Educational Savings

By: Frazier Allen, Raymond James Financial Services

Saving for your child’s educational future is something we all do.  529 savings plans are tax-advantaged education savings vehicles and one of the most popular ways to save for college today. Did you know they can also be used to save for K-12 tuition?  Much like the way 401(k) plans changed the world of retirement savings a few decades ago, 529 savings plans have changed the world of education savings.
529 savings plans offer a unique combination of features that no other education savings vehicle can match:
• Federal tax advantages: Contributions to a 529 account accumulate tax deferred and earnings are tax free if the money is used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified education expenses.
• State tax advantages: States are free to offer their own tax benefits to state residents, such as a tax deduction for contributions.
• High contribution limits: Most plans have lifetime contribution limits of $350,000 and up.
• Unlimited participation: Anyone can open a 529 savings plan account, regardless of income level.
• Wide use of funds: Money in a 529 savings plan can be used to pay the full cost (tuition, fees, room and board, books) at any college or graduate school in the United States or abroad that is accredited by the Department of Education, and for K-12 tuition expenses up to $10,000 per year.
• Professional money management: 529 savings plans are offered by states, but they are managed by designated financial companies who are responsible for managing the plan’s underlying investment portfolios.
• Flexibility: Under federal rules, you are entitled to change the beneficiary of your account to a qualified family member at any time as well as rollover the money in your account to a different 529 plan once per calendar year without income tax or penalty implications.
• Accelerated gifting: 529 savings plans offer an estate planning advantage in the form of accelerated gifting. This can be a favorable way for grandparents to contribute to their grandchildren’s education while paring down their own estate, or a way for parents to contribute a large lump sum.
Although 529 savings plans are a creature of federal law, their implementation is left to the states. Currently, there are over 50 different savings plans available because many states offer more than one plan. You can join any state’s 529 savings plan, but this variety may create confusion when it comes time to select a plan. Each plan has its own rules and restrictions, which can change at any time. With so many plans available, it may be helpful to consult an experienced financial professional who can help you select a plan and pick your plan investments. 


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

Why is a balanced Pre-Kindergarten program best?

By: Shelley Holt, Pre-K Teacher

Parents are faced with many choices for their young children before they formally start kindergarten. Choosing a pre-kindergarten program which balances the structured and un-structured learning time will better prepare them on all levels for the more structured school years to follow.
“Early experiences affect the quality of that architecture by establishing either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the learning, health and behavior that follow.”Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University
Play-based learning time or “center time” gives your child the freedom to make choices, explore, learn, and develop in an engaging and evolving learning environment with their peers.  This play-based time is a very important part of their school day. They will learn valuable social skills such as sharing, compromising, self regulation, and being a good friend. Whether they are mixing colors in the art center, weighing pine cones in the science center, or pretending to be an astronaut in dramatic play – they are practicing language skills, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, all the while exploring and learning through their interests.
Each child is unique and all develop, grow, and acquire skills at different rates. This makes small group time an integral part of the Pre-K day. Teachers use the small group time to individualize fun learning activities to target each child’s needs in one-on-one or in a small group of students with similar needs. These learning games can be adapted to each child’s interests and learning styles for better retention and success. 
Large group time, morning meeting, story time, and lesson times are also used to reinforce weekly and daily concepts. These times are also used to encourage them to raise their hand and wait for their name to be called to develop self control and regulation and better prepare them for their Kindergarten year. Although developing self regulation is important, teaching four year olds requires teachers to be flexible and aware that students may need impromptu brain breaks or dance breaks to get their wiggles out. Maintaining a fun, loving, and exciting learning environment is important to develop your child’s love of school.
These programs should also offer outdoor play time, physical education, foreign languages, art, music, and other sporting activities which can expose your child to many areas of interest and enrichment.
Choosing the right program for your child that will foster a positive learning experience during their pre-kindergarten year is crucial. Many studies have shown that early school experiences may impact a child’s perception of learning and the school environment for years to come. 
A balanced pre-kindergarten program will develop the whole child – socially, emotionally, and cognitively. This will provide a strong foundation for your child to be prepared for their kindergarten year and beyond.

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.