Virginia Debate Academy’s teaching team is composed of 7x Virginia State Champions that are dedicated to creating similar success for their students. Our instructors have success on the local, state, and national circuit in their respective debating and coaching careers. Current and former VDA teachers hold degrees from or are studying fields pertinent to competitive debate at top colleges such as Duke University, University of Virginia, and William & Mary.
During camp, students participate in lectures, workshops, Socratic seminars, games, mock debates, and other public speaking activities to learn and practice competitive debate. They research and present on different topics, including past and present resolutions debated on the competitive circuit. Our low teacher-student ratio provides students ample time and resources to learn and practice the material. Students receive extensive individualized feedback from instructors on their work, in addition to their classmates' responses.
Introductory courses cover all of the fundamentals of competitive debate, including public speaking, topic analysis, argumentation, framework, research, critical thinking, and more. Students in our Varsity courses will build on their knowledge in the aforementioned areas and experience on the competitive circuit to hone their skills. VDA’s advanced courses dive deeper into specific forms of argumentation, speaking and case-writing techniques, research, and critical thinking activities to help students succeed on the local, state, and national circuit.
Since 2015, VDA has worked with a number of middle schools—including Rachel Carson Middle School and Nysmith School for the Gifted—in the northern Virginia area. VDA instructors have worked closely with coaches, parents, and students to improve local debate programs, including establishing a program at Franklin Middle School. In addition to students attending our summer and winter camps and receiving private coaching, we have conducted mock tournaments, team coaching, case review, and provided input on team selection. VDA’s continued work in the region helps us prepare middle school students for their competitive team tryouts and circuit.
VDA has conducted similar work with high schools in the state. Students from successful programs—Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Oakton High School, Chantilly High School, Broad Run High School, Walt Whitman High School, and more—regularly attend or receive private coaching at VDA. Like our instructors, these students bring a breadth of experience on the local, state, and national circuit that improves the learning environment for the class. VDA has also taught coaches in the northern Virginia region, and our instructors have run debate teams at local schools. Such experience gives VDA faculty special insight into the competitive circuit on the local, state, and national circuit.
VDA alumni have championed Varsity and Junior Varsity WACFL Metrofinals, the Virginia State Championship Tournament, the Middle School national championship, and reached outrounds at top national invitationals. Our students regularly gain leadership positions on their debate teams and some gain admission to top colleges such as Duke, Princeton, and Harvard.