Fusion Academy will open its 17th California campus on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in early 2021, during a time when the coronavirus pandemic has some parents reevaluating how to best educate their children amid the challenges of distance learning.

Fusion expects to open its brick-and-mortar Rolling Hills Estates campus in March, delayed a couple months due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Classes have been offered virtually since September, said Hojjat Sandi, Head of School for the PV campus.

“We've had an advantage as a program because we are one to one,” Sandi said, adding this is the case for virtual learning as well. “So any time a student steps into a classroom to work with a teacher, whether it's for a tutoring service, or a class for credit, it's them and their teacher for that instructional hour.”

But the in-person instruction depends on the latest LA County and state guidelines, Sandi said. The teaching is personalized, with one-on-one class time and with different teachers teaching different subjects. Fusion will offer one-to-one, virtually or a hybrid model, whatever works for the student and family, when restrictions allow.

Fusion is a fully accredited private school, Sandi said, for grades 6 to 12. Students can earn their high school diploma through Fusion and they also offer UC accreditation. Fusion also offers tutoring support for students who are struggling in a particular subject.

Fusion, which was founded in San Diego in 1989, targets students where the “traditional school model isn’t working for them” or the virtual realm might be a challenge. This could mean students who need flexible scheduling such as athletes. They also serve students who have learning challenges, including ADHD, that prevents them learning in a traditional classroom.

And, with schools shuttered due to coronavirus restrictions, parents are looking for alternative learning models, said Sandi.

“(There’s) sort of a shock of a sudden switch to virtual, so they've been seeking alternative options,” he said. “A lot of parents are concerned with learning loss, and are reaching out for added support.”

Sandi said Fusion students, like students everywhere, are impacted dramatically by not having the social element that being in the classroom or on campus provides.

Fusion offers a Homework Cafe Space where students can complete their work and have support of tutors while having a place to also socialize. Now they offer online support with the help of experts until in-person teaching is available.

They also offer social events as well.

“Every year we'll have a prom and Spirit Week where kids can come in and dress up… but things like that have sort of been just relegated to the virtual,” he said.

Sandi said Fusion offers a holistic approach to education where the social and emotional learning is as important as the academic.

“Fusion’s core belief is founded on the principle of love, motivate, teach,” Sandi said. “The thinking behind that is, if a child doesn't feel cared for to begin with, or heard or seen, then they're not going to be motivated to learn.”

That’s why he said they call their teachers mentors, where their relationship is on a “social/emotional level.” Mentors work with the student and the family to create goals and later evaluate how the student is progressing.

“I think a lot of families and students who come to Fusion, generally aren't finding success where they're coming from,” Sandi said. “So sometimes it's as important to build that student up and make them feel comfortable with learning and confident in their own abilities. So they can continue to keep growing and be these lifelong learners that we're hopefully shaping (them) up to be.”

For more information on Fusion Academy, or to enroll, call (866) 531-1843, or visit FusionAcademy.com/PV.

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