Tad Jacks Joins TNCS as Interim Head of School!

On July 1, 2021, Tad Jacks joined The New Century School as Interim Head of School. Before he had even started, though, he expressed how much he was looking forward to being part of such a multicultural environment. TNCS Executive Directors and Co-Founders Roberta Faux and Jennifer Lawner told parents that, “[Mr. Jacks] comes to us with a wealth of experience, pedagogical expertise, and leadership skills.”

Let’s explore that wealth!

An Abundant Career

Mr. Jacks’ road to TNCS stretches far—overseas, in fact. He was born and grew up in the King of Prussia area of Pennsylvania, but he began his career in education at the American School in London as a student teacher and baseball coach. Although his love lay with working with kids, his first job out of college was as a college admissions officer before re-entering the independent school realm. Re-entering? Mr. Jacks attended Friends’ Central School, a Quaker co-ed day school, in Pennsylvania as a student, so it was a good fit for him to join Friends School of Baltimore. At Friends, he wore a variety of hats, from admissions to development (for example, he started up a a center for Russian language and culture) to teaching (for example, a high school class called “US society 1900 to 1960”) and even coaching golf.

After 23 years at Friends and all of those many hats, he was approached by The Odyssey School to become their Head of School. Although Odyssey’s mission is to provide an education environment conducive to learning difference like dyslexia, they wanted Mr. Jacks for his extensive experience with governance, strategic plans, accreditation, admissions, and development. Within a few years, though, his athletic daughter was about to go to college. He needed the flexibility to attend her matches and provide all the support college students need. As she was attending school in New England, he decided to take a position as Assistant Head of School at the Wooster School, in Danbury, Connecticut, alongside the Headmaster who just happened to be a dear friend of Mr. Jacks’ as well as his former teacher. He actually commuted to Connecticut from Baltimore for 5 years! And called it fun!

Back in Baltimore, he embarked temporarily on a project to lead and support the Middle Grades Partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation. Before the next school year began, Mr. Jacks was contacted about heading The Craig School in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. That 7-year stint came to a close just last year when the commuting finally did get to him (he was only home in Baltimore on weekends and holidays). “I decided that I’ve done this commuting enough, and I’m going to come home,” he explained. “So for the last year, I’ve been doing really interesting projects for people, mostly in education.”

TNCS and Tad Jacks: A Natural Fit

All in all, his career in education spans 42 years, a career he is grateful for. The depth and breadth of such an illustrious career might have tired out a less high-energy person than Mr. Jacks, but it’s clear he’s got plenty of ideas still to develop. And that brings us to TNCS. He says he had heard about TNCS both from friends of his daughter and from his natural habit of staying abreast of the independent schools in the area.

He has also worked side by side on diversity programs with our former Head of School Shara Khon Duncan. “I’ve known Tad since the 90s,” she said, “and TNCS is in good hands. He has a heart for diversity, and he digs right in and does the work.”

(Mr. Jacks says he is also eager to gain a little Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, not that multilingualism is his forte per se.)

Not surprisingly, given his background in development, he has begun to shape a vision of what his time at TNCS could mean.

I want a concept—a spirit—that as a school in Baltimore City we must continue making a difference for this city. And maybe it’ll come out in different forms along the way. There are so many problems that come to school even before a teacher can get to work with education. So I’ve always asked how I can make a difference in the city. I have way too much energy to not be in school right now. I just feel like it’s not just where I want to be, it’s also where I need to be.

Of course this kind of empathic orientation aligns beautifully with TNCS’s commitment to service learning, and Mr. Jacks says that’s another aspect of TNCS that attracted him. “It would be nice to put a solid foundation in place so that every year students in the different divisions know what big projects they’ll be working on,” he said.

That’s not to say that Mr. Jacks plans to make drastic changes—instead, he’s here to help. In an email to staff, he wrote:

My hope is that I will learn more during each meeting and want to hear from you about your roles, your interests, and how best I can help you. My pledge to all of you is that I will do my best to help each of you in your work and to support you on your objectives and goals. During the coming year, I plan to immerse myself in the life of the school, capitalizing on opportunities to build school spirit and support progress in key areas. I will be listening for ideas that foster relevant, engaging, and inspired learning.

