Stacy Aldous is the President of the Parents’ Association, a Waterford Parent Ambassador and the mother of three. Her youngest daughter Ellie attends Claremont McKenna College. Her older daughter Julianne is in the Honors College at the University of Utah and her son Adam is a recent graduate of Purdue University.
How did you choose Waterford for your family?
I knew Waterford generally by reputation. My kids attended another local private school that only went through Grade 8. I always figured we would just send them to the local junior high and then high school after eighth grade, but when I began to explore this option I became very disappointed in what I found. So, I attended a Waterford Open House. I explored other local private schools as well, but in the end, I felt like Waterford had everything I was looking for.
What were you looking for? What was it about Waterford that helped make your decision?
Well, what I was looking for then may be different than what I have come to appreciate about Waterford. At the time, I had a sense that they took their academics seriously. The parents I spoke to talked about the inclusiveness among the student body and that there was a good amount of diversity. Mainly, I was very impressed with the program — what would be offered, classes my children would be able to take, and things they would be able to try — many opportunities that I had never considered.
What is it that you appreciate now?
Each of my three kids have different academic aptitudes and interests. It has been fascinating to me to see how Waterford has benefited them all. The academic rigor is there for the child who needs it and wants more, and it is there for the child who didn’t think they wanted it, but discovers that they are capable and they can be successful. I also appreciate the high expectation of excellence. The teachers expect a lot, but they won’t let their students fail. I really valued the candid open communication from the faculty about how best to help my child succeed. Also, the rapport my children have developed with the faculty is a treasure. They have grown to see themselves as capable, thinking individuals who value education highly, and this will change their lives.
Talk a little bit about the faculty.
I know everyone loves Mrs. Woller, but my son who is now a senior at Purdue, LOVED Mrs. Woller. He spent many lunch periods in her classroom his senior year getting help or working on homework. She would text him his scores on practice AP exams and just really encouraged him. She developed a personal relationship with him and took care of him. He recently posted on his Facebook page that he was in a statistics class at Purdue, and he really wished it was being taught by her.
There are so many other examples. Mr. Van Arsdell taught English to my daughter who is now in her first year of college. That class was challenging and the writing he expected from those students was specific, precise, analytical and frequent. My daughter learned so much that year. When he would write a positive comment on one of her papers about her writing it meant so much to her because she earned it. She gained so much confidence from him. She believes in herself as a writer and she will say to this day “I can write well because Mr. Van Arsdell taught me.”
What unique experiences or opportunities have your kids had here at Waterford that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise had?
I will give you three examples. First, the athletics. Because the school is small, you can join late in life. My son always loved sports and had a variety of opportunities to play sports at Waterford including racquetball and tennis. In his senior year, he developed a new found interest in soccer. He played on the junior varsity soccer team and even got some time playing varsity. He had never played soccer a day in his life before this. He felt lucky to be able to try something completely new so late in his high school career and to have so much fun doing it. It was a great experience for him. My daughters have had similar experiences. Both of them have played on the tennis team having had very little previous experience and one of my daughters played soccer for one year, just to prove to herself that she could do it.
Another example is the photography program. My daughter is doing amazing things in her photography class. It is creative and experimental and she is doing things I never thought possible. She just loves it.
And then, of course, the academics. Waterford students are being taught on a higher level, by highly qualified people. It has a huge effect.
Talk about the Waterford Community.
I have been very involved in the Waterford parent community. I decided when I came to Waterford as a new parent that I would go to every parent meeting and volunteer where I could. That has been very beneficial to me. This has helped me to understand how the school works, why things are done in certain ways and also to have a greater appreciation for how it all comes together. Through those efforts, I have made many parent friends. One thing that Waterford parents have in common is a real love of education and a dedication to their children. I appreciate that and I enjoy these friendships. The friends that my kids have met through school are amazing — I love to listen to their conversations. They have interesting things to talk about. Whether they are doing their math homework while speaking French or talking about art, their education goes far beyond the classroom.
What about the Waterford campus and the facilities we have here?
It is a stunning facility and a great location. My kids love it. They love walking outdoors across campus. It is such a beautiful setting, even if they don’t realize it, I believe it brings a measure of serenity to them each day.
Why do you give to the annual fund or the scholarship fund?
In a perfect world, it would be great if tuition could cover all the school’s costs, but I understand that the school has to try to keep tuition down, and rely upon those who can help to bridge the gap. I accept that this is how it is for independent schools across the country. I want my children to have the full Waterford experience, and therefore I feel that it is my responsibility to give to annual fund, to give my time as a volunteer and to be a positive contributor in any way that I can.
How have the arts programs at Waterford impacted your children?
All three of my kids enrolled in the two-year photography program and it impacted each of them differently. My son is currently studying engineering at Purdue and the arts aren’t a big part of his life now, but he loved the Waterford photography program. His experience wasn’t necessarily an artistic response, but he really enjoyed learning how it all worked — the technology and all the steps in the photography process. In the end, he was able to express himself creatively. Photography has provided each of my kids an artistic outlet and enabled them to look at the world in a more aesthetic way. It has truly enhanced their experience here.
You have been through the college application process and the big step of sending two children off to college. How did it go?
I would definitely say that my two oldest were well prepared for college and found the right fit. I would recommend that all parents go to College Night. It was very inspiring for my kids to learn about all the choices and options available.
Do you have any “Waterford Moments” to share?
Well, we went through a period of time with my oldest daughter where she felt that the “grass might be greener” at our local public high school……more kids, more fun, bigger social circles, etc. We talked and talked and after significant anguish we decided to let her try it. She attended three weeks, and and the end of the third week, I asked her if she thought it was time to go back to Waterford and she said yes. We sat down with her and asked her why she had changed her mind, and her words were the most powerful thing. She said “I have been in school for three weeks and I haven’t taken a test or a quiz, and I have written one essay, but my teacher hasn’t even looked at it yet.” These were all Honors and AP classes and she felt like the students had no expectations from the teachers and the teachers didn’t expect much from their students. She said, “I want to go somewhere where people have high expectations for me.” She actually wrote one of her college essays about this experience. She realized that she truly values her education and that she receives great joy and satisfaction from doing well. She has never looked back.
Any final thoughts?
I believe in Waterford so completely. I know that no school is perfect, but this school comes as close as it is going to get. Every parent who is considering Waterford should come and tour the school. You will see the value. Then you can just sit back and watch your children grow. Watch them overcome hard things and learn amazing things, and watch their love of learning grow. These all sound like catchy phrases but it is lived out in my house every day. We love it here.