Kate Nazzaro (TCS Class of 1990) attended The Children’s School from first – sixth grades. Some of her best memories were made at TCS, and she also credits the school for her academic successes. Still, she didn’t automatically choose TCS for her daughter Neicy when her family moved from New York City back to Atlanta. We talked to Kate about her and her daughter’s TCS experience, and how Kate came to decide that TCS was the perfect place for Neicy.
Tell me about your time at TCS.
It was great. When I look back on my life and on the major experiences that I had, (going to TCS) was in the top three or four. I can remember all of my teachers’ names for every grade. I took for granted that we had the city as our campus, and I felt so much more comfortable and aware of museums and theaters and being at Piedmont Park. I made a lot of great friends here, and I think it was a great foundation.
How have you used what you learned at TCS?
I still remember in 1987 that Halley’s Comet was a big deal. We all had to go home and make a model-size version of Halley’s comet. My dad and I used a foam ball and neon yellow yarn that we measured out to scale. I remember in science (creating) a cell with Jello and putting stuff in there. I think that type of learning sticks, and I really felt that it’s served me well.
In high school and in college, my vocabulary and my writing skills were much better than those of my peers. I had already developed the critical thinking and the comfort with asking questions to clarify things that I didn’t understand or to even question things that I did learn in high school.
Why did you choose TCS for your daughter?
I was in New York City for 14 years after college, and I thought I would stay there for a while, but then I had Neicy, and it was way too hard. So, I moved back to be near my parents.
I resolved that I was not going to just relive my old life here, and I very specifically decided that I was not going to send Neicy to The Children’s School. I visited all of the schools and went to the fairs. Then, after seeing the other schools, I realized how great The Children’s School is and how different it is. It had continued to get better over the years. It offered the balance of academic learning and also (social) emotional learning and being a good citizen that I think is important in elementary school. I think that what The Children School is doing is really important and ahead of the curve. It’s funny to go to some of the other schools where they’re talking about learning the way that The Children’s School talked about learning decades ago as though it’s this novel thing.
It’s also great to see people on campus who were my teachers and my old principal. I think it’s a testament to the school that there are so many people here who have been here for a long time.
How do your family’s values align with TCS’s values?
The first one I think of is integrity and to be respectful of yourself and others and your belongings. We think it is really important to contribute to the world and not just take and receive from the world but to bring your voice, your talent or your thoughts and do something with it.
I also like The Children School’s philosophy, which I noticed when I left (here). Everyone becomes a part of the community. We all got along because that was just what was expected and we didn’t really think any other way. Then, when I graduated, it was a big eye opener – I mean there were cliques and everything. I felt like I had left a little nest – something very sacred and nurturing.
Tell us about Neicy’s learning experience at TCS.
Neicy is very confident and outgoing and full of life. She is just who she is, and she thinks that’s great. It doesn’t occur to her to be any other way. I think that The Children’s School will foster that rather than redirect her to a different way. I think she’ll maintain that confidence and learn a huge amount in a hands-on way.
Also, she has a comfortability with adults and other people that you don’t see very often. (She has) the ability to engage with adults and with teachers and feel like she is a part of the learning experience and that it’s not just the teacher teaching AT her. I think that she’ll feel like she has ownership of her education.