Friday, April 8, three Clarksville Academy teachers and one Administrator embarked on a trip of the lifetime. They flew to Chicago and met up with a group of twenty more teachers and from there headed to Finland. They will spend the next week, immersing themselves in the culture, visiting area schools to experience new teaching techniques, and will even get to spend some time exploring. They are still adjusting to the eight hour time difference! Follow along as we experience their adventure with them! Sherry Cawood, Middle School, Gina Goostree, Head of Lower School, Shelley Holt, Lower School and Christine Lindsey, Upper School will fill us in on their daily adventures!

Friday, April 8-Saturday, April 9

CA faculty heading to Finland are full of anticipation for the trip. After many hours in O’Hare, we boarded for our 6.5 hour flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. We had a very brief layover.  In 0 degrees Celsius and gusty winds we boarded our final flight to Helsinki, Finland. We arrived at 2 p.m. for a tour of Helsinki to learn about its vast history and culture. Following the tour, we took a quick rest and joined our group for dinner. Tomorrow begins another exciting day! –Shelley Holt, Pre-K

Sunday, April 10

We began the week’s educational experience on Sunday by learning more about Finland’s history and culture. In the morning we traveled to the town of Porvoo, one of six medieval towns in Finland. Porvoo, We began the week’s educational experience on Sunday by learning more about Finland’s history and culture.  In the morning we traveled to the town of Porvoo, one of six medieval towns in Finland. Porvoo, which means castle on a river in Swedish, is 200 years older than Helsinki.  Finland’s long history with Sweden was evidenced here in the architecture, signs, and the number of residents (30%) who speak Swedish as their primary language.  After lunch we traveled to Suomenlinna Island, a World Heritage UNESCO site.  Here we learned more about Finland’s history with Russia.  On Suomenlinna Island (linna=castle) is a fortress built in the mid 1700s on one of 8 islands in an archipelago.  At this time the Swedish Empire was concerned about the developing city of St. Petersburg in Russia and built the fortress as a defense.  Finland was ceded to Russia by Sweden in 1809, and in 1917 Finland declared independence from Russia.  A few buildings still have the onion top design, though most were removed.  After we returned from Suomenlinna we had the opportunity to explore the waterfront market.  The evening was capped with a group meeting including the 16 educators joining us from Chicago and administrators from the schools we will visit tomorrow. –Christine Lindsey, US Science

Monday, April 11

Moi (Hello) from Finland! What an awesome day! Wow! We started our day at /Otaniemen Lukio Upper Secondary School for Mathematics and Natural Science in Espoo, a Helsinki suburb. The school mascot is the bear.

The school library at Otaniemen Lukio Upper Secondary School & a classroom at Otaniemen Lukio Upper Secondary School.

The school was designed in collaboration with the students. Students selected the colors, designed the mascot and were instrumental in deciding the layout and furnishings. One of the student’s top “wishes” for their communal space was the coolest indoor conversation swing set.  All morning, we were looking for a few spare minutes to try out those fabulous swings!

Our guest speaker, Jari Lavonen, Ph.D. and head of the Department of Teacher Training at Helsinki University, discussed design thinking and the innovative process of creating multidisciplinary learning modules and implementing and sustaining multidisciplinary courses. 
Mrs. Lindsey’s morning also included time in the high school robotics lab learning more about their program.  Mrs. Goostree, Mrs. Holt and Mrs. Cawood visited at nearby Laajalahti Elementary School. We sat in a third grade classroom as the teacher demonstrated how robotics is implemented in Finland for that age. Later, we watched the teacher start a project based learning activity on weather instruments with sixth grade students. 

Next, we headed back to the Secondary School to eat the school cafeteria lunch. Finland focuses on teaching healthy eating habits in children from an early age. Our menu was baked fish, boiled potatoes and other vegetables along with a salad and several toppings. 

Our afternoon was spent at Aalto University Junior. We observed high school students visiting the lab for the day to make and test  a compound of aspirin. 

Next, we headed upstairs to a classroom for our own hands-on activity. We assembled  a hydrogen-fueled model car as part of our discussion on the activities that Aalto does in their program. 

We ended our day with a breathtaking ride on the Ferris Wheel overlooking The Baltic Sea.