And he’s eager to advance TNCS’s Core Values of Compassion, Courage, Respect, and Service. “In my first few days here, I have found that many individuals are compassionate about working with young children, have the courage to help a parent understand that their child may need more attention, have a respect for each other, and are in service to our community,” said Mr. Jacks.

Said Ms. Faux and Ms. Lawner: “It was clear from our interactions and from his amazing references that Tad’s philosophy of education, commitment to children, and auxiliary skill set would make him a fantastic fit for TNCS. We are confident and enthusiastic that this next step will move TNCS to an even stronger future as a leader in progressive, diverse, and joyful education.”

Although it may seem like he’d have time for nothing else, given his involvement in so many facets fo education, Mr. Jacks also has a personal life complete with hobbies and predilections, like contemporary music and visual arts. And yet, somehow, the conversation always swivels back to education in the best way. Mr. Jacks still remembers being in high school—elementary school, even. “I’m in education because of things that happened in the 4th grade; 4th grade and 11th grade were two watershed years, and I don’t think that’s any different for students now.”

How fortunate that TNCS’s current student body will have at least one of their watershed years under such capable and compassionate leadership. Welcome to TNCS, Tad Jacks!

TNCS-Curated Academic Resources for Summer 2021!

Each year at The New Century School, teachers offer resources to families to help prevent the “summer slide” phenomenon that can happen to kids over summer break when they might be less academically engaged than during the school year and lose scholastic ground as a consequence. Although this problem disproportionately affects underserved communities, it is nevertheless felt to a certain degree across the board, as teachers find themselves re-teaching concepts that were learned the previous year and then forgotten. Some research has shown that students can lose as much as 3 months of reading and math achievement over the course of just one summer. (See Making Summer Count for more details on relevant studies.)

To negate this effect, here are this year’s recommended resources in core subjects. (Look for your child’s division within some subjects.)

English Language Arts

For elementary and middle school students, ELA teacher Jalynn Harris assigned a mandatory novel and a secondary novel (middle school students) and gave Summer Writing Prompts to encourage a minimum of 30 minutes of writing twice a week. Grammar Review and keeping a Reading Log are also encouraged.

Mandatory Middle School Novel: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Secondary Middle School Novel: Choose from the list below or from your own library.

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Legend trilogy by Marie Lu
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Finally, i-Ready, TNCS’s online reading and vocabulary program, will be available all summer. Students should complete a minimum of 30 minutes of i-Ready lessons per week.

Math

In addition to making practice workbooks available for purchase to elementary and middle school, math teacher Nameeta Sharma recommends these sites:

  1. iReady math is available to students over summer. Please encourage your child to do  iReady lessons at least an hour per week. This will help them stay on level, especially since they will have the first math diagnostic test in fall for the next school year.
  2. Khan academy. – Please remind students to use the school gmail account to log in so as to save their progress.
  3. Free printable math worksheets are available at these sites too:

Mandarin Chinese

“Wow, what a year!” said Li Laoshi. “To better state that what a complicated but great year!” Please see the following information and resources that will help your child can review and maintain their Chinese proficiency during the summer holiday. 

Websites

  • Duolingo
    • Target Age: 1st–8th grades
    • Target Level: Beginner and up
  • Hello-World
    • Target Age: 1st–3rd grades
    • Target Level: Beginner
  • Epic
    • Target Age: 1st–8th grades
    • Target Level: Beginner and up

Books

  • Better Chinese, Volumes 1–4
    • Target Age: 1st–8th grades
    • Target Level: Beginner and up

Global Studies and Science

Mr. Brosius offered the following optional summer activities with detailed instructions for Global Studies and Science extended projects.
The Summer Road Trip was primarily designed to be a global studies assignment, but does touch on a few science themes. The Time Lapse was primarily designed to be a science assignment, but can be adapted for various uses.
Also, check out citizen science projects in the United States!

Spanish

For 3rd- to 8th-graders, Sra. Noletto strongly recommends continued exposure to Spanish language during the summer fun days. “The more practice, the easier for them to remember what they learned,” she said.

Collection of Spanish Books

  1. Go to https://www.getepic.com/students
  2. Enter class code gun8437
  3. Select your child name
  4. Check his/her mailbox
  5. Enjoy!

Practice Reading Skills: Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grades:

  1. EL Mono Silabo has a complete collection of educational videos of the Spanish “Silabas” to teach and practice reading in Spanish for emerging readers. Kindergarten students already have practiced reading skills using this educational resource. Ask your children to tell you what sounds “Silabas” they remember from classes and then watch the corresponding chapter from EL Mono Silabo.

