Our mission is to help students prepare for fulfilling futures by enabling a self-directed mindset through projects, mentorship, and workshops. We provide the optimal conditions for our students to become auto-DIDA-ctic (self-taught, without formal schooling).

Our Program

Program Overview

Dida is a creatively free community for teens. We help students connect their interests to learning experiences. With the guidance of mentors, students map their own goals and create passion projects to gain academic, career, and life skills. We serve as an alternative to traditional school for teens seeking a meaningful education, leveraging homeschooling laws to allow maximum flexibility and customization for the middle and high school years. We work with the whole family (students and parents) as a team to set quarterly learning goals and co-create personalized roadmaps, definitions of success, and accountability systems.

Our Core Values

  1. Trust and Respect
  2. Challenge and Achievement
  3. Lifelong Learning
  4. Empathy and Relationships
  5. Fun and Enjoyment

Our Approach

Self-Directed Education

Everyday at Dida, we make decisions based on one question:  "How does this help students become more self-directed?"

We believe that self-directed education is the ultimate goal where students are able to grow up to become responsible adults who can carry responsibility and manage themselves in their own way. Why? Because at some point in their life, they have to. In a country where democracy and freedom is so fundamental to our culture, it is crucial that young people are able to make educated decisions and be free to succeed in however way they wish. Self-Directed Education is not a teaching technique, but rather a habit that is reinforced over time.

Project-Based Learning and Design Thinking

At Dida Academy we strongly believe in developing design thinking mindsets so that students are able to create meaningful projects throughout their life for work and self.

Step 1: Empathize

Step 2: Define

Step 3: Ideate

Step 4:  Prototype

Step 5: Test

Our Team

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William Schmidt

My ultimate life goal is to inspire learners of all ages through play-based exploration and improvisational games. As a former school teacher, I believe in the capabilities of young people to effect societal change.

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Danielle Levine

I have been working with young people for over 10 years in many roles including: tutor, learning facilitator, suspension hearing advocate, camp counselor, mental health group therapy counselor, and dance instructor. I am also a lawyer and children’s rights activist. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.

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Will Chen

My specialty is helping students become innovators of tomorrow through principles of entrepreneurship and design thinking. My mentees and students created many of their own successful ventures and had a lot of fun doing it. I previously worked as a 9th grade math instructor and as a project manager in healthcare technology.