Our guide told us that the number one thing we should not miss is a visit to the Helsinki Central Library Public. She was right. It did not disappoint! When designing the library, a survey was sent out asking the residents what they would like to have in a library. The library’s second floor incorporates their wishes. This level offers everything from sewing machines, 3D printers, gaming rooms, oversized printing, meeting rooms, a demonstration kitchen, recording studios, green screens and video production equipment, and musical instruments that may be checked out with a library card. It was truly a fascinating place to see!   –Sherry Cawood, MS Social Studies

Tuesday, April 12

Greetings from Finland.  Tuesday, April 12, we ventured to the Eastern side of Helsinki.  We were split into two groups to pay a visit to two Finland schools.  

Mrs. Lindsey visited Vuosaari Upper Secondary School, (age groups 16 – 18).  As you can see, she had a close encounter with a unique Finnish guy…..

Puistopolku Comprehensive School, (age groups 7 – 15), welcomed Mrs. Cawood, Mrs. Holt, and me.  While there, we observed classes, held dialogues with teachers, and toured the school.  The Finns believe they are the world’s most impactful, equitable, and effective place for learning.  The government requires good schools for every student, for all to be respected as valued individuals, and a strong democratic school community.  We were amazed all the elementary schools are shoe free!  Notice the students, at their desks, are wearing only socks. 

Even visitors are required to wear shoe covers. Check out our fancy feet!

Our lunch, was at Luonnontiedelukio Upper Secondary School of Natural Sciences, in Helsinki.  The schools provide lunches for all students, and they are not allowed to bring lunches from home.  All students in elementary and secondary school self serve their lunches. 

The students are taught responsibility at an early age.  In some areas, groups of seven year olds and older walk home alone.  Parents are at work and homes are unlocked.

We visited Helsinki’s Design Museum for a dialogue dedicated to design thinking and learning in the Finnish education sector.  Finnish design has established a reputation as a flag bearer for equality.  Many of its most iconic design products have been perceived as having the ability to increase equality in daily lives.  The Design for Every Body exhibition addresses this idea.

The first unisex fashion collection was designed, for Marimekko, in 1968. The design was inspired by the American youth fashion trends and was hailed as a symbol of equality because everyone looked the same. 

Bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, as well as Sweden, Norway, and Russia, Finland is the northernmost country in the European Union.  The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean enclosed by Finland, Estonia, and other European countries.  Upon an administrator’s request, (Guess who?), our tour guide was kind enough to stop the bus, so we could touch the Baltic Sea!  How intriguing! –Gina Goostree, Head of LS

Wednesday, April 13

For our last morning in Helsinki, we began our morning at the Olari School in Espoo, Finland.

Teachers shared about their programming and robotics program, mathematics, and science. We also watched a demonstration by the robotics club. After visiting classrooms, students gave us a tour of their wonderful school.

Next, we visited Code School Finland at the Helsinki Education Hub. Code School Finland works with schools and trains teachers to teach coding, programming, AI, and robotics. They walked us through the history of Finnish education, the unique Finnish approach, and the services they offer. 

Next, we were off to the ferry terminal. We travelled two hours across the Gulf of Finland to Tallin, Estonia.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by our Estonian guide and his family and given a very quick tour of the downtown Tallinn area. We checked into our hotel and set off on foot to explore the picturesque Tallinn Old Town. It is the best preserved medieval city in Northern Europe with  Gothic spires, winding cobblestone streets and absolutely enchanting architecture.

Lastly, Mrs. Lindsey stopped a couple of local police officers to complete a special request for Officer Dericho. These very kind officers gave a “challenge patch” to take back to Dericho along with their name and address for him to mail one back in return. –Shelley Holt, LS Teacher

Thursday, April 14

Tere (hello) from Tallinn! Thursday morning started with a visit to Tallinna XXI Kool, or Tallinn School 21. We were greeted by a beautiful performance from the choir. Silva and Michelle were our student guides on a tour of a first grade class, library, robotics lab, and music, physics, and math classes.  The walls are covered with incredible student art. Every year the school chooses a different country as a theme and the art reflects that choice. This year’s country is Egypt. The students were welcoming and answered many questions, and instructors shared the resources used to incorporate STEAM into as many classes as possible.Our second school is Pelgulinna Gymnasium, a grade 1-9 arts focused school with 850 students.  Pelgulinna’s motto is “Choose Create and Do”. We saw the school’s pool with a swimming lesson in session and were treated to a performance by the first grade music class. We participated in a robotics lesson with third graders before a presentation on the school’s mission and growth.The third and final school on our itinerary was Tallinn University. We learned about the Tallinn educational system and its history before spending time in the EduTech space.The evening will be spent exploring Tallinn’s beautiful Old Town. Good Friday is celebrated in Estonia so we will head to Lahemaa National Park tomorrow morning! –Christine Lindsey, US Science

Friday, April 15

This was a “Good Friday” in more ways than one! Today was spent learning more about the geography and history of Estonia. We started our cold, rainy morning with a visit to an ancient burial site.