  1. 123 Andrés has a complete collection of educational videos for every letter of the Spanish alphabet (samples shown below, but there are 24 more!).

3. If you want to make a good investment, You can pair the experience educational videos of El Mono-Silabo with the collection of books made by Scholastic of 36 different books, one for each silaba. Or you can buy just a few depending on the level of engagement of your student.

4. If your student hasn’t finished the entire book of “Silabas” called “El Silabario,” you can find this interactive book at the summer resources folder from the Google Classroom along with other printable materials ideal for summer reading.

Apps and Websites

  • Spanishdict.com: The students are familiar with this app, and my classrooms are linked to it. It has grammar lessons, conjugations, vocabulary, conversations, videos, quizzes, and assessments that the students like to practice with.
    • Target Age: Elementary school and up
    • Target Level: Beginner and up
  • Conjuguemos: This website is packed with Spanish learning games that your student can use to practice verb conjugations, new vocabulary, and tricky grammar rules like “por versus para.” It is easy to navigate and helps students retain what they learn by reviewing their mistakes and providing explanations for the correct answers. For students looking for additional instruction, Conjuguemos also provides a reference section with clear, straightforward explanations of Spanish verb tenses and how they function.
    • Target Age: Elementary school and up
    • Target Level: Beginner and up
  • Duolingo: This gamified language-learning app can help your student learn Spanish on-the-go through short, daily practice sessions. Duolingo is based on a communicative model of language teaching, so it focuses on getting your child to use Spanish from the start and skips the long, technical grammar lessons.
    • Target Age: Middle school and up
    • Target Level: Beginner and up
  • Mango Languages: This popular language-learning program is available for free through many public libraries. Through its innovative multimedia platform, it helps students build proficiency in reading, writing, listening and even speaking in Spanish.
    • Target Age: Middle School and up
    • Target Level: Beginner and up
  • Spanish Playground: This is an amazing resource for parents who want to help their children learn Spanish through fun, hands-on activities! You can search through their activities by age, theme, or type (e.g., curricula versus music), so there’s something for everyone.
    • Target Age: Preschool and up
    • Target Level: Beginner and up
  • Spanish con salsa: Originally developed as a television series to teach Spanish to young children, Salsa Spanish is now available online, with free activities designed to accompany its 42 video lessons. The 15-minute videos are similar to Sesame Street and focus on a single Spanish concept—like food vocabulary or colors. The dialogue is easy to understand, so it’s appropriate for students who are just starting to learn Spanish, although true beginners might benefit from some additional parental support.
    • Target Age: Preschool through Elementary
    • Target Level: Beginner (best with some prior exposure to Spanish)
  • FluentU Spanish: Language teachers often tell their students to watch television in Spanish to further improve their listening and speaking skills. While this is a great suggestion; sometimes what students like is too challenging for them, not challenging enough, or even terribly scripted because of the direct translation. This is what makes FluentU Spanish a unique app for all Spanish students. First, browse through their library of multimedia content ranging from Spanish music videos, world-issue related interviews, and sporting events. While watching the video, users can click on any word in the script to read the definition before continuing. What’s even cooler is you can save these words and add them to a reference list which FluentU allows users to save and go through any time afterward. The app goes even further to suggest videos and other media content featuring those specific words.
  • Think Bilingual!: The basis of this game-based educational app is for Spanish students to not only memorize new words; but also act them out. Listening and doing is Think Bilingual’s way of teaching. Students will be introduced to two aliens who they will have to guide through everyday situations from cleaning, cooking, and driving on different levels. Before the start of each new level, a vocabulary list is shown so students can have a look and study. Once ready, students have to write out the words correlating to the actions the aliens must do to continue onto the next level.
  • Memrise: Like its name, Memrise, uses the technique of memorization and repetition for users to reach their next level language skills. Before each level’s test; users can listen to words and see how its spelled. Right under the word there’s also attributes to the word such as the phonetics and seeing how to pronounce it correctly. Each level is categorized by different subjects; greetings, cooking, directions etc.
  • Mosalingua: Mosalingua knows that motivation is the key to learning another language, therefore the app combines both motivation and repetition so learners don’t quickly forget everything they learn. Rather than quickly forgetting all that new information, Mosalingua builds new exercises that are repeated but simply delivered in different ways so users continue to be motivated and absorb all there is to know about Spanish.

