Our family values innovation in teaching and meeting children where they are and helping and supporting them, while at the same time continuing to strive for excellence. We found that at ESD!
The Spears Family
Alexa and Shad Spears, Lower School Parents
Hear why Alexa and Shad chose ESD for their daughters.
Why did your family choose ESD?
Shad: We chose ESD for a number of reasons. A great education was first and foremost. But the balance between a rigorous curriculum and a nurturing environment was very important. Faith based ideals, focus on community service and what really solidified our decision … the school community. These combined, made ESD the right home for our girls.
Alexa: We were looking for a faith-based co-ed school with strong academics and a kind, caring community. We found that at ESD! Statistics showed us the exceptional academic program ESD offered. We were connected with current families and through talking with them learned about the engaged and warm parent community. It was talking with these moms who collectively spent hours talking with me about their ESD experience that helped me decide ESD was where we wanted to be … and I’m so glad we made that decision! It was absolutely the right and best choice for us!
Third Grader: It was so pretty and I met really nice and funny people when I visited. It’s mostly about the people.
First Grader: Because they thought it was right for me!
What did the decision-making process look like for your family? What stood out about ESD?
Shad: During our initial tours and interactions with faculty, staff and current families it just “clicked” for me and became immediately apparent it was the best fit for our girls. We were fortunate to have a number of options. But, for me, ESD was (and continues to be) the perfect place for our girls.
Alexa: My husband knew right away that ESD was the best choice. I didn’t know any families at ESD and for me, it was important to talk with current families to hear first-hand about their experiences. I talked with several people and heard such positive things about the school and community. The fact that people were willing to take time and share their thoughts with me was important. That paired with caring and compassionate teachers we met while touring and learning more about the school helped me make what turned out to be a fantastic choice for not only our daughters, but our family as a whole.
Third Grader: The people! They’re super nice and kind.
First Grader: It was prettier. The people were nicer.
Why do you stay at ESD?
Shad: We love it! Our girls started in Beginner and Kinder at ESD. It is such a nurturing environment and the lower school teachers we’ve been fortunate enough to have were/are amazing across the board. I love the message the girls get during daily chapel and it is regularly a topic of conversation at the dinner table. A recurring theme in our praise for ESD is the School Community. In addition to the girls, Alexa and I have developed great friendships through the school.
Alexa: We stay because we couldn’t be any happier! Every year our daughters ask if they can go back. They’ve made some wonderful friends and so have we. When we were a new family, we felt we were welcomed warmly by the current families as well as teachers and administration. Our daughters have LOVED their teachers. The ESD team puts a great deal of thought and care into decisions made about class/teacher selection and assignments. Each year so far, we’ve found a great fit between our daughters and their respective teachers.
Third Grader: Because I love it!
First Grader: (singing) Because I like it. I love it. I want some more of it.
What does your child love about ESD? What do you love about ESD?
Shad: The girls love EVERYTHING! I love … that they love everything!
Alexa: Our daughters love their teachers and their friends and are very excited about moving into the new Lower School building. They come home happy each day and excited to return the next. I love that! I love that the teachers and administrators genuinely care about our daughters and that they serve as ambassadors and champions for them in the classroom and beyond. I love how supported our daughters feel. I also love that ESD provides numerous ways for parents to get involved … and that many of the parents get involved! It’s been a wonderful way for me to get to know them better, and shows how caring the parent community really is.
Third Grader: I love the people, my friends I’ve made there, my teachers and I’m excited about the new building.
First Grader: The teachers. They are so nice. I love my friends I’ve made there too. It’s just so fun!
What do you value in education for your child?
Shad: Rigorous curriculum. Attention to the individual student. More flexibility to rely on the talented staff versus strict adherence to State and National Government curriculum/standards.
Alexa: Strong academics that will set my daughters up for future successes. I value a well-rounded curriculum and a team that instills a love of learning. I value innovation in teaching and meeting children where they are and helping and supporting them, while at the same time continuing to strive for excellence.
Third Grader: It’s important to me that I learn a lot and have super smart teachers.
First Grader: Learning is so important. I’m glad I’m at such a great school to learn math, reading, languages, etc.
Why has your family prioritized and invested in a co-ed college preparatory school?
