Press Release: Laurel Springs School Hosts Innovative Virtual Model United Nations Conference

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Laurel Springs School, a leading pioneer in online K-12 education, hosted a first-of-its-kind virtual Model United Nations (UN) conference on Friday, May 8, with participation from the Lebanese American University of New York (LAU). Laurel Springs has been the only online school delegation to participate in the official Global Classrooms International (GCI) Model UN Conference for the last eight years.

Laurel Springs student delegates at the 2019 GCI Model United Nations Conference

The online event opened with a statement from Elie Samia, Program Director at the LAU, followed by the presentation of position papers by Laurel Springs’ 18 student delegates, who this year represented Spain and were assigned to real-world issues that correlate with actual UN committees. A panel from the LAU, which hosts the annual GCI Model UN Conference in New York, NY, then evaluated the work of the Laurel Springs Model UN club members. The event was convened by Marilyn Mosley-Gordanier, Founder of Laurel Springs and Secretary of the United States Association of the Club of Rome.

“The LAU panel gladly commemorated the investment of time and energy of Laurel Springs’ delegates and offered feedback that conveys the pillars of Model United Nations leadership and collaboration,” said Samia.

Thea Flanzer, 17, is a senior at Laurel Springs and has served as the General Assembly President of the Model UN club for two years.

“The Model UN club at Laurel Springs has formed a community that transcends distance, with members participating anywhere from Missouri to Australia,” said Flanzer. “Through this club, I have competed and sponsored papers at the GCI Model UN Conference three times, visited the United Nations, and made many close friends.”

Thea Flanzer, a senior at Laurel Springs, presents at the virtual Model United Nations conference.

The experience with Model UN, Flanzer says, has been crucial to her education in leadership and was her “favorite part” of her education at Laurel Springs.

“During the COVID-19 crisis, Laurel Springs has ensured that the Model UN club continues to be a source of joy for students,” she said.

Flanzer will attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in the fall and hopes to compete on the university’s Model UN team.

“Using their mastery of online learning, our hard-working and adaptive student delegates successfully and safely organized this unique virtual event,” said Rachelle Wafer, Student Engagement Manager at Laurel Springs. “For our five senior delegates, the virtual Model UN conference allowed them to complete their work with the Laurel Springs club despite the challenges presented by social distancing measures.”

To learn more about the Model UN club and other socialization opportunities at Laurel Springs, please click here to learn more or read our Social Community guide.

Aspen Learning Lab Fosters Student Confidence, Love for Learning

When it comes to learning, one size does not fit all. Aspen Learning Lab—a full-service education program based out of Santa Monica, CA—recognizes that the traditional classroom is not the ideal environment for every child. Originally founded in 2003, the customized homeschooling and tutoring center understands that all children possess unique learning styles and cultivates a customized learning environment that works best for each individual student. 
Aspen Learning Lab creates a personalized and purposeful learning environment that meets students where they are developmentally,” said Alice Ann Clark, Director of Client Development at the organization. “We pride ourselves on creating an inviting, nurturing, and productive environment for each one of our students.”

For families whose educational priorities include a rigorous curriculum from an accredited institution, Aspen offers a fully online, private school experience through its partnership with Laurel Springs School. By combining Laurel Springs’ flexible, online academics with Aspen’s in-person support and guidance, students gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed and master executive functioning skills.  
“We have used Laurel Springs as an online school partner for nearly 15 years,” said Clark. “The Laurel Springs program has proven to be the most accessible, accommodating, and flexible for our students. The curriculum is challenging and thorough. Our partnership with Laurel Springs helps students discover new interests, excel in their strengths, and broaden their knowledge, giving them the confidence to embark upon their future endeavors.”
While the day-to-day work looks different for each learner, there are several common features of the Aspen educational experience. A supportive structure and routine allows students to thrive without sacrificing flexibility, and check-ins with teachers and tutors provide a daily review of coursework and academic progress. Additionally, weekly communication between teachers, students, and families ensures efficiency and transparency in Aspen’s educational process. 
“In many traditional classrooms, it is often challenging, and impossible, to teach to each student’s learning styles and modalities,” said Clark. “However, in a one-on-one, personalized homeschool setting, our teachers are able to align their lessons, activities, and curriculum with your child’s specific learning styles, goals, and interests. As a result, this customized approach yields a more productive outcome and creates an environment that fosters student confidence and a love for learning.”
Currently, Aspen serves students from early education through the university level, providing a full-service experience that supports each student and their goals. The organization, Clark says, is extremely passionate about helping every child to achieve their true potential.
“In today’s education world, there are endless options, resources and schools, yet all programs and curriculum are not created equal,” said Clark. “We pride ourselves on utilizing the very best curriculum, purposefully fostering positive tutor-student relationships and creating individualized support for our families. If parents seek to instill confidence and a love for learning into their child’s education, Aspen Learning Lab is the choice for them!”

