Discovery Day Academy’s Garcia Develops Teaching Model

Elizabeth Garcia, founder and head of school for Discovery Day Academy, located in Bonita Springs, has developed The Discovery Method, a project-based learning model, following a five-year period of empirical research at Discovery Day Academy. With three locations in both rural and urban settings, the model’s effectiveness has been measured with children of various socio-economic backgrounds.

To help educators put the learning model into practice, with an emphasis on children ages 2 to 8 years, Garcia has authored An Implementation Guide to the Discovery Method, a manual to provide educators with tools supportive of 21st century learning initiatives. The manual is under advisement for publication, in an extended book version. It offers project topics and detailed project examples; ideas for garnering community partnerships to ensure authentic learning experiences; tools for tracking and organizing project work; tips for establishing a classroom makers space, to encourage innovation; information for implementing technology and critical thinking strategies; and more.

“My desire to make a difference for our nation’s youngest learners stemmed from my experiences as a primary school teacher, interest in generational challenges and proximity to the business community,” said Garcia. “The creation of a learning model and project-based curriculum focusing on deeper learning, authentic experiences and 21st century outcomes is the product of my work.”

Garcia earned her Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and philosophy from the University of Miami. She has more than a decade of teaching, leadership and research experience in both early childhood and elementary settings. She is a passionate empirical researcher and writer in the areas of deeper learning, cognitive development and 21st century student outcomes. She has dedicated her time to children’s issues through her local early learning coalition, serving on the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2010. She founded a non-profit organization, Active Citizens for Children, to benefit children in her hometown community of Clewiston, Florida. The organization continues to implement projects past her leadership.

Discovery Day Academy was founded in 2006 as an independent school. Since the school’s establishment, it has grown to include three campuses. A 21st century primary school, inclusive of children through 5th grade will open in fall 2015. Future growth through 8th grade is planned. For more information, visit

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