Shad: Whether in the home or at the office, we live in a co-ed world. I just felt, specifically with our girls, they would benefit from the different points of view and the social skills they would develop interacting with boys and girls daily during their formative years.
Alexa: I attended a co-ed college preparatory school where I was raised in FL and had a wonderful experience. I feel it prepared me for real-life and wanted the same experience for my daughters.
Third Grader: It’s good to get along with boys, and girls, and not be separate. Going to a co-ed school, I think I’ll know better how to interact and communicate with boys (and girls) and will be much more comfortable interacting with everyone when I graduate and start working.
First Grader: It’s a nice mix. I like that there are boys and girls at ESD. Some of my good friends are boys.
What do you hope your child will get out of an ESD education?
Shad: A strong educational foundation. A great network of friends. An appreciation of community service. Faith-based lessons that promote being a good, well-rounded human being.
Alexa: An education that will prepare them for continued success in college and beyond. I hope through their ESD education, our daughters will learn to better appreciate the value and importance of creativity, problem-solving, solid decision-making, leadership, relationship building, and will gain greater confidence in themselves that they can achieve what they set their hearts and minds to.
Third Grader: I hope it sends me to a really good college and I hope to learn a lot.
First Grader: I want to be an artist when I grow up. I hope to learn how I can be one. I love my classes, especially my art classes, and how they’re teaching me things I need to know when I grow up.
What in particular do you think he/she learns because he/she goes to a co-ed school?
Shad: Self-confidence and social skills. The ability to confidently interact with boys and girls will serve them well as they move into a college setting and the workforce.
Alexa: The importance of being adaptable. A co-ed school is naturally more diverse. We hope that exposure to diversity and having our daughters learn how to interact and communicate with girls and boys at an early age will help them more easily adapt in different environments and as they meet and work with others.
Third Grader: I learn to get along with boys and girls.
What’s the biggest difference or change you’ve seen in your child since they started at ESD?
Shad: CONFIDENCE! Both of our girls are quiet and relatively shy. They are the kids that seldom raise their hands, even if they know the answer. We have seen them gain confidence, become more assertive, and express their curiosities and questions.
Alexa: Confidence! Our daughters feel supported by their teachers. Their teachers are in their corner encouraging them and inspiring them. The learning in math, reading, Spanish, etc. that we’ve seen over just a few years at ESD has been significant. Feeling supported by their teachers and peers has helped them grow significantly.
Third Grader: I’ve learned a lot and met a bunch of friends.
First Grader: I’m smarter!
How would you describe an “ESD Eagle”?
Shad: Excellence and well-rounded. It is the result of a balanced approach ESD takes – faith-based, rigorous curriculum, importance of culture and the arts, exposure to community service and a welcoming community who love their school.
Alexa: Smart, creative, problem-solver, curious, well-rounded, and kind.
Third Grader: Smart, kind, sweet, knows a lot!
First Grader: Nice, kind and fun!
What is your favorite ESD memory as a parent/guardian?
Shad: I know my wife and I are going to have the same answer here … Bedtime Tuck-in with Mrs. Ward. The girls were ecstatic, and Mrs. Ward generously gave her personal time in the evening and really focused on making both nights special for the girls.
Alexa: Cookies and bedtime reading with their Kindergarten teacher. This experience was an item in the annual Lower School auction. When each of our daughters was in Kindergarten, they “won” an evening with their Kindergarten teacher (Mrs. Ward – a gem!). Mrs. Ward came to our house with cookies and bedtime stories, as well as a personalized selection of books for each daughter. When the girls learned we had won this experience for them they were over the moon. They counted down the days until Mrs. Ward was coming over and were speechless and in awe when their teacher was actually at their house. Sarah couldn’t have been any lovelier and spent a couple hours playing games, drawing, reading stories, etc. with our girls. It was such a special time for each of them and we loved getting to know Sarah even better. The two evenings she came over are nights the girls will never forget and the sweet sweet message Sarah wrote in the cover of the book for each of them are notes they will forever treasure.
Third Grader: At end of my sister’s Kindergarten year, she brought home all of her art pieces and class work and showed them to me. It was fun for me to remember doing the same when I was in Kindergarten. I got out my Kinder art pieces and we went through all of them comparing and remembering all the fun we had making them!
First Grader: My class musicals. I love the songs and love performing.