In 2007 Chesapeake Bay Academy received a generous grant from Dominion Energy to build a center of excellence for the Hampton Roads community. The Dominion Education Center (DEC), which provides educational testing for children, and professional outreach and training to local educators, was founded to support teaching and learning for all. More than a decade later, DEC is expanding its mission.

The Center for Educational Research and Technological Innovation (CERTI), housed in the renovated DEC space, will serve as a research hub for CBA and our partners at Old Dominion University, Virginia Wesleyan University and Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Instructional technology has always been central to CBA’s ability to adapt curriculum and make it accessible for our students. As early as 2012, the upper school program fully launched into the world of digital learning with the use of the Edmodo Learning Management System (LMS). At the same time students traded their textbooks for Kindles and moved to a paperless environment. By 2014, teachers were embracing digital presentation tools like Screencast-O-Matic and Prezzi to “flip” their classrooms. As time went on, the hardware and software evolved, and in 2017 CBA implemented Canvas, a high quality, second generation LMS, across the K-12 spectrum.

When the advent of COVID-19 brought unprecedented challenges to the education landscape, the staff at CBA rapidly applied our lessons of more than a decade, calling on our experience with technology to quickly reconfigure the program and seamlessly engage in an entirely virtual learning environment. Since early 2020, multiple videoconferencing platforms, organizational software, and apps have been implemented building-wide. CBA experimented with telepresence robots and VIBE interactive boards that converge the classroom and the screen into a singular digital learning environment.

As CBA has continued our foray into the virtual world, the need to measure the effectiveness of the tools and strategies being used has become apparent. The result was the birth of CERTI. With the leadership of the CERTI Advisory Council, CBA began collecting and analyzing data around these new tools and strategies. Today, thanks to the foresight of many generous donors and the support of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, CERTI has a new space within DEC from which to expand this work. CBA and our university partners are excited about this innovative work that will inform the future of education for neurodiverse learners and those who teach them.

CERTI Committee, from left: J.D. Ball, PhD, Linda Miller-Dunleavy,
Taryn Myers, PhD, Mary Roberts, PhD, Mindy Gumpert, PhD,
(not pictured) Judy Jankowski, EdD