When it came time for Amanda and Jimmy Wall to send their oldest child, Conrad, to elementary school, they started looking for a strong STEM program, because Conrad loves science and technology.
“We looked at a number of schools, because we also wanted to find one that would nurture the whole child,” says Amanda. “To us, that would be important for his social and emotional growth.”
The Walls also had another criterion that was important to them. They wanted a school that welcomed diverse students, because, even as Conrad started CA, and his sister Alex followed in his footsteps, their parents were working diligently on a plan to adopt internationally. Today, Conrad and Alex have two younger sisters, Priya and Ari, adopted from India and also attending CA.
“If you had told me after we adopted Priya and Ari that all four of my children would end up at CA, I would have said, ‘No way!’ given what we knew about our daughters’ background in India,” says Amanda. “We came to CA for one set of reasons, but now more than ever, we value the community, because all of our children are doing well and loving school.”
Conrad and Alex
The Walls say that when Conrad came to CA in First Grade, “right off the bat” he found teachers who would offer challenging and engaging science and computer science curriculum.
“We are living through a second industrial revolution with technology,” says Jimmy. “But technology can cut both ways—sometimes working for good and sometimes not—and we really appreciate CA’s thoughtful approach.”
While Conrad had excellent spatial reasoning skills, he needed some additional assistance in reading and writing. “That’s why CA’s small class size was so important to us,” says Amanda. “We knew that he would get the individualized attention he needed.”
The Walls were particularly impressed when they toured the Anderson Innovation Lab in the Upper School.
“I remember how dynamic that room was,” Jimmy says. “It was filled with opportunities to discover your talents and interests.”
“There was a student in the Lab working on a project,” Amanda adds. “I looked at him, and I could immediately see an older version of our son.”
When it came time to send their second child, Alex, to elementary school, the Walls knew that she was a very different student from her older brother.
“She is very outgoing, creative, energetic, and she loves sports and arts,” Amanda says. “At CA, she is constantly challenged, and she gets so much out of her education. Because CA offers such a diverse curriculum, she is never bored.”
“As parents, it is so interesting to see two children with different personalities, different interests, and different capabilities both find one school where they belong, find support, and thrive,” adds Jimmy.
Priya and Ari
When Alex was in Kindergarten and Conrad was in Second Grade, the Walls traveled to India to complete the adoption of two sisters, Priya, who was four years old, and Ari, who was three years old. Prior to seeing the girls, they suspected they might be delayed in a variety of ways. They didn’t even know if Ari could walk yet. In their minds, they would spend the next year working with the girls, helping them adjust to a new life in a new country.
“We brought them home in March, and our expectations were blown away,” says Jimmy. “By May, Priya visited CA, and we realized that she loved school. In India, school had been her happy place.”
Today, Priya is in First Grade and Ari is in Kindergarten at CA.
Her parents describe Priya as “kind, inclusive, and curious.” She enjoys creating art, and she also loves science. She started school with what her father calls a “catch-up factor,” particularly in language and speech skills, but her parents were not concerned about her.
“When I dropped Priya off at CA, I knew she was in good hands,” Amanda says. “We knew already how dedicated, nurturing, and loving the teachers would be. I knew she would be getting attention, and that was comforting.”
“You can’t underestimate how hard she works,” adds Jimmy. “She puts in four times the effort to do anything, because she wants to succeed. There’s no ‘quit’ in her.”
Her parents say Ari has a completely different personality from her sister—lively, athletic, bright, and vivacious, she is a student with extraordinary confidence, who is good at engaging other children. “We don’t yet know what her academic gifts are,” says Amanda. “But we do know that with the vast range of programs at CA, she will find her niche.”
Finding a community
The Walls have also found a niche at CA. They enjoy what they call the school’s “diverse environment,” and emphasize that CA is not just culturally diverse but also includes socio-economic diversity. They describe the parents they have met as “down-to-earth,” and “approachable.” They have been delighted to meet families at the school who are Indian. They recently celebrated Diwali, the Festival of Lights, to culturally honor their two youngest daughters.
“The parents at CA are interesting people,” says Jimmy. “To me, it shows that the school’s leadership intentionally works to build a special culture.”
Even though the community (and the world) has been upended by pandemic restrictions, the Walls believe their children’s education has not suffered. “Now, more than ever, during a pandemic, our children’s mental health is important to us,” Amanda says. “We notice that, even with masks and social distancing, they love going to school.”
“It’s so apparent to us how much the teachers are giving of themselves during this tough time,” adds Jimmy. “They are true heroes.”
Four unique children ranging from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade, and from their parents’ perspective, they all attend the ideal school. No time is that more obvious to Amanda Wall than when she reads the student evaluations that teachers send home. “I am so amazed at how well the teachers know each individual child,” she says. “You don’t have to tell the teacher anything—they know your child.”