“We did not know how it would work financially – it’s a big commitment to move from a free public education to paying tuition. And initially the transition was bumpy (Kate didn’t want to change). Kate was very shy – it took a little while for her to feel at home, but we saw her begin to settle in very soon.
“While at TCS, Kate was able to work for Greenpeace (Washington, DC) for a short time. Obviously Kate had some support from the school to accomplish this, but she really did this on her own. Kate’s being involved in this experience/adventure was such a surprise. This was not something we arranged for her. It showed what a change had occurred for Kate in terms of her learning to be proactive and initiate things for herself.
“When at first she wasn’t accepted at the college she most wanted to be at, Kate didn’t depend on us to fix things for her – somehow she managed to get accepted by persisting and getting teacher recommendations. She managed the admissions process all on her own.
“One of the biggest things that TCS offers is the opportunity for a student to be an individual – not a cookie cutter copy. The Community School helps the individual find their own mold.
“There’s no magic wand (rich relatives, megabucks). We knew we had to do something better for Kate. We made it work day by day and we just did the best we could with what we had, and the school worked with us and we made it. We felt she deserved a chance to succeed in an environment where she could grow and expand.
“TCS is able to adapt to changing needs and keep the programs and courses up to date. I really like that.
“It’s not the building that makes the school, but the people inside – the teachers and the staff.
“I think of the The Community School as the best kept secret around.
“A child can grow and learn in this environment at the pace that best suits them. We’re all individuals and one mold doesn’t work for everyone – and we don’t want to end up with everyone being the same."
Today, Kate is a senior at the College of the Atlantic, majoring in environmental sciences. She is working hard, is an R.A. in her dorm and is a leader of the outdoor adventure/camping program.
“I was ahead of my peers in public school so the idea that I could take classes at my academic level regardless of my age was really attractive.
“I learned how to be responsible for myself within the context of being responsible to other people.
“I attribute how well I did in college and grad school to the intellectual approach I learned here. I learned how to think critically in my own way, so that I am the most effective learner I can be.
“There is nothing that I should have learned to prepare for college that I didn’t learn – and I think I was much better prepared for living with others, asking questions, taking part in class discussions, and talking with profs, knowing when I needed support and how to ask for that support. Also, because I knew how I learn best - if there was something I needed to find out or learn more about I never stumbled. I could do that very easily.
“TCS takes students and helps them be the most fully developed people that they can be – by doing this TCS also gives a huge a gift to the community and the world.
“When families decide to send their kids here and when folks give donations – that’s an investment in helping to make these wonderful kids the best they can be. I really do believe that this school helps make the world better. So many TCS students really do think about making positive changes; they work on making things better – fixing what is broken, seeing who needs support or a helping hand and identifying what role they can play in addressing those needs."
Stephanie went on to Earlham College, earning a B.A. as a double major in art (metalsmithing) and psychology. Graduating with an M.S. in art therapy/counseling from Springfield College (with a 4.0 grade point average), she is now working as a child & family therapist at a community mental health center in New Hampshire.