Books

Kindergarten:

Beginner:

Intermediate:

Advanced:

Spanish Songs Playlist

You can also make a Spotify or Apple iTunes playlist with the most popular songs that we sang during the school year by these popular children’s groups:

  1. Una idea tengo yo, 123 Andrés
  2. La semilla, 123 Andrés
  3. El baile de la fruta, de Pica Pica
  4. El Baile de los Animales
  5. Chocolate de Jose Orozco
  6. El Pirata Benjamin, 123 Andrés
  7. Salta, Salta 123 Andrés
  8. Buenos Días, Jose Orozco
  9. Vamos a contar mentiras de Enrique y Ana
  10.  De Colores, 123 Andrés
  11. Un elefante, 123 Andrés
  12. El Girasol, 123 Andrés
  13.  Soy una serpiente
  14. Hola amigo, 123 Andrés
  15.  El Pirata capirote de Juana la Iguana

Whatever activities and summer fun your child has planned this summer, make time for reading, writing, speaking, and tinkering!

Talking the Talk: Benefits of Multilingual Education at TNCS!

Ever wondered about the potential benefits your child could gain from a multilingual school? The list of benefits is impressive!

Your child’s education is one of your top priorities. You want them to have every possible advantage for a happy, healthy, and prosperous future.

Our children are growing up in an increasingly multilingual society. Studies show that children who have exposure to languages at an early age have an academic advantage

Choosing a school that offers multilingual opportunities for students provides many benefits for your child. And these benefits go far beyond the ability to adapt within a different country or culture.

Here are some of the foremost benefits of multilingual education.

Facilitates Cognitive Development

Children who learn more than one language as they grow up can benefit cognitively. For example, children exposed to language education perform better in pattern recognition, problem-solving, and creative thinking tasks.

Young learners have the ability to soak in new concepts, which makes early childhood an ideal time to begin multilingual education. Plus, learning another language is fun for children.

It helps them develop greater linguistic awareness and a deeper understanding of their primary language as well.

Boosts Academic Achievement

Exposure to more than one language provides an academic advantage for children as they get older. In addition, multilingual education challenges them to communicate and find meaning in multiple languages.

This gives students an edge in communication skills, social interaction, and understanding of complex ideas. However, some educators believe students should master their primary language before learning another.

But children have the unique capacity to learn more than one language simultaneously. As a result, children who understand and can communicate in more than one language have a distinct academic advantage over their monolingual peers.

Furthers Career Possibilities

In an interconnected global economy, a multilingual education can be a huge asset. As a result, many employers look for multilingual candidates who can communicate with business leaders and customers worldwide.

Within global companies, multilingual employees are highly valued. Starting your child off at a young age with a quality multilingual education can lead to a solid career and income potential in the future. 

Multilingual adults are more sensitive to cultural differences and are comfortable interacting with diverse populations. All of this makes multilingual employees an asset for any globally focused business.

Promotes Brain Health

Multilingual education increases cognitive function and enhances brain health. Although learning another language isn’t a miracle cure, research suggests improving memory and delaying dementia in some older adults.

People who think and speak in more than one language switch back and forth between languages on an ongoing basis. This is an effective exercise for the brain.

It’s best to begin multilingual education at a young age. However, it’s never too late to learn a new language. Learning a new language at any age is beneficial for cognition and brain health.

Expands Educational Opportunities

Multilingual students are also multi-literate. This provides a firm foundation for academic achievement and expanded educational opportunities.

A multilingual child may have more options for higher education and more opportunities to go to their college of choice. In addition, they may find more opportunities to study abroad or participate in exchange programs.

Multilingual students benefit from opportunities to immerse themselves in another language and culture. All of these opportunities can help to guide or enhance their future career paths. 

Broadens Cultural Exposure

As children participate in independent school multilingual education, they don’t just learn new words. They learn about history, geography, and other world cultures.

Students engage in language through songs, stories, play, and art in multilingual education. As students are immersed in print, sound, and play, they absorb language. In addition, they develop a deep appreciation for other ethnicities and nationalities.

You want your children to thrive and value others as they grow. In an ever-changing world, children who can communicate within various cultures may have an advantage over those who cannot.

Multilingual education provides so many opportunities for students to grow in their knowledge of languages, other cultures, and the beauty of a diverse world.

Cultivates Collaboration

Learning to work well with others is an important skill for any child. In addition, dual language programs offer students a broader world view.

They encourage communication and working within diverse groups. Multilingual education programs allow students to work together, learn from each other, and appreciate diverse viewpoints.

Students in quality multilingual programs learn to appreciate cultural differences and the value of the individual. This leads to enhanced social and communication skills.

These ideas help students become better collaborative learners as they learn about other cultures and value systems.

Enhances Lifelong Learning

Students who begin multilingual learning at an early age benefit in so many ways. But students of any age benefit from learning another language. 

Students learn the value of learning something beyond the traditional curriculum, enhancing their learning potential for life. In addition, studies suggest multilingual or bilingual capabilities can improve brain health and slow the aging process of the brain.

Young children can absorb new language and concepts easier than adolescents or adults.  These benefits enhance a child’s potential for success in school and for learning throughout their lives.

Amazing Benefits of Multilingual Education

As a parent, you have many things to consider when choosing the best private education for your child’s needs. However, as you make this important decision, don’t overlook the value of multilingual education.

Choose a school that values global awareness, critical thinking, and language learning. We would love to talk with you about your child and all that The New Century School has to offer. 

Contact us to learn more.

TNCS Veteran Teacher Laura Noletto Takes Over Elementary and Middle School Spanish Instruction!

A month into the new school year, The New Century School is adapting and adjusting to the vagaries inherent in having school during a pandemic. As always, TNCS tries to make the most of the opportunity such adjustments may offer. One such change came when TNCS K–8th-grade Spanish teacher Fabiola Sanzana temporarily returned to her native Chile over the summer. And, since we’re smack in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, now seems like the ideal moment to feature Laura Noletto, who took the helm in Sra. Sanzana’s absence.

A Cool New Role

“Sra Lala,” as she is lovingly known throughout campus, has been with TNCS for several years, until now as a Lead Teacher in one of the Spanish Immersion preprimary classrooms. After some reshuffling of classrooms, Sra. Lala found herself in a brand-new role. “For me it’s the perfect time to learn something new,” she explained, “because with the pandemic, anyone can change careers. Nobody knows exactly how the world is going to work, so it’s a good time to switch gears and to learn different things.”

Even so, in the face of such a big transition, some would be easily daunted. Sra. Lala, however, finds comfort in the challenge.

I think because we are all in this together, I have felt very supported. In a way, we are all learning platforms to teach online, we’re learning from the kids, we’re learning from one another, so I feel less intimidated. I feel somewhat nervous, but that’s good because it prompts me to make the best effort. I’m not in this alone, so I took the chance. I’m also not a new face to the kids, and that has helped. This is my 4th year in this community, and I feel very much embraced and taken care of, so that also helps with the challenge.

It’s also not her first big career transition. Back in Venezuela, where she’s from, she taught middle schoolers and even college students. At TNCS, she swung to the other end of the age spectrum and taught 2-year-olds.

Now that she’s teaching K–8, she is finding new kinds of challenges such as  adapting the Spanish curriculum to be age appropriate and to meet the needs of every TNCS student without leaving anybody behind. Some students are bilingual and who can already read fluently; others are just beginners, and beginners in just about every division. “So the challenge for a Spanish teacher,” she says, “is don’t leave anybody behind but challenge those who are already advanced.”

Another laudable challenge she has taken on is to help “make Spanish look cool.”

I think that the more the pre-teens and teenagers hear Spanish daily, they’ll loosen up and lose some of their self-consciousness. I want to be the role model they get inspired by. They even reply to me in Spanish sometimes. So, at that age of coolness, I am trying to be as cool as possible to make Spanish look cool, which is one of my main goals. Another is to be a good example of the culture and get them to open up their hearts and minds to the language.

In order to “meet them at their level so they can feel challenged and keep learning,” she has been conducting ongoing individual assessment in an informal way. She might say a letter, for example, and ask her students to write Spanish words that start with it in the Zoom chat. Other assessment activities she uses include games, conversations, hearing a story in Spanish and then describing it, and spelling contests.”The sum is that the older kids are very much more advanced than I expected, and now I just have to adapt the curriculum to their needs. I’m very excited about this!”

The Art of Teaching Spanish

If you know anything about Sra. Lala, you know she loves art, and she incorporates it regularly into her teaching.

I’m working with a methodology designed by the director of education at MoMA called Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) that you use works of art to develop critical thinking and observational and conversational skills. For example, to assess their color vocabulary, I asked them to do a colorful work of art and name them in Spanish.

I use art as a tool of teaching Spanish. If your hands are doing an oil pastel or a water color, or you’re doing print making or an art workshop, of it’s easier to learn Spanish art vocabulary. Visual images and art processes are important in the curriculum and also Latin American and Spanish culture, such as carefully chosen authors representative of each country. And, of course, geography and music. Music is so important for Latin Americans, for everybody, but music is very rich in the South American region, so I definitely try to follow in the footsteps of Sra. Sanzana in incorporating rhythm, salsa, meringue, etc.

You mentioned spanish heritage, will there be any kind of spanish heritage night?

Sra. Lala is enthusiastic about how the 2020–2021 school year is progressing so far.

Oh I love it. I love it. I feel more challenged as an educator. I love it because I love early childhood education, but that was like baby therapy for me. I was feeling all the love of the little ones, and I was feeling secure with my little classroom, but now I feel this is very much a step forward, and I’m excited. I have to prepare more because it’s my first year doing this with these students, so there’s this novelty of creating and creating.

She wants parents to feel free to contact her with any concerns or questions but is confident that the year will be a great one for her and her students. “We are all transitioning to a new era of education together, and I feel very proud and honored that TNCS trusts me as the Spanish teacher. Every day, I’m going to do the best I can to keep it up. Sra. Sanzana is a great teacher, so I’m talking to her a lot, and she is helping me.”

How cool is that?


Note: We don’t yet know what an Hispanic Heritage Night (Noche de la Herencia Hispana) will look like this year, but we can at least look back on previous years events and cantar y bailar con alegría!

You can also visit the TNCS YouTube channel and search for Spanish Heritage Night music videos from past events. Try the World Languages Playlist!

TNCS Admissions 2020: The Name of the Game is Flexibility, Authenticity, and Patience!

The New Century School welcomed Suzannah Hopkins to take over as Admissions Director for the 2019–2020 school year . . .  and then the pandemic hit. Despite having only a few months under her belt as TNCS Admissions Director before schools were ordered to close down, Ms. Hopkins has managed to continue her work from her dining room table—including, believe it or not, introducing TNCS to new prospective families!

IMG_1788

But it’s certainly not easy. “It has been a challenge to sell the school, especially since we are wearing even more hats. The common saying among Admissions Directors is,” said Ms. Hopkins, “if we can get them on campus, they’re sold. But I can’t do that! That’s the rub for independent schools right now.”

Making Connections

So how does one showcase a school that can’t operate as a brick-and-mortar enterprise? That’s where TNCS Virtual School comes in to help tell the story. “That’s how people see who we are and what we’re all about,” explained Ms. Hopkins. “I also think that pivoting in our social media is allowing me to direct prospective families to our Facebook page and Immersed to show them virtually since we can’t do it in person. I only have a small window to provide a sense of what the school culture is about, so the social media becomes even more important. I am grateful to our team including Karin Cintron, who did not miss a beat pivoting with me to change our social media focus and creating resource pages on our website such as the new Support for Prospective Parents page.” In addition, the entire brochure package is also now on the website as a pdf.

Other aspects of admissions also needed to be adjusted, such as with the process for prospective students themselves:

We can’t do a shadow visit, so with rising 2nd through 8th graders, I’ll do student and parent interviews, separately or together, but definitely making sure I get to talk to the student. For the younger ones, we’re doing parent interviews, but I’ve been encouraging parents to make sure I have a sighting of the child or even just hear him or her in the background to get a sense of the family dynamic. That part is tricky, though, because kids are so different at home than they are at school, so you’re sort of getting their most comfortable self, and sometimes that can be pretty funny.

Ms. Hopkins says she relies a lot on Zoom these days, as do many of us, and values the ability to be able to connect with people, even if it can’t be in person. “I get so excited to get on a Zoom call and see some new faces,” she said. “Families seem to be feeling the same in terms of enjoying talking to somebody new or outside their own households. I start every call with, ‘How are you doing? How’s it going over at your house?’ Everyone wants to know that someone is thinking about them and feeling a sense of connection. Periodically, I’ll see a child enter the scene, and it’s the same on my end. Anything goes, and it’s all good! The mantra for virtual admissions is flexibility, authenticity, and a whole lot of patience.”

