Talk about a silver lining.
Four years ago, Jennifer and Dave Holland faced the unenviable task of finding a new school for their only daughter, Jade.
Not only did they find a new school, they found The New School.
“Jade had completed everything to move to the next age level, but that level was at capacity,” Dave recalled. “We reached out to TNS over Christmas break and promptly got a response, even though the school wasn’t open.”
The Hollands toured The New School campus, and that sealed the deal. Jade was enrolled that January.
“We were a little nervous,” Jennifer said. “We wondered if we would fit in. But from the very beginning, we were completely welcomed, and I know Jade felt that way, too.”
In the years since that transition, things have gotten only better.
“I don't know that there's ever been a morning when Jade wasn’t happy about coming here,” Jennifer said. “Right off the bat, she loved being here, and she did not want to leave in the afternoons when we came to pick her up.
“As she’s gotten older, we’ve let her know that we’ve sacrificed some things for her to be able to go here, so that she’ll appreciate it. And she regularly tells us ‘Thank you for letting me go to my school,’ and, ‘I love my teacher, I love my friends, I love my classes.’ So we know she's happy.”
One of the ways The New School has been a great fit for Jade is the emphasis on creative arts as a mainstay of the curriculum. In fact, the Hollands credit the school’s theatre program for launching Jade beyond the JB and Johnelle Hunt Family Auditorium to appear in professional productions at the Walton Arts Center and TheaterSquared.
“It's very individualized,” Jennifer said of Jade’s education. “And I like that there are so many components, not just the typical classes. And I like how everything is integrated, like incorporating math into the tinkering and music and PE.
Dave and Jennifer agree that the professionalism of The New School's teachers and administration was an important factor in their decision to transfer Jade to The New School.
“The teachers are very self-motivated, and they really care about the students' learning concepts rather than teaching to the test,” he said. “And they invest in the students much more than just academically.”
The attitude is reciprocal. Jennifer, who is Director of Development Communications at the University of Arkansas, and Dave, a Loan Officer at First National Bank of NWA, have been very active in the life of the school. The couple has co-chaired the Fun Run, served on committees, volunteered at functions, and, through Dave’s job, introduced students to several hands-on lessons in financial matters, including a bank “loan” for the annual second-grade holiday store.
Dave and Jennifer highly recommend volunteering for all parents of The New School.
“It is a good opportunity to really get to know your kids’ teachers,” Dave said. “It also increases their comfort in communicating with you about your child. The faculty and staff are always very appreciative, and I think it makes them more willing to go the extra mile for your family.”
Jennifer encourages other parents to take the plunge into volunteering, regardless of how much or how little time they can spare.
“The people who do volunteer, they’re a really lively, fun bunch, and you’ll probably want to keep doing it.”