If you are located in the greater Los Angeles area and are interested in learning more about how Aspen Learning Lab can serve your family, please visit or contact Alice Ann Clark at or (540) 580-4978.
For more information on Laurel Springs School, contact our Admissions team today at (800) 377-5890. 
Dancers Strive for Excellence in Ballet and Academics at the Nutmeg Conservatory

The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, located in Torrington, Connecticut, helps young dancers shine. Having trained thousands of rising stars in classical ballet over the last 50 years, the Nutmeg provides professional-level training and performance experience while also nurturing students’ self-confidence and supporting their personal growth.
The Nutmeg offers students two options for studying ballet: a year-round residency and a summer program. Combining intensive training with numerous performance opportunities throughout the year, the Nutmeg’s unique approach gives students the breadth and depth of skills they need to succeed in dance. 
“The commitment of the Nutmeg’s faculty and guest artists is to use this ideal combination of experiences to prepare students for the demands of 21st century professional dance companies,” explains Donna Mattiello, Director of Academics at the Nutmeg. 
The Nutmeg prioritizes an academic education equally for its aspiring dancers. This focus on academics ultimately led to the development of Nutmeg’s Conservatory Academic Program (CAP), which provides educational options as well as full college preparation for students with academic as well as ballet ambitions. 
As part of the CAP, the Nutmeg partners with several academic programs, including Laurel Springs School, an accredited online private school that has served elite performing artists like those who attend the Nutmeg for decades. 
“The Nutmeg faculty believes education to be essential in the development of a young artist, so we partner with a variety of schools,” said Mattiello. “Laurel Springs students at Nutmeg get on-site progress monitoring, help in communicating with their teachers, exam proctoring and other support.”

Solee Dinio

Solee Dinio is a year-round dancer at the Nutmeg and a student at Laurel Springs

16-year-old Solee Dinio, a dancer in the Nutmeg’s year-round residency program and a Laurel Springs student, says attending the conservatory while taking online classes has allowed her to soar to new heights as a performing artist. 
“[The] Nutmeg has shaped my life as a dancer because I not only get to dance even more than I used to with amazing teachers and staff, but I also get to dance with people who have the same passion as me,” Dinio said. “I really enjoy that for The Nutcracker and the spring shows, we get to learn multiple parts and do more than one cast, so that we dancers have an opportunity to dance more.”
As for Dinio’s academic education, she chose Laurel Springs because of the wide range of classes available to her, including honors and AP courses that she wanted to take.
“I really appreciate the fact that all of my teachers are very supportive and engaging,” Dinio said. “I also appreciate how flexible the assignments are. I am able to finish certain tasks when it is more convenient for me, and in my opinion, attending Laurel Springs has helped me grow as a student.”

