While each member of Karter School’s leadership team uses slightly different words to define it, they are all dedicated to offering an individualized, unique experience to Karter’s students when the academic institution opens in Sterling later this month.
Karter is currently enrolling students, from infants and pre-schoolers through its after-school and summer camp programs for elementary- and middle-school students. The goal is to open as soon as its licensing and permitting processes are completed in the middle of February 2019.
For owner Anna Savier, who has her own children ages 1 and 3, the Karter Difference involves combining a facility, teachers, and curriculum that meet an exacting standard: her own. “My goal is to build an early learning center that prepares children to be well-rounded citizens of the world,” Savier said. “That includes full language immersion, theater, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), coding, science and more.
“As a parent (looking for childcare), I wanted to see teachers who are happy and are passionate about education and are experts in the subject matter they are teaching. I just wasn’t seeing that. What I dreamed of didn’t exist.”
Savier is from the Denver area and has a degree in biological chemistry and a master’s degree in public health from Colorado University. She lived in Northern Virginia for several years before returning to Colorado to complete her master’s degree. She and her husband, David, are in the process of relocating to Virginia, and are also opening a school like Karter School in Denver.
She said Loudoun County is a great place for the school she envisions. “As I got to know parents here touring the school, I can see they are going to expect a lot more, like me,” she said. “Like me, they want a place for their kids where they know it is clean and safe and they are actually getting what they are paying for. School should feel like a home away from home.”
Savier stressed that Karter School is not just a child care facility or a place for elementary and middle school students to hang out until their parents pick them up after work. It is an early learning center and academic facility where each child is being challenged to grow in all areas of development. “What sets us apart from other schools is our students don’t stay in one classroom,” Savier said. “They have different enrichments, which are included in the tuition, and they will move into a room that is geared to those enrichments.”
In the heart of Karter School is a small town set-up, with each “business” geared to a different aptitude or enrichment. Even toddlers will be exposed to Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, coding and robotics, music and performing arts and physical education. Executive Director Terri Green has almost 30 years of experience in early education, as a teaching assistant, curriculum specialist, and director. She has four children, ages 19 through 27, and firmly believes in the importance of quality early childhood education. “The Karter Difference is that we have it all,” Green said. “Those first five years are so important because it builds their love of learning. Every child deserves to become the best ‘them’ they can be. That means building self-confidence and values and creating curiosity. They learn in different ways, so we teach to the child.”
Green said Karter will achieve that with a state-of-the-art facility and good curriculum, but the main ingredient is a caring and dedicated teaching staff. “I call it having a magic heart,” Green said. “They need to be truly passionate and truly desire to make children the best they can be. Anna believes in that very strongly. We believe it is an honor and a blessing to touch the future every day.”
In addition to the town-themed enrichment areas and other indoor classrooms, Karter School also features different outdoor play areas dedicated to different age groups. Green said those areas will be used for exercise and motor skill development, as well as a continuation of educational themes, started in the classrooms.
“We are having an outdoor classroom, which will be our nature center,” she said. “Children will experience the life cycle of plants, from seedlings to harvest. Whatever they harvest, they will bring it into our imagination station and use recipes and materials and do a cooking project. If they grow carrots, they will harvest them and they might make a carrot cake.”
Karter School will also offer after-school programs for students in elementary and middle school. Buses will also be provided to help transport the students, as needed. Gianna Capelli, the after-school coordinator, has degrees in music education and is certified for kindergarten through 12th grade. “Our core group is kindergarten through fifth grade, but we do have class offerings for middle-schoolers,” Capelli said. “We offer a safe location for middle-schoolers and appropriate curriculum for them as well.” Capelli said the school will provide a place for students to complete their daily homework and will offer additional opportunities. “We will have an after-school homework club, but the parents and children are also encouraged to select from 36 club offerings,” Capelli said. “Our club offerings will vary from a robotics club and cooking to a group ukulele club. Our goal is to empower even our youngest students to learn about community service and how to give back to the community.”
With everything that Karter School has to offer, Savier thinks it is a perfect fit for Loudoun County in a great location in Sterling. “I love Loudoun County because it is very family oriented and very diverse,” she said. “When I looked at where I should place my school, I wanted it to be a community where the parents can understand where I am coming from. They want the best for their children and they are willing to invest in them. They expect a lot, and we will give it to them.” Karter School is at 21290 Springlake Court in Sterling. For more information or to arrange a tour, visit KarterSchools.org or call 703-430-8657.