Davis Educational Services

Renee Davis is an educational therapist who has worked in special education for 28 years. She began her teaching career at Westmark School in Encino and joined the private practice of psychologist Dr. Peter Murphy in 1998. In 2012 Renee opened Davis Education Services in Toluca Lake Village. 

Describe the services your learning center offers.

“We are a boutique learning center and specialize in helping students with learning differences. We offer educational therapy, individualized homeschool programs, academic support for kindergarten through college, summer programs, test preparation and college entrance exams. This spring we are excited to offer an individualized college counseling program.”

Tell us about the history of your learning center.

“In March we are celebrating 10 years of teaching students in the community. Davis Educational Service opened in 2012 on Forman Avenue in the heart of Toluca Lake. Recently we expanded and moved down the street to Riverside Drive in a beautiful space that feels like we’re in a treehouse. Students ride their bikes, and parents walk their dogs to drop students off at the learning center.”

Speak about the importance of listening to kids.

“I love students, and their voice is what is most important to the learning process. The relationship that is built between teacher and student is what makes all the difference. Students know I care and that their feelings matter. This allows us to make progress together.”

How do you support teens?

“Over the last 10 years we have worked with students in a plethora of private and public schools. We have a keen familiarity with school curricula and teacher expectations. We support all levels of writing, math and AP courses and improve student executive functioning skills. Older students quickly identify the level and skills at which we can support them. We guide many teens through the college process, including college essay writing, test preparation and school selection. We continue to support students in the college setting, as those first years are tough.”

What’s your tip for creating content that engages both kids and parents? 

“The majority of our services are one-on-one. Every student has an individualized program based on strengths and goals. Our curriculum is research-based and has a multimodal approach to learning. We believe that working closely with teachers, parents and specialists in a team approach is important for student success.”

How is your learning center helping kids cope with pandemic-related stress?

“I have spent 28 years of my life with students daily. The hardest part of COVID-19 was not physically being with my students. Luckily we were able to transition quickly to online learning, work together and keep our spirits up. Our learning center is now both in person and online, so parents can choose what is best for their family.”

What is special about Davis Educational Services?

“One of the things that makes our learning center special is the teachers. Just to mention a few, Debbie Little is an educational therapist who has been with us since the very beginning. She is beloved by so many students and families in our community. Stephanie Wong is another amazing specialist who has been supporting students for many years. In addition to being academic experts, both are certified to teach yoga. They have patient, kind and empathetic spirits. They are able to support students academically and emotionally. Two very special ladies.”

Speak about the concept of playful learning. 

“If you were to ask my students about games, they would tell you that we play at least one or two games per session. They would probably tell you that I ‘make’ all kinds of crazy reading games but always lose (they love that). I learned this trick 20 years ago from Diane Seaman, one of the best reading specialists in our field. When kids feel positive about themselves, progress will be made.”

What does your learning center offer that makes kids say “Wow!”?

“Students facing academic challenges struggle with feeling good about themselves. We meet students where they are and connect with them on a real level. Students are willing to work on tough stuff because they trust us. When a student is able to decode those words for the first time, that is their ‘wow’ moment. Then their self-esteem begins to transform.”

How does your business support charitable organizations?

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, students were struggling academically and socially.

My own twins were included in this equation. We sat down and discussed what we could do to help struggling students. My twins, Liliana and Lucas (juniors at the time), created and managed a free peer-tutor program called Kids4KidsLA. They connected with public schools such as Toluca Lake Elementary and organizations around the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley. Fellow students were connected with kids and families. The program provided curriculum and training to the peer-tutors. The team also ran a school supply drive and delivered 100 boxes of supplies in the community. Kids connecting with kids—so important during this time.”