Charlotte Evans

Charlotte Evans studies at Laurel Springs while she trains with the Nut

Charlotte Evans, a 15-year-old student at the Nutmeg, shares Dinio’s passion for dance and also enjoys studying online at Laurel Springs.
“Laurel Springs’ program works so well for my learning style,” Evans said. “With Laurel Springs, I am able to get ahead in my classes. If I know I will have a long rehearsal at night and won’t have time to do homework later on, I can get it done beforehand since I am on my own timeline.”
For Evans, this flexibility is key to her success as a student and as a performing artist at the Nutmeg, which has been an “incredible place” for her to dance. 
“The performance opportunities are amazing,” Evans said. “Emphasis on Vaganova training adds to my ballet repertoire, which is essential to making me a versatile dancer, adaptable to many styles. The faculty knows you by name, and the smaller class sizes allow individualized corrections, helping me to grow further. The teachers and staff at [the] Nutmeg are so supportive, and really want the best for you.”
For young artists like Dinio and Evans who are actively pursuing their passions without sacrificing academics, the Nutmeg and Laurel Springs make the perfect team in helping students achieve their goals. 

To learn more about the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory, please click here.
For more information on how Laurel Springs can help your child pursue their passions and achieve their dreams, please call our Admissions team at (800) 377-5890.
Village Academics Redefines Education, Breaks the Mold for Students

Village Academics, nestled in the heart of the Old Village in Mt. Pleasant, serves as a learning community for families who seek an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Shaping a child’s education not only in the realm of academics, but within the world around them, requires a community of parents and educators who are dedicated to the cause. At Village Academics, a “hybrid homeschooling” facility in Mount Pleasant, S.C., families can expect exactly that experience.
Since Village Academics opened its doors in September 2017, founders Steve and Patti Wilbourne have been dutifully serving families who seek a flexible alternative to brick-and-mortar schools, educating with a community-based approach to learning, rather than traditional homeschooling.

The idea behind Village Academics came about when, in 2016, the Wilbournes started gathering  with another family to homeschool their children together on a daily basis. Working out of a pool-house, they exercised control over the curriculum and had the flexibility to emphasize mathematics, writing, and wellness. For these two families, this model worked exceptionally well. Three years later, Village Academics currently serves thirteen scholars from ten different families, three of whom are brand new to the concept of homeschooling.
To ensure that students have the tools that they need to succeed academically, Village Academics has partnered with Laurel Springs School, an accredited online private school, to provide the facility’s core curriculum.
“The stimulating curriculum, combined with a team of supportive teachers and staff at Laurel Springs, have been the anchor for what we offer at Village Academics,” explained Elliott Locklear, Director of Operations. “Our Learning Coaches work closely together with Laurel Springs teachers to answer subject-specific questions on the spot. Laurel Springs staff are very responsive, and they always follow up to make sure all questions are answered and the material is understood. Laurel Springs teachers also coach in conjunction with our Learning Coaches and recognize when students have met goals—or conversely, when they may need extra support. It is a win-win design for our scholars and our families.”  
As a community, Village Academics has many moving parts—it’s not a traditional academic environment, but it is a learning facility that aims to produce high-achieving, well-rounded scholars. Active engagement from students, families, and staff is paramount in their effort to consistently realize that goal. 
Students are expected to learn the art of self-management and accountability. For example, scholars take ownership of their Learning Lab by rotating weekly chores, including emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and watering the garden, among others. 
Parents also have important responsibilities, such as serving on the Parental Advisory Board (PAB). The PAB provides an organized platform for family involvement and allows Village Academics’ families to have some influence over decision-making through regular meetings and discussions. 
The leader of each PAB committee is charged with specific responsibilities to lead that committee and execute the intentions of that role.  For example, the leader of the field trip committee is tasked with scheduling and coordinating meaningful, creative field trips for the year, often connected to curricular studies, collaborating with Learning Coaches, and staying within budget. VA scholars engage in one or two field trips per month, requiring ongoing participation and leadership. Parents are expected to lead or serve on an advisory committee, which includes fundraising, curriculum, field trips, and community building. Active stewards serving on the PAB help to ensure that their designated role is fulfilled and help make certain that both short term and long term operations within that category run smoothly. 
The staff at Village Academics includes two learning coaches, a physical fitness instructor, literacy and math coaches, and an administrator.  The VA model includes weekly Reading and Writing Workshop, Purposeful Movement, and one-on-one mathematics scaffolding and intervention. Enrichment opportunities are rotated throughout the year based on interests and academic needs. 
“Great expectations are assigned to each of these important roles at Village Academics, promoting best practice, relevance, rigor, efficiency, and powerful language with scholars,” said Locklear. 
“Our Learning Coaches, for example, play the most influential role in a VA scholar’s daily experience and success,” Locklear continued. “Set in place as an integral part of the model, the role of the Learning Coach is intended to encourage and facilitate a connected, collaborative community of young scholars, to bring learning to life, as well as to aid in keeping scholars organized through active note-taking and self-pacing of core subjects throughout the day. Structure and high expectations for our scholars holds everyone accountable for a successful academic journey at Village Academics.”
As Village Academics grows, and its approach evolves, the benefits to its scholars remain clear—not only do they receive a strong academic foundation, but they also learn to build and nurture relationships, feel connected to their communities, experience authentic support among their peers and mentors, and appreciate enrichment opportunities.
“No two scholars look alike, learn alike, work alike, or succeed alike,” said Locklear. “We give thoughtful attention to this as we differentiate our direct instruction, provide optimal learning experiences through multiple exposures and work closely with families and scholars to instill accountability and individualized goal-setting, planning and executing. We may be small, but we are mighty!”

