the academy year-round sports, schooling, camps, events and social activities and training on all levels, with travel teams and kids training.

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The organization boasts of a variety of courts for volleyball and basketball for girls and boys of most ages, along with a spectacular dorm setting, cafeteria, weight room, and wellness facility. These resources support DME Academy’s summer immersion programs designed to help their student-athletes improve their classroom speed and on the field. Students who do not actively engage in sports have friendly options to help them gain a valuable targeted learning course designed to meet their unique needs and expectations.

DME Academy Sports and Facilities
Fig. 4. DME Academy Sports and Facilities

The academy has a team of dedicated and experienced teachers and trainers, making their flexible schedule possible to deliver and give students the most out of their day in all aspects of training the mind, body and soul. The institution is led by Mike and Dan Panaggio, two co-founding brothers who had a passion to coach and better student-athletes into superior players while giving them an all-around learning experience. The instructional teams promise to make everyone better, stronger, happier and more driven.

I had the opportunity to meet them last year in my quest for a prep school before heading to college, and I immediately fell in love with the close-knit family atmosphere. I was fascinated with how the coaches knew all athletes and students by their names, traits, and talents. Dreams can become a reality here with hard work, effort, and guidance from every coaching and teaching angle. Student-athletes have more excellent opportunities to pursue their dreams while working in a unique nurturing family setting that is developmentally and technologically advanced.

I feel very strongly about DME sports academy, particularly its dedication to offering a well-round education program. As a DME Academy graduate, I have experienced first-hand the nurturing personalized excellent family environment, utmost care for students and athletes. My experience at the institution helped me build a strong foundation that has proved effective in my successful transition from junior school to college. It offers a variety of valuable opportunities that I can leverage to further my education and basketball career. I spent my first year away from home at the institution and left a more well-rounded person who immensely enjoyed my experiences with kids of all cultures.

The academy’s campus in Daytona Beach, Florida, does not provide accommodation services. Still, I lived in a nearby apartment with three international students from the academy who exhibited common and unique preferences, such as Cheeseburgers, Coke and French fries, just like American teens. Despite language differences, my peers proved to be a valuable company as we played, studied, and fished together. I taught my roommate to drive, and he got his license. I had planned to stay longer through the summer before college, but the coronavirus pandemic disrupted my plans. The academy exhibited its dedication to providing a caring and excellent environment during the COVID-19 crisis. It housed all my roommates and many other kids who could not go back to their countries and families.

Their attention to detail, caring, and kind attitudes, and what they give back to the community make them worth being praised. Students must have 30 hours of community service in the forms of beach clean-up, participation in the community with needy children, doing work in community shelters, and helping with food donations in the area to the elderly. Furthermore, the academy has a nonprofit program run by Ms Panaggio to cultivate the European recruits with scholarships and opportunities to live and study in the United States.

Bibliography

DME Academy. 2021. “What Is DME Academy?”.

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Kos Jr, Ronald P. 2018. “Music Education and the Well-Rounded Education Provision of Every Student Succeeds Act: A Critical Policy Analysis.” Arts Education Policy Review 119 (4): 204-216.

National Center for Education Statistics. 2020. “Fast Facts: Teacher Characteristics and Trends.” 

Sato, Takahiro, and David D. Laughlin. “Integrating Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory into a Sport Psychology Classroom Using a Golf-Putting Activity.” Journal of Sport Psychology in Action 9 (1): 51-62.

Snowball, Jen D., and Sioux McKenna. 2017. “Student-Generated Content: An Approach to Harnessing the Power of Diversity in Higher Education.” Teaching in Higher Education 22 (5): 604-618.

Stone, Cathy, Elizabeth Freeman, Janet Dyment, Tracey Muir, and Naomi Milthorpe. 2019. “Equal or equitable? The Role of Flexibility Within Online Education.” Australian and International Journal of Rural Education 29 (2): 26-40.

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