Canterbury After School: Arts Enrichment at Its Finest

At a recent piano lesson, instructor Catherine Lamb told Charlie White (2nd-Sacco) that the next piece he learns would be a little more difficult. He’d been doing great on the easier, beginning pieces, and Catherine felt Charlie was ready for the challenge. “Are you up for something more difficult?” she asked. He looked up at Catherine and smiled. “Hard is my middle name.”

Catherine Lamb works with a Canterbury 2nd grader.

Catherine Lamb works with a Canterbury 2nd grader.

Charlie represents what Catherine hopes all students will say or think while progressing on the piano. Catherine is one of 10 instructors in Canterbury’s After School Fine Arts program. In addition to piano, Canterbury offers after school instruction in guitar, flute, voice, percussion, violin, viola, yoga, dance (jazz, ballet, tap and lyrical), drama, and creative writing. Classes in the visual arts – Young Rembrandts and pyrography (wood-burning) –  are also available.

Director Kevin Brenner, lower school science teacher at Canterbury, is constantly looking for ways to broaden the program. “The After School Fine Arts program affords Canterbury and non-Canterbury students alike the opportunity to experience top quality fine arts instruction on a state-of-the-art campus,” he says. “Our instructors are among the finest in the area, and they are committed to quality instruction and building their programs and studios at Canterbury School.”

Looking ahead, one of Kevin’s main goals is to grow the scholarship fund established just this fall. “The vision for the program is to provide programs and instruction that meet the needs of all families who are seeking these types of offerings,” Kevin says. “Thanks to a grant received by our own Karen Niegelsky, our program now has a scholarship fund from which a committee will award some partial scholarships for students who make requests.”

Third grade teacher Penny Summers, founder of the After School Fine Arts Program, remembers the excitement around launching in 2009. “We had just celebrated the opening of our beautiful new Stafford Arts Center, and we wanted the building to be fully utilized,” she recalls. “We wanted it to be ‘humming’ with art activity! We knew that a vibrant after school program would be a great complement to our already strong arts curriculum, from which students benefitted during the school day.”

At the end of each semester, Andrea Crossley Spencer (right) and her creative writing students host a public reading of the students' work.

At the end of each semester, Andrea Crossley Spencer (right) and her creative writing students host a public reading of the students’ work.

Many research studies have confirmed the correlation between participation in the arts and enhanced academic performance. “In my experience, great benefits stem from engaging with challenging material over a long period of time, learning that failure is an integral part of success, and developing the discipline you need to sing, draw, paint, act, or write well,” Penny adds. “I have always found the arts to be a great source of joy and purpose. What a gift to give to a child!”

After school programming allows Canterbury to tailor instruction to the needs and interests of each student. The school has been diligent about hiring instructors who bring to Canterbury a great deal of professional success in their disciplines. For example, Catherine Lamb came to Canterbury from Charlottesville, VA, where she had a thriving piano studio for 10 years. Mark Charles Smith is active as a professional composer and classical guitarist, and he teaches music at New Garden Friends School and Guilford College. Viola instructor Kate Middel performed with the Liberace Quartet, among many other honors. Professional ballet dancer and instructor Kristi Fedor has had several ballet students who have won scholarships for summer intensive programs to the most prestigious ballet schools in the country.

The program is one more way that Canterbury lives out its commitment to the whole child. Instructors seem to enjoy teaching at our school as much as their students enjoy learning from them. It is exciting to imagine how the After School Fine Arts program will evolve to meet student interest – both at Canterbury and within the greater community.

Registration for Spring 2015 after school programming will begin Dec. 4. View the full list of offerings, and contact an instructor to secure a space for your child.

“In my experience, great benefits stem from engaging with challenging material over a long period of time, learning that failure is an integral part of success, and developing the discipline you need to sing, draw, paint, act, or write well. I have always found the arts to be a great source of joy and purpose. What a gift to give to a child!”

 – Penny Summers, 3rd grade teacher and After School Fine Arts program founder

by Andrea Crossley Spencer

Spencer_2014_073Andrea Crossley Spencer is a Canterbury parent to McKenna (4th-Hoover), a freelance writer, and a creative writing instructor in Canterbury’s After School Fine Arts program. Her favorite Canterbury tradition is Chapel Buddies. She loves hiking, chocolate peanut butter shakes and listening to all kinds of music, from Harry Connick, Jr. to David Gray.

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CANterbury CAN! Annual Fund Challenge is Making an Impact

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Canterbury students do their part to support the Annual Fund Campaign.

Canterbury does so much for our children. The school’s whole-child approach to education helps our sons and daughters to learn, to love, to serve: to live. But take a moment to think about what else Canterbury can do? Working together, what kind of an impact could we make toward advancing the learning environment?

Efforts like the Canterbury School Annual Fund Campaign seek to answer just that. The 2014-15 campaign – “CANterbury CAN!” – is well under way. Thanks to some great ideas, this year’s drive is especially meaningful, effective and fun.

For instance, at Open House, Annual Fund Coordinator Meghan Davis announced a canned food drive: for every pledge received, Canterbury would donate a can of food to Greensboro Urban Ministry. To date, more than 160 cans have been donated, showcasing Canterbury’s dedication to school and community.

Also, every successful campaign needs an engaging challenge to raise awareness and participation. In October, Canterbury announced a competition between the middle and lower schools. The division that had the highest percentage of pledges would win casual dress days and bragging rights.

Just Zappia declares lower school the champions!

Justin Zappia declares lower school the champions!