Next, we toured two manor houses built in the 1700’s and learned the history of the families that built them. 

We traveled about an hour outside of the city of Tallinn to Lahemaa National Park. We hiked along the icy trail through the bogs.. Our guide stressed that if we accidentally stepped off the trail pathway, that our footprint would remain for 15 to 20 years due to the composition of the bog.

The trees in the forrest are about 150 years old. The guide had everyone in our group place a hand on the tree to focus on the tranquility in nature and the inner peace one can find when connecting with nature.

Our view from the scenic overlook of the bogs and forrest. 

Our next stop was in a quaint little fishing village on The Baltic Sea for the loveliest lunch of smoked salmon, boiled potatoes and rhubarb squares. We toured the Maritime Museum and got to touch the The Baltic Sea once again, but on the opposite shoreline from earlier in the week.

We ended the day back in the capital city of Tallinn exploring The Medieval Old Town. It’s a full moon and the 500 year old buildings looked like something straight out of a fairy tale. The night was absolutely magical! –Sherry Cawood, MS Social Studies 

Saturday, April 17

We began our long journey home! Thanks to all who followed along!

Washington, D.C.

Follow along as Clarksville Academy’s 8th and 9th-grade students explore our nation’s capitol!

Monday, March 21, 2022

The buses left campus bright and early at 5:30 A.M. Fifty-nine students and adults are off on a grand adventure! After a wonderful dinner at a local eatery, Boylan Heights, the students then crossed the street to take a tour of the University of Virginia.

UVA was chartered in 1819, and the first-class began in 1825. The history is really amazing. Some areas of note: the new memorial dedicated to the enslaved people who built many of the buildings on campus, the Rotunda, the Academical Village, where both faculty and students have lived, with faculty upstairs and students downstairs, the yard which is in the center of village (or quad as many schools call it), a portion of the Berlin Wall which was placed after its collapse, and Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room! We also drove past the athletic fields and arena. It was a full evening, and all the students loved it. We begin bright and early tomorrow with a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, then DC in the afternoon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Today was the most fantastic day for our students! We began the day at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. We wandered through the gift shop and the museum upon our arrival. We then boarded the tram that took us to the house. Once there, our group divided into three groups and began our tour of the house and grounds. Students were able to walk freely around the gardens, grounds, and slave quarters. Each group then visited the first floor of the house. We then walked back to the visitors center, passing his grave site on the way.

A few interesting facts we learned:

  • There was no such thing as a right or left shoe in Jefferson’s time; you simply got up and put a shoe on a foot!
  • Although space was tight in the large home, Jefferson’s quarters took up a large part of the main floor.
  • The dining room was painted a bright yellow in order to make it feel larger and brighter.
  • As an avid inventor, Jefferson came up with many unique things, like the clocks on the inside and outside of the east door. (There was no front or back door, simply east or west.) The clocks had four labeled as IIII, not IV; the outdoor one only had one hand, while the interior one had three hands. There is also a set of metal ball weights on a rope that signify what day it is, but he ran out of room for Saturday, which is found in the cellar. 

After leaving Monticello, we enjoyed a box lunch and a quick nap as we drove toward D.C.! In the early evening, we entered the city and did a short driving tour past several embassies. We stopped for dinner at a local cantina and then went through three of the monuments for a night stroll. We visited the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (a few of our students found the names of their family members), and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a fantastic night, and our students were so attentive and respectful at each location. We finally reached our hotel at 11:30 PM and have turned in for the night! We have a full day tomorrow to include Arlington National Cemetery topped off with a chance of heavy rain! Be sure to follow along all day on social media sites in the stories.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Our group left the hotel bright and early and made our first stop at Lafayette Park for a White House photo op. The students really enjoyed their time and took many photos.

We left the White House and headed to the WWII Memorial and for a photo op in front of the Washington Monument. The students were so respectful as we learned about the Memorial and took some time to walk through it.

After our time with the monuments we took a moment to walk across the street to Tidal Basin and enjoyed the cherry blossoms at their peak bloom! It was simply gorgeous and our students loved taking photos with them. Coach Adam Welch even caught a couple of gorgeous photos of the blooms.