To learn more about Village Academics, please visit
To learn more about Laurel Springs, call our Admissions team today at (800) 377-5890.
Learning Online is an Art for this Rising Ballet Star

Photo Credit: Rachelle Neville

Lindy Mesmer always knew she wanted to dance. From her early days as a toddler jumping over scarves and wearing “princess fairy wings,” Lindy found that she loved to express herself through the artistic medium of dance. She is now an accomplished ballet dancer and senior at Laurel Springs School with a bright future in the arts. 
When it came to Lindy’s academic education, her family decided that an online school would be the best fit to accommodate her ballet training. As they searched for a program, Lindy knew that flexibility was key; however, she did not want to sacrifice academic rigor or challenge when selecting a school.
“My parents are both professors, and my education is something I really value,” Lindy said. “I’ve always loved learning, and I never wanted to sacrifice or compromise that in my ballet training. I wanted both—which Laurel Springs allows me to have.”
“I also love that I can spend as much time as I need on each lesson,” Lindy continued. “I’ve never really liked the 45-minute blocks I had in public school. They always felt very rushed and insubstantial. With Laurel Springs, I can go at a pace that allows me to fully understand a concept, whether that means 30 minutes or 2 hours.”
For her fellow dancers and performing artists, Lindy thinks Laurel Springs is the perfect fit. 
“I think Laurel Springs is the best online school option for students who are also performers,” Lindy said. “It is rigorous, but also flexible, in that it allows for those tricky schedules that performing artists are used to. You can do school wherever, whenever—backstage, on the plane, in a hotel room, before rehearsals.”

Photo Credit: Rosalie O’Connor

Supported by her academic and stage education, Lindy recently embarked on one of her greatest dance journeys yet: a solo performance at National YoungArts Week in Miami, FL, earlier this month. 
“I spent the month of August working on my application for YoungArts,” Lindy recounts. “I had heard of the YoungArts Foundation from other dancers, and all of them told me, ‘It will change your life.’”
Lindy was required to prepare a technique sampler with a barre and center, including two different pieces: a classical and contemporary variation. Teaming up with her ballet instructor at the Roanoke Ballet Theatre, Lindy completed the application and was selected as a finalist in dance by the YoungArts Foundation. She performed a variation from the ballet Raymonda on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, at the New World Center in Miami Beach, FL. 
“I love that the YoungArts Foundation focuses on so many different art forms—not just the performing arts,” Lindy said. “The idea that all these young artists, across so many different platforms, could come together for a week and be inspired was really cool to me.”
Lindy has certainly earned this recognition: at only nine years old, she began training with two Russian ballet instructors, Inessa Plekhanova and Aleksey Plekhanov—both of whom had trained at the esteemed Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg. After four years with these instructors, Lindy advanced to a prominent ballet conservatory in New York, NY, where she currently resides.  
“I love dance—and the arts in general—so deeply,” Lindy said. “Dance transports people out of the everyday into a deeper, more spiritual place. It gives them the space to cry, laugh, mourn, feel inspired, think, and also just sit back and be entertained.” 
“When I see a piece of art, film, dance, or music that makes me feel, cry, laugh, I can’t help but think that I want to make people feel that way,” Lindy continued. 
As Lindy nears the end of her high school education, her aspirations are locked in. She will become a professional dancer upon her graduation from Laurel Springs. Eventually, she plans to attend college and study to become a writer. 
“I don’t know where my career will take me, but I always want to be making art,” Lindy said. “If I touch only one person in my entire career, then I consider it all the more worth it.”