Talented parent Wendy Riley captured some great images from the challenge. Justin Zappia in a referee’s uniform. Kindergarteners proudly proclaiming the lower school’s victory. Can’t you just see the Canterbury spirit in the photos?

So far, total family participation is at 61 percent. Faculty, staff, and board members are at 100 percent!

The goal for 2014-15 year is $400,000. As of Dec. 1, the school has raised $200,000.  Together, we CAN reach our goal! If you have not had a chance to submit your pledge, remember that payments are not due until the end of May and may be made in convenient installments – even right online. What a great way to say “thank you” to Canterbury this holiday season.

Speaking of saying thanks, read the interview below and get to know Meghan Davis as well as our wonderful Annual Fund chairs, Matt and Rhonda Wakefield. On behalf of your fellow Canterbury parents, we appreciate your outstanding leadership and service, Matt and Rhonda!

Matt and Rhonda, describe your experience so far serving as Annual Fund chairs.

Meghan has gotten us acclimated to our roles, and we have been excited to support the school this way ever since!  So far, we have spoken about the Annual Fund (AF) at the Lower School and Middle School Back-to-School Nights as a way to introduce ourselves and the role we play for the AF Campaign. Most recently, an AF Committee meeting was held to get the group energized about the AF Campaign, explain the help needed from committee members and most importantly, thank everyone for being a part of this important effort.

Why is it important to you to serve in this capacity?

Canterbury School has given our children, Libby (5th) and Will (2nd) so much in terms of educational, emotional and physical development. We realize that the Annual Fund provides so many additional resources beyond what tuition covers.

What do you want to make sure parents know – more than anything – about the AF?  

The Annual Fund is vital to the success of our school. It is a reality at all independent schools, not just Canterbury, that tuition alone cannot cover the entire cost associated with a private school education. The Annual Fund helps to keep tuition as low as possible and provide innovative programs and resources.  Everyone, in whatever capacity they can, should support Canterbury with a gift to the Annual Fund.

If you could choose any famous person to help you achieve your CANterbury CAN! fundraising goals, who would it be and why?

Will Farrell would bring an interesting dynamic to the campaign!

What is your favorite hobby?

Matt loves to go mountain-biking and jogging. Rhonda likes to go to the gym or be in the woods for a hike.

What is something you’ve always wanted to try, but have yet to pursue?

Rhonda would like to go on a hot air balloon ride.  Matt would like to watch Rhonda go on a hot air balloon ride because he’s scared to do it.

Meghan, share some of your favorite “fast facts” about the Annual Fund.

The Annual Fund is a source of tremendous pride at Canterbury School. Our level of parent participation far exceeds the national average for independent schools. Each year, more than 92 percent of parents, along with grandparents, alumni, alumni parents and friends, support Canterbury with a gift to the Annual Fund. High participation rates among members of our Canterbury community are a strong vote of confidence, a sign that our community invests in their children’s well being and supports the school’s mission.

“Whether it is through time, knowledge, care or financial support, Canterbury parents are truly committed and involved. It is a joy to raise funds and support for something that you believe in.” Meghan Davis, Annual Fund & Alumni Relations Coordinator

As Annual Fund Coordinator, please describe what kinds of things the AF helps to provide. 

Everything!  The Annual Fund provides the excellence that we enjoy each day at Canterbury School.  Tuition alone does not cover the cost of providing a Canterbury education. In fact, this year, it costs approximately $1,700 more than tuition per student to operate our school. The Annual Fund supplements our budget so that we can provide everything from competitive teacher salaries to technology, performing arts, sports equipment, field trips and light bulbs! We are thankful that so many parents are able to do their part in bridging the gap between tuition and the actual cost of operating our school.

Why do you love fundraising for Canterbury? Why is it a meaningful position for you?  I have loved Canterbury School from the minute I first walked on campus for a tour. I cannot imagine my boys or our family at any other school and I truly feel blessed by the opportunities open to them here. Being a part of the school now as a staff member is really icing on the cake! I am overwhelmed by the large and small gifts Canterbury parents offer everyday. Whether it is through time, knowledge, care or financial support, Canterbury parents are truly committed and involved. It is a joy to raise funds and support for something that you believe in. I believe in this school. Personally, my family chooses to support Canterbury’s annual and capital campaigns because we know it matters, we watch it make a difference, and we are confident it is an investment in excellence.

Tell us about the theme “CANterbury CAN!”

Each year we create a fun and engaging campaign theme and this year it is CANterbury CAN!  There are countless experiences and achievements that CAN happen at Canterbury.  We believe there is nothing our community can’t do.10177509_10152228252046910_1607523032320263946_n

Describe the ways that parents can give to the AF.

Gifts may be made by cash, check, Mastercard and Visa.  Many choose to give gifts of stock or securities. Pledges are payable between now and May 2015. Many parents choose to pay their gift in monthly installments. For instance, a pledge of $1,000 made today could be paid in eight installments of just $125 per month. Gifts may be made online by visiting our website and clicking on the giving tab or by contacting Meghan Davis directly at davism@canterburygso.org or 288-2007.

by Andrea Crossley Spencer


Spencer_2014_073Andrea Crossley Spencer is a Canterbury parent to McKenna (4th – Hoover), a freelance writer, and a creative writing instructor in Canterbury’s After School Fine Arts program. Her favorite Canterbury tradition is Chapel Buddies. She loves hiking, chocolate peanut butter shakes and listening to all kinds of music, from Harry Connick, Jr. to David Gray.