The next stop in our day was the Natural History Museum where students got lunch and spent time exploring the museum. There were many favorites at the museum.

The last stop of the day was Arlington National Cemetery. Our students not only learned a lot, they were so respectful from start to finish. It was cold and rainy for the majority of our trip, but our students made the most of it. We left the visitors center and walked in the rain to Kennedy’s tomb.

From there the students quietly walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to witness the changing of the guard and the Wreath Presentation. This was a somber experience for most of our students, but one they each took in. We were lucky to have CA students participate in the Wreath Ceremony. Wyatt McQueen, Tanner Wilson, Anna Hellums, and Lilly McAlister were able to participate in the ceremony and present the wreath at the tomb. (Check out part of the video on our social media.)

After the ceremony one of the guards took the group into the amphitheater around back and allowed our students to ask questions. Our tour guide said this was the first of any of her tours to participate in a Q&A with a soldier.

Finally we ended our trip to Arlington with a special stop. Nora Shea’s Great Grandfather, Col William J. Keating is buried at Arlington. Nora and a few friends, along with our guide and Mrs. Allen travelled to find Col Keating’s grave. This was a special experience for Nora and her friends.

Before dinner the group made quick stops for photos at the Marine Corp and Air Force monuments. Our students and staff had a wonderful, full day that they will never forget.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

This morning began with breakfast at 7:00 AM and on the bus by 8:00. We rushed to Mt. Vernon to visit the home of George Washington and take in the grounds. It was impressive. We took at quick group photo at the start of the driveway and then headed into the house. The tour was quick, but impressive. The simplicity of some things, but grandeur of others was interesting. The stairway railing was original and made of walnut. They invited you hold on to it as you journeyed to the top floor and think of all the people before you who had touched it. The kitchen was added later and separated from the rest of the house. The students found the grounds the most interesting. A visit down a path out back led us to a burial area of slaves. In recent years, special ground detection equipment has been used to identify burial grounds. Many, many painted rocks were placed and burial sites outlined in this area. It was a somber sight to see. We visited Washington’s burial site and our students were so respectful as we walked the grounds. We then walked to the museum. This was very interesting for our students (and adults) and we learned so much. A crowd favorite was seeing his actual teeth on display!

We then grabbed a box lunch and boarded the buses back into the city. We went straight to the Archives to view the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Magna Carta. This was an exciting thing for our students. (No cameras were allowed inside.)

Our next stop was the Ford Theatre. We were disappointed to find out the actual theatre was closed for tours, but our students made the most of the museum.

Our next stop was the Tidal Basin. Coming to D.C. during the peak week for cherry blossoms is just an added bonus. The basin really put on a show for us today! The group began at Thomas Jefferson’s memorial for a few quick photos. We then walked to FDR and walked through this interesting memorial of his life which included a memorial to his wife as well. We continued through the cherry blossoms to the MLK Memorial. There is something so breathtaking about coming around the trees and seeing this memorial. Our students were so well behaved and took the time to really honor these men. It was a long, cold walk, but oh so worth it.

By this time it was late in the day and the students were ready to hit the Spy Museum. This unique experience gave us the lighthearted fun they needed. Upon leaving there, we were treated to pizza and bowling at a local favorite!

Students returned to the hotel to shower and prepare for another long day tomorrow. This has been such an amazing trip for all!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Today was our last full day, and we kept them busy! The day began early and with a photo op in front of the US Capitol. We spent a while in this area, allowing students to take selfies and photos on both the east and west lawn of the Capitol. We then took an outdoor walking tour that encompassed a quick look at the Congressional and Senate buildings, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court.

Upon leaving Capitol Hill, the students visited the newly opened African American Museum. Clarksville’s own Wilma Rudolph was honored in the sports exhibit, which took up an entire floor. Students found themselves drawn to exhibits of sports and music. The students enjoyed our time there. We then walked across the street to the American History Museum. The first stop was to see the original flag flown during the Battle of Baltimore, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write his famous lyrics for the Star-Spangled Banner. Many were shocked by its size-30-by 34-feet. No photography was allowed in this exhibit, but it is one that won’t soon be forgotten. We visited the exhibit hall with Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers, saw Julia Child’s kitchen, and viewed the First Lady’s gowns and china, to name just a few.

After leaving our last museum, the students were given the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine on the National Mall lawn. I will admit, many students thought we were going shopping when we said we were going over to the mall for a bit! This time to unplug, run around, sit and talk was much needed. Some even played football with a shoe!