If you are interested in enrolling at Laurel Springs School, please contact our Admissions Team today at (800) 377-5890.
Defying Gravity: 13-Year-Old Skydiving Champion Soars to Great Heights
Jill Knutson, 13, of Rye, New York, started skydiving at just 10 years old. Since then, she’s taken off with her skydiving career and has her sights set on the Olympics.

Skydiving: it’s the exhilaration of jumping out of a plane flying 13,000 feet in the air; the once-in-a-lifetime experience many of us dream of trying, or for some, the embodiment of our worst nightmares. For 13-year-old Jill Knutson, however, it’s just part of the daily routine.

“I don’t think skydiving is scary at all,” said Jill, a Rye, New York, native who has been practicing the extreme sport since she was 10 years old. “The feeling of flying is nothing short of the best thing ever.”

Academy Student Stories: Jill Knutson

When Jill’s parents decided to skydive in celebration of their 13th wedding anniversary in 2011, then five-year-old Jill was inspired by the professional skydivers who soared from the plane with her parents. For the next five years, Jill would aspire to freefall herself, until finally, at 10 years old, she was allowed to try indoor skydiving for the first time.

Jill instantly fell in love with the sport and began practicing regularly in the wind tunnels at I FLY Westchester in Yonkers, New York. However, indoor skydiving would not be the end of the extreme sport for Jill, who won’t turn 18—the minimum age to jump from a plane—for another five years: Instead, she spent hours researching skydiving facilities around the world that would let her jump at a younger age. Finally, she found a facility in Memphis, Tenn., that allows jumps for children as young as 12.

“As soon as she turned 12, we waited for the right weather, and Jill took her first skydive,” said Jill’s mother, Giselle.

In the months that followed her freefall, Jill decided to take her love of the sport one step further, entering her first indoor skydiving competition in November 2018. Since her initial foray into the world of competitive skydiving, Jill has performed with impressive results, and between camps, tournaments and competitions, her schedule became so busy that she left her classes at Rye Middle School. Instead, her family enrolled her in Laurel Springs School, an accredited online private school that would give Jill the full flexibility she needed for training.

As Jill’s career in competitive skydiving has progressed, she has advanced all the way to the national stage, competing at the 2019 US Indoor Skydiving Open National Championship (USIS) this past January.

Academy Student Stories: Jill Knutson

At the USIS event, Jill competed both as part of team “Fire Alarm Flyers” in Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS) and individually in Intermediate Freestyle Skydiving, earning a gold and silver medal, respectively. In 2020, Jill hopes to go global at the World Indoor Skydiving Championship, but her aspirations don’t stop there: Jill ultimately seeks to qualify for the Olympics.

“Jill is a wonderful student who strives for excellence in everything that she does,” said Dasha Bindler, M.S., a Gifted & Talented Academy Counselor at Laurel Springs School. “We are proud to allow Jill to train hard for her sport and to excel, yet to still continue her studies. She is an excellent, determined and responsible student.”

However, skydiving and school are not the only areas where Jill applies her exceptional abilities: she also does Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo and snowboarding. When she’s not participating in sports, Jill likes to paint and draw.

As for the rest of us, Jill says everyone should try skydiving “at least once,” experiencing the “amazing” feeling of wind on our faces as we freefall. If you’d prefer to stay on the ground, be sure to keep an eye out for Jill as she continues to rise through the ranks of competitive skydiving over the next few years.

To learn more about Laurel Springs, please contact our Admissions team today at (800) 377-5890!