Her efforts to make connections are paying off, and prospective families with students of all ages have been reaching out for information. “Amazingly enough, we’ve gotten signed contracts even though the families don’t get to walk through the halls and hear our students and teachers interacting,” she said. In some ways, this is perhaps not so surprising as parents come to terms with realizing that we have to be ready for whatever the fall is going to look like. Schools in Maryland will not reopen this school year, and options may not be as abundant as they once were.

TNCS on the other hand, moved quickly to get up and running virtually, and has now hit a rhythm with it that seems to work for everyone. I give our faculty and administration a lot of credit for that. With so much uncertainty regarding how schools will reopen, I’m so in awe that we are trying to think of every possible scenario. It’s a whole lot of work to do that and figure out these contingencies. How can we split up this room to maintain smaller groups, for example? Do we have preschool on campus and elementary and middle stay virtual for now? Do we implement A and B days? For now, we’re all in the dark and watching the news together.

Virtual Discover TNCS Events

In addition to operating classrooms virtually, TNCS is offering Virtual Admissions Events. The first took place in April, and a second will take place Wednesday, May 20th from 10:00 am–11:00 am.

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“The fact that we’re doing virtual open houses is awesome,” said Ms. Hopkins. “We basically took the in-person event that I did in January and turned it into a Zoom event with updated slides and additions for virtual school. Josh Birenbaum gave the parent perspective, and we had nine prospective families in attendance.” One advantage to doing the event virtually is that people were able to ask questions via chat. One family is now enrolled, and a few others are “in the funnel,” as they say in admissions speak.

This month’s event will take a slightly different format: The first half will be admissions in general, and the second will be about summer camp.

Summer Camp?

Yes, TNCS Virtual Summer Camp will be a thing! TNCS Aftercare and Summer Camp Director Hannah Brown will handle that portion, with support from Paula Kupersanin and Adriana DuPrau, who are helping to create summer curricula. “It’s been a challenge running our aftercare program from home and preparing for summer camp, under uncertain circumstances,” said Ms. Brown. “But, it has been an opportunity for creative problem-solving, and I’m really proud of what the team has come up with so far.” They are currently working on virtual offerings for K through 8th-grade students. “I think that’s where the demand will be this summer. We’re looking at academic enrichment mornings in math and ELA, and then the afternoons will be geared toward social–emotional learning with specialty camps, like art and physical activity.”

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The actual offerings and the final schedule will be available on the TNCS website soon, thanks to the invaluable work by Karin Cintron to get that and registration up and running. “I’m really excited to get the word out to parents,” said Ms. Brown. “We don’t yet have a sense of how many people will register,” she continued.

Right now it’s really a balancing act for families. We want our students to have a high level of readiness for the fall, but what’s especially important to me is for them to have a sense of connectedness this summer and get some social interaction, even if it is remotely. And we really want the experience to be fun, too, whether it’s an academic enrichment or a specialty camp. Every kid’s threshold for how much virtual interaction they can profit from is different. In that spirit, we’re parsing out the day so families can do as much or as little as they need.

What We’re Grateful For

“It’s such a scary time for admissions. The job of an admissions officer is to get students into a school so there are students to teach. Hearing about schools teetering or even having to close is so sad,” said Ms. Hopkins, but she’s not one to end on anything but a positive note. “I’m so grateful that Co-Executive Directors Roberta Faux and Jennifer Lawner are doing everything they can to make sure we’re thriving. Admissions is challenging, but the fact that we’re still getting interest from families and getting them through the pipeline makes me really happy. People are talking about us, and our name is getting out there.”

Then there’s the fact that the fundamental part of her job is still intact—more or less. “My favorite part of my job is getting to meet families and students, and I don’t get to do that in the same way now. I like to be with people—I like to talk and connect. That’s why I like admissions so much.”

Finally, there’s you, TNCS community. “We have such loyal families who have been really supportive during this time; I think it makes all the difference,” said Ms. Hopkins. “I want to thank our current families, and I also want to thank new families for entrusting their children’s futures to us. I really am so grateful for that.”


Visit Virtual Discover TNCS to register and tell your friends!