We left the mall and headed to the Potomac! Our group spent the evening on a sunset cruise along the Potomac. Dinner, dancing, and sightseeing were all on tap. Our students had THE best time and were shocked to learn, even their chaperones knew some of the music! 🙂

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Today dawned bright and early. Students and staff grabbed a quick bite and boarded the buses home. It has been a wonderful week learning and growing together. New friendships formed, old friendships deepened. Our last stop for learning was the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia. The 215-foot tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. It was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, who sold the bridge for around $160. It was a cold, snowy (yes SNOW) walk down into the gorge, but worth the views once we arrived.

This week has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our students. To see this city and experience these things with their classmates will be unforgettable. This group was complemented by many of the places we visited. They were polite, well-behaved, and listened attentively (most days 🙂 ). We are truly #CougarProud of this group as #CAtakesDC


By: Sally Allen, Director of Marketing & Development

February is the time when independent schools across the country begin their re-enrollment process. This is a time of excitement and anxiety for both the school and parent.  Excitement for parents, as they look ahead to a new grade, and a new experience and excitement from the school for all the wonderful opportunities in the new school year.  Anxiety from parents as they look ahead and envision their child in a new grade level and as they commit to another year financially for their child’s education. During this exciting time, it’s important to remember why you chose a private education.


Traditionally, parents choose private education for smaller class sizes, more intimate learning environments, specialized course selections, athletics, expanded collegiate scholarship opportunities, etc.  Click here and here to read our past blogs reflecting on choosing the right private school for your family. It is important to weigh the facts when deciding whether to re-enroll.

Making the commitment to re-enroll your child, often times causes families to reflect on the past year and evaluate your commitment to your school choice.  A few of things you may consider as re-enrollment begins are:


  • Do you feel your school is meeting the needs of your student?
  • Does your school adhere to their mission statement?
  • Do you and your family feel an active part of the school community?
  • Is your child able to meet the expectations set forth by the school?
  • Is your family able to continue the financial commitment to send your child there?

If you answered yes to the above questions, then you should immediately re-enroll your child in their current school.  If you answered no to any of the above questions, it is important that you reach out to your school faculty and administrators to address any concerns you may have and engage in conversations regarding your child’s educational future. Keep in mind many schools have a set re-enrollment period, giving priority to current students and families. Failing to meet those deadlines could result in loss of space at the school and late fees.

For more information on Clarksville Academy, it’s programs or the re-enrollment process, please visit: or contact

What to Look for When Choosing Private Education

By: Christie Burger, Admissions

As part two of private vs. public education series, we want to look more deeply at what parents should look for when choosing private education.  Private education is an increasingly popular option for many families and one that may be the right fit for yours.

Here are a few questions to ask as you begin the process of choosing a school. 

  1. What is the philosophy of the school? It is important to make sure the philosophy of the school matches what your family is looking for in educational goals, as well as values. 
  1. Is the faculty of high quality and committed to challenging students to reach their potential? When looking at the quality of education, you have to start with a strong faculty. Dedicated, well-trained teachers are the key to a strong high-quality education. Ask the levels of education, years of experience, and certifications held by the faculty.
  1. How involved can I be as a parent? Independent schools have many opportunities for parent involvement.  Ask about parent organizations, policies for volunteering, and ability to visit on campus with your student. Partnership in your child’s education can go along way in their educational development.
  1. What extracurricular opportunities are available for students? Education is the main focus of schools, but the extracurricular opportunities can truly shape the student’s experience during their school years. See what clubs, sports, and organizations are available for your child’s age group. 
  1. What is the success rate of the school’s graduates regarding progressions to secondary education, as well as, awarded scholarships? For high school students, progressing to the college level, and college acceptance rates should be a priority of most independent schools.  Ask the guidance office, what the rate is for college acceptances for the graduating classes, ACT/SAT score averages, and scholarship amounts awarded each year. 
  1. What is the student profile and admission requirements? Ask yourself, does your child fit the type of student that each school’s student body represents? Ask each school what their requirements are for admissions and see if those characteristics are also important to your family’s goals. 
  1. How happy are the students and faculty? Happy students say so much about a school. They are generally more enthusiastic, eager to learn, and ultimately become successful. A teacher that is happy and content is one that will form a partnership with each family and provide a solid educational experience.

As you begin your search, make a list of these things and the qualities you most want in a school. Keep in mind that no one school is perfect, or will meet all of the criteria on your list. However, you want to select the school that best fits your student, family values, and educational goals. 

Begin Your Journey.