Suzannah Hopkins Joins TNCS as Admissions Director!

With the start of any new academic year comes changes. The New Century School is ever-evolving, striving to grow not just in size but also in substance. What is sometimes a difficult change to accept is the departure of friends—staff, students, teachers, and so on. Although saying goodbye can be hard, there’s always a bright side: new friends to be made. So, say hello to TNCS’s new Admissions Director Suzannah Hopkins!

Meet Suzannah Hopkins!

015Suzannah Hopkins is a native Marylander, having grown up in Montgomery County. She graduated from Ithaca College in New York State with concentrations in English, Art History, and Italian and then spent some time in Florence and other parts of Italy. In Florence, she got a post-baccalaureate degree in Art History (and enjoyed trying to fool the locals into thinking she was from there with her language and dialect skills). Later, at Johns Hopkins University, she attained a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies.

On returning to the United States, she worked in Washington, D.C., where she met her husband, another native Marylander. They currently reside in Anne Arundel County with their two sons, one 24 years old and the other going on 16.

When she isn’t helping steward children along their ideal educational paths, Ms. Hopkins enjoys attending her younger son’s lacrosse games, spending time with her family, and cooking. Her favorite local museums are The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where Mary Young Pickersgill sewed that flag in 1813; The Walters Museum of Art; and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Why TNCS?

Although Ms. Hopkins jokes that her education doesn’t seem to relate to what she does now, admissions has long been her career—for 14 years, in fact. Before joining TNCS, she was in admissions at St. Annes’ School of Annapolis and before that, at Sandy Spring  Friends School in Olney and Indian Creek School in Crownsville. “I really like admissions,” she says, “I enjoy meeting families and learning about their children and finding the right fit for them.”

She also circled back to her arts background and how it actually does relate to her current role. “Museums and schools are both educational institutions,” she explained. “There’s a lot of crossover in how promotion and fundraising happens as well as in how core advancement and development take place. People are choosing to come to your institution to learn something. How do you welcome them? There’s a level of customer service. How can the family experience the place?”

She also explains that every school has its own culture and methods, but coming in at the start of the school year will allow her to shape her admissions procedures to what she knows works for her. “But, there are so many good things here,” she continued, “that I don’t think it will  be hard to get in the groove. All of the schools I’ve worked in have been progressive, whole child–centric, and cross-disciplinary, and so my joining TNCS is in line with my background. Plus I love the language aspect! I’m hoping to learn a thing or two.”

Another advantage that Ms. Hopkins had on her side was the help of former TNCS Admissions Director Dominique Sanchies to show her the ropes specific to TNCS. (As an aside, Ms. Sanchies is still affiliated with TNCS in an administrative capacity while she em”barks” on a new adventure. More to come.) “She’s been terrific,” said Ms. Hopkins. “In fact, I have her on speed dial.” Finally, this time of year is not a crucial admissions window, so she has had the breadth and space to enjoy what’s happening with the first few weeks of school as well as to get her Blackbaud admissions pages put together in a way that works for her and for the school. She was already familiar with Blackbaud from the parent perspective, which is another bonus. “I’m also reading through school materials and learning routines, but so is everybody else, so we’re all in this together.”

So Far, So Good!

This should come as no surprise, but Ms. Hopkins reports that things have been going really well for her at TNCS so far. “Everybody on the faculty and staff is lovely. It’s been really nice to get to know everybody bit by bit. The students here are great. The littlest babies are just adorable, and the older students seem so kind to each other—it’s really nice to see.”

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She is gaining ground quickly on putting names with faces, and morning drop-off has helped a lot there.

Drawing once more on her arts background, Ms. Hopkins commented on what a rich environment TNCS sits in, artistically and architecturally. “This community as a whole is so rich in history, and I think the school is very lucky to be located here. Look at the stained glass windows in building north! They are so gorgeous and can be studied and enjoyed right here in our space,” she remarked.

Goals for Admissions

“The first year is a learning curve with new systems and structures, getting to know families, and building relationships with faculty and staff. One way to do this is to jump right in and give tours.” Formerly, tours happened in groups (and still will in certain contexts, such as Admissions Fridays tours and Open Houses—the next one takes place November 2nd, at 10:00 am), but Ms. Hopkins is eager to give one-on-family tours and has already begun doing those. Her first tour happened on September 4th. “I really like giving tours,” she said. “I enjoy meeting the family and having the chance to talk to them individually and getting a moment to connect. You’ll see me frequently walking through the hallways with families. I’ll continue doing group tours as well to strike a nice balance of both and to make this as convenient as possible for families.”

She really means it when she talks about enjoying getting to know the community: “I’m pretty approachable,” she said. If there’s anything you need from me, come find me. That helps me to get to know you, too, so come say hello!”


With that, welcome to The New Century School community, Suzannah Hopkins!

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TNCS Admissions Director Suzannah Hopkins and Primary Teacher Maria Mosby attend Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance’s annual School Far!

Go Outside and Get Dirty, Kids!

The following is transcribed from a recent The Nature of Things broadcast by W. Brooks Paternotte on WYPR. The message—that kids need to play outside and get into some dirt—was so well crafted that it is quoted here for The New Century School community in its entirety.

Remember playing outside until mom called you in for dinner? Me too. I would ride my bike in the twilight and listen to cricket and cicada songs. My sister would be searching the nearby woods with a magnifying glass, in hopes of finding fairies. My brother would be painstakingly making mud pies. Today’s kids, though? I don’t think they’ll have those kinds of memories.

In the last two decades, childhood has overwhelmingly moved indoors. Children are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago. In fact, the average American girl or boy spends an alarmingly low 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day. But, he or she might spend 7 1/2 hours each day in front of an electronic screen. That’s about 53 hours of screen time a week.

This shift toward staying inside profoundly impacts the wellness of our nation’s youngsters. Childhood obesity rates have more than doubled over last 20 years. The United States has become the largest consumer of ADHD medications in the world, and pediatric prescriptions for antidepressants have risen exponentially. And yet, in a typical week, only 6% of children ages 9 to 13 play outside on their own.

So what’s a parent to do in the face of such startling statistics? As with many problems, the first step is getting help. You’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child? Well, environmental educators believe it takes a backyard, a playground, or a park.

Start getting in touch with nature by spending time outdoors with the children you know. It could be as simple as taking a walk through the neighborhood or lifting up a rock to see what’s underneath. Every moment in a child’s life provides an opportunity for discovery—whether it’s seeing tiny turtles emerging from the sand and making their way to the ocean, or watching a spider weave its delicate web. These are experiences that will inspire them. My favorite suggestion for families is to try to grow something together. It could be flowers or vegetables, or even something imaginary. But get kids’ hands in the soil! When they play in dirt, we’re not only allowing them to explore the wonders around them, we’re also exposing them to healthy bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can create a much stronger immune system.

Study show that simply having contact with dirt can significantly improve a child’s mood and reduce their anxiety and stress. In fact, multiple studies have shown that childrens’ stress levels fall dramatically within minutes of seeing green spaces. Even more studies have concluded that outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly become better stewards of our environment.

Maybe try volunteering for organizations that support wildlife or the outdoors. Or get an amazing dose of vitamin D, which can help protect children from future bone problems, by going camping. You don’t have to go far—Irvine Nature Center recently doubled in size and has out-there-feeling camping experiences that can make even the grumpiest of teenagers nicer and more social. Really! Studies have shown that connection to the natural world can make that big of a difference for all of us!

As a community, I think we can change the nature of childhood for the better—we can put nature back in it! For more ideas, check out Nature Rocks, a program of the Nature Conservancy. it’s an online resource that makes it easy for families to have